4 June – Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary began as early as the twelfth century. During the seventeenth century in France, St John Eudes popularised this devotion along with that to the Sacred Heart. St Luke’s Gospel twice mentions that Mary ‘kept all these things in her heart’, pondering the word of God. Mary shows us how to listen to the words the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, and how to respond in faith.
The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The Gospel itself invited this attention with exquisite discretion and delicacy. What was first excited was compassion for the Virgin Mother. It was, so to speak, at the foot of the Cross that the Christian heart first made the acquaintance of the Heart of Mary. Simeon’s prophecy paved the way and furnished the devotion with one of its favourite formulae and most popular representations: the heart pierced with a sword. But Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; “she cooperated through charity”, as St. Augustine says, “in the work of our redemption”.
In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior’s Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue” (Decree of May 4, 1944).
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.
As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.
Every year the parents of Jesus 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, the 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 saw 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.
Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.
Am I open to the will of God? Am I open to His teaching? Am I living out His commands for me?
These, to me, are relevant questions that pop up in my mind once in a while.
Occasionally, I find myself cherry-picking at some of the teachings of the church at my own will, or when I feel like it and give myself reasons to justify why it is ok to do certain things.
But is that what holiness is about?
The first reading today tells us that we need to be careful always to choose the right course. That is, whatever is holy, righteous and good, we should be doing it. But sometimes because of our own human frailties, we easily give in to temptation and sin.
Sometimes, we forget the teachings of God and rather turn to our own human strength and knowledge to live our life. At times, when we are faced with a difficult situation, we trust what we read or hear from other sources instead of trusting fully in the Lord.
St Paul urges us to “refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience”.
Do we correct the errors of others with love and patience? Or do we simply turn a blind eye?
To be honest, I tend to choose to mind my own business and not correct others for fear of being rejected or ridiculed. And when others try to correct me, sometimes I get defensive because of my own pride.
Yet, God in His faithfulness continues to keep the door open for all of us. He still welcomes the repentant sinner back into His embrace. He is patient in teaching and correcting us.
Let us like St Paul say when our time comes: “I have fought the good fight, to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me…”
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)
Prayer: Dearest Father, teach me to be open to You in all things. Help me to always trust in Your unconditional love for me. Grant me Your love and patience in helping others to know You. Amen!
Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for Your faithfulness. Thank you for the people in my life that have helped me to understand Your teaching and will in my life.