It was a moment that I will never forget. A few friends and I accompanied the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to a baby’s hospital bedside. He was diagnosed with cancer and the tumors made his little eyes protrude. Tears were shed as the Blessed Mother’s life-size image was gently touched to his head. We asked Mary’s intercession for his healing, then went to the chapel and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet. What seemed like a hopeless situation was soon replaced by gratitude and joy. The baby was healed and is now a young man.
Sometimes we may wonder how we can make a difference in our broken world. Our Lady revealed to Sr. Lucia of Fatima, Servant of God, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” (July 13, 1917) Mother Mary later appeared to Sr. Lucia and asked her to make the First Saturday devotion known:
“Look, my daughter, at my Heart encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
Regardless of our vocation, each of us is invited to console the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through the First Saturday devotion, Confession, Holy Communion, and meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary. Jesus told Sr. Lucia, “I desire that devotion to the Immaculate Heart of my Mother be placed alongside devotion to my own Sacred Heart.”
In his newly republished book Meditations on the Holy Rosary, Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo – called a saint by Padre Pio – writes of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s role in salvation history and in our lives. Reflecting on the Wedding Feast of Cana, Fr. Ruotolo explains that, when Mary asked Jesus to perform a miracle and create more wine, it may have evoked the idea of the Last Supper in Jesus’ mind. This is why He said “my hour has not yet come” (See John 2: 1-11). Fr. Ruotolo further explains the Blessed Mother’s purpose in asking Jesus to perform the miracle:
“The Most Holy Virgin did not want only to give wine: She wanted to give His apostles a reason for faith in Jesus. She wanted to strengthen them with a miracle. For this reason, she persisted with Jesus for an action, saying to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’ By quick insight, she immediately understood the allusion of her Son to transubstantiation, and engaged the servants to provide the water for the miracle. As we can see, instead of being apart from or almost strangers to each other, Jesus and Mary understood each other at once. Mary, as Mistress and Queen, entered into the intimacy of that Divine Heart, and Jesus entered the delicate desires of the Immaculate Heart of his Mother.”
Looking back, I have been blessed to witness and experience numerous other instances of Mother Mary’s maternal love. When I traveled with the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to World Youth Day in Manila, I spoke at several parishes and schools. Early one morning I was asked to do an unscheduled talk. Still rather sleepy, I was concerned that I may have sounded lethargic. When I was finished, however, I was reminded that God only requires our “yes” and His Holy Spirit does the rest. A woman in need of healing approached the Blessed Mother’s image weeping, and someone guided her to a priest where she was reconciled to the Lord in the Sacrament of Confession. As always, the Immaculate Heart of Mary reminds us to turn to the Sacred Heart of her Son.
Some of the meditations in Fr. Ruotolo’s book are also written from the perspective of Mother Mary and express the connection between her maternity and the Holy Eucharist.
“Through the Eucharist I continue to offer Him to the world. The priest says in the Consecration: ‘This is My Body, this is My Blood.’ It is the Body I gave to Jesus, my Blood that gave Him life in my womb. The Body that I gave to Him in the Holy Spirit, Eternal Love, inflamed my Heart with love, and in His love and mine, He made me Mother of the Word of God, made Flesh in me.
“Again, the love of my Heart will bring the Holy Spirit to souls and generate the sons of God, the Mystical Body of Jesus. Again, from my Immaculate Heart, the purest lily, shall come the light that will reawaken faith in hearts gone astray through the filth of impurity.” (Meditations on the Holy Rosary)
It has been said that when we pray the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament we love Jesus with the heart of His Mother.
There is a beautiful song entitled “O Sacred Heart” by Justin Stroh, which reflects on the union of the two hearts. Some of the lyrics read:
“Dear Lady of the Man Who came to give us life,
Immaculate Heart filled with so much strife,
many have not listened to the message of your Son,
and far from His Precious Blood, they have run.
In your arms let me be, with your eyes let them see, let your truth set them free,
O precious heart, Immaculate Heart.
So many times you have come to lead the way to your Son.
O Mother of us all, O Mother of Our Lord, O Mystical Mother, pray for us.”
As Jesus said to Bl. Dina Belanger, “No invocation responds better to the immense desire of my Eucharistic Heart to reign in souls than: Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, may your kingdom come through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” This is why Bl. Dina used to pray “Our Lady of the Eucharistic Heart, I beg you to give Jesus to souls!”
Pondering Mary’s Immaculate Heart, the statue of Our Lady of the Cape (Notre-Dame-du-Cap), located at Three Rivers (Trois-Rivières), Québec also comes to mind. The Blessed Mother is depicted with an immense golden heart and gazes down lovingly at her children. In 1634 this area was consecrated to the Immaculate Conception by the Jesuits. Around 1652 a Church was built and in 1855 the statue was donated by an anonymous benefactor. The faithful were devoted to Our Lady, but their attendance at Church slacked off in the mid-nineteenth century. One day the priest went to offer Mass and his entire congregation consisted of a pig that was chewing a Rosary! The priest preached about this emphatically and the faithful returned back to Church in such large numbers that a new Church needed to be built. Stone needed to be transported across the St. Lawrence River to complete the structure, however, it was a mild winter and there was no ice for the sledges to cross over. The priest prayed for an ice bridge to form and a storm blew in which created this wonder. On another instance parishioners saw the statue of Our Lady open her eyes. Pilgrims continue to flock to the national shrine and many healings have occurred.
Another memory I have of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is when she visited my home and the fragrance of roses filled our living room, although none were present. When we pray in union with Mary’s heart miracles happen—big and small. As Fr. Ruotolo wrote of Our Lady’s Magnificat: “The soul, in greeting you while you sing, hears the Lord in His glory and the Savior in His mercy. The echo of your admirable canticle gives feelings of love toward God in the heart, which is also an echo of the beating of your Immaculate Heart.” (Meditations on the Holy Rosary) May we place ourselves in Mother Mary’s hands each day and let her carry us to the Sacred Heart of her Son, mindful of her promise to the children at Fatima: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph” (July 13, 1917).