Bearing Fruit through Union with the Heart of Mary
There are several reasons for wishing to unite our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through a personal consecration to her. You will discover these as you continue to read. To help understand one of the most fundamental reasons, we can reflect upon Jesus’ parable of the sower, especially as recorded by St Luke (Lk. 8:5-15).
The Lord wants to find hearts full of the “good soil” that receives the word of God and bears abundant fruit. But there are three major reasons why this might not happen. Jesus tells us that the devil can take away the word of God from our hearts—causing us to doubt, forget, or ignore the message of the Gospel. For others—who did not allow the word to send forth deep roots—times of trial, testing, or temptation make them falter and they fall away from faithfulness to Our Lord. Still others are choked (as a sprouting plant would be among weeds and thorns) by “the cares and riches and pleasures of life.” In such people, “their fruit does not mature,” that is, it remains sour, bitter, and good for nothing.
It is only when the seed falls into good soil, which the Lord describes as “an honest and good heart,” that it will bear fruit—but even then the Lord says this takes patience and perseverance. The term “honest” does not adequately express the meaning of the Greek word kalos in the ancient manuscripts of the Bible. This term is better translated “beautiful,” “noble,” or “admirable.” An extended definition of some of its uses in the Bible, which fits best here, is “beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life.” This is what Our Lord is looking for when He casts the seed of his word upon souls.
Now we have to ask two questions. First, who among us can honestly claim that his or her heart is consistently beautiful, pure, noble, and praiseworthy? Even a brief examination of conscience should easily answer that question for us. Second, whose heart has always been completely pure and hence the most worthy to receive the Gospel of Jesus and bear rich and abundant fruit? This is easily answered as well: Mary’s Immaculate Heart. In her the Lord found the most beautiful and noble heart in which his word could mature, in which there would not be the slightest impediment to his grace and his will.
Therefore, when we bind our own hearts to the Heart of Mary through our consecration to her, the word of God will find fertile “soil” in us and be able to send deep roots into our hearts and bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23) in great abundance. Our own experience teaches us that we are all too vulnerable to the attacks of the devil, all too likely to falter under trials and hardships, and all too likely to be attracted by the deceitfulness of riches and pleasures, or simply distracted by worldly cares. We could spend our whole life bearing little or no fruit if we remain in one or more of the unfavorable conditions Jesus described in the parable.
So we look to that “beautiful and good heart,” in which the word of the Lord has found the richest fruitfulness of all his creatures. By consecrating ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we are granted the gift of sharing in her own purity and goodness, and thus in her immeasurable fruitfulness. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, she will make this happen in us, in the measure that we give ourselves over to her for this purpose.
This is the ultimate goal of our consecration to Our Lady: to bear spiritual fruit for the glory of God. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (Jn. 15:8). This goal is intimately linked to our individual ultimate goal: the eternal salvation of our souls. Several great saints have said that no true child of Mary is ever lost, that if we persevere in our devotion to Our Lady, she will see to it that we are protected from all that could take us away from God forever. To bind our hearts to Mary’s through consecration—and to persevere in living this consecration—is to make it much easier to bear fruit for God’s glory, as our hearts, in union with the Immaculate Heart, are enabled to receive and respond to the word of God.
When Our Lady comes from Heaven, as she did at Fatima, she does not give us long sermons. It is enough for her to say, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” Much of this mystery is then left for our own hearts and minds to penetrate more deeply (though we do know that Mary also said this devotion would help prevent souls from going to Hell). Since devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is what God and the Blessed Mother have asked of us, we must seek to understand this gift, this call. So we turn to the Scriptures to discover their hidden treasures, and we listen to the Saints and the Popes who have faithfully interpreted the divine mysteries for us over the centuries. Then we live our lives virtuously according to the wisdom of the Church, in her sacraments, devotions, and good works. Thus we are assured that “there will be richly provided for [us] an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).
The word of Christ—which He wishes to implant within our hearts—is the message of the Gospel, the “word of the Cross” and the power of God, as St Paul says (1 Cor. 1:17-18). Our consecration to the Heart of Mary enables us to unite with the Heart that is by far the most fertile for bearing spiritual fruit from the implanted word. Understanding this truth is simply one more way of seeing the connection of the Gospel with the revelation of the heavenly Mother—and the place God wants her to have in our lives.
Another image for the graces to be gained by uniting our hearts to Mary’s Heart comes from a little reflection I once found on the internet (http://vultus.stblogs.org/2012/07/the-maternal-and-merciful-hear.html). I’ve reproduced an excerpt here. It was written by a Benedictine priest-monk, and in his reflection, Our Lady says this:
I am your Mother,
the Mother given you by my Son Jesus, from the Cross,
in the solemn hour of His Sacrifice…
Speak to me simply
and with complete trust in the compassion of my maternal Heart
and in the power given to my maternal intercession.
There is nothing
that you cannot bring to me,
nothing that you cannot present to me,
nothing that you cannot offer me,
even to your very sins.
Anything given to me by my [children], I press to my Heart;
all that is impure, every vestige of sin
is consumed in the flame of love
that burns in my Immaculate Heart,
in the fire of love that is the Holy Spirit in me,
the very Fire of the Divinity.
Give to me, then, all that you would offer to my Son and to His Father.
It will be purified as gold in the furnace
because I will press it to my Heart.
Nothing impure can endure the flame of love
that burns in my Heart. Only love remains.
Give me your weaknesses,
your past sins, your daily faults,
and I will present to my Son only the love with which,
in spite of all your weaknesses,
you desire to love Him, and with Him, love the Father.
I am your Mother…
So the Immaculate Heart of Mary not only provides for us the fertile ground for bearing spiritual fruit by means of the word of the Lord. Her Heart also burns away in its Flame of Love all that is impure and unworthy of the absolute holiness of Christ. Therefore, after binding our hearts to Mary’s, “only love remains.”
The power of evil is limited—it cannot endure the Flame of Love in the Heart of Mary. This spiritual purification is what Our Lady does for us when we give ourselves to her, when we make union with her the means in this life to eternal union with God in the next. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, she burns off the dross, purifies the heart, soul, and mind of evil as she holds us close to her Heart. Thus she removes obstacles to loving God, be they spiritual, psychological, or emotional.
Whatever we offer to Mary she presses to her Heart; the evil is undone, made ineffectual. Even layers of the effects of years of habitual sin are burned off until our true hearts are revealed. When the evil is removed, we become aware that we are in fact branches of the Vine, drawing life from the Lord, from the secret wellsprings of his love and grace, which cannot be touched by the devil, no matter how much he rages, no matter what he throws at us or tries to dredge up from the past. Nothing evil can withstand the Fire in Mary’s Heart. Only love remains. That is what she brings to the Lord on our behalf. And that is the sweetest fruit of the Holy Spirit, by which we will live forever in the glory of the God who is Love.
To be continued…