“And a sword shall pierce your heart.” (Gospel of St.Luke 2:35)
How can I, lowly and so frail in my own sensibilities be able to speak of the gentlest of mothers? This good mother, who being the Ark of the New Covenant, is so loving and warm hearted for all her children, and all the human race, because she is so united to Jesus, especially His heart.
“I avow, with all the Church, that Mary being but a mere creature that has come from the hands of the Most High, is, in comparison with His Infinite Majesty, less than an atom; or rather she is nothing at all, because He only is “He who is,” and thus by consequence that grand Lord, always independent and sufficient to Himself, never had, and has not now, any absolute need of the Holy Virgin for the accomplishment of His will and for the manifestation of His glory.” (‘True Devotion to the
Blessed Virgin,’ Pg 6, St. Louis de Montfort) (7).
These words, are quite strong. But the Blessed Montfort, an apostle of Our Lady, is speaking of the stupendous grace and mercy, privilege and love God has fore-chosen for the Blessed Mother. Let us continue, and I will liberally quote this great saint and his magnum opus; “God the Father has not given His Only-Begotten Son to the world except by Mary. Whatever sighs the patriarchs may have sent forth—whatever prayers the prophets and the saints of the ancient law may have offered up to obtain the treasure for full four thousand years—it was but Mary that merited it; it was
but Mary who found grace before God by the force of her prayers and the eminence of her virtues.” (True Devotion, Pg 8) (7).
Christ was given to the world through the Blessed Virgin, not by any other means was this done. The Sacred Scriptures affirm it, tradition upholds it, and the Church proclaims it. Only Mary merited that singular grace, by her purity, innocence, sinlessness and the sublime privilege of her Immaculate Conception, given by God. Let us not forget… God chose Our Lady to be His mother, and by this singular act of special grace, made her the Ark of the New Covenant, who was to carry the Word made
Flesh in her virginal womb.
“Being the sure means and the straight and immaculate way to go to Jesus Christ, and to find Him perfectly, it is by her that holy souls, who are to shine forth especially in sanctity, have to find our Lord.” (True Devotion, Pg 29-30) (7) Truly I say, if one wants to walk in sanctity to the waiting arms of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, it is by holding the gentle and pure hands of His Immaculate Mother, who wants nothing for her Son and her God, to be adored and magnified. For every Ave you sigh or speak, this good mother in turn echoes your prayer to the Throne of God on your behalf. “God the Holy Ghost wishes to form Himself in her, and to form elect for Himself by her, and he has said to her, In electis meis mitte radices—“strike the roots, My Wellbeloved and my spouse, of all your virtues in My elect, in order that they may grow from virtue to virtue, and from grace to
grace.” (True Devotion, Pg 19) (7)
Why, soul, do you not speak to this good mother? This mother who only wants to lead you to her Son? Who only wants what her Son wants? Mary held Him to her breast, a small infant wrapped in swaddling clothes amidst animals and shepherds and wise men, with St.Joseph by her side… this small baby, so small, was the God of the Universe, cooing and gurgling in her immaculate hands. Even then, her Immaculate Heart swelled, rejoicing in Her God and Savior.
“That is why in order to honor Our Lord all antiquity greatly honored His Mother.” (Sermons on Our Lady, St.Francis De Sales, Pg 21) (8).
To honor the Mother, is to honor the Son. To love her, is to love Jesus.
As St. John Eudes speaks of, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the Furnace of Babylon. Readers of Holy Writ, (The venerable Saint explains this too, I relay the words simply) will see this as strange, for how can the heart of the Mother of God be a prison? The three holy men who were cast into it St. John Eudes says; “Saint John Damascene and many other holy Doctors affirm that the fiery furnace was a figure of the sinless heart of the fire in the holy breast of the Mother of Fair Love.” (‘The Admirable Heart of Mary’, St. John Eudes, Pg 89) (9). We see in the background, this furnace is the symbol for Our Lady’s immaculate heart, and let us also extrapolate further. When in Daniel, the three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedenago were cast into that furnace, were they immolated? By God’s blessed grace, no! God willed that furnace be there for a specific reason.
Natural reasoning and logic demands the satisfaction of seeing stubble and hay burn up when consumed by conflagration, so it stands to reason when human flesh is cast into a blazing furnace, does it not singe and melt? Does it not cause torture and death? God, in His inestimable majesty, can with His will, simply override natural law, and for these three men… not a hair on their head was singed, (Daniel 3:27) but instead they walked amidst the flames, and the soldiers who cast them in, at Nebuchadnezzar’s request, were struck down by the flames. Are we seeing the connection? Evil cannot stand the furnace of divine love, but those whom grace dwells and resides, walk amidst the flames of divine charity, unharmed. “Is it not a great miracle to behold a fire refreshing, consoling and filling with joy the children of the Mother of God, while it pursues, burns, devours its enemies.” (‘Admirable
Heart of Mary’, St. John Eudes Pg 91) (9).
“These flames will not harm you; instead they will destroy your fetters and establish you in the holy liberty of the children of God and of His loving Mother.” (Admirable Heart, Pg 92) (9). This good mother, this immaculate queen, who’s heart burns like a furnace of charity, envelops the soul and burns away the chains of sin binding it, and leads it to the King of Hearts, Our Gentle Jesus.
How can I speak of this virginal heart without the prophecy of Holy Simeon? Make no mistake, this virginal and immaculate heart of the Mother of God, was pierced by a sword of sorrow, unlike anything we could imagine. I say this, because who could imagine that your son, whom you know is the Word Incarnate, your redeemer and King, but also your son? Your child? Who is to be a sign of
contradiction? (St. Luke, 2:34) Who is to be flayed alive, mocked, spit upon, tortured and offered on the wood of the Cross for all of humanity? How could a motherly heart not be trembling from a sorrow that surely is behind the joys and wonders of motherhood?
We know, that Holy Mother Church acclaims Our Blessed Mother’s sorrows in the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. I shall go forward and list these seven sorrows, with biblical commentary in short, so as to acquaint those who aren’t familiar;
The First Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; the Circumcision and the Prophecy of Holy Simeon
“And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” (Gospel of St.Luke 2:34-35).
Here, we have the first bloodletting of Christ, in the Mosaic covenant of circumcision. The Author of the very law, does He subject Himself to! Humility and obedience unheard of! And what of the prophecy of Holy Simeon? Our Lady and St.Joseph hear these words, and very much so, Joseph
receives this sorrow as well, but a sword is ready to pierce Our Lady’s Heart. Imagine yourself there, with the Holy Family, hearing these words and seeing these sights.
The Second Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; The Flight into Egypt
“And after they departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him.” (Gospel of St. Matthew 2:13-15)
St.Joseph receives from an angel, the notice to flee from the murderous Herod, and to take Mary and Jesus to safety. What panic and anxiety to the Parents of Jesus to hear that their infant son has a death sentence hanging over His adorable head! What impious men wish to lay hands on this divine child, and to slay Him! Ponder this fear and woe in the Immaculate and Chaste Hearts of Mary and Joseph.
The Third Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; the Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days
“And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.” (Gospel of St.Luke 2:39-43)
If you are a parent, or a sibling, and have ever lost your child or sibling in a public place… can you remember the fright and absolute dread you experienced? Now, imagine you are the Mother of the Word Incarnate! Imagine you are the father of the Word made Flesh and Spouse of the Mother of God! Imagine the absolute fear and panic at having lost the Son of God for three days! Ponder this Sorrow, and place yourself with Mary and Joseph.
The Fourth Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; Jesus Carries His Cross to Calvary
Not explicitly mentioned in Sacred Writ, we know Mary stood underneath the shadow of the cross, so we must conclude she watched the entire procession and even met Her Son on the way. Imagine, their eyes meet, one bloodied and teary eyed beyond human capacity, the other weeping at the sight of Her God and child suffering for ungrateful humanity!
The Fifth Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; The Death of Jesus on the Cross
“And Jesus gain crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” (Gospel of St. Matthew 27:50)
For thirty three years, Mary, gentle Mary has raised and embraced her son, The God-Man, The Prince of Peace, tenderly and loved Him like no mother could. Yet, here she is, witnessing Him, stretched out, dislocated, flayed, bleeding His last, bruised, mocked and dead, on the cruel yet most blessed wood of the cross.
The Sixth Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; Jesus Is Placed in His Mothers Arms
This is not explicitly mentioned in Holy Writ, as another sorrow, but since we know Mary was there, how can we conclude that she didn’t embrace the body of her Son? Weeping and wiping His bloodied face? What mother, upon seeing the mangled and dead body of her child wouldn’t hold to him and be weep His death and injuries? A good mother most certainly would, and behold, this good mother certainly did!
The Seventh Sorrow of the Immaculate Heart; Christ Is Placed in His Tomb
“And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way.” (Gospel of St.Matthew 27:59-61)
Certainly the Mother of God knew her Son would rise again, but lets not forget the trauma she endured witnessing the Passion and Death of her God! She witnessed her Son die, a horrible and ignominious death! It is a sorrow to have to bury your child, regardless of the age. Mary endured this and was pierced with her seventh sword of sorrow.
I place these sorrows before your eyes, dear reader, not to laden them with sadness, but to remind you that your dear Mother’s Immaculate Heart, as full as it is with Love for God, her clients, and the crucible of motherly tenderness, has also experienced sublime woe, in witnessing the Passion of Jesus.
We’ve seen in this short chapter, the Immaculate Heart in the triumphs and woes, as this heart is the crucible of Motherly Love and Purity, Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost…yes, I did say this! In Father William G. Most’s book, “Mary in Our Life,” (10), the author speaks; “It was through Mary’s “mighty prayers,” as Pope Pius XII says, that the Holy Spirit was given to the newborn Church on Pentecost. It is still through her that He is given to souls today. Those who give and consecrate themselves to her, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, not merely in word, but in deed, will learn by experience the truth of that which St. Louis De Montfort describes; “When the Holy Ghost, her Spouse, has found Mary in a soul, He flies there. He enters in His fullness; He communicates Himself to that soul abundantly, and to the full extent to which it makes room for His Spouse.” (10, “Mary in Our Life, Pg 201-202)
Dear reader, I wish to explain to you, like the good author did, that when Mary lives in you, through consecration and a filial devotion to this Good Mother, whom, by God’s will, formed the Sacred Heart in her virginal womb, and is the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, she will form Jesus Christ in you, and lead you to Him, who is the master of your soul, perfectly. So, to conclude this chapter, I say unto you, be not afraid of loving the Immaculate Heart of your mother! It beats for God, for you and all souls. She wants nothing more than to see you in the Arms of Jesus, clasped in tender embrace at the end of your life.
A good mother loves her children, and Mary, Our Blessed Mother, is the best of mothers!