The much-loved image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is rooted in Scripture: “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Because Mary’s heart is the source and wellspring of her purity, her heart is called immaculate. Her fullness of grace emanates from the center of her heart. “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us” is a sigh of love from our heart that bonds us with her heart. We ask for her intervention in our ordinary times as well as in our times of need.
It is not possible to fully understand the deep movements of love inside Mary’s heart. Her mother’s heart feels loss, distress and anguish more deeply than any other mother’s heart does.
St. Louis de Montfort wrote, “If you put all the love of the mothers into one heart, it still would not equal the love of the heart of Mary for her children.” We cannot comprehend how this tender, motherly heart endured so much sorrow and anguish during her lifetime, and because of this, we invoke her Immaculate Heart when tribulations come our way.
The young Carmelite nun St. Teresa of the Andes reminds us: “In seeing you [Mary] so pure, so tender, and so compassionate, who would not be encouraged to unburden their intimate sufferings to you? Who would not ask you to be their star on this stormy sea? Who would not cry in your arms without instantly receiving your immaculate kisses of love and comfort?”
Mary is acutely sensitive to how evil can pull people away from God. Mary can see the sins and faults of those who choose not to know God and the thoughts and desires of those who desire to love God. She ardently longs for all people to live according to the life and teaching of her Son. She never gives up on her children, even the most hardened of sinners. Her faith shines like a beacon of bright light in a sin-darkened night. Today she helps us understand the true value of femininity and the exquisite beauty of purity. With her help, we can spread Jesus’ message of authentic love and tender mercy in our living and working environments. The pristine beauty of Mary’s Immaculate Heart is far beyond our imagination or our loftiest understanding of the unutterable beauty of the word immaculate.
Mary’s heart burned intensely with love for God. Because of her strong and close relationship with her son, her heart is closely associated with the heart of Jesus. In John Paul II’s Angelus Address on September 6, 1986, he said, “We ask you, Mother of Christ, to be our guide to the heart of your Son. We pray to you, lead us close to him and teach us to live in intimacy with his heart, which is the fountain of life and holiness.”