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Header-The Immaculate Heart of Mary

But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke-2:19

 

Statue of St John EudesHistorically, devotion to Mary Most Holy in the form of her Immaculate Heart first occurs in the thirteenth century with St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude, St. Bernardine of Siena and others. In the seventeenth century, St. Francis de Sales was an exponent of this devotion. But it was St. John Eudes the great apostle of the Immaculate Heart (1601-1680), who gave the decisive impulse to the practice.  

 In the same century, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to light through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and her confessor, St. Claude de La Colombiere. As the devotion to the Sacred Heart spread, so did the devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Both St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude, were deeply dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as well.   

Beginning with Pope Pius VI, several popes incrementally spread the devotion, but in 1944 Pope Pius XII extended it to the whole Church, fixing the celebration on August 22. Today, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the Saturday following the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is moveable, always observed on a Friday, nineteen days after Pentecost Sunday.

 

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 The physical heart, symbol of the spiritual heart

The Fathers of the Church consider that when, from the Cross, Our Lord Jesus made the Blessed Lady the mother of St. John, He also appointed her the mother of all men.

Thus, Mary’s heart is the physical symbol of her boundless love for God and human kind. But Our Lady’s physical heart is also the symbol of her spiritual heart. Thus, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary we also honor her inner life, her virtues, her perfect purity, her boundless humility, her affections and her sorrow.

Poignant in Catholic tradition is the representation of Mary’s heart pierced by a sword, symbol of her immense sorrow at witnessing and willing her Son’s passion and death for the salvation of our souls. 


Fatima and the Immaculate Heart of Mary - The Five First Saturdays Devotion

Pope Pius XIIIn the second apparition of Fatima, Our Lady showed the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, her heart encircled by thorns. Later, on December 10, 1925, in a private apparition to Sister Lucia, she asked for the devotion of reparation of the Five First Saturdays.

The Blessed Mother appeared alongside the Child Jesus who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Child’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns.

The Child said, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment with no one to extract them with an act of reparation."

Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,

"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to Confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."   

 

Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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 thee myself, my brethren, my country and the whole human race. Reign over us and teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph in us and around us as It has reigned and triumphed in thee.

Reign over us, dearest Mother, 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 Virgins, watch over our minds and hearts and preserve them from the deluge of impurity which thou didst lament so sorrowfully at Fatima. We want to be pure like thee. We want to atone for the many sins committed against Jesus and thee. We want to call down upon our country and the whole world the peace of God in justice and charity.

Therefore, we promise now to imitate thy virtues by the practice of a Christian life without regard to human respect. We resolve to receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of every month and to offer thee five decades of the Rosary each day together with our sacrifices of reparation and penance. Amen.

 

Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate heart of Mary, Pray for our dear country.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Sanctify our clergy.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Make our Catholics more fervent.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Guide and inspire those who govern us.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Cure the sick who confide in thee.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Console the sorrowful who trust in thee.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Help those who invoke thine aid. 

Immaculate heart of Mary, Deliver us from all dangers.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Help us to resist temptations.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Obtain for us all we lovingly ask of thee.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Make our family life holy.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Help those who are dear to us.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Bring back to the right road our erring brothers.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Give us back our ancient fervor.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Obtain for us pardon of our manifold sins and offenses.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Bring all men to the feet of thy Divine Child.

Immaculate heart of Mary, Obtain peace for the world.

 

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Note: The above prayers were taken, with permission, from a leaflet at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

References:

https://www.motherofallpeoples.com/2006/06/the-history-and-nature-of-devotion-to-the-immaculate-heart-of-mary/

https://airmaria.com/2011/08/18/st-john-eudes-on-the-immaculate-heart-of-mary/

Illustrations:

1-Statue of Saint John Eudes, by Silvio Silva

2-Pope Pius XII extended the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the entire Church. Photo credit: Ambrosius007 


 

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 24, 2020

The devotions we practice in honor of the glorious Virgin Ma...

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November 24

 

The devotions we practice in honor of the glorious Virgin Mary,
however trifling they may be,
are very pleasing to Her Divine Son, and
He rewards them with eternal glory.

St. Teresa of Avila


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and the Martyrs of Vietnam

Vietnamese Christians were ordered to trample on a crucifix...

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St. Andrew Dung-Lac and the Martyrs of Vietnam

Born in 1795 in the Tonkinese town of Bac-Nihh in North Vietnam, Tran An Dung was the son of pagan parents. In search of work for themselves in 1807, his parents moved to the ancient citadel of Hanoi. Here their twelve-year-old son was taken care of by a catechist and for three years was instructed in the Catholic faith. Baptized in Vinh-Tri, he received the Christian name Andrew (Anrê) in baptism and went on to learn both Chinese and Latin and himself became a catechist. He was selected for further studies in theology and was ordained to the priesthood on March 15, 1823.

An exemplary pastor, Andrew was ardent and indefatigable in his preaching, often fasted, and drew many to the Faith by his simple and moral life. As a testament of the love which his congregation had for him, in 1835, when he was imprisoned during the persecution of the Annamite emperor Minh-Mang, his freedom was purchased exclusively by donations from his parishioners.

The Vietnamese Christians suffered unspeakably during this time. Beginning in 1832 Minh-Mang expelled all foreign missionaries and commanded all Vietnamese Christians to demonstrate their renunciation of the Catholic Faith by trampling on a crucifix. Churches were destroyed; religious instruction was forbidden. Christians were branded on the face with the words ta dao (false religion) and Christian families and villages were obliterated. Many endured extreme privations and hardship; many more were put to death for their fidelity to the Faith.

To avoid further persecution by the authorities, Andrew Dung changed his name to Lac and relocated to a different region. While visiting a fellow priest, in order to confess himself, Dung-Lac was arrested with Father Peter Thi on November 10, 1839. In exchange for a monetary ransom paid to their captors, the two priests were liberated, but their freedom was short-lived. Re-arrested not long afterwards, they were taken to Hanoi and severely tortured. They were beheaded shortly before Christmas Day on December 21, 1839.

The priests, Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi, were beatified on May 27, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and formed part of a group of Vietnamese martyrs beatified together on that day. Another group, Dominicans all, was beatified on May 20, 1906 and a third on May 2, 1909 both by Pope St. Pius X. A fourth group, which included two Spanish bishops, was beatified on April 29, 1951 by Pope Pius XII. All 117 martyrs were canonized in Rome on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

These 117 martyrs met their deaths during several persecutions of Christians that swept through the Vietnamese peninsula between the years 1625 and 1886. Approximately 130,000 gave their lives for the Catholic Faith and further beatifications may be expected from amongst their glorious ranks. Among the 117 that have been canonized were 96 Vietnamese and 21 foreign missionaries. Of the Vietnamese group 37 were priests and 59 were lay people, among whom were catechists and tertiaries. One of them was a woman, mother of six children. Of the missionaries 11 were Spaniards: 6 bishops and 5 priests, all Dominicans; and 10 were French: 2 bishops and 8 priests from the Société des Missions Etrangères in Paris.

The tortures these martyrs endured were among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The means included cutting off limbs joint by joint, ripping living bodies with red hot tongs, and the use of drugs to enslave the minds of the victims. Among the 117 Martyrs of Vietnam, 76 were beheaded, 21 were suffocated, 6 burnt alive, 5 mutilated and 9 died in prison as a result of torture.

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WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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