In contemplating the Heart of Mary, we enter into her interior life, symbolized by the beautiful image of her heart. It is often depicted as pierced with a sword, in flames, wreathed with roses or with the crown of thorns of her Son. Mary’s pure and open heart is the reflection of our beautiful Christian life of union with God; a reflection of sacrificial love for Him and all humanity, on fire with the Holy Spirit, flowering with every grace, blessing and virtue.
“Draw us after you in the fragrance of your holiness.” * Following in her heart beats, we are to be directed by the the love of God: wholly pure, wholly given, fully human. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God,” because when we are pure of heart, all we see is God. Her heart is utterly pure beyond our comprehension, pure as Eve’s before the fall; then made even more beautiful by Mary’s heroic merits, her sacrifices, her complete alliance with God, her total love, and her compliance with His will and plan. Oh the willingness of this heart to trustingly suffer in order to love Christ bravely, to grow in love and go on loving even to it’s own destruction! She believed all things, she endured all things, she hoped all things! Therefore she received all things.
How can we imitate Mary by heart? We are so often unlike her inside. Sometimes we seem hopelessly off track. Mary’s heart’s simplicity and hidden life in Christ are hard to cultivate, but this is what true holiness is, loving God as she did; in stark faith, hope, and love, in simplicity of heart. We walk with Mary in simple faith and learn Christ from her. We listen, we let go and let God, trusting in His grace that He will complete the good work he has begun in us. It all began with our Most Holy Mother saying, “I am the littlest of the servants of God. Let it be done to me as you have said.” And Jesus was conceived in her. This is what happens in the spiritual life if we allow God to work with us, and Mary to teach us. We become more and more attentive to His Word in our lives. We learn to be in silent communion with Him in the quiet of our hearts and we become more and more aware of His indwelling. It takes training ourselves to be quiet and commitment to spend time with God every day in whatever way we are capable of. We can entrust our formation to Mary.
She is the perfect model of the spiritual life of a Christian. And because she intercedes for us as Queen Mother we can do more than consider her heart and wish we were different. We can become closer to what she is by her prayers for us, by grace, by attempting to follow her example, by being willing, by praying. In companionship with Mary and inviting her into our lives, we become more like her . She never keeps anything for herself though. She brings us right to Christ and intensifies our experience of Him. He seems to like to see us in her company, entrusting us to her “school of prayer.” *
With her let us “set out into the deep”* as she did in trusting receptivity and self -giving love, in prayer of the heart. In this way the Blessed Trinity will come to dwell in us fully and truly. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is an icon of the heart of prayer in its perfection.
Let us allow our hearts to be cleansed by being willing to be shown our mixed motivations and inner secrets and to let go of anything that keeps us from God, allowing ourselves to be transformed little by little as we learn to let God in. May we be receptive to Love and in being possessed by God, possess God. As Mary allowed the Holy Spirit to overshadow her, may we be open to His movements in our souls with courageous love. May our Holy Mother pray for us that we can mirror her heart with our own. May we too be simple , humble and free of heart for Him, that we may run lightly in His paths and wear the gentle yoke of Jesus with a joyful humility.
We are so busy and so was she. Mary practiced prayer of the heart, I imagine, in the midst of family life: as she swept floors, chased her toddler when he ran out the door as all toddlers must, while she was cooking or working outside in the fields, kneading dough or bringing in water, helping a neighbor or wishing it would rain. Her feet were often dirty and her hands were calloused with work. Maybe sometimes Joseph came in from the shop silent and far away, mentally working on some problem the way husbands will at times, and she had to be patient as every wife does, until he seemed ready to communicate or ready for a hug. She had to have laughed when funny things happened . She was obviously astonished that her Son could seem so inconsiderate as to be at the Temple for three days while she worried so terribly. Sometimes she didn’t understand what was happening. I am certain she had to stay up late or get up early to have any quiet time at all. She was and is fully human, and she understands our life. She will come and sit with us when we are crying. She will smile with us. She will teach us how she did it, how hers became the model for the praying heart amidst life’s work , sorrow and joy.
Maybe we could start a new phase of our relationship with Mary as one of my fellow contributors suggested I do when I didn’t have any ideas for this article. She said to get my favorite image of Our Lady and have a quiet cup of tea with her and see what happens. Well, I did. It was nice. Ideas came to me just fine. You might try it.
Let us pray: O Mary I consecrate my heart to yours that I may love the Father with your heart, listen with your heart, respond to grace with your heart, accept suffering and sacrifice lovingly and freely with your heart. Pray for me, that I may follow the way of prayer and service as you, His most worthy daughter have done before me. Be with me and pray that I serve with devotion and compassion, that I pray until prayer becomes love and love becomes prayer.
May my heart be conformed to God’s merciful will in every way.
May I learn from you, Mary, to live continually in God’s presence, whatever I am doing, “For the language He hears best is silent love.” *
Jesus, thank you for revealing the Immaculate Heart of Your Mother to the Church that we may grow in simply loving you, letting ourselves be loved and opened and inhabited by you as Mary has exemplified.
“Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy well beloved Spouse*” Teach us the heart of prayer.
*Mary’s “school of prayer” John Paul II in Rosarium Virginis Mariae
*”Draw us after you in the fragrance of your holiness,” is an antiphon from The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
*”Set out into the deep!” – John Paul II
*”The language He hears best…” St. John of the Cross
*This “Come Holy Spirit” is a prayer I learned from a friend years ago. We say it all the time at our house.