Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Alliance of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & The Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This is a Part 1 of a multi-part series on the Alliance of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a Spiritual Devotion.

by James Lannan, Theology II - Saint Paul Seminary


Begin with the basics:

What is the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a spiritually devotional tradition in the Roman Catholic Church. Its theological foundations focus on the physical heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a typological symbol to Mary’s own spiritual journey as the Mother of Jesus. Mary’s “yes” to God in the Annunciation is perhaps the most important act of discipleship to Christ and is an example for all of us. Recall that Mary was human just as we are human. In life we endure the some of same emotional and spiritual endeavors as she did. Yet, Mary was very different in comparison to us. Mary lived a life of Christian perfection and holiness. Her Immaculate Heart is a blessed sanctuary where her life, happiness, joy, pains, and sorrows lived. Perhaps Mary is the best example of a virtuous life we all attempt to pursue today. She had her deep love for God, her own perfection rooted in virtue, and most importantly, her state of being an inviolate virgin—making her the mother of Jesus Christ. So that “yes” truly is the greatest yes of all yes’ there ever was.

Mary loves her son, Jesus Christ, and Mary loves all of us. She knows us so well, just as a mother knows her child so well. Mary is our Mother as well. Her spiritual interior life and her soul, combined with her place in Catholic theology, are grounded in her physical heart. Her physical heart is where the core of this devotion exists. Saint Louis de Montfort gives the Church a great gift of Mariology in his theology of Mary. Catholic tradition tells that Mary’s heart is pierced seven times in accordance with the seven wounds of Christ. Typically called the “seven swords,” these wounds or “dolors,” represent seven sorrowful events in Mary’s life.

The seven dolors of Mary are:
1. The Flight into Egypt—(Matt 2:13)
2. The Prophecy of Simeon & the Presentation in the Temple—(Luke 2:34)
3. The child Jesus lost or preaching in the Temple—(Luke 2:43)
4. Jesus meets his Mother along the Way of the Cross—(Luke 23:26)
5. Christ is crucified on the Cross while Mary stands in sorrow—(Luke 23:26)
6. Christ taken off the Cross, placed in Mary’s arms [Pieta]—(Matt 27:57)
7. Christ is buried in the tomb (John 19:40)

Typically, seven Hail Mary’s are prayed within the devotional prayers to commemorate Mary’s heart being pierced by a sword seven times. For just as Christ’s heart was pierced by the soldier’s spear, so was Mary’s heart wounded in Alliance with Christ’s Sacred Heart. This moment is significant to both hearts becoming aligned with one another.

What is the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ is a spiritual devotion to the whole Person of Jesus Christ, through prayer and meditation on his most sacred heart. Jesus’ heart is a devotional symbol for his sacrifice and salvific love for all human beings; most notably found in the Incarnation. Jesus, being the second person of the Holy Trinity, the mysterious triune God, is both fully human and fully divine. God the Father, the God of the Old Testament and, creator of the universe, is being itself. So as humanity is a creation of God—created beings—we cannot begin to ever imagine how immense Christ’s everlasting love for humanity is. The aim of the devotion is to focus on that physical heart pouring out everlasting love on the Cross. In the end, this was Christ’s mission—to restore us back into being, into Divine Unity, with the one we separated from in the fall of humanity and sin.

This devotion strongly advocates a concept of a loving and adoring Jesus. However, it is not incompatible with the same Christ that brings justice and final judgment. This is what makes it such a rich and fulfilling spiritual devotion in the Catholic Tradition. Christ’s heart is beaming the Divine Light which calls us back into Unity with the Father. The spear of the soldier at Calvary pierces his heart, leaving a wound. It is wrapped in thorns just as Christ was crowned with thorns after the scourging at the pillar.

The Divine Light strengthens the sacred image of Christ’s wounded heart. It is His heart’s burning fire of love from within that is the Light of the World. For Christ says, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) This notion of the Divine Light is combined with unconditional and outpouring love in this spiritual devotion. Christ later said to his disciples before taking up His Cross, "This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has a greater love than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15: 12-13)

The fundamental rule of this devotion is this: Follow the Divine Light of His Word that beams forth from his pierced heart constantly pouring out his love and mercy for us for eternity. The Sacred Heart of Christ is simply amazing!

To be continued...

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