It is fitting that the day after commemorating and contemplating the wonders of Jesus’ Sacred Heart that we glory in the heart that kept the God-Man alive in the womb and that He must have often leaned on in His formative years. Thus we have the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
…and his mother kept all these things in her heart.Lk 2:51b
The Gospel for today (Lk 2:41-51) appropriately mentions the Virgin Mary’s heart. The passage gives us the only glimpse of Jesus “hidden life” (that is, the time between His infancy and the beginning of His public ministry). In it we have the whole range of emotions for a parent: sorrow in losing a child, anxiety in searching for him, joy in finally finding him, and perplexity in the explanation as to why the whole thing happened in the first place. Jesus’ response, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?,” gives her another of many moments throughout her life, undoubtedly, to contemplate her Son and His mission.
Mary and Joseph realized that his reply contained a deeper meaning which they did not grasp. They grew to understand it as the life of their Child unfolded. Mary’s and Joseph’s faith and their reverence towards the Child led them not to ask any further questions but to reflect on Jesus’ words and behaviour…Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, The Navarre Bible: St. Luke (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1988), 62-63.
Consider how many opportunities Mary had for reflection. She is prominent in Scripture in all the key moments of Jesus’ life: His conception, birth, presentation, beginning of His public ministry (at Cana), and passion and death. We know also that she was involved in His public ministry (see here). And I am thoroughly convinced that she was the first person to whom Jesus appeared at the Resurrection, although the Gospels do not record such an event. Her heart must have been full to overflowing at the wonders God wrought through His Son and hers.
This is why we are wise to take refuge in Mary’s immaculate heart — immaculate because it was never touched by sin from the moment of her conception until she was taken up to heaven body and soul. Overflowing with love for God and man and a sanctuary of all that Jesus said and did, many of which no other person would have been party to, the deepest core of her being is a welcome home for our hearts as well. Nothing compares to the tender heart of a mother, especially one who experienced uniquely the full gamut of emotions that the Mother of God did. In a time of great confusion, when even the word “mother” is incomprehensibly trying to be eliminated by the misguided (in the most charitable explanation), we need the guidance and safety of this mother’s heart more than ever.
Fr. Peter Stravinskas on the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (I once again strongly suggest subscribing to The Catholic Thing to get a short free email article every day throughout the year — a must read for me.)
As I continue to consider the desert (or wilderness) experience, I came across this reference to Our Lady famously found in Revelation 12:
…and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.Rev 12:6
Most of the time when we come across references in the Bible to the desert or the wilderness, it is a time of trial. For John writing his final book, Revelation, it is a place of refuge Again, let us turn to the Navarre Bible:
The figure of the woman reminds us of the Church, the people of God. Israel took refuge in the wilderness to escape from Pharaoh, and the Church does the same after the victory of Christ. The wilderness stands for solitude and intimate union with God. In the wilderness God took personal care of his people….The Church is given similar protection…and Christ nourishes it with his body and his word…as the Second Vatican Council teaches, “in the meantime [while the Church makes its pilgrim way on earth], the Mother of Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come (cf. 2 Pet 3:10), a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim people of God” (Lumen gentium, 68).Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, The Navarre Bible: Revelation (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1992), 99.
So, the experience of dryness or trial does not only have to be approached or endured as something to fight through, but it can also be seen (through the eyes of faith) as a place of “intimate union with God.” May the good Lord give us the graces we need to take full advantage of the blessings available in our journey through the wilderness, this valley of tears.
Mary, Mother of the Church, ora pro nobis!
I have been following with great interest the Church’s renewed concern regarding pro-abortion politicians presenting themselves to receive Holy Communion. Opinions and suggested approaches vary. The U.S. bishops will be meeting beginning Wednesday with this matter the most prominent agenda item. This short piece from the Register is worth a read; the crux of it:
Building up Catholics with a greater belief in the Real Presence and with personal appreciation of how the Eucharist can inform our every action has to happen for there to be any understanding of why the conduct of some Catholic political leaders like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi is so egregious.
Three recent pieces from The Catholic Thing on the same subject:
- Joe Biden and the Bishops after 100 Days
- Popes, Bishops, Slavery – and Us
- President Biden and Public Scandal
Saturdays are dedicated in a special way to the Virgin Mary. Let us beg for her intercession that offenses against the Eucharistic Heart of her Son will cease through the conversion of our stony hearts.
The Miraculous Medal. My mom, who was a promoter of this devotion, always pinned one on my t-shirt before sending me off to school. I continue to have one with me to this day, right next to my rosary and scapular. To learn more about St. Catherine Labouré and the medal’s history, click here.