Memorial of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Nature of the Devotion
Just as devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is only a form of devotion to the adorable Person of Jesus, so also is devotion to the Holy Heart of Mary but a special form of devotion to Mary. In order that, properly speaking, there may be devotion to the Heart of Mary, the attention and the homage of the faithful must be directed to the physical heart itself. However, this in itself is not sufficient; the faithful must read therein all that the human heart of Mary suggests, all of which it is the expressive symbol and the living reminder: Mary’s interior life, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for her God, her maternal love for her Divine Son, and her motherly and compassionate love for her sinful and miserable children here below. The consideration of Mary’s interior life and the beauties of her soul, without any thought of her physical heart, does not constitute our devotion; still less does it consist in the consideration of the Heart of Mary merely as a part of her virginal body. The two elements are essential to the devotion, just as soul and body are necessary to the constitution of man.
All this is made sufficiently clear in the explanations given elsewhere (see DEVOTION TO THE HEART OF JESUS), and, if our devotion to Mary must not be confounded with our devotion to Jesus, on the other hand, it is equally true that our veneration of the Heart of Mary is, as such, analogous to our worship of the Heart of Jesus. It is, however, necessary to indicate a few differences in this analogy, the better to explain the character of Catholic devotion to the Heart of Mary. Some of these differences are very marked, whereas others are barely perceptible. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is especially directed to the Divine Heart as overflowing with love for men, and it presents this love to us as despised and outraged. In the devotion to the Heart of Mary, on the other hand, what seems to attract us above all else is the love of this Heart for Jesus and for God. Its love for men is not overlooked, but it is not so much in evidence nor so dominant. With this difference is linked another. The first, act of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus is the love eager to respond to love, in devotion to the Heart of Mary there is no first act so clearly indicated: in this devotion, perhaps, study and imitation hold as important a place as love. For, although this study and imitation are impregnated with filial affection, the devotion presents itself with no object sufficiently conspicuous to call forth our love, which is, on the contrary, naturally awakened and increased by the study and imitation. Hence, accurately speaking, love is more the result than the object of the devotion, the object being rather to love God, and Jesus better by uniting ourselves to Mary for this purpose and by imitating her virtues. It would also seem that, although in the devotion to the Heart of Mary the heart has an essential part as symbol and sensible object, it does not stand out as prominently as in the devotion to the Heart of Jesus; we think rather of the thing symbolized, of love, virtues, and sentiments, of Mary’s interior life.
June 20, 2020 (Readings on USCCB website)