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 care 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…