The Immaculate Heart of Mary
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Many people mistakenly believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ conception was most assuredly immaculate—that is, without the stain of sin—but the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus at all. The Immaculate Conception is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church regarding Mary, Jesus’ Mother. The official statement of the doctrine reads, “The Blessed Virgin Mary to have been, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, given the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of Mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin” (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 1854). Essentially, the Immaculate Conception believes that Mary was protected from original sin, that Mary did not have a sinful nature and was, in fact, sinless.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary (Latin: Cor Immaculatum Mariae) is a devotional name used to refer to the Catholic view of the interior life of Mary, Mother of Jesus, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for God the Father, her maternal love for her Son Jesus Christ, and her motherly and compassionate love for all humankind. Customarily, the Immaculate heart depicts a woman pierced with seven wounds or swords, in homage to the seven dolors of Mary, and roses, usually red or white, wrapped around the heart.
The veneration of the Heart of Mary is corresponding to the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, differences in this analogy are present as devotion to the heart of Jesus is primarily directed to the “divine heart” as overflowing with love for humanity. In the devotion to Mary, however, the attraction is the love of her heart for Jesus and God.
The second difference is the nature of the devotion itself: to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the faithful venerates in the sense of love responding to love. To the Heart of Mary, study and imitation hold as important a place as love. The devotion aims to unite humankind to God through Mary’s heart, and this process involves the ideas of consecration and reparation. The object of the devotion is to love God and Jesus better by uniting oneself to Mary for this purpose and by echoing her virtues.
The main difference between the devotions to the hearts of Jesus and Mary is that the one concerned with Jesus emphasizes his divine heart as being full of love for humanity, but with this love, for the most part, being ignored or rejected. In contrast, devotion to Mary’s heart is essentially concerned with her heart’s love for Jesus, for God.
Consequently, it is not an end in itself, so the love of her heart means being a model for how we should love God. Her heart is immaculate and sinless means that she is the only fully human person who can really love God the way she does.
Honoring Mary’s Immaculate Heart is another way of honoring her as the person chosen to be God’s Mother, recognizing her extraordinary holiness and immense love she bestowed on Jesus, the person with whom she partakes in and cooperates in his redemptive sufferings.
The devotion aims to unite humankind to God through Mary’s heart, and this process involves the concept of consecration and reparation. A person consecrating to Mary’s Immaculate Heart is a way of being utterly devoted to God. Consecration involves a total gift of self, something only ultimately possible concerning God, and Mary is intervening in this consecration process.
Because of the strong similitude between Jesus and Mary, the consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart is closely linked to Jesus’ Sacred Heart, although it is subordinate and dependent. Although the act of consecration is ultimately addressing God, it is an act made through Mary.
Why does Jesus want his Mother’s Immaculate Heart venerated alongside his Sacred Heart?
“It was in this Heart that the Father placed His Son, as if in the first Tabernacle,” and “it was the Blood of Her Immaculate Heart which communicated to the Son of God, His Life, and His human nature, from which we all, in turn, receive ‘grace upon grace (John 1:16).”
So how does this work out?
From the very beginning, Jesus Christ united to his redemptive work, the Immaculate Heart of whom He chose to be His Mother. (St. John Paul II has written similarly.)
The work of our redemption began when the Word descended from Heaven to assume a human body in the womb of Mary. From that moment, and for the next nine months, the Blood of Christ was the Blood of Mary, taken from Her Immaculate Heart; the Heart of Christ was beating in unison with the Heart of Mary.
“Christ in Himself and His Mystical Body. And Mary is the Mother of this progeny chosen to crush the head of the infernal serpent.” Recall, we’re in the Mystical Body of Christ. The devotion to her Immaculate Heart means no less than victory over the devil and evil (Genesis 3:16).
The new generation that God foretold would be born of this woman will triumph in the battle against the progeny of Satan, to the point of crushing its head. Mary is the Mother of this new generation as if she were a new tree of life, planted by God in the garden of the world so that all her children can partake of her fruit.
From their Mother’s heart, children receive their natural life, their life-giving blood, so “we could almost say that the heart of the Mother is the heart of the child. And we can say the same of Mary when she carried the Son of the eternal Father in her womb. Hence, it follows that the Heart of Mary is, in some sense, the heart of all that other generation, the first fruit of which is Christ.” We are that another generation.
“And it is from this fruit (Christ) that another generation of this Immaculate Heart is to be fed, as Jesus said: I am the bread of life. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As (…) I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. (John 6, 48; 56-57).”
The body received from Mary in Christ becomes a victim offered up for the salvation of humankind; it is the blood that circulates in Christ’s veins and pours out from His Divine Heart. It is the same body and blood given to us, under the appearances of bread and wine, as our daily food to strengthen within us the life of grace.
It continues with us, members of the Mystical Body of Christ. His redemptive work for salvation to the extent that each one clings to Christ and cooperates with Christ.
One: “God began the work of our redemption in the Heart of Mary. It was through Her ‘fiat’ that the redemption began to come about.”
Two: “Hence it is that this Immaculate Heart must be for us a refuge and the way that leads to God.”
Three: “Thus we see that devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary must be established in the world utilizing a true consecration, through conversion and self-giving.”
Four: “Christ began, with Mary, the work of our salvation. The Christ Heartbeats are those of the Heart of Mary…it was from Mary that Christ received the Body and Blood to be poured out and offered up for the world’s salvation. Hence, Mary, made one with Christ, is the co-Redemptory of the human race.”
It all boils down to Heaven’s directives and promise delivered by Mary.
Jesus wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.
You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.
The devotion to Mary is never an end unto itself; rather, it is a means to lead one to Christ the fastest and best way possible.