Our Lady was created actually “Full of Grace” as the Archangel Gabriel declared at the Annunciation, meaning that her soul was literally adorned with all of the virtues at the moment of her conception, as well as the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. This fullness of grace is said to emanate from the center of her being, that is, her heart, understood both physically and spiritually. It is Mary’s heart, in its unspoiled created perfection, that is the source and wellspring of her purity . . . therefore her heart is called Immaculate.
This beautiful prayer of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was written by St. Margaret Mary Alocoque (1647-1690), the French nun and mystic who promulgated the Sacred Heart devotion, in a letter of spiritual direction to a fellow religious sister, Sister Felice-Madeleine de la Barge, at the Moulins monastery in France.
It is the heart of Jesus that was pierced on the cross for our redemption; not just for all mankind in general, but for each person in particular. This popular litany honors and praises that Sacred Heart which suffered and died out of inexpressible love for each one of us.
In 1672, Christ appeared to a French Visitation nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Over a series of visits, Our Lord revealed to St. Margaret Mary the importance of devotion to His Sacred Heart. He asked that His heart, wounded on the cross and continually wounded by ingratitude of men for his sacrifice for them, be venerated and adored as an embodiment of His Divine mercy and love.
Yesterday’s Sacred Heart blog post discussed the very rich and interesting history of the Sacred Heart devotion. This second installment will discuss its relationship to other Catholic devotions closely connected with it, namely the Divine Mercy, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has its roots all the way back to the time of the Apostles, and arguably even before this in the Song of Songs penned by Solomon. St. John the Evangelist is the Apostle associated with the Sacred Heart devotion because, one, he was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved; two, he was called the “Apostle of Love” due to the theme of love repeated in his Gospel and epistles; and three, because he had the special privilege of reclining on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper.
According to tradition, towards the end of her life the Blessed Virgin moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). No longer able to retrace the steps of her Son’s passion where they actually occurred, she set up an identical Stations of the Cross on her property using stones and markings. This became the first devotional Stations of the Cross. This is described in detail by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich according to her visions.
From time to time in the history of the Church, Mary has personally appeared to certain holy men and women to give them a particular devotion to her, with attached graces and promises. In some cases the devotion is meant to be spread to the whole Church and involves an object, or sacramental, given to the faithful as a physical sign of her loving intercession.
In her apparitions the Blessed Mother always has a mission, a specific message, to proclaim. What was the message of Our Lady of Fatima to the world? According to this Message of Fatima Document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions.”
On May 13th, 1917, Our Lady appeared for the first time to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Between May and October she appeared five more times. She urged the children to pray the rosary daily for peace in the world and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Over the course of these visits and several preceding visits by an angel, five prayers were given to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.