16 Jun - Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The first indication of the general Saturday devotion to the Blessed Mother being connected with her Immaculate Heart comes from St. John Eudes (1601-1670) whom Pope St. Pius X called the Immaculate Heart’s Father, Doctor and Apostle. It was through him that this devotion was made public and received ecclesiastical approbation. St. John Eudes, as a theologian, was the first to explain this devotion to Mary’s Heart in his book, “The Admirable Heart of Mary”.

The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is celebrated on the first Saturday after the feast of the Sacred Hear of Jesus (which is celebrated on the first Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi), was established in 1644 as the paternal feast of his congregation of Priests, for which he composed a Mass and office. Later it was established throughout the French dioceses (being extended to the Universal Church in 1944 by Pope Pius XII).

Modern times have seen a further focusing and codification of this devotion. In 1889, Pope Leo XIII granted to all the faithful a plenary indulgence for the well-established practice of the fifteen consecutive Saturdays. This pope, who wrote 12 encyclicals on the Rosary, and in June of 1899 had consecrated the whole world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was asked to make a similar act to honour the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Both Pope Leo XIII and his predecessor, Pope Pius IX, felt this honour should be given to Our Lady but that the time had not yet come.

- read the rest of the wonderful story of how the Saturdays of reparation led to the great manifestation of the Immaculate Heart at Fatima, and the role she had in shaping world history.
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Isaiah 61:9-11

Their race will be famous throughout the nations,
their descendants throughout the peoples.
All who see them will admit
that they are a race whom Yahweh has blessed.

“I exult for joy in Yahweh
my soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,
like a bride adorned in her jewels.

“For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord Yahweh make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.”

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Luke 2:41-51

Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, they boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they say him, and his mother said to him, “My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.” “Why were you looking for me?” he replied. “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.
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We normally read the passage in today’s Gospel reading from the point of view of Jesus, having stayed on in the Temple after the feast of the Passover. But if we read it closely, we see that it is not written from Jesus’ viewpoint at all. In fact, when Luke wrote this Gospel, which has most detail of the birth and early childhood of Jesus, he most probably spoke to Mary herself when writing it, so this gospel passage is really written from Mary’s point of view.

Today’s gospel reading goes very much together with yesterday’s, and it should, because the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is placed on the first Saturday following the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus has the heart of a shepherd, one who goes out to find the lost sheep. Mary has the heart of a mother, one who goes out to find her lost child.

When Jesus entrusted Mary to John, and John to Mary, he entrusted all people to Mary to be her children. It is no surprise then that Mary’s Immaculate Heart continually searches for her lost children and hopes that they may be brought back to their oldest brother, Jesus. How painful it is for Mary if we are lost and do not wish to be found.
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Prayer and Thanksgiving:
Dear Mother Mary, thank you for loving us with the heart of a mother. Help us desire to be reunited with you and our brother, Jesus, whenever we are lost. Amen.

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