Oneness of Heart with Mary: The Way to Divine Grace
His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, D.D., J.C.D.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
1. Gathered to celebrate the Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the teaching and example of our beloved Father John Anthony Hardon, we are especially conscious of his profound devotion to our Lord Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Hardon taught us to unite our poor and often fearful hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that, with her help, we might place our hearts completely in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the fountain of all grace for our salvation and the salvation of the world.
2. The consecration of the Marian Catechists is the consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Father Hardon identified three qualities of our Blessed Mother, which make her, in a special way, the model of Marian Catechists, namely, “Mary’s clear and unquestioning faith,” “Mary’s union in prayer with the Heart of her Son,” and “Mary’s plain and courageous living out of the will of God in her life” (Marian Catechist Manual, n. 20). Because of the union of her Immaculate Heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded on her firm faith and expressed in her courageous life, Mary is, in the words of Father Hardon, “the perfect communicator of the revelation of her Divine Son” (Marian Catechist Manual, n. 20). In our desire to be a more perfect reflection of Christ alive in the Church, alive in us as catechists, we rightly go to our Blessed Mother, opening our hearts to her maternal Heart which is totally united to the Heart of Jesus.
3. Mary Immaculate teaches us to make our hearts like the Heart of her Divine Son. The Virgin Mary teaches us to live a holy, a “blessed,” life. She teaches us to “hear the word of God and observe it,” so that it may take deep root in our hearts and produce there an abundance of selfless love of God and neighbor (Luke 11:28). Surely, the Virgin Mary was most blessed to bear in her womb and to bring into the world the Divine Savior. She, however, reminds us that it is God Himself Who prepared her to be the fitting vessel in which His only-begotten Son took our human nature. By God’s superabundant grace, Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. She participated in the grace of Redemption, in anticipation. Saved from all sin from the moment of her conception, she was able to welcome her Divine Son totally, without any reservation. Truly, she belonged totally to our Lord. She was totally His. She was totally for Him and for our salvation in Him. She, therefore, teaches us, who are sinners, to trust in God’s grace to heal us of sin and to strengthen us in virtue. She leads us to imitate her in bringing Christ to the world by humble faith, union of heart and courageous witness of life.
4. The widow Judith in the Old Testament is a prefigurement of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her heart, full of trust in God and of courage to do His will, is a prefigurement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God’s people were ready to surrender themselves to Holofernes, to give themselves over to the enslavement of the Assyrian Kingdom. They had lost hope of defending the honor of their faith in the one true God. Judith, a most beautiful woman—even more beautiful interiorly than her striking outer beauty—, after praying and doing penance, went to the enemy camp and eventually beheaded Holofernes, in order to save her people. The words of praise of Judith by the people are rightly applied by us to the Virgin Mary:
You are the glory of Jerusalem, the surpassing joy of Israel; you are the splendid boast of our people. (Judith 15:9)
The Virgin Mary, by the perfect union of her heart with the Heart of Jesus, is indeed our “glory,” our “surpassing joy” and our “splendid boast.” She believed in God’s promise to her. She courageously accepted the vocation and mission of Mother of God, in order to save us, her children, from the enslavement of sin and everlasting death.
5. Making our poor and sinful hearts one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we call upon God our Father through our daily spiritual exercises, our prayer and our penance, asking Him to sustain our life with the inheritance of divine grace which is ours as His true sons and daughters in His only-begotten Son. Making our poor and sinful hearts one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we seek daily the grace of purification from sin and of holiness of life in the glorious Sacred Heart of Jesus, from which flows, without cease, the grace of our salvation, above all, through the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance. Father Hardon tirelessly taught us the way of Mary to oneness of heart with the Heart of Jesus, her Divine Son. Rightly, he saw in our devotion to Mary, leading to an ever more fervent love of her Divine Son, the way of our daily conversion of life and of the transformation of our world.
6. Our situation today is not unlike the situation of the People of God at the time of Judith. As Father Hardon so frequently and emphatically reminded us, we live in a totally secularized world which undermines our deepest beliefs and our most sacred practices. Many, also within the Church, have already surrendered to the forces of secularization, to the allurements of Satan, and many have lost hope of defending the honor of our Catholic faith. In today’s world, perhaps as never before, we need the purity and strength of heart of the Mother of God, in order to know God’s will and to do it courageously, after the Heart of our Lord Jesus. As Father Hardon steadfastly taught us, to be a Catholic today and, even more so, to be a catechist today, requires martyrdom, that is, a faithful witness to Christ in the face of persecution and even death.
7. As we honor the memory of Father John Anthony Hardon today, we pray that the Church may recognize his heroic witness of Catholic faith. Because of the holiness of his life, we ask Father Hardon to intercede for us who continue to struggle along our pilgrim way, that we may be, as he taught us to be, faithful witnesses to Christ, no matter what the cost to be paid, no matter what the sacrifice to be made.
8. There is no better way to honor the memory of Father Hardon, as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of his death, than by lifting up our hearts, with Mary, to the Heart of Jesus in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us unite ourselves to Christ in His Sacrifice at Calvary, which is one with the Eucharistic Sacrifice we now celebrate. Placing our poor hearts, with Mary, into His Most Sacred Heart, all rich in divine mercy and love, we will receive the grace to live in Him always, bringing His all-merciful love to all our brothers and sisters.
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
FATHER JOHN A. HARDON, S.J., DAY OF REMEMBRANCE, Homily given January 14, 2006. Assumption Grotto Church, Detroit, Michigan. Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary