The Immaculate Heart of Mary

August 22

Today is the feast day of The Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Ora pro nobis.

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Our Lady at Fatima told us: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” There are three elements here to be analyzed: What is the Heart of Mary? How does the term immaculate apply to it? How will it triumph?

I believe that in this case to triumph is to reign. Thus, the triumph of Our Lady will be established when she will reign over the world. Let us look at the titles, then, that allow Our Lady to be Queen of all of Creation and how this reign will become effective through her Immaculate Heart.

The right of Our Lady to be Queen

We know that Our Lady by right is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. She has this right for two reasons: First, because she is the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King of all creation. Her situation is somewhat similar to a queen mother in countries with a monarchical structure. Second, Our Lady is Queen because God granted her an actual rule over Heaven and earth. She has power over the Angels, Saints, souls in Purgatory, everyone on earth, and even over the devils and condemned souls in Hell.

A queen mother is not properly speaking a reigning queen. She receives royal honors, but she does not reign. For example, Queen Elizabeth in England, the late mother of Queen Elizabeth II, was the Queen-Consort because she was married to George VI. When the King passed away, the royal power passed to her daughter, and she became the Queen-Mother. Her whole life she received royal honors, but she never exercised royal power. On the other hand, Queen Elizabeth II is a Queen who reigns; that is to say, she reigns with that small amount of power still remaining to the Sovereign of England.

Our Lady is not only a Queen-Mother because she is the Mother of Our Lord, but also she is a Queen who reigns because God granted her this royal power.

A power exercised from heart to heart

How does she exercise this power? She applies it by the action of her heart over the hearts of all rational creatures. The heart, as you know, is a physical organ that symbolizes the mentality of a person, the way a person sees and does all things.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is an expression of the most wise and pure mentality of Our Lady that, among other things, symbolizes her ineffable goodness, her incomparable sweetness and her endless mercy. For these reasons, the Angels and Saints of Heaven love her intensely, as much as it is proper to love someone other than God.

The result of this love is such that she reigns over them, her heart wields a power over their hearts, her mentality exerts an influence over their mentality so that her way of seeing and doing things become a norm of wisdom for them to follow. Her most pure will, immaculate and spotless, becomes the rule to guide their wills, so that even if God’s command to obey her should cease to exist, they would continue to love her with the same intensity.

By an action of her heart over other hearts, Our Lady dominates Heaven. She also dominates Purgatory. Indeed, the souls of Purgatory also can no longer sin. They have the guarantee of Heaven. There is no risk that a soul in Purgatory could revolt against the extreme sufferings it endures. Those souls are confirmed in grace and strive to model their lives on Our Lady, to think what she thinks and to wish what she wishes. They live for her, and when at times she appears in Purgatory, they have an indescribable joy and sing her glory amidst their sufferings. She always returns to Heaven with many of these souls in Purgatory, and leaves behind for the souls who remain a supernatural dew that diminishes their chastisements, increases their hope and softens their pains. It is also from heart to heart that Our Lady reigns over those souls, and not just by a decree of God.

The authority of the Immaculate Heart over the world

What about things on this earth? On earth we have the sad liberty, which in fact is slavery, to not do the will of God. Like tyrants, our passions drag us to do things we know we should not do. They generate that sad liberty we have to say ‘no’ to God.

Notwithstanding, these passions exist and we have to fight against them. We can only be liberated from our slavery to these passions by a grace coming from Our Lady. Only with her help can we diminish and even extinguish the dominion of our passions over our wills. Without it, we are the slaves of our defects and vices.

On earth, then, there is the fight between those who obey and those who do not obey Our Lady. She has the right, however, to be obeyed by everyone. She is by right the Queen of the entire world. But because of free will, persons can choose to disobey her, and many actually do so.

How does the Immaculate Heart of Mary make its authority effective throughout the world? Our Lady touches the hearts of people, sending them abundant graces so that many will follow her. This is not an automatic process, of course. Many persons resist those graces; but countless others, because of those graces, stop sinning and move toward the service of Our Lady.

These graces invite our hearts to see the Heart of Mary, to know and love the wisdom and adamantine purity that emanates from her entire person. This is the way she makes herself obeyed by us.

Her Heart, therefore, is the scepter by which she governs all those who obey her on this earth.

Her power over the Devil and his cohorts

It is clear that Our Lady also exerts her power over the Devil. For example, Anne Catharine Emmerick reports this horrible fact. When Our Lord was crucified, the Devil wanted to impose a final humiliation on Him. After Our Lord had been nailed on the Cross and as it was being raised up to stand before the sight of all, for a moment the Cross vacillated and seemed as if it might fall forward. The Devil was planning to push the Cross down to the ground so that with the weight of His Person plus the heavy wood, Our Lord would fall on His Face and completely smash it.

When Our Lady realized the plan of the Devil, she simply gave the command: “No. This I do not permit.” That is, the case was finished. There was no more discussion. Satan was forbidden to make this affront, and so the horrible deed was not done. She permitted everything that was necessary for the Redemption of mankind, but that supreme humiliation was not necessary. So she gave the command that the Devil had no choice but to obey. She has power over the Devil and his cohorts.

By right Our Lady has power over all. At times, she compels this empire by her will and none can resist. At other times her rule becomes effective not by an action of her will over the evil ones, but through the love she communicates to many good souls.

The devotion of the Counter-Revolution

This is how Our Lady reigns through her Immaculate Heart. When her reign over the good spreads throughout the world, we will have the triumph predicted in Fatima. This will be the victory of the Royal, Wise and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Being wise, Our Lady is against all vain pride; being immaculate, she is against sensuality. Therefore, devotion to the Heart of Mary from this perspective is par excellence the devotion of the Counter-Revolution, since the Revolution is moved forward by pride and sensuality. Those two points that the Revolution hates most, wisdom and purity, must be the points that are most strongly affirmed by counter-revolutionaries.

Our prayer on this feast day should be: “Make our hearts like unto thy Heart.” This does not imply some vague similarity. It means to make our hearts as closely identified as possible to her Immaculate Heart, insofar as it is in the plans of God. “Make me wise, according to thy wisdom. Make me pure with a purity partaking of thy own purity.”

We may add: “My Mother, I am not strong enough to give myself to thee. Enter into my soul with graces that I am unable to resist, shatter this door that in my misery I do not want to open. I will be awaiting thee behind that door with all my appreciation and gratitude.” (1)

Specific Devotions

Mary appeared to St. Catherine Labouré standing on a globe, rays of light streaming from her fingers, enframed in an oval frame inscribed with the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The whole vision “turned” showing the back of the oval inscribed with the letter “M” entwined with a Cross, and the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the former surrounded with thorns, the latter pierced with a sword. 12 stars circled this oval frame. Mary told her to strike a medal in this form — a medal now known as the “Miraculous Medal” — and that all who wore it properly after having it blessed would receive graces. The wearing of the Miraculous Medal has become one of the most common devotions to the Immaculate Heart.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart became even more popularized after Mary’s appearing to the three young shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal in 1917 (before the Russian Revolution), when she asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart to prevent the spread of “the errors of Russia.” Eight years later, in 1925, Mary appeared to one of the visionaries — Lucia, who’d since become a nun — and requested reparations for the various ways in which her Immaculate Heart was offended — such as attacks against her Immaculate Conception, virginity and divine maternity, and for those who teach their children contempt of Mary or who insult her by desecrating her images.

To make these reparations, she asked that we do 5 things, all with the intention of making reparation to her Immaculate Heart:

  • recite at least Five Decades of the Rosary every day
  • wear the Brown Scapular
  • offer our daily duty to God as an act of sacrifice (ie., make the Morning Offering)
  • make Five First Saturdays of Reparation to Her Immaculate Heart (see below)
  • the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, must consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. Russia would be converted through this means, and a period of peace to be given to the world. If this is not done (and it hasn’t been done), Russia will “spread her errors throughout the world.” This consecration must be of Russia — not “the world,” but Russia by name.

The “First Saturdays of Reparation” was not a new devotion, but it was even more popularized after Our Lady appeared at Fatima. It consists of, on the first Saturday of each month for five consecutive months:

  • going to Confession (may be 8 days before the Saturday as long as one stays in a state of grace)
  • receiving the Eucharist
  • praying 5 decades of the Rosary, including the Fatima Prayer
  • “keeping her company” for 15 minutes while meditating on all of the Mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to her. This can be done by reading Scripture or other writings relevant to the Mysteries, meditating on pictures of the Mysteries, or simple meditation.

The promise given by Mary to those who make the First Saturday devotion is her assistance at the hour of their death. (2)

The Pure Heart of Mary
by Rev. Arthur Ryan, 1877

“Cor mundum crea in me Deus.”–PS. 90. 

The Church, dear brethren, places before us to-day, as the object of our devotion on this feast, the Heart of Mary in what may be called its characteristic virtue–its purity. Purity has been called “Mary’s virtue,” not because she had it in fuller measure or in greater brightness than the other virtues contained in the absolute fulness of her grace, but because it best suits our view of the Virgin Mother, and because it has been ever held the special grace and charm of womanhood. But this is not the feast of Mary’s Purity (that is kept on another day), but of Mary’s most pure heart: that is, it is the feast of that wondrous union and interdependence, in the character of our Holy and Immaculate Mother, of purity and love. It will instruct us to-day, and also help us to honour our Lady in the spirit of her feast, if we reflect for a few moments on this union. We shall find that Mary’s purity of heart came from the love of her heart, and the sorrow perfecting that love; and we shall learn that in love and in sorrow are to be found the surest foundation and the lasting protection of our own purity of heart. 

We say anything is pure or clean when there is nothing of a lower or coarser nature mixed with it or resting on it. In this way we speak of a pure spirit as one not made for union with a material body; pure water, again, that is not mixed with any foreign matter that will dull its brightness. Remark that purity does not mean coldness or stiffness. If snow is the emblem of purity, it is because of its heaven-born whiteness and stainlessness–not because of its coldness. Once let the clay and soilure of earth be mixed with the drift, and though it has not ceased to be cold it has ceased to be pure. The icicle which the poet has made the emblem of chastity is no fitting emblem either in its coldness or sharpness–but (if it be a fit emblem at all) in its transparent clearness. To-day, however, we see the true emblem of purity, better than snow or ice, however spotless; for we see a human heart, warm with the warmest human love, throbbing and yearning as with the love of all hearts in one, and yet, nay by very reason of its vehement love, the home and emblem of purity–the most loving of the loving, and the purest of the pure.

For think, brethren, how could it be otherwise. Loving Jesus as Mary did, how could her love know that mixture of other love which alone could make her love impure? What drop of tainted earthly love could find room in the crystal vessel of her heart, full to the very brim of the heavenly love of Jesus? Her warm, womanly heart, so gentle and tender, so fitted and attuned to the finest pulsations of love–made by the Eternal God to be, next to the Heart of Jesus, the most perfect instrument of love, that heart had found complete and perfect rest in the love of God–in the love of its Jesus, and what more could it hold? Love filled that inner house, occupied every chamber and stood at the door, so that no other love could enter. Thus was Mary’s love the cause and the guard of Mary’s purity–enough of itself to be the full account of Mary’s stainlessness.

But yet another cause we seem to see. I say “seem,” brethren, for in a perfect work, such as Mary’s heart is, we find that the virtues are not separable in themselves or in their causes, as they are in works less perfect. In fact, the unity of God’s holiness, in Whom all perfections are as one, seems thus reflected in His most perfect creatures. It is, then, only as of another phase of Mary’s love that I would speak of Mary’s sorrow. She sorrowed because she loved, and for her love; and the purity that was founded in that love takes, in our eyes, its lustre and refinement from that sorrow. The Holy Scriptures speak, as men have in every land and literature spoken, of sorrow typified by fire. Prophet and poet are one in telling of the fire of affliction, the furnace of pain; and when the passing woes of earth shall find their awful and eternal home in Hell, they shall dwell there as in a pool of fire. But it is in the purifying qualities of sorrow that has been found the fitness of its comparison with fire. Not to mention many passages in the Old Testament, St. Peter speaks of the soul made sorrowful in divers temptations like the precious gold which is tried by the fire: and St. John commends gold fire-tried, and in the next verse explains this by the words: “Such as I love I rebuke and chastise.” You know that gold, though so precious, is seldom (if ever) found pure. It has to be made pure by the process of fire: the dross is thus taken from it, and nothing but the bright ore remains. 

So is it with the human heart. Precious as is that heart and dear to God, it is yet mixed up with much that is of earth–with sin and the effects of sin. Jesus Christ Himself has told us of the defilements of the heart of man. “From the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man.” Such an admixture of what is impure makes the purifying of the heart a necessity: and the fire that loosens this dross, and makes the heart an offering acceptable to God, is the fire of sorrow–sorrow as it is sent us by our loving Father in the chastisement of His love–sorrow as it meets us at the hands of our fellow-men–sorrow as we embrace it ourselves and choose it freely as our lot in the generosity of Penance. The example of this sorrow, if not the example of its work, we behold in the pure and sorrowing heart of Mary. She needed not that fire for herself. No smallest atom of earthly defilement was on that pure heart for the furnace of pain to burn away. Love had done all, and left sorrow nothing to do. But, brethren, for your sakes and mine Mary plunged her heart down into that fire, deeper than any heart has ever gone, save only the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows.

And shall we refuse to enter our fiery furnace? Shall we refuse to purchase our purity at the price of our pain? Ah no! Our love will make that pain bearable, and will make its work less.

To love and to suffer–be this our lot with the loving, suffering hearts of Jesus and Mary–if only by that love and by that sorrow we may come to something of that purity!

“Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or persecution, or the sword? For in all these things we overcome because of Him that hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (6)


Image: The Heart of Mary, artist: Leopold Kupelwieser, circa 1796-1862. photo by Diana Ringo (5)

Research by REGINA Staff





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