The celebration in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, which it follows by one day. This is not by accident. When we honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus we simply celebrate our Lord’s great love which he showed by dying for us and which he continues to give us day after day. Mary was close to her Son, not only because she was his Mother but because she loves everyone for whom her Son lived, died, and rose from the dead. Her heart is large enough to include us all in her love. She is with us in our sorrows and joys.
In the gospel of Luke, Simeon prophesied that a sword will pierce through her heart (Lk 2:35) because of the sorrows and sufferings she will have to go through with Jesus. Hence, closely connected to the devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the seven sorrows of Mary :
2. The flight to Egypt (Mt 2:13-14)
3. The finding of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:43-45)
4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the way of the cross
5. The crucifixion
6. The taking down of the body of Jesus from the cross
7. The burial of Jesus (Jn 19:38-42)
Usually seven Hail Marys are also said while meditating upon the seven sorrows of Mary. Furthermore, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart would also include going for Confession before or after the first Saturday of every month, receive Communion and the praying of the Rosary.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary—
the heart that felt troubled at the visit of the angel
the heart that surrendered to the Will of God
the heart that danced at the redemptive plan of God
the heart that wondered and shuddered at the prophesy of Simeon
the heart that ached at the loss of her twelve-year-old
the heart that cherished all events around her
the heart that pondered on the mysteries of God and her son
the heart that was pierced by sorrow at the death of her son
the heart that prayed with the apostles
the heart consecrated to God and God alone
the heart that loves us as her own
the heart that the sin never dared to touch,
the heart that is immaculate through and through.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, re-form my heart in you!
In 1944, in the midst of World War II, Pope Pius XII dedicated the entire world to the patronage and protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—the intention expressed in his decree was "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue.”
Though it found prominence in the 20th century, devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart is not new. Early Christians revered the movements of Mary’s heart in the Gospels—she pondered the events of the nativity in her heart (Lk 2:19); and when she and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, Simeon prophesied that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart (Lk 2:35). Of course, Mary was faithful to Jesus to the end, and the image of her sorrowfully beholding her Son on the cross has always struck a deep chord with the faithful.
Devotion to Mary’s heart was taken up by theologians and saints from many ages, but it was the 17th century French preacher, St. John Eudes, who formalized this devotion into liturgical practice that we observe today. John’s spirituality focused on the love of Jesus and Mary, symbolized in their sacred hearts. He began a feast day for parishes in France to encourage people to honor the heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus; these feast days spread quickly and were taken up around the Church.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus focuses on God’s immense love for humanity, even though it was repulsed, scorned, and crucified. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary points us towards her love for Jesus and for God as an example.
Though the Basilica on campus was built before St. John Eudes was canonized, it includes a stained glass window that shows him honoring the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Basilica also contains this mural of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; the statue comes from the retirement and nursing home for aging Holy Cross priests, Holy Cross House.
While the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the patron of Holy Cross priests, the community of sisters founded by Blessed Basil Moreau were entrusted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Relics of Mary rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica, including strands of her hair and parts of her clothes.
On this feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us imitate Mary’s heart by sharing her faithfulness to Jesus!
Saturday June 20