Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Since Our Lady’s whole life was a life of her Heart, the Immaculate Heart represents her life, her love, herself. From the moment of Conception, Mary offered acts of faith, hope, love, praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the God who created her. Her one ambition was union with God, her desire to do His will; the light of grace found no obstacle in her pure soul. Her Immaculate Heart was the throne of all virtue. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the complement of devotion to the Sacred Heart; in the one we honor Christ, the Redeemer; in the other, Mary, co-redemptrix. Thus we honor Christ’s mother with the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
God was so pleased with His Masterpiece of creation, Mary, that He willed to be born of her pure flesh and blood. By giving her consent, Mary became the channel through which Christ came to men; and this channel is the surest way to lead us back to God. It was Mary’s love for man, joined with and flowing from her love of God, that made her utter her “Fiat” – that Fiat meant consent to the Incarnation and to the Redemption. So also the Salvation of the world depends on Mary.
Among Our Lady’s urgent requests at Fatima was the plea for devotion and consecration to her Immaculate Heart – our devotion to Mary is neither complete nor true, unless we are willing to give ourselves over to the object of our love; true devotion culminates in dedication or consecration. Consecration consists in an act, by which we promise Our Lady not only everything we possess, but our very selves as well; and this, not for a time, but forever; secondly, it is a state whereby we recognize God’s sovereign dominion by acknowledging Christ as our King, and Our Lady as our Queen, pledging them complete service and devotion.
Our consecration, then, must be more than a well-written prayer, recited and then forgotten; it must be a vital, living state in which we recognize the importance of habitually belonging to Our Lady; to be fruitful it must inspire imitation. We must try to reshape our lives according to Our Lady’s, setting up a whole new pattern, studied at her feet, learned from the Rosary mysteries and modeled after her own Immaculate Heart.
To consecrate means to remove from the profane and set apart as sacred; renouncing self-love; doing all in union with and for our Heavenly Queen; removing sin and all obstacles to perfect union of heart with hers. If we do this, Mary will teach us all virtue and the way that will lead us to God. If men become slaves to an art which ends with death, should we not become slaves of Mary, the music of whose Heart will sing out for all Eternity?
Love will prompt this total submission, solid love of the will, ending in imitation and surrender. Our love for Mary must be so intense that we chain our hearts to hers by golden links of love, stronger than any base metal of earth; Mary will then govern our thoughts, words, deeds. Our life will have but one purpose – God’s glory. Our hearts will yearn only for her interests and her honor – which is God’s honor, too; all her intentions and dispositions will become ours. Her humility will replace our pride; her purity efface our impurity; her selflessness, wipe out our self-love; and all her virtues replace our sins. From her we will learn the meaning of prayer, mortification, and penance. Resting close to her Immaculate Heart, our own cold hears will become enkindled with the Divine Fire and grow ablaze with her burning love.
Our lives thus surrendered to her can become like that of the angels, one continual song of praise; our hearts annihilated and lost within the sanctuary of her Immaculate Heart, will be able to sing truly, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”