Written by Gina Keating, a Catholic wife, mother, grandmother, and friend of Stella & Tide
The first time I ever saw a depiction of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus was in an old, musty antique store. It was the kind of shop where a tight path leads you past oodles of items; pearl-handled pocketbooks,1950s atomic kitchen decor, and tiger oak buffets. The paintings were unusually beautiful, hanging together in vintage convex frames. Mary’s angelic face, encircled in a halo, peered down at me as she gingerly gestures with her right hand to her immaculate heart. The serene expression of Jesus mirrored that of His mother; face aglow from a halo and eyes beckoning mine. Jesus is holding up three fingers on his right hand, a symbol of the Holy Trinity, as his left hand exposes his heart aflame.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which falls on the Friday of the following week after Corpus Christi. On this feast, the Church honors the Sacred Heart of Jesus and makes reparation for the terrible way mankind repays His great love. He loves us in spite of ourselves. Devotion to the Sacred Heart began in the 16th century and was perfected in the 17th century. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who received multiple visions of Jesus, is known for spreading the devotion. Jesus revealed the format of this devotion to the nun, which includes attending Mass on the First Friday of the month and doing acts of reparation on behalf of the love of Jesus.
Let’s take a look at the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart: a human heart pierced for our sins and for our salvation. The flames burning atop His heart signify His great love for the Father and for us. The cross represents His ultimate sacrifice, the crucifixion, and the crown of thorns, surrounding His heart, represents His passion. His wounded and bleeding heart is His precious blood spilled for our redemption. In the Gospel of John 19:34, we read how our Lord’s heart and lungs were pierced by a centurion’s lance while he was hanging on the cross. His heart is pierced at the crucifixion to cleanse us of our sins. How can we not ponder His Sacred Heart burning with love and pierced by countless thorns? I know a few of my thorns are there, and for that, I’m eternally grateful for His mercy.
Many people, today and throughout the ages, have found blessings in meditating on the tenderness of our Lord’s heart. And who doesn’t desire blessings? One simple idea for cultivating a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to display a blessed image in your home. As Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary, “I will bless every dwelling where an image of My Heart is both exposed and honored.” Additionally, you may want to participate in a home enthronement, read “Consoling the Heart of Jesus,” start a First Friday devotion, or make an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My favorite tradition, which was passed on to me 22 years ago from a deacon, is to have members of the family sign their names on the back of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is displayed in the home. I tried in earnest to follow that tradition the very first year, only to discover my 5 1/2 x 6 1/2 framed lithograph would be completely filled up on the backside. However, it’s still on our wall, dedicated in 2001.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
It’s nearly impossible not to mention the maternal heart of Mary when discussing the heart of her Son. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a symbol of her compassion and love for Jesus and all her children. It is one of the most popular Marian devotions that is rooted in Sacred Scripture: “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, established in 1805, refers to the view of Mary’s interior life, considering her joys, sorrows, virtues, and love for God. The devotion aims to unite us to God through Mary’s Immaculate Heart; the object is to love God and Jesus better by imitating her virtues in daily practice.
The flame emanating from her heart burns with love for Jesus and for all of us. The sword represents Mary’s sorrow at Jesus’ suffering, while the roses symbolize her Immaculate Conception, sinlessness, and purity. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the heart is “the depths of one's being, where the person decides for or against God” (CCC 368).
This popular devotion, however, attracted more attention after the apparitions of Fatima in 1917, when the Holy Virgin asked to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She said the Lord wanted to establish the devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world and that it will triumph over evil. In 1944, the Church extended the feast to all Christians under the papacy of Pope Pius XII to remind us of the consecration of humankind to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The word consecration means to set aside for an exclusive purpose; thus, consecration to Mary means exclusively allowing our Blessed Mother to accomplish her mission within us. We place ourselves at Mary’s disposition, giving her consent to change our actions, words, hearts, and sentiments in order to mold us into the likeness of her Son. There are many ways to help increase your devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, such as going to confession to make your heart anew, praying the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Litany of the Immaculate Heart, singing, listening to, or praying the Salve Regina, and going to Mass on the first Saturday of the month.
Every day, the world, the flesh, and the devil seek our devotion, deceptively calling us to give all that we have to store up treasures on earth. But through these powerful devotions, Jesus and Mary present the consoling and unfathomable truth: God desires us, seeks us, and loves us more than anyone or anything ever could. On these wonderful feast days, let us all commit ourselves more fully to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Here are three prayers which can help you grow closer to both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.
Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, full of goodness, show your love towards us. Let the flame of your heart, O Mary, descend on all people. We love you immensely. Impress true love in our hearts so that we have a continuous desire for you. O Mary, gentle and humble of heart, remember us when we are in sin. You know that all men sin. Give us, by means of your Immaculate Heart, spiritual health. Let us always see the goodness of your motherly heart and may we be converted by means of the flame of your heart. Amen.
O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart; the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.