Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Final Gift

It has been said by several mystics in the last century that the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the final giftImmaculate Heart Sunset resize that God is giving to the world for its conversion and salvation before the Second Coming of Christ.  The role of Mary in the divine plan of salvation and in our own spiritual lives is part of “the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God… that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known…” (Eph. 3:9-10).  The Church has made known this mystery of Mary, planted as a seed in the soil of the Holy Scriptures and coming to full fruition in the life of the Holy Catholic Church.  So the saints have said that if people would come to the Lord through his Mother, He would welcome them and spare them from the evils of this age and from eternal damnation.  We see that all too few people have so far responded to this invitation and received this gift, but the offer is still open, precisely because it is the final one.

This corresponds well to what we find in the Gospel of John at the time of Jesus’ death on the Cross.  Jesus says to Mary: “Woman, behold your son!”  And then Jesus says to John: “Behold, your Mother!”  It’s important to read the very next verse, which begins: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished…”

“After this… all was now finished.” This means that Jesus’ work wasn’t finished until He gave us his Mother as our own, and once He did so, his mission was complete.  The gift of Mary to us as our Mother was the last gift Jesus gave to the world before He died.  If people traditionally honor the last request of a dying man, how much more should we receive what the Son of God has given us just moments before He died!  So, as Mary was Jesus’ final gift to us before the end of his life, her Immaculate Heart is his final gift to us before the end of the world.

At Cana and at the Cross, Mary is at the beginning and the end of Jesus’ public life—and she was obviously at the very beginning of his life through the incarnation and divine maternity.  So we also find her to be present at the beginning of our lives: from the moment of our baptism, when she becomes our Mother—because at that moment we are adopted by the Father and become brothers and sisters of the Only-begotten Son—until the hour of our death, when she will be present at our final agony, as she stood next to the Cross of Jesus.  Then He will tell us once more to behold our Mother, to receive the gift, and then be carried in her arms into the Kingdom of Heaven.  We constantly pray to her to assist us now and at the hour of our death.

Jesus’ gift of Mary to us as our Mother is intimately connected with the Holy Eucharist, so she should be very close to our hearts. Blessed John Paul II made that clear in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (#57) when he wrote: “In the memorial of Calvary [which is the Eucharistic Sacrifice], all that Christ accomplished by his passion and his death is present.  Consequently all that Christ did with regard to his Mother for our sake is also present.  To her he gave the beloved disciple and, in him, each of us…  To each of us he also says: ‘Behold your mother!’ (cf. Jn. 19: 26-27).  Experiencing the memorial of Christ’s death in the Eucharist also means continually receiving this gift.  It means accepting—like John—the one who is given to us anew as our Mother.  It also means taking on a commitment to be conformed to Christ, putting ourselves at the school of his Mother and allowing her to accompany us.  Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist.  If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist.”  So Blessed John Paul says that at every Eucharistic Sacrifice not only are the mysteries of his death and resurrection manifested and communicated, but also the gift of Mary as our Mother, which is meant to be renewed at every Holy Mass.

In our lives, then, the paschal mystery of Christ finds its expression primarily in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, but also in the precious gift of his Mother, who is intimately united to all his divine mysteries.

Mary, having suffered so much in union with Jesus on the Cross, has the most reason to rejoice in his resurrection.  A hymn to Our Lady during paschal time begins by saying:  “An angel greeted you, O Full of Grace…”  This sounds like the annunciation, but then it goes on to say, “Rejoice, for after three days your Son rose from the dead.”  So perhaps as the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary just before Jesus entered her holy womb, the same Archangel announced to her the resurrection, moments before Jesus manifested Himself to her in his risen glory, as the mystics say He did—and how could it be otherwise?

Then the hymn immediately leaps forward to Mary’s final glorification, exulting:  “Shine forth in splendor, New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen on you!”  Our Lady shines forth in the power of the glory of the Lord, who has made her the Queen of Heaven.  The Queen wields the power and authority of the King insofar as He grants it to her.  It is his by nature, hers by grace.  As an earthly king holds all power for himself, but shares it as he wills with the queen, so too Christ the King has exalted his Mother and shared the authority of his reign with her, because He loves more than anyone He has ever made.  The picture I’ve posted here was not originally painted to depict the Queen of Heaven, but it has been used and accepted as such by a Mary the Queen resizenumber of people in the Church (like Fr Donald Calloway in his new book, Under the Mantle), for the beauty and power of its Catholic symbolism.  I think that any man with a chivalrous bone in his body would love this picture, would love to be knighted by his Lady, to serve her mission to gather souls for the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is a beautiful image of the ideal of manly devotion and love—and the willingness to fight to the death to defend the honor of the Queen—which is lost on so many souls today, either because traditional ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness mean little to them, or because they simply refuse to honor her whom the Lord honors so highly in Heaven.

But there is more.  The Queen, while the central figure in this picture, does not act alone.  See how the bright light (the Uncreated Light of God, for our purposes), shines upon her right side, running down her arm and even into the blade of the sword.  (I don’t know how it looks on your screen, but the darker the background is, the brighter the light looks.) So the power, the grace, is God’s, but the Queen, as Mediatrix of Grace, communicates it to us.  She has often been sent by God over the centuries to call us to repent and return to the Lord, and by his power she has worked many miracles.  So the Queen has authority from the King to consecrate “knights” for her service, who will labor for the triumph of her Immaculate Heart as she prophesied at Fatima, and who manifest the manly devotion which she inspires.  God is jealous to defend her honor against those who would reject, denigrate, or ignore her, and so he sets aside certain persons and gives them a special vocation to offer service and reparation to her, thus vindicating God’s righteousness and winning the grace of repentance for those who blindly (or even hatefully) refuse to honor the Queen.  Our Lady said to Sr Lucia of Fatima: “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…”  While the ranks of the devout are mostly composed of women, this is an honorable thing a man can do: ask God to be taken into the service of the Queen, set apart to receive grace through her for the offering of reparation to her Immaculate Heart, and fruitful prayers and sacrifices for the salvation of souls.  Thus you will receive the full benefit of the Lord’s “final gift” to mankind, and many others will benefit as well.

This post is also my final gift to you on Two Pillars.  The Contemplatives of St Joseph have a mission that will consume all of my time, for a long time, and I will not even be able to dig up old homilies to recycle.  I ask your prayers for this mission, because I need to spend many hours a day in prayer in addition to all this work, if it is going to be fruitful (and if I’m not to burn out through excessive activity!).  If it were up to me, I would have a little cottage on the coast and spend the rest of my life praying and writing.  But I’m here to do the Lord’s will, and He is moving me in a new direction.  I trust that obedience will bear its fruit.

I will make this blog available indefinitely, since there is still much in the archives you can look through.  It’s worth all the time and effort if I have been able to help some souls advance a little farther along the road of truth and love, of holiness and salvation. Pray for me as I will pray for you. Good-bye for now, and I hope to see you on the Other Side. And, as my old Unk Gene used to say: “God bless you and Mary keep you!”

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 23)

Appendix C:  A Theological Reflection

            The following rather lengthy excerpt is from a book by Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, OP, entitled: The Mysteries of Mary: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love with the Mother of God.  I include it here because it touches on some points I mentioned in this little book, though from a more strictly theological perspective.  Personally, I find it quite beautiful, and it has helped me a lot in understanding and deepening my own relationship with Our Lady.  So if that appeals to you, I think you will benefit from this.  (In this excerpt, I have capitalized “Heart,” for both Jesus and Mary, in order to bring it in keeping with my usage throughout this book.  It is only fitting!)

            “[Mary] is eternally the Mother of the members of Christ: Mother of their divine life, a mother who never ceases to beget them to this divine life; a mother who never ceases to watch over them, carry them, feed them, sustain them, educate them and direct them toward the Heart of Jesus and toward the Father while teaching them to be completely docile to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

            “With a perfect knowledge of our souls—a knowledge she has received from Christ, since all the secrets of our hearts are revealed to her—she gives and communicates to us this divine life as adopted sons of the Father (adopted yet real) and as members of Jesus.  She knows us and calls us by our name; she has received this knowledge from the Good Shepherd Himself.

            “This knowledge is a practical, loving, and efficacious knowledge.  It is a mother’s knowledge concerning her children, one which binds the mother’s heart and intelligence to her children’s heart and intelligence.  We have here as it were a very intimate communication of life, within a loving knowledge.  Mary, as mother, is completely given to our souls, through Christ and the Father.  And it is in this very gift that she is Mother and that she begets us.  This gift has a maternal modality that cannot be separated from the gift we are given by Christ and the entire Holy Trinity.  She can give herself as Mother to our souls, giving birth to divine life in us, only through the will of the Son and of the Father, under the shadow of the Holy Spirit.

love of Mary“In His wisdom, God willed to fully establish Mary as Mother of His Son so that she might fully be Mother of His members, in order that she might eternally play this role as Mother of our divine life.  That is why the gift of this divine life which she gives to her children is realized in this particular modality of maternity.  She is the vital milieu where their divine life can blossom.  She is the one who carries and envelops their Christian life, who disposes their souls to the action of the Holy Spirit and who, in a very intimate and delicate way, completes in them this action of the Holy Spirit so that God’s graces may be completely efficacious.

            “This helps us to understand the manner in which she is present to each of her children in the intimacy of their divine life, their Christian life.  It helps us to understand how there is a kind of special mode to our grace that connaturalizes us with Mary’s grace and spontaneously inclines us toward her and enables us to live in unison with her divine life.  It is in this sense that we must clearly understand that her motherhood for those still on earth is on another level, beyond, as it were, the instrumental action of the sacraments.

            “We should point out that for those who are still living on earth, Mary’s presence in the intimacy of their divine life is a supernatural presence that remains hidden and veiled and is the source of our highest aspirations and our most ardent desires.  Although hidden, this presence is efficacious and real; it is the presence of someone who maternally acts in us, who gives us God’s life and who never ceases to prepare us and make us docile to the motion of the Holy Spirit.

            “Of course, the Holy Spirit can give us the divine experience of Mary’s motherhood of choice and preference with respect to our souls.   He can make us consciously live from this invisible and maternal presence of Mary in the intimacy of our divine life.  He can teach us to say “Mother” while looking at Mary, just as He teaches us to say “Father” while looking at our Creator.  He can unveil for us and help us experience the unfathomable depths of this motherhood; He can lead us to understand the divine quality of her love.  At the Cross, Mary accepted separation from Jesus in order to become the Mother of John’s divine life.  Jesus asked her for this sacrifice so that she might become our Mother, and Mary accepted it with love.  Thus she preferred the divine life of her son John to the joy of her Son’s physical presence, to her Son’s earthly life.  This choice is eternal.  It is with this ‘quality’ of love that we are loved.

            “The Holy Spirit can bury us and experimentally hide us in the depths of the maternal mercy of Mary’s Heart and ask that we remain there, as though in seclusion, like a little child in sinu Mariae [in the bosom of Mary].  The Holy Spirit can ask us to choose her as a Mother in a very special way, with a choice that seeks to match the divine quality of her own choice.  He can require from us an attitude similar to John’s: to choose her as a Mother in order to obey an imperative order from Christ, in order to obey his last will and take her ‘into our home,’ intimately into our life, as he did, to live exclusively with and by her.  It is a divine dwelling that is very hidden, very solitary, and very silent in which the Holy Spirit can establish us.  We have here a very special covenant of love between our hearts and Mary’s Heart.  Each one of us lives in this covenant, but we are not all divinely aware of it.

            “Moreover, Mary cooperates in Christ’s governance upon us, a governance that consists in directing us toward the Father, in leading us through love toward the paternal home.  This governance, which comes from God’s wisdom, is both forceful and gentle, fortiter et suaviter. Mary’s maternal rule over us primarily concerns the blossoming of our Christian life, the perfection of our life of faith, hope, and love.  Mary always hastens the Hour of Christ, as at Cana… She acts ‘forcefully,’ demanding a great deal from us, like a loving mother who has great ambitions for her sons whom she loves so much.  But she acts gently, with infinite delicacy, from within, so to speak, as though we were acting on our own.  She steps aside to leave room for our own initiatives.  She is present in our life of silent prayer to help us live more divinely in Him…

            “This governance especially intervenes in the realm of our human imagination, our memories, our ‘psychological selves.’  This is in fact where most of the battles and struggles are fought, where the majority of temptations occur.  Mary pacifies, calms, simplifies, gets rid of our psychological complexes; she unties them with her maternal and delicate love.  She also acts in our sensibilities and in our physical strength, enveloping everything in her maternal grace.

            “Thanks to this action of maternal mercy, her presence, which is realized first of all in the depths of our divine life at its very source, can take hold of our entire human, imaginative, intellectual, affective and sensitive life, according to God’s gracious will.  This maternal action can take hold of everything.  Since Mary possesses her glorious body in heaven, her maternal action can even include more extraordinary modalities: with more sensible or imaginative forms; as also happens for the presence of Christ’s glorious body with respect to His members who are still here on earth.  Mary can visibly appear to her children exiled on earth to comfort them, encourage them and to remind them of the demands of their Christian life…

            “In heaven, for the elect, Mary’s presence is lived in full light, and all its potentials are made perfectly explicit.  Mary still performs this merciful yet forceful maternal role with respect to the elect.  She illuminates each of the elect and gives herself to each one in particular.

            “With respect to the angels, she exercises a queenship and not an intimate motherhood.  She enlightens and illuminates them, but does not give herself to them as a mother.  Thus her children enjoy an intimacy with her that the angels cannot enjoy.”

            Finally, a passage quoted in the same book, from The Mystery of Mary, by Fr. Rogatien Bernard, OP: “[Mary’s] noblest activity is evidently to see God and to love Him.  Now the Blessed Virgin is so essentially a Mother that she cannot help seeing all her children in God and loving them in Him.  This is her spiritual maternity in its highest aspect, for here we see a creature who has the privilege of seeing those whom she brings forth the way God sees them, and of carrying them constantly in her eternal Heart the way God Himself carries them.  It would be impossible to conceive anything greater in her activity or more profitable for us than this tender gaze in which she enfolds us and with which she penetrates us.”

Mary & Jesus

THE  END

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 22)

Appendix A:  Papal Testimonies to St Louis de Montfort’s Marian Teachings

Some people think that the teachings concerning total consecration to Mary and the whole “Marian life” as recommended by St Louis de Montfort are somewhat exaggerated, especially those who seem to have lost their understanding and appreciation of the Catholic Church’s Tradition.  The six Vicars of Christ listed below, however, would disagree.  The following information is quoted from 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Fr Michael E. Gaitley, MIC.

Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) stated that St. Louis’s devotion to Mary is the best and most acceptable form.

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) not only beatified de Montfort in 1888 but granted a Church indulgence to Catholics who consecrate themselves to Mary using de Montfort’s formula.  Moreover, this Pope was reportedly so influenced by St. Louis’s efforts to spread the Rosary that he wrote 11 encyclicals on this preeminent Marian devotion.

Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914), like Leo XIII, also recommended de Montfort’s teaching on Mary to the faithful.  In fact, he granted a plenary indulgence in perpetuum (in perpetuity) to anyone who would pray de Montfort’s formula for Marian consecration, and he offered his own apostolic blessing to anyone who would simply read True Devotion.  This Pope so strongly encouraged the faithful to follow de Montfort’s path of Marian devotion because he himself had experienced its power.  In fact, in his Marian encyclical Ad Diem Illum, the saintly Pope expressed his own dependence on de Montfort in writing it, which becomes obvious when one compares it with True Devotion.  The Pope’s encyclical continually reflects the tone and spirit of de Montfort’s classic work as evidenced by sentences like this: “There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ.”

Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) simply stated, “I have practiced this devotion ever since my youth.”

Venerable Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) canonized St Louis in 1947 and, in his homily for the Mass of canonization, referred to de Montfort’s Marian teaching as “solid and right.” Then, when the Pope addressed the pilgrims who had come for the canonization, he said that de Montfort leads us to Mary and from Mary, to Jesus, thus summarizing the meaning of Marian consecration.

Blessed Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) promoted de Montfort’s teaching more than any other Pope… It’s enough here to recall two amazing facts: First, that John Paul’s papal motto was Totus Tuus (“totally yours”), which he took directly from de Montfort’s shorter prayer of consecration; second, that John Paul described his reading of True Devotion to Mary as a “decisive turning point” in his life.

Appendix B: Consecration Prayers

The following are several prayers that are often used to consecrate oneself to Our Lady.  Use whatever form speaks to your heart.  Let the consecration prayer be whatever you can say with reasonable guarantee of fidelity to what you are offering to Mary, and to Our Lord through her.

From St Louis de Montfort:

ToJesusThroughMaryO Eternal and incarnate Wisdom!  O sweetest and most adorable Jesus!  True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin!  I adore You profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Your Father during eternity; and I adore You also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Your most worthy Mother, in the time of Your incarnation.

I give You thanks that You have emptied Yourself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil.  I praise and glorify You that You have been pleased to submit Yourself to Mary, Your holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Your faithful slave through her.  But, alas!  Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to You in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Your child, nor yet Your slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Your anger and Your repulse, I dare not come by myself before Your most holy and august Majesty.  It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Your most holy Mother, whom You have given me for a mediatrix with You.  It is through her that I hope to obtain of You contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.

Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men!  Hail, O Queen of heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God!  Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one!  Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to you.

I, _____, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.  In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose you this day for my Mother and Mistress.  I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.

Receive, O most kind Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to your maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored you.  I declare that I wish henceforth, as your true slave, to seek your honor and to obey you in all things.

O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by you, by you He may receive me!  O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom you love and teach, whom you lead, nourish and protect as your children and your slaves.

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ your Son, that I may attain, by your intercession and by your example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.

From St Maximilian Kolbe:

O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, ________, a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and, “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for intro­ducing and increasing your glory to the maxi­mum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holi­ness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

V. Allow me to praise you, O Holy Virgin.

R. Give me strength against your enemies.

Daily Renewal of St Maximilian’s Consecration:

Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you for this day and for always, so that you might use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world.  To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions and sacrifices for this day.

Another consecration prayer:

O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy,
Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners,
we consecrate ourselves to thine Immaculate Heart.

We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life;
all that we have, all that we love, all that we are.

To thee we give our bodies, our hearts and our souls;
to thee we give our homes, our families, our country.

We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee,
and may share in the benefits of thy motherly benediction.

And that this act of consecration may be truly efficacious and lasting,
we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our first Holy Communion.

We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics who are duly submissive to all the directions
of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.

We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and His Church,
in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

We likewise pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion,
and above all, Holy Communion, an integral part of our lives, in so far as we shall be able so to do.

Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men,
to devote ourselves whole-heartedly to the service of thy blessed veneration,
in order to hasten and assure, through the sovereignty of thine Immaculate Heart,
the coming of the kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son,
in our own hearts and in those of all men, in our country and in all the world,
as in heaven, so on earth.  Amen.

Another one:

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, and tender Mother of men, in accordance with Thy ardent wish made known at Fatima, I consecrate to Thy Immaculate Heart myself, my brethren, my country and the whole human race.

Reign over us, Most Holy Mother of God, and teach us how to make the Heart of Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, reign and triumph in us even as It has reigned and triumphed in Thee.

Reign over us, Most Blessed Virgin, that we may be Thine in prosperity and in adversity, in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness, in life and in death.

O most compassionate Heart of Mary, Queen of Heaven, watch over our minds and hearts and preserve them from the impurity which Thou didst lament so sorrowfully at Fatima.  Assist us in imitating You in all things, especially purity.  Help us to call down upon our country and upon the whole world the peace of God in justice and charity.

Therefore, Most Gracious Virgin and Mother, I hereby promise to imitate Thy virtues
by the practice of a true Christian life without regard to human respect.  I resolve to receive Holy Communion regularly and to offer to Thee five decades of the Rosary each day, together with my sacrifices, in the spirit of reparation and penance. Amen.

This one can be done very easily every day:

O Mary, my Queen! my Mother! I give thee all myself, and, to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my entire self.  Wherefore, O loving Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, defend me, as thy property and possession.  Amen.

To be continued…

Heaven in Her Heart (Part 21)

Epilogue: The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart

            There has been some controversy over precisely what Our Lady meant when she said,  “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”  But I’m not interested in controversy, only in uniting myself to that loving Heart so as to be with her when her triumph is definitively manifested.  We have to understand her triumph in a personal way as well as in a way that affects the whole world.  I’d like reproduce here a few paragraphs from in my book, A Place Prepared by God.  This passage begins with reflections by Mother Adela, SCTJM, whom I quoted earlier. She emphasizes the spiritual nature of the great struggles of our times. In the last paragraph I conclude in my own words with what it means that Our Lady’s Heart triumphs in our own hearts.

“How much indifference and rejection there is towards Our Mother and Her interventions!  How much rejection of Her mission, Her intercession, and the doctrinal truths about Her.  How much resistance there is in giving Her that place the Trinity gave to Her and in recognizing it publicly… Behind every rejection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whether it is strong or subtle, we can find the instigation and the attack of satan.  ‘I will place enmity between you and the Woman.’  And all of this resistance is so grave that Jesus considers it necessary that acts of reparation be made for them…

“Because sin is the root of the battle, our Mother calls us with urgency to authentic conversion and to renunciation of the sin, indifference, doubt, and rebellion found in man today.  As a good Mother, She battles in this decisive hour for humanity—an hour in which eternal salvation is at stake in so many souls, including our own…

“The Holy Father [John Paul II] has called this battle the ‘culture of death’ that includes the general loss of faith, the loss of many souls, wars, destruction, abortion, rebellion, euthanasia, violence, etc.  However… the worst death is that of the soul that loses its faith, falls away from God, His love, and His commandments, and is lost in a life of sin, running the risk of eternal condemnation and eternal death.

“In Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary left us a promise: ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.’  If She speaks of triumph, this implies that there is a battle that needs to be fought.  The instrument of this victory will be the Immaculate Heart.

“The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is something that will ultimately be realized on a global level, but it begins in individual hearts.  At a certain stage or moment in your relationship with Our Lady, if you have consecrated yourself to her and are earnestly striving to live accordingly, you will become aware that the triumph of her Heart has in fact occurred in yours.  You will have the sense of belonging to her, of having entered a new level of devotion, of having made a clean break with (at least the worst of) your former sins.  You will wish to please her in all things and will feel secure in her carMay crowninge and her love.  You will know that you have taken a step from which there is no turning back, and you know how right and good this is.  You have come to her and given yourself to her, and she has received you; now it is easy for her to bring you to Jesus, for your resistance to grace has been overcome.  This is the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in your heart.”

I might also add that to allow Mary to triumph in your own heart is to desire and to invite her sovereignty over your life.  A sign that her triumph is happening within you is that you want her to be your Mistress and Queen, you want to submit to her guidance and direction in all things, you want her to take your life in her hands and make of it what is pleasing to her and to Our Lord.  There is a certain sweetness and grace to this surrender to Mary.  When she is finally and permanently Queen in your heart and soul, she is free to work wonders in and through you, and your life will bear much fruit for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

 

Staying on the Path

            All the above should make it clear that being consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not merely a matter of making and repeating a certain formula of prayer.  It requires a change of life, striving for sanctity, trying to be aware of the presence of Our Lady and what she may be asking of us at any given time.  We have to live by the Gospel of Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church, and attend to the words from Heaven that Mary has spoken—in apparitions approved by the Church as worthy of belief.

            But how do we stay on this path to salvation, without getting sidetracked or waylaid or otherwise detained in our pursuit of holiness, our full and fruitful living of our consecration?  Something I experienced while writing this little book will perhaps give a certain general approach to making sure our behavior is always in keeping with the demands of our faith and our consecration.

            In the community where I live, there is a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, about two feet tall, on the refectory (dining room) table.  One day the carpet was being replaced, so the table had to be temporarily removed.  Since so many things were being moved around, I took Our Lady’s statue to my room to keep it safe.  I decided to spend some of my prayer time holding the statue while I prayed, and carrying it around with me to remind myself of her constant presence in my life.

            As I prayed, it occurred to me that I should always conduct myself as if I were holding Mary’s sacred image in my arms.  It’s the beginning of an examination of conscience: Would I act differently if I knew the Mother of God was right next to me all the time, as close as this statue I’m carrying?  It’s a sort of a variation on “What would Jesus do?”  Well, what would we do if we knew our heavenly Mother was very near to us in every situation, watching and embracing us?  It helps remind us of our consecration and what it means that we belong to her.

            Similarly, I venerated (that is, kissed) the praying hands of Our Lady’s image, grateful that God’s grace comes to us through these hands and that they are always joined in prayer for us. Then another thing occurred to me: I ought to speak only the things that are compatible with this veneration.  If I was always aware that my lips were touching the all-pure hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary, could I ever say anything that she would find offensive or displeasing?

            I’ve sometimes heard people say, when another was speaking inappropriately: “Did you receive Holy Communion with that mouth?” (See also James 3:8-12.)  Likewise, we ought to remind ourselves, if we speak (or are tempted to speak) crudely or uncharitably: “Did you kiss the hands of the Blessed Virgin with those lips?”  Such reminders can help us stay on the path, live a life worthy of our calling, and not give the devil a chance to diminish our spiritual fruitfulness or wreck it altogether.  We should not take our consecration lightly, for the Mother of God doesn’t, either.

            Therefore we should not only pray for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world and in our hearts; we should also take concrete measures to advance it in whatever way we can.  Her triumph hinges upon our living according to the word of God (see, for example, Gal. 5:19-26, Eph. 4:25-32, and Col. 3:5-17).  The children of our heavenly Mother are “those who keep the commandments of God and bear witness to Jesus” (Rev. 12:17; read the whole chapter).  Mary’s triumph is established one heart at a time, and the more hearts that are hers, the more grace is poured out over the world so that still more hearts will be enlightened and opened.

            Love the Heart of Mary, then.  It will be a source of endless joy, sweetness, and blessing for you.  Your love for Mary’s Heart will inevitably lead you to offer prayer and sacrifice and reparation, for you will find it intolerable that her Heart is pierced by the thorns of the blasphemies and ingratitude of sinners.  You will experience the truth that genuine love is most profoundly expressed in sacrifice, and you will not hesitate to share in the Passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary, if only you can console their Hearts and help win grace for the salvation of souls.  Mary’s motherly love and presence in your life will more than make up for whatever she may ask you to offer.  Let her take you to herself, so that she can then take you to Our Lord, for this is what she does with all hearts that are given to her.  You will never regret that you made your heart Mary’s own possession, for you will thus find Heaven in her Heart.  And you’ll have all eternity to thank the Lord for this precious gift!

To be continued…