Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The feast of the Immaculate heart of Mary

Since the feast of the Immaculate Heart – which followed the feast of the Sacred Heart  - last week I have been thinking a good deal about the heart of Mary.  The devotion to the hearts of Jesus and Mary have long been linked in terms of  both prayers and imagery.  As I write  I am looking at an image that used to be on my  parent's walls which shows Jesus and Mary displaying their hearts.  But, in truth I have never ‘got it’! But I think since Saturday I have begun to understand.

They key passages in scripture about the heart of  Mary are in Luke tells us that Mary kept all the events of Jesus’s early life in her heart : she treasured them and pondered over them.  Luke thinks that this is so important that he tells us twice!  She spent  all of her life after the Annunciation pondering what all these ‘things’ meant.  As St. John Paul observes in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, “No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit” (11). Read HERE.

From the moment that she conceived Jesus in her heart – when she said yes to the angel Gabriel – Mary began a life of complete and utter trust in God, and in her son, Jesus.  She did not know what it all meant, but she treasured all the events in the life of Jesus and reflected on them.  She is puzzled by what is happens  - Why me? How can it be? Why did Jesus go off on his own ? What did Jesus mean  by telling them he must be about his father’s business?  So many questions. And yet, such was the power of divine grace within her, she was content to trust in God and be simply a handmaiden of the Lord. She was humble enough to let things be done according to God’s plan.   She was content to let all these things that filled her mind with questions to rest in her heart.  And in her heart she would reflect upon and contemplate the profound mystery of God’s love.

Mary  shows us the way to the heart of her son, because she knows it better than anyone.  We get to know and love the heart of Jesus by treasuring  and pondering over the heart of Jesus as what Pope Francis called the ' highest human expression of Divine love.'

We have a print of the Virgin which we like very much (see left). It is by the early Italian (Venetian) Renaissance - Late Gothic artist Antonio Vivarini (1440-1480  ) - entitled La Vergine che legge- The Reading Virgin.   ( He some times signed his work as Antonio of Murano. )

 I think it is an image which beautifully captures this sense of the meaning of the immaculate heart as providing a doorway into the mystery of God’s love and  mercy.  The Virgin is shown reading scripture and treasuring the Word of God in her heart.  Jesus, of course, is the 'Word of God, made flesh'.  (Her flesh.)  We, like Mary, are called to trust in God’s love and treasure and ponder in our hearts all the things that have been revealed to us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death. 

1 comment:

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