immaculateheart4Mary is the first patron saint of Miles Jesu. We recognize her importance in our spirituality by making her our patroness under two distinct titles which emphasize varying aspects of our vocation as her children and followers: Our Lady of the Epiphany and the Immaculate Heart. Although the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, both celebrated in June, August is the month considered to be dedicated to the Immaculate Heart.

Mary’s unique vocation is rooted in her divine maternity. She is the Theotokos, the God-bearing One. God granted her a special place in his plan of redemption, with a vocation wholly different from any other. Being the Mother of God is the source of Mary’s special gifts; under the title “Immaculate Heart,” we have nothing less then a compendium of what they are. Mother of Jesus, mother of us, special mediator, immaculately conceived and perpetually free from the least sin, assumed into heaven, ever-virgin….all of these are well expressed by a heart burning with a love that is perfectly pure, completely consuming, and overwhelmingly ardent. The Gospel of St. Luke mentions more than once that Mary “pondered on these things in her heart,” calling our attention to the fact that she actively and consciously fulfilled her role in the redemption rather than simply playing a passive part in the unfolding of events.

At Fatima in 1917 Mary chose to identify herself to the three young seers as “the Immaculate Heart” and asked that the world be consecrated to her under that title, promising “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” In the spring of 2000, when the Vatican published the third secret of Fatima, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—the future Pope Benedict XVI—issued a document explaining points of the Fatima revelations. Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that the idea of the Immaculate Heart goes far beyond mere sentimental piety:

“In biblical language, the ‘heart’ indicates the center of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8, the ‘immaculate heart’ is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore ‘sees God.’ To be ‘devoted’ to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat—’your will be done’—the defining center of one’s whole life.”

Let us remember and live by the words of our spiritual founder St. Anthony Mary Claret:

“A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is one who is on fire with love of God, who spreads this fire wherever he goes, and who ardently desires and procures by all possible means to inflame the whole world with the fire of divine love. Nothing daunts him….If we can take upon ourselves so great an enterprise, it is because the love of the most beautiful Virgin Mother encourages, comforts and warms our small hearts in the hearth of her heart…” (MJ Constitutions nos. 9 and 11, taken from St. Claret’s writings for the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—the Claretians—which he founded in the 19th century.)

Mary’s Immaculate Heart is also a special symbol of her love and protection for each one of us. Weak and sinful as we are, we can be sure that Mary loves us with the unreasoning heart of a mother. Mothers have a special love for a weak or unappealing child, so nothing need hold us back from entrusting ourselves to her. Let us often and with great trust repeat the words from St. Cyril of Alexandria’s Prayer to the Theotokos: “Kindhearted Mother of the Merciful God, have mercy on me!”

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