Monthly Archives: May 2013

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 16)

Chapter Six: Loving the Immaculate Heart

Heaven's Heart

            For our own spiritual life, this is perhaps the most important chapter of all, because in loving the Immaculate Heart of Mary—with all this implies for Marian devotion and consecration and living accordingly—we will in fact experience something of Heaven in her Heart.  We will embrace and cherish her precious Heart as our refuge and our way to God.  Mary offered her Heart to us for this very purpose, so our consecration to her bears Heaven’s approval.  She urges us to consecrate ourselves for our own good and that of others.

            If we are serious about faithfulness to our devotion to Our Lady, this devotion will bear fruit in a personal consecration to her.  To be “consecrated” simply means to be set apart for a sacred purpose.  A person can be consecrated to God in an official, ecclesiastical way by the profession of religious vows.  One can also offer oneself to God and Our Lady in a private, personal way by means of various prayers of consecration, along with applying the meaning of that consecration in daily life.  In the case of consecration to Mary, the “setting apart” is for the purpose of honoring the Mother of God and living in union with her as an integral part of one’s way of life in Christ.  If you love Mary, you will not be satisfied with offering a few prayers or practicing certain devotions every now and then—you will want to enter into a profound union with her Immaculate Heart.

            This union with the Heart is Mary is meant not only as the best way to love her and to receive her love, but ultimately as the best way to love God.  As we are increasingly attracted by the beauty, sweetness, and exquisite love of Mary’s Heart, we will beg her to enclose us spiritually in her Immaculate Heart, desiring to experience this Heart as both a maternal refuge and our way to God.  Something profound then happens, as the mystic Venerable Marie Petyt of St Teresa describes from her own experience: “At times it also seems that I am… enclosed within Her most pure Heart.  I become mad with love for Mary and for God at once, and I abandon myself entirely to this union.  Thus is realized a divine life, at once twofold and simple, which brings about a pure, lofty, and perfect manner of loving our holy Mother… This life for Mary and in Mary and, at the same time, for and in God, is properly reserved for Her true lovers, for Her darling children whom she has chosen.”

            So once we are enclosed within the Heart of Mary, not only does the Holy Spirit lead us to love Mary beyond anything we have before experienced, we begin simultaneously to love God with Mary’s own love, her own Heart.  This is far beyond anything we could produce of ourselves, even aided by grace, for in Mary is the fullness of grace and the summit of love.  Thus by seeking union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we “become mad with love for Mary and for God at once”!  The more we love Mary, the more we will love God with her own Heart; and the more we love God, the more He will be pleased to increase our love for the Woman He loves most!

            We set limits to our love if we do not consecrate ourselves to Our Lady.   In an article in the Marian Helpers Bulletin, Fr Joseph Pelletier wrote this, concerning Marian consecration:

“Consecration to Mary is certainly an important step forward in a devotion to her, particularly if this consecration is repeated often enough with a fullness of heart. The consecration, by its nature, implies a desire to draw closer to Mary, to assure her influence over one’s entire life.  If repeated often enough—for example on rising or during morning prayers, at Mass, or Holy Communion—the consecration will create an intimate relationship between Mary and the soul. It will invariably have a powerful effect on one’s spiritual life.”

            So the real goal of consecration to Mary is to “establish a life of close union with her. This step could be considered a sort of extension of the consecration of the soul to Mary, that is, a means of strengthening that consecration and bringing it to fruition.  Union with Mary is the immediate goal of true devotion to Our Lady, union with God being the ultimate objective… any person can legitimately aspire to it and dispose oneself for it.”

            Notice that Fr Pelletier says that frequent repetition of our consecration to Mary helps “create an intimate relationship between Mary and the soul.”  You cannot merely wish to be united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  If this is what you really want, you have to take concrete steps to attain it.  Praying often to her and renewing your consecration will help keep you mindful of her presence and her love, and you will also thus be more inclined to live in a manner that pleases her.  All of this contributes to disposing your soul for a deeper and more personal union with our heavenly Mother.

More on the Meaning of Consecration and Union

            I’d like to share a few excerpts from a book entitled One More Gift, by Fr Luigi Faccenda, about the Marian spirituality of St Maximilian Kolbe, the final paragraph of the excerpts consisting of quotes by the saint himself.  These will help us understand the kind of personal gift we make to Our Lady with our consecration—a gift that is all-encompassing, and which only thus can bear the most spiritual fruit for the glory of God and for Mary’s honor as well.  This is very beautiful, and the more you know and love Our Lady, the more you will love to give yourself to her!  Fr Faccenda writes:

“Through our consecration we offer to Mary our soul with all its powers and faculties: affections, memory, intellect, will, and freedom.  We offer to her our material goods, both present and future.  We give her our spiritual goods, which means our merits, virtues, and past, present, and future good works.  This offering involves not only the goodness in us, but also our sinfulness and weaknesses.  The Heart of Mary is like an altar on which all that we are becomes like incense, because she purifies and enriches it with her fullness of grace and her merits.  Mary takes possession of our whole being, offering it to God as her own…

“Those who consecrate themselves to Mary and experience her strength in temptations and her consolation in difficulties feel their desire to share their joy with others, so that they too may be drawn to Mary.  In this way, Mary will enlighten their hearts, warm them with her maternal love, and enkindle them with the fire of charity which burns in the divine Heart of Jesus…

“‘Let us not limit our love; let us love Jesus with her Heart, for she loved Him with that very Heart.  Let our love for God be the very love of the Immaculata.  For this to be a reality we must be hers—entirely, completely, and in every way—hers…  All that is good flows through the hands of the Immaculate Mediatrix of Grace from God… Trust without limit in her and all your weaknesses will be turned about to your own good… We must radiate Mary in the midst of our surroundings, winning souls for her, so that souls might open to her, that she might rule within them all… and that her life would be deepened in us day to day, hour upon hour, moment by moment, and without limit… souls consecrated to her live by her and frequently think about her.  They love her wholeheartedly and endeavor to know her desires, whether from her own lips or those entrusted by her in the form of interior aspirations.  They strive to make her will known and loved, drawing more and more souls to a perfect knowledge of her and a more heartfelt love of Jesus’ divine Heart in and through her.’”

            A couple of points can be made here.  We give everything to Mary so she can give it to God, for she can do so more perfectly than we can.  Since she alone is all-pleasing to the Lord, He will immediately accept whatever is offered to Him at her hands.  There is a very striking passage on this point in the writings of Venerable Marie Petyt.  In describing one of her mystical visions, she wrote: “When I was about to receive Holy Communion, I saw my dear Mother near me, to my right, and also Her dear Son, Jesus; He was directly in front of me.  I gave my heart to this lovable Mother, so that She might deign to give it to Jesus…”  Even when Jesus was standing right before her, in her humility and her trust that whatever we wish to give to God is most purely and fruitfully done through Mary, she gave her heart to Mary so that the Blessed Virgin would give it to her Son!

            Mary cannot offer our prayers and sacrifices and our very selves to God as her own if they, and we, are not in fact her own.  Our consecration is not mere pious language.  We really have to belong to Mary. We have to hand ourselves over to her and make ourselves her personal property.  Only thus can she can freely give us to Jesus as something she has a right to give, something belonging personally to her—and hence as something completely pleasing to Him, for no one pleases Him more than Mary.  St Louis de Montfort makes clear in his writings that Jesus will accept with pleasure anything we offer—on condition that it is offered by the hands of Our Lady.  If our goal really is to give the greatest possible pleasure and glory to the Lord, giving all to Mary first is the best way to achieve it.

To be continued…

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 15)

Mary Continues Her Heavenly Mission

            The Marian Era is characterized by an unprecedented number of heavenly apparitions, always with an emphasis on praour-lady-of-america-detailyer and penance, return to God and to the sacraments, and to the whole life of the Church, often with the mention of Mary’s Immaculate Heart.  In the United States, Mary appeared to a nun named Sister Mary Ephrem, saying she wanted to be known by us as Our Lady of America, and that she had come to call us back to purity of life.  The United States has been formally placed under the patronage of Our Lady as the Immaculate Conception since 1846.  Our Lady appeared to Sister Mary Ephrem beginning in the mid-1950s, well aware of what was awaiting this country in the 1960s and beyond, if we didn’t heed her messages.  We didn’t, and the results are obvious and disastrous.

            Here are a few words of Mary, concerning her message and her Heart:

“I am the Immaculate One, Patroness of your land.  Be my faithful children as I have been your faithful Mother… I desire to make the whole of America my shrine by making every heart accessible to the love of my Son… Will my children in America listen to my pleadings and console my Immaculate Heart? …

“Reform of life is what I ask as the sign and proof of my children’s love for me.  God looks at the heart, and if it resembles the Heart of His Divine Son, it is with the greatest pleasure that He regards it.  But to make your hearts grow more and more like the Heart of the Son, you must go to the Mother, whose Heart is most like His.  From this Pure and Immaculate Heart you will learn all that will make you more pleasing to the Divine Heart of the Son of God… Come to me, my children, come to me and learn… Do not disregard the voice of your Mother.  It is the voice of love trying to save you from eternal ruin… Come to me, poor suffering and frightened ones. I am your Mother.  Never will I forsake you.  Only come to me with a wholehearted and loving trust.  Place your souls into my keeping. I am that faithful Mother who never forsakes her children. Honor me by your confidence and love…

“My Heart, my Immaculate Heart, is the channel through which the graces of the Sacred Heart are given to men… time passes, and with it wasted graces and constant refusals on the part of man to cooperate with me in the accomplishment of the Divine Will for his own sanctification and salvation.  What am I to do, child of my Heart, when my children turn from me?  The false peace of this world lures them and in the end will destroy them… Souls who cling to sin cannot have their hands free to receive the treasures of grace that I hold out to them… Behold, then, my Heart pierced by a cruel sword!  Oh, what grief my children have caused me! … we must have more souls who love, love unselfishly and without reserve.”

            Another rich source of light concerning the heavenly mission of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the book of locutions received by the Italian priest, Fr Stefano Gobbi (1930-2011), through whom Our Lady established the worldwide Marian Movement of Priests.  The book of messages, given over a period of about 25 years, carries the imprimatur, which means there is nothing in it contrary to Catholic faith or morals, and the Movement has received the Apostolic Blessing of Pope (Blessed) John Paul II.  There has been, however, some controversy over the content of some of the later messages, which contained apocalyptic predictions that evidently have not come to pass.  It is not known whether Fr Gobbi misinterpreted certain things that were communicated to him, or perhaps unwittingly allowed some of his own personal convictions to influence and hence somewhat alter Our Lady’s messages.

            There is a simple solution to this: don’t bother with the apocalyptic messages.  The majority of the locutions—especially the early ones, in the 1970s and 1980s, which are likely to be the most authentic—are mainly focused on our consecration to the Immaculate Heart and how to live it. What is important is to develop our personal relationship with our heavenly Mother.  Thus we will be prepared for whatever is to come, without having to spend time speculating about it.  Our Lady’s messages here are very beautiful, and they draw us to her Heart in a very tender and loving way—though she is clear that she takes seriously our consecration and does not hesitate to tell us what it means to belong completely to her!

            Here are just a few messages from the Blessed Mother:

“Hasten to my Immaculate Heart.  Come to me… I have prepared a secure refuge for you where you must gather together to be comforted and saved.  This refuge is my Immaculate Heart! … You who are totally entrusted to me, listen to me and follow me… I myself, as Mother, am committed to make you just what my Son Jesus desires you to be… Allow yourself to be formed by me… in a very particular and personal way…

“If you remain in the garden of my Immaculate Heart, you become my property…  In my arms and in my Immaculate Heart you will be consoled… I will defend you from the evil one, who can do nothing to harm those who are part of my property… Walk in trust… I am your heavenly Mother and I am at your side.  I am protecting and leading you.  I am sheltering and defending you.  Do not be worried about what is going to happen to you, because everything has already been arranged in my Motherly Heart… I have drawn close to you; I have taken your heart in my hands… Do not be afraid anymore…  You always have with you the Mother who leads you by the hand, who presses you to her Immaculate Heart…”

            With these and many other messages from Heaven, Mary continues her mission to call us to repentance and a deeper life of prayer and faithfulness to Our Lord by consecrating ourselves to her Immaculate Heart.  Her mission is to see to it that God’s will is done in us and to keep us on the difficult but life-giving path to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Mary’s heavenly mission will continue until the end of time, until the full number of the elect has been secured for the life of everlasting happiness.  As Mediatrix of Grace, she is in a perfect position to help us, so we ought to have frequent recourse to her and not only cooperate with her in the work of our own sanctification and salvation, but also help her to win souls for God by our prayer and sacrifice.

            Our Lady said at Fatima: “Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”  It may very well be that some of our own family or friends might be lost forever if we do not pray and offer sacrifices for them, to obtain the grace they need to repent and be saved.  We have received much from the Lord, which others have not received.  Therefore much will be required of us in return (see Lk. 12:48), for we have a responsibility toward our fellow members of the Body of Christ.  So let us help our heavenly Mother to succeed in her ongoing mission to gather souls for the Lord!

To be continued…

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 14)

We Live in the Marian Era

            The year 1830 marks the beginning of what many have called the “Marian Era,” a period of time extending from that date until the Second miraculousmedalsComing of Christ.  In 1830 Our Lady appeared to St Catherine Labouré, revealing to her the image that she wanted to have made into a medal.  This later became known as the Miraculous Medal, because of the countless miracles worked through the invocation of Mary by those who devoutly wore it.  It seems that God Himself was calling our attention to the beginning of this Marian Era, because in the vision granted to St Catherine, the year 1830 was inscribed in the globe upon which Our Lady was standing.

            The Blessed Mother appeared with brilliant rays streaming from her hands, signifying her mediation of divine grace to her children.  It is also significant that Mary appeared crushing the ancient serpent beneath her, as the words appeared around her: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”  Mary’s Immaculate Conception was the beginning, and the basis, for her complete victory over the devil, which will be consummated at the end of time.  So Mary not only brings God’s grace to us, she also protects us from the snares and attacks of the evil spirits.

            The truth of both Mary’s Immaculate Conception and her absolute power over the devil were confirmed just two decades later.  In 1854, Blessed Pius IX, formally and infallibly defined the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of the Church.   In the course of the declaration he wrote: “The most holy Virgin, united with [Christ] by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.”

            Four years later, Our Lady herself came from Heaven to Lourdes, France, to reveal and confirm the truth of this divine mystery.  When the holy child Bernadette asked the Beautiful Lady her name, Mary brought her hands together in prayer, lifted up her eyes to Heaven, and spoke these words, which will resound in Christian hearts forever: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  Having the infallible word of the Church and its extraordinary confirmation by the Mother of God herself, we can happily rest in the truth of this beautiful mystery.

 

Fatima: The Definitive Revelation of the Immaculate Heart

            The course for the Marian Era was clearly and definitively set when the Mother of God came from Heaven to three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.  There she called all people to convert their hearts, to do penance and to pray the holy Rosary daily, and she gave urgent warnings concerning what would happen if we did not listen to her.  In addition, Our Lady revealed to us a crucial aspect of the will of God concerning this final era of human history: “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

            While the veneration of Mary as the holy Mother of Jesus is practically as ancient as the Church herself, specific devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in one form or another begins to appear in the Church around the 13th century.  In the 17th century, St John Eudes widely and successfully promoted devotion to Mary’s Heart, and by the end of the 18th century Pope Pius VI granted, for certain dioceses, the celebration of the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.  A special Mass and Divine Office of the Most Pure Heart of Mary were formally established a few decades later.

            It seems that the specific expression “Immaculate Heart” became universally used only after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes.  Today, of course, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the day after that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

            When Our Lady spoke of her Immaculate Heart at Fatima, her message came from Heaven and from the eternal wisdom and will of God.  This means that Mary’s Heart has always been the Immaculate Heart, even if the revelation of this mystery was not made fully explicit in the early centuries of the Church.  Now the fullness of time has come, and God has clearly made known that He wants us to be devoted and consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

            The devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, as she revealed it at Fatima in 1917, and also during subsequent apparitions to Lucia after she our_lady_of_fatima_6entered the convent, consists mainly of various prayers and practices designed to offer reparation to the Heart of Mary.  This reparation, which we’ll discuss more later, is for all the ways her pure and tender Heart has been wounded and grieved by the sins and blasphemies of men.

            This wounding of Mary’s Heart is not a small thing in the eyes of the Lord, who is deeply offended by anyone who would dare to say or do anything against the one He loves most.  Mary once appeared to Sister Lucia saying: “There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask for reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray…”  Evidently, then, to sin grievously against the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to incur eternal damnation, but our heavenly Mother thinks not of the injury she receives from callous evildoers, but only of their repentance and salvation.  So she asks us, her children, knowing that we love her, to offer reparation to her Heart so as to win the mercy of God and the grace of repentance for these sinners.

            Blessed Jacinta, one of the Fatima visionaries, loved Our Lady’s Heart very much, and so she offered many and extraordinary sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Sister Lucia wrote in her memoirs:

“Our Lady opened Her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts.  I think that on that day, the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, just as on the other two occasions it was intended to do, as it seems to me, with regard to God and the mystery of the most Holy Trinity.  From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  From time to time, Jacinta said to me: ‘The Lady said that Her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Don’t you love that?  Her Heart is so good!  How I love it!’”

            Sister Lucia continues:

“Jacinta chose from the litany of short prayers which Father Cruz suggested to us, this one: ‘Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation!’ [This is understood, of course, in light of her role as Mediatrix of the grace of Christ in union with the Holy Spirit.] After saying it, she used to add sometimes, with the simplicity that was natural to her: ‘I so love the Immaculate Heart of Mary! It is the Heart of our dear Mother in Heaven!  Don’t you love saying many times: Sweet Heart of Mary, Immaculate Heart of Mary?  I love it so much, so very much.’  At other times, as she gathered wild flowers, she sang a little tune that she made up herself as she went along: ‘Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation!  Immaculate Heart of Mary, convert sinners, save souls from hell!’”

Would that we could always have such innocent, childlike love and devotion and confidence!

To be continued…

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 13)

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Heaven in Her Hands

            We can find Heaven in the hands of Mary as well as in her Heart.  If her Heart is the image by which we understand her inner life, purity, and motherly love, then her hands express her maternal activity in praying for us, protecting us, and bringing God’s grace Vision of Our Ladyto us.  In sacred images and in our own spiritual life, we see Mary’s hands holding Jesus and presenting Him to us as our Savior.  We also see them folded in prayerful intercession for us, and we see them streaming with the light of the heavenly graces she brings to us as Mediatrix.  Most tenderly, we also recognize those motherly hands pressing us lovingly to her Immaculate Heart, thus offering us a foretaste of Paradise.

            A particularly striking experience of the heavenly hands of Mary was recounted by Lucia of Fatima, when Our Lady appeared to them: “Mary opened Her hands, and we were bathed in a heavenly light that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light’s reality cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it…  She opened Her hands and for the second time, She communicated to us the rays of that same immense light. We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God.  Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose towards Heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth. In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a Heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation…”

            What  I find so fascinating and attractive is that Our Lady, who lives in Heaven with God and the angels and saints, is so full of Heaven, full of grace, full of God, that she can communicate his divine Light through her own hands.  She opens them and the whole light of Heaven that permeates her is spread out over the children, and they are thus able to enter into an extraordinary communion with God that draws them immediately to worship Him, as if they had just entered Heaven itself.  Mary holds Heaven in her hands, as it were, and she can communicate its light and grace to whomever God sends her.

            So it is through Mary’s hands that the light and grace of God are given to us.  This is expressed in the Church’s teaching on Mary as Mediatrix of All Grace:

            “St. Bernard comments thus: ‘Just as every rescript of grace or of pardon that is sent by a king passes through the palace gates, in the same way every grace that comes from Heaven to the world passes through the hands of Mary’” (The Glories of Mary, ch. 5).

            “…we are profoundly convinced that the destiny of God’s people is in the power of his grace, which in turn is abundantly dispensed through the hands of his Blessed Mother Mary…” (address of Blessed John Paul II, Oct. 1980).

            “…since Divine Providence willed that the God-Man should come to us through Mary, who conceived Him by the Holy Spirit and bore Him in her womb, we can now receive Christ only from the hands of Mary…” (Ad Diem Illum, Pope St Pius X).

            “God has made Mary the dispensatrix of all His graces and favors to men, so that absolutely nothing comes down from Heaven to man save through the hands of this holy Mother… This explains why our heart burns so ardently with love for Mary…  This influx of grace which gives life to the soul seems to proceed so directly from the loving Heart and hands of Mary… that She appears to us as the absolute Mistress of the divine treasures, from which She takes what She pleases in order to adorn our souls and render them beautiful in the sight of God…” (Venerable Marie Petyt).

            “No heavenly gift is given to men which does not pass through her virginal hands. Such indeed is the will of God, who has decreed that we should have all things through Mary…” (St Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, #25).

            A few passages from Mary’s messages from Heaven direct us to her motherly hands as well: “With the act of consecration you have put your life in my hands.  Now it belongs to me; it is mine… With my own hands, I root out from you whatever might, in any way, be displeasing to the Lord… Let yourself be led always by the hand of your heavenly Mother… I have taken your heart into my hands; I have placed it into my motherly Heart… My Son gives to me all those souls who come to me with confidence, calling upon my aid. Their salvation is in my hands…”

            Finally (though all the above is just a sample of what we can meditate upon while contemplating the hands of our heavenly Mother), there is the extraordinary vision of Our Lady granted to the unbelieving Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne, who immediately afterward converted to Catholicism and shortly became a priest.  The following is part of the account of his vision and conversion:

“Ratisbonne drew out his medal [a Miraculous Medal he had been given, and put on only as a lark], kissed it, and showed it me, saying, ‘I saw her! I saw her!’ and again emotion choked his words, but soon he grew calmer and spoke.  I shall give his own words: ‘I had only been in the church a moment when I was suddenly seized with an indescribable agitation of mind.  I looked up and found that the rest of the building had disappeared.  One single chapel seemed to have gathered all the light and concentrated it in itself.  In the midst of this radiance I saw someone standing on the altar, a lofty shining figure, all majesty and sweetness, the Virgin Mary just as she looks on this medal.  Some irresistible force drew me towards her.  She motioned to me to kneel down and when I did so, she seemed to approve.  Unable to look up because of the blinding light, I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon. In the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, my sins and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.  Though she never said a word, I understood her perfectly’ … At first he had been able to see the Queen of Heaven clearly, appearing in all the splendor of her immaculate beauty; but he had not been able to bear the radiance of that divine light for long.  Three times he had tried to look up to her, and three times he had found himself unable to raise his eyes higher than her hands, from which blessings and graces seemed to be falling like so many shining rays.”

            It is a delicate detail that Mary “spoke” to Ratisbonne through her hands.  In seeing their beauty and the divine light shining through them, he learned all he needed to know.

            We ought, then, to place ourselves in the loving hands of Mary, allow her to press us to her Immaculate Heart, and to carry us in this way to Our Lord.  All graces come to us from God through Mary’s hands, so we ought to turn to her in all our needs, and also honor her fittingly for this extraordinary and unique privilege granted her by the infinite love of the Lord.  Let us not hesitate to kiss the hand through which God’s gifts are granted to us, and do so even when his gifts take the form of a cross.  This will be a profound expression of our love and trust, and it will be rewarded by God.

            If we are faithful to the end, we will live with God in Heaven forever.  When it comes time for us to leave this world, the heavenly Queen and Mother, to whom we have prayed countless times to pray for us “now and at the hour of our death,” will come joyfully to us—with Heaven in her hands.

To be continued…