The Immaculate Heart of Mary

June 3, 2024

Mary is Immaculate because from the moment of her conception God has enveloped her with his grace. In his great love and to accomplish his divine plan, Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, (In- macula: without stain). She was the first to receive the redemptive effects of the Cross, before it took place in time. This is the prevenient mercy/grace of God, He clothes Mary in the blood of the Lamb from the first moment of her existence, “They washed their robes white in the blood of the lamb.”

Despite this great grace of being conceived immaculately, Mary remains a true human being, with a free will capable of desiring and doing something other than the will of God. Yet, as we know, and this is where we come to understand the “Immaculate Heart”, unlike Eve, Mary’s heart never strayed from God’s will, she always chose God and loving Him, she never sinned. “I am the handmaid of the Lord be it done unto me according to your word.”

We first see Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the mystery of her Presentation in the Temple (feast celebrated on November 21st). Here Mary, in her first conscious act as a small child, offers herself to God. Becoming aware of God’s immense love for her, Mary responds with love for love, offering herself totally to God. Her heart, from her youngest age, was only love, she was totally turned towards God, full of love for Him.

Mary’s Heart is offered to God and her consecration to God teaches us. Her total self-gift shows us the love we too must have for our Heavenly Father, to love Him as His beloved little children, to love Him as our Father, to give ourselves totally. Mary’s heart is an example for us of the desire for, and abandon to, His will. Mary teaches us to make of ourselves a gift to God. “ Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”

In the mystery of the Annunciation Mary’s Immaculate Heart is revealed even more when God the Father gives her the gift of His Son, Jesus.  St Augustin tells us that “she conceived in her heart before conceiving in her womb.” Mary receives Christ firstly into her heart, she adheres with great love to the gift the Father gives her. Mary’s divine maternity shows us a new dimension of her heart, a mother’s heart, totally turned towards her Son, the Word made flesh.

In her Magnificat we hear Mary’s heart rejoice: “My heart exults in God my Saviour!” Mary’s heart is full of joy at the presence of God alive within her. Her Magnificat is a song of thanksgiving, manifesting the gratitude overflowing from her heart for the great gift she has received, for God’s love for his people, for the salvation Christ will bring.  

At the Presentation of Christ in the Temple we hear again of Mary’s heart, but this time with a new modality, that of sorrow and suffering. The prophet Simeon says to her, “A sword will pierce your heart, that the secret thoughts of many be laid bare.” These prophetic words foretell the sorrow and suffering Mary’s heart will know through her Son’s Passion and death. At the Cross Jesus’ heart is pierced by the lance, but Mary, as mother, shares in his suffering. In her mystery of the Compassion, Mary shares in all the sufferings of Christ, living in her heart all that Christ her Son lives.

At the Cross we learn something beautiful about Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Sorrow and suffering do not stop her heart from loving. Mary heart triumphs over sorrow, suffering and death by the victorious love of Christ which fills her heart. She accepts to have her heart pierced, believing in the Resurrection, knowing that this “does not lead to death but is for the glory of God.” Mary teaches us that the way to heaven is one of victorious love, where nothing is an obstacle to love.

“Mary kept all these things pondering them in her heart.” These words show us how Mary lived the hidden life of Jesus. Her heart becomes a store house, a treasury of all the things Jesus did and said. Her heart is that of a theologian, pondering over their meaning, seeking to understand more deeply the mystery of God. Mary’s disciple heart teaches us to have an attentive, contemplative, obedient heart, to hold on to all of Christ’s words, what we understand and what we don’t.  Mary teaches us to love God’s word, to listen to it, to ponder on it, to treasure it, to make it our beatitude. “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.”

         We give thanks to God for the great gift of Mary’s Immaculate Heart:  “In you all find their home!” ps 86

Read full article