Immaculate Heart of Mary

“Immaculate Heart,” Sketch by Brie Schulze

We celebrate two hearts as liturgical feasts.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the deep mystery of the Incarnation: what is most central and personal in man is indistinguishable, totally one with the Word.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also a miraculous work of God, but it defines the person of Mary and her particular role in salvation.  The Immaculate Heart is the pure and transparent water of grace fully received into the heart of a woman.  The waters of our life so often ebb and flow, the difficulties and struggles remove our peace and we can no longer see clearly.  The Sacred Heart, existing by the divinity of the Word, is invincible on its own.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary is invincible by a particular grace of God animating and raising it.

We are not born with immaculate hearts, but our way of growth in grace advances from the obscurity of sin to the clarity of faith.  Our heart becomes immaculate – though never fully in this life – if we cooperate with the grace of God.  Our hearts are tested as the heart of the blessed Virgin Mary was tested.  It was by a special grace that even when she suffered and was confused she never flinched in her faith.  As our faith grows and deepens we become less prone to flinching and abandoning hope when we find ourselves confused or suffering.  In this way, imitating the blessed Virgin, learning from her heart, our hearts become clearer.  When our hearts allow the light of God to pass through even when they are broken, they become more translucent and immaculate like our Mother’s.


At his coming, from the body of the first man which God fashioned from the earth, up until the bodies of all human beings which began to live when they were infused with a soul, all will be raised by him by whose action they were created. In the resurrection, individual bodies will be restored to their individual souls, which they began to have in the wombs of their mothers, in order that they might begin to live—in order that, in the examination of the just judge, souls might receive in their very same individual bodies their reward, of the kingdom or of punishment, in those bodies in which they had led a good or evil life in this world.1


In his teaching the abbot is ever to observe this rule of the apostle: “Reprove, beseech, correct.” This consists in a judicious timing: to mix gentleness with sternness—at one time to show the severity of a master, at another the tenderness of a father. Use rigor with the irregular and the turbulent, but win to better things the obedient, mild and patient.2


Pastoral guides must also see to it with careful concern that not only should nothing evil proceed from their lips but that not even what is proper be said in excess or in a slovenly manner. Often the force of what is said is wasted when it is enfeebled in the hearts of the hearers by a careless and offensive torrent of words. Indeed, this sort of loquacity defiles the speaker himself, inasmuch as it takes no notice of the practical needs of the hearer.… Thus Paul also, admonishing his disciple to be constant in preaching, said: I charge you before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom: preach the word, be instant in season, out of season. When he was about to say “out of season,” he premised it with “in season,” for if being in season is not combined with being out of season, the preaching destroys itself in the mind of the hearer by its worthlessness.3


As someone has said, you will scarcely ever find that when a person prays, some empty and external reflection does not impede him, causing the attention which the mind directs on God to be sidetracked and interrupted. So it is a great and most wholesome struggle to concentrate on prayer once begun, and with God’s help to show lively resistance to the temptations of the enemy, so that our minds may with unflagging attention strain to be ever fastened on God. Then we can deservedly recite Paul’s words: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.4


I have received the letter of your Reverence in which you urge on us the great good of loving and longing for the coming of our Savior. In this you act like the good servant of the master of the household who is eager for his lord’s gain and who wishes to have many sharers in the love which burns so brightly and constantly in you. Examining, therefore, the passage you quoted from the apostle where he said that the Lord would render a crown of justice not only to him but to all who love his coming, we live as uprightly as he and we pass through this world as pilgrims while our heart constantly expands with this love, and whether he comes sooner or later than he is expected, his coming is loved with faithful charity and longed for with pious affection. 5


The holy man demands judgment because he is certain of the Lord’s mercy. As Paul has it: “As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day.” He walks in his innocence because … he puts his trust in the Lord. The presumption he shows is not in his own powers but in God’s generosity.6


Consider the most prudent woman Mary, mother of true Wisdom, as the pupil of her Son. For she learned from him, not as from a child or man but as from God. Yes, she dwelt in meditation on his words and actions. Nothing of what was said or done by him fell idly on her mind. As before, when she conceived the Word itself in her womb, so now does she hold within her his ways and words, cherishing them as it were in her heart. That which she now beholds in the present, she waits to have revealed with greater clarity in the future. This practice she followed as a rule and law through all her life.7


  1. TO PETER ON THE FAITH 35.  Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 270). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. RULE OF ST. BENEDICT 2.23–25.  Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 270). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. PASTORAL CARE 2.4.  Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (pp. 271–272). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. EXPLANATION OF THE PSALMS 101.1.  Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 274). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. Letters 199.1.1.  Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 275). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. EXPLANATION OF THE PSALMS 25.1.  Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 275). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 2.51.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 55). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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