There is a well-known incident in the life of St Francis de Sales…
During the period from December 1586 to January 1587, St Francis underwent a terrible crisis, a temptation, a trial.
There were several causes:
• His natural tendency to anxiety
• The problem of predestination (a Calvinist position which says that God has determined the eternal destiny of every human being. He has chosen some to eternal life and foreordained others to everlasting punishment) keenly discussed in theological circles in those days.
• A mystical dimension to the trial: an unselfish, pure love of God and total surrender to Him, in which lay the answer to his problems as he was being tempted to despair of his salvation.
One day in January 1587, St Francis went into the church of St. Etienne des Grès.
He went to the chapel of our Lady and knelt down in front of the statue.
He was inspired to make an unconditional surrender of his salvation to God, using the words: “O God, Just Judge and Merciful Father, at least in this life will I love You, if it is not given to me to love You in life everlasting”.
Then he saw there a card with the prayer – The Memorare: “Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary …”
>> He took it and earnestly prayed it.
He was instantly healed.
>> The temptation vanished.
Strength and confidence returned to him.
He consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and decided to dedicate his life to God with a vow of chastity.
The Gentleman Saint, St Francis de Sales found consolation and encouragement by dwelling on the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother Mary, and consecrated himself to Her maternal care.
Today, on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we too are invited to admire and venerate the deep love and affection of our Blessed Mother and to seek Her help and intercession to lead a life in closer union with the Lord.
The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Blessed Mary is celebrated on the following day of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of the Lord.
Both these devotions are intricately linked.
The Catechism of the Church says, :
“Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.” (CCC # 964)
“This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”. (CCC #1172)
It was in 1942, in the context of the devastating Second World War, that Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Gospel of the Day gives a glimpse into this Blessed Heart of our Mother.
St Luke testifies that “… Jesus’ Mother kept all these things in Her Heart” (Lk 2: 51b)
What does the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother teach us?
• The Immaculate Heart of Mary teaches us that “everything in life is not understood”.
Mother Mary had to face a lot of things in life, which went beyond the grasp of Her reason and understanding.
Right from the moment of the Annunciation
… to the misunderstandings in her marital life
… the hardships of giving birth to Her Child
…the grievances of post-birth and care
… the loss of Her Spouse, Joseph
… the misunderstandings Her Little Child had to face in His ministry
… the cruel death meted out to Her Beloved Child
None of these would have been understood by Mary.
Yet, even when life handed on situations that was not understood, She remained trustful and obedient.
• The Immaculate Heart of Mary teaches us that “sorrow and pain are an integral part of everyone’s life”
The Heart of our Blessed Mother faced a lot of pain and agonies…
… sacrificing of a promising life ahead, for the sake of giving birth to God’s Child
… facing crisis in the family and possibilities of misunderstanding with her to-be-husband Joseph
… uncertainty during and after the birth of the Child
… living life as a widow and alone with Her Son away in a risky mission
… undergoing the deepest pain of seeing One’s Own Child facing a harrowing death
• The Immaculate Heart of Mary teaches us that ” being focused on doing God’s Will brings the greatest joy and happiness”
The Heart of our Blessed Mother was ever focused on doing God’s Will.
Just as Her Son would tell later on in life, “My food is to do the Will of the One who sent me” (Jn 4:34), Mary also would sustain Her life on doing the Will of the Father at all times.
This would therefore turn out to be the source of strength and joy, even in the midst of the deep pain that Her Heart underwent.
The Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother is a model and example and inspiration for all of us too….
• Do I realise that “not everything in life can be understood”; yet life is still worth living and making it beautiful for others and for God?
• Do I accept that “pains and problems” are part and parcel of life; yet, holding on to the Father’s Hands will assure us of a spiritual joy and heavenly peace?
• Do I seek to constantly seek and do God’s Will in my life, and be committed and faithful to the tasks that are entrusted to me, as part of my vocation?
Today as we honour the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mamma, let us also seek the intercession of the great St Antony of Padua, whose feast also we celebrate.
He was full of veneration to our Blessed Mother, and speaks of the glories that God worked through Her: “She possessed within Her the compactness of love—for nine months She carried Love Incarnate in Her womb.”
May we consecrate our lives to the Maternal Care of our Blessed Mother Mary and find consolation and comfort in Her Immaculate Heart!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, may we rest in You!
Happy Feast of our Immaculate Mamma!
God Bless! Live Jesus!