Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary
by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, D.D., J.C.D.
Our Consecration as Marian Catechists is to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. While it is to Christ that we give all our being in dedication to the apostolate of catechesis, it is Mary, the Mother of God, whom Christ gave to us as our mother as He was dying on the cross, who leads and assists us in placing our heart completely in the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Act of Consecration. Even as Mary, from the moment of her conception, was devoted completely to the vocation and mission of Mother of God, to bringing Christ into the world, so she assists us to devote ourselves more and more to bringing Christ to others through the teaching of the Faith, until we are ready to make the Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a Marian Catechist.
No heart has ever loved Our Lord as did the Heart of Mary. Therefore, in our desire to love Christ more, we rightly want to unite our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as her Immaculate Heart is perfectly united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In fact, the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are always through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The first and best of the disciples of our Lord Jesus, we imitate her example and seek the help of her prayers in enthroning Jesus as King of our hearts and homes, and in consecrating our hearts completely to His Sacred Heart. Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II expresses the profound theological reason for which union with the Heart of Jesus is found through union with the Heart of Mary:
“We can say that the mystery of the Redemption took shape beneath the heart of the Virgin of Nazareth when she pronounced her fiat. From then on, under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, this heart, the heart of both a virgin and a mother, has always followed the work of her Son and has gone out to all those whom Christ has embraced and continues to embrace with inexhaustible love. For that reason her heart must also have the inexhaustibility of a mother. The special characteristic of the motherly love that the Mother of God inserts in the mystery of the Redemption and the life of the Church finds expression in its exceptional closeness to man and all that happens to him. It is in this that the mystery of the Mother consists. The Church, which looks to her with altogether special love and hope, wishes to make this mystery her own in an ever deeper manner. For in this the Church also recognizes the way for her daily life, which is each person” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis 22d).
Mary, in her inexhaustible love for all men and women, draws us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and it is only through her Immaculate Heart that we come to know the Sacred Heart of Jesus, formed under her Immaculate Heart. As Marian Catechists, we are one with the whole Church in wanting to make the mystery of Mary’s maternal love our own, desiring to bring Christ to every brother and sister in every circumstance of their lives.
On our own alone, we would never have the courage to make the Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we would doubt very much our ability to be true to the words of the Consecration:
We pledge ourselves to You as your devoted servants forever, We consecrate to You our persons, our houses, our occupations and our families, and all those for whose spiritual good we labor in your service, that Your Spirit may reign over them, Your love sustain them, Your grace sanctify them and make them at all times pleasing to Your sight. (Solemn Consecration of the Catechists, in Father Hardon’s Catholic Prayer Book with Meditations, Bardstown, Kentucky: Eternal Life, 1999, p. 170)
However, through the example and with the intercession of our Blessed Mother, we are led to an ever deeper trust in the love of Christ Who overcomes all of our weaknesses and makes it possible for us to accomplish what God asks of us, what we could never accomplish on our own alone. We recall the example of the Apostles who, after Our Lord’s Death and Resurrection, sought from Mary encouragement and the help of her prayers. She who knew Our Lord best was able always to remind the Apostles of Christ and of the power of His Risen Life in them through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through the help of Mary, they understood again what Christ has taught us so clearly and well, that He is the Vine and we are the branches who draw our life completely from Him (cf. John 15:5). In other words, Mary leads us to the pierced Heart of Jesus, seated in glory at the right hand of God the Father, from Which flows unceasingly the love of God upon the Church and her members.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux sets the example for us in making our Consecration as Marian Catechists. When she desired to make her Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which she entitled Act of Oblation to Merciful Love, she did not approach God directly but went to the Mother of God to ask her help in presenting her Act of Consecration. In the Act of Oblation, she writes: “It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You.” It is the profound and yet childlike spiritual wisdom of the Little Flower which leads her to seek Christ through His Mother. In her littleness, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux understood how unworthy she was to approach the Heart of Jesus and to consider placing her heart in His Sacred Heart. Yet, she knew that she could do so with the help of the Mother of Christ, who brought the suffering of the newlyweds at Cana to her Son and obtained for them the miraculous sign of God’s merciful love, the first miracle of Christ.
Just as Christ was the King of Mary’s Heart, so she helps us to make Christ the King of our hearts. From all time, God chose to send His Son to us through Mary. So, too, He continues to send His Son to us in the Church through Mary, the Mother of the Church. It is Mary who helps us to understand the great mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of God’s loving mercy toward us, which reached its highest expression in His taking our human nature and uniting it to His own divine nature, in order to save us from sin and everlasting death, in order to share with us His own divine life in the Church. With Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, we pray: “I want to work for Your Love alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally” (Appendices: “Act of Oblation to Merciful Love,” Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 3rd edition, Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1996, p. 277).
For us as Marian Catechists, the Consecration through the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a profound expression of our spirituality, for we take our inspiration from the words of our Blessed Mother to the chief wine steward at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Before the great challenge of teaching the Catholic Faith in a totally secularized society, our Blessed Mother knows that we must depend totally upon the grace of Christ if we are to carry out our mission in Him. When she sees that our wine is running out, she goes to her Son to seek the help of His grace for us, and, then, she instructs us to follow Christ, to do what He teaches us. With the help of His grace we can be confident that we will accomplish our mission in a manner far beyond our every imagining. The best wine will be served last.
We renew our Act of Consecration everyday, when we make the Morning Offering which begins: “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, …” Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, we are able truly to place our hearts once again into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we desire to give ourselves at every moment and in every circumstance to the service of Christ. The Little Flower expresses powerfully this our desire:
I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face! (Story of a Soul, 3rd edition, p. 277).
May more and more Marian Catechists receive the grace, once they have made the fitting spiritual and doctrinal preparation, to consecrate themselves completely to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And may all Consecrated Marian Catechists find in the Heart of Mary the inspiration and strength to renew daily and throughout every day their total love of Christ, placing their hearts entirely into His Sacred Heart.
Originally published in The Tilma, Summer 2002