" Études Picpuciennes" nº 5



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Études Picpuciennes” nº 5
Part III


THE SACRED HEARTS
OF


JESUS AND MARY
-A Doctrinal Study 

PART III
By R.P. Gerald de Becker, SS.CC.

Translated by
Fathers and Brothers of the Sacred Hearts


(U.S.A.)
Provincial House


Fairhaven - 1 9 6 3-

TABLE OF CONTENTS


PART III

II. THE SACRED HEART OF MARY

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I. History of the Devotion to the Heart of Mary

CHAPTER II. The Nature of this Devotion

CHAPTER III. The Doctrinal Foundations

I) The Mystery of Mary

II) The Mystery of the Heart of Mary

CHAPTER IV. Devotion to the Heart of Mary and our Congregation

I) Our Founders and the Heart of Mary

II) Devotion to the Heart of Mary in the Life

and Works of the Congregation

1) Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

2) The Union of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

3) The Cult of the Heart of Mary in our Congregation

4) The Cult of the Heart of Mary in the Work of our Congregation

THE SACRED HEART OF MARY

INTRODUCTION

Devotion to the Heart of Mary is becoming more and more widespread among the faithful; it is like the reply of heaven to the difficulties and problems of our times. We, children of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, should rejoice more than others in this fact. The Heart of Mary signifies for us one of our most glorious treasures, it is one of our true heirlooms.



Here, as in other matters, the life and doctrine of the Church is directed along the lines of our own specific congregational devotion. "Truly, our Founders had an extraordinary foreknowledge of the gifts which the Holy Trinity in Its loving wisdom had reserved for the Church." (V. Rev. Fr. John of the Heart of Jesus and Mary)

From the beginnings of our Institute, our Founders assigned a most impor­tant place to the Heart of Mary. The Heart of Mary possessed our Congregation "from its very cradle," but it possessed primarily our Founders, who were already consecrated to this Heart before they started to found our Institute. Intending to found a Congregation, it was quite natural that they wished to place their work under the maternal protection of Mary. They will consecrate their persons, their institute, the members and works of their institute to the Heart of Mary as well as to the Heart of Jesus. One of the most characteristic traits of our Founders' spirituality, and hence of our congregational spirituality, is found in the union of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. On this point also our Founders anticipated the official doctrine of the Church. At the center of our spirituality as well as at the center of the economy of salvation are found these two Hearts, which in a union as intimate as it is lasting, brought about the work of reparation. This union is found in the basic structure of our Congregation. Maybe the most beautiful and the most original trait of our spirituality is that it united the most authentic foundations of our holy religion. By its works and spirituality our Congregation purposes to continue the reparatory mission of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our consecration to these Blessed Hearts - consecration which commences with the fundamental act of our religious profession - constitutes our reason for being as well as our program of life. It is impossible to conceive a more noble and more grandiose ideal. It is worthwhile to examine this ideal more deeply. We will attempt to make this examination here by trying to discover the riches of the Heart of Mary. The Holy Virgin, like a true Mother, will lead us to Her Son.

We will be permitted here to make a few remarks concerning the method and plan of the present work. As far as possible, we have avoided all technical language. However, when we had to define the nature of the devotion to the Heart of Mary or the nature of the consecration, the clarity and solidity of the expose demanded a precise, exact language. We had to employ established terminology in order to avoid vague and uncertain statements.

When we have given an historical outline of the devotion to the Heart of Mary, we will try to determine its nature and foundations; then we will find out what place the Heart of Mary had in the history of our institute. After that, we will examine a series of doctrinal questions: the Heart of Mary, Masterpiece of Divine Love; to the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary; the sorrowful Heart of Mary; consecration to the Heart of Mary; conclusions and congregational perspectives.

Parts of this work were written for different purposes; they were under­taken either to be presented at the Congress of Studies or to be published in re­views. We do not believe their diverse origins will disrupt the unity of the work, for we have only retained that which was in accordance with the plan of the present book.

May these pages contribute to augment our love of the Heart of the Virgin, Protectress of our Institute and Mother of our souls.

Sandhoven, Mission Seminary, 1957

Rome, Villa Senni, 1959

CHAPTER I
HISTORY OF THE DEVOTION TO THE HEART OF MARY

Devotion to the Holy Virgin is as old as Christianity itself. Mary is so indissolubly joined to Her Son that no one has ever proposed to separate Her from Jesus. It is true, however, that particular devotions to Mary have often taken a considerable time to detach themselves from the general devotion within which they were implicitly contained. Such was the case of the devotion to the Blessed Heart of Mary; centuries passed before it assumed its definitive form.

I. The first period may be divided into three stages: The biblical stage, the patristic stage, and the transitional stage.

a) What are the data supplied by Scripture? Saint Luke ("Evangelist of the Heart of Mary" as Saint John Eudes called him), mentions the Heart of Mary on two occasions (2:19 and 5:51): First, after the account of the adoration of the shepherds and again after the account of the findings of Jesus in the temple. In these places Saint Luke affirms, in almost identical terms, that the Virgin kept in Her Heart, in order to contemplate them, the events she had witnessed and the words she had heard: "Maria autem conservabat omnia verba haec conferens in corde suo. " Thus the Heart of Mary is said to be the first Gospel of the Holy Spirit.1 Saint Luke also relates the prophecy by which the saintly Simeon announced to Mary, on the day of Her Purification, that the Infant-Jesus, whom She had just presented to the Lord, would become a Sign of contradiction, and that Her own soul would be pierced by a sword of sorrow: "Et tuam ipsius animam per­transibit gladius."(2:35) Ecclesiastical writers such as Origen (+ towards 254), will translate the term "soul" by the word "heart."

The Gospel of Saint John tells us how Jesus, hanging on the Cross, gave Saint John to Mary and Mary to Saint John: "Behold thy Mother" - "behold thy son. " (19:27) Exegetes and the faithful have seen in Saint John the representa­tive of the entire human race and the words which Jesus addressed to His Mother were considered to be the proclamation of the Spiritual Maternity of Mary regarding the faithful. Since the spiritual Motherhood of Mary is one of the ideas which most influences the determination of devotion to the Heart of Mary, it is easy to understand the numerous citations of this text of Saint John among promoters of this cult.

Among the books of the Old Testament it is the Canticle of Canticles which is primarily applied to the Blessed Virgin. This is "the book of the Virginal Heart and divine dilection of the Mother of fair love. It is full of divine oracles who announce that this incomparable Heart is totally consumed with love of God and with charity for men. " (Saint John Eudes. ) The Canticle of Canticles uses the images of engagement and marriage, it exalts love; it was only natural to see in all this the celebration of the love of the heart of Mary for Jesus and for us.

b) The patristic age offers us the teachings of the Fathers and of the ecclesiastical writers, which unite with the Scriptures in order to penetrate the riches of the Heart of Mary. Saint Augustine (+430) will say that "the Divine Maternity would not benefit Mary in the least if She had not had the happiness of bearing Jesus in Her Heart before bearing Him in Her Womb. " 2 Saint Leo the Great (+461) retreats the same thought: "Mary conceived the Word in Her Heart before conceiving Him in the flesh. " 3 Saint John Damascene (+760) will exalt the purity and sanctity of the Heart of Mary: "Your Heart is pure without blemish; It lives only for the contemplation and the love of God. " 4

In a well-known study "on the origin and development of devotion to the Heart of Mary in the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers" 5 Father Boyer, S. J. cited nearly 400 patristic texts which he divides intofour groups: The Heart of Mary and Divine Maternity - The Heart of Mary and compassion with the Crucified - The Heart of Mary and the distribution of grace (spiritual maternity) - The ex­cellence of the Heart of Mary.

The Church often needs time to become clearly aware of her doctrine and above all to find the exact and adequate expression of Her faith. At all times, the Heart of Mary was venerated, this Heart which "observed (thus Father Lagrange translates the 'dieteriet of Saint Luke 2:51) in itself all the happenings of Mary's intimate life with Her Son. But it is sometimes difficult to grasp the exact meaning of certain expressions used by the ancient authors to express their cult of the Heart of Mary. Since words are the vehicles of ideas, lexicography and the study of literary genera could be of great value to us. However, because the Heart is the eternal symbol of love, it is certain that the ancient authors who speak of Mary's Heart, wish thereby to underline the most characteristic trait and the constitutive reason of the spiritual personality of the Virgin. It is significant that the earliest patristic text which we have on the Heart of Mary establishes the equivalence of "soul" and "love." This text is from Origen: "And your soul a sword shall pierce; what is this sword which... shall pass through the Heart of Mary?" - It seems most likely that the first traces of the cult of the Heart of Mary are intimately joined to the devotion which honored Mary as the all holy (the "panhagia"), the possessor of all grace (the "kata pants kecharitomene"). The most ancient Marian prayer, the "Sub Tuum," of the 3rd - 4th Century, already invokes "the mercy of the Mother of God... who alone is chaste and blessed. " The patristic commentaries on the Spouse of the Canticle praises Her most pure love toward Her all-holy beloved; the image of the betrothed was used to represent the idea of love and consequently to honor the heart as symbol of this chaste love.

c) The transition stage or the period of private cult begins to take shape from the 12th century onward. With Saint Anselm (+1109) and his disciple Eadmer (+1124) a decisive phase commences. "Oh Good Mother," prays Saint Anselmo "by that love with which you cherish your Son, and by which you truly love Him and desire that He be loved, grant that I may also love Him in truth."6

Eadmer, who wrote the first apology on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, habitually uses the word "heart. " Through him, the expression "heart of Mary" makes its definitive entry into theology. We find the following expressions in his works: "most chase body and most holy soul, pure heart, most chase and simple heart, the pure sanctity and most holy purity of her blessed heart. ". Saint Bernard considers the martyrdom of the Heart of Mary at the foot of the Cross. He also speaks of the merciful tenderness of that same Heart. Philip of Harveng (Abbot of Bonne-Esperance), Blessed Herman-Joseph (+1233), Saint Albert the Great, Saint Bonaventure, Blessed Suso, and Conrad of Saxony continue this tradition. Many saintly women lived and propagated this devotion with true feminine ardor. Of these we must mention Mechtilde of Hackeborn (+1298), Gertrude the Great (+1302), and Saint Bridget, all of whose writings exercised considerable influence. Saint Mechtilde preaches "the offering, the consecration, the oblation of her heart" to the most holy and pure Heart of Mary." To Saint Bridget the Savior declares that the cult of the Heart of Mary touches Him personally on account of the moral identity existing between His own Heart and hers, saying that "both Hearts are as one." Jesus and Mary have redeemed the world "quasi uno corde," as with one and the same Heart. The physical hearts of Mother and Son symbolize the same love for men. Saint John Eudes who was familiar with the writings of both Saint Mechtilde and Saint Bridgit and who will later become the great apostle of the public cult of the Heart of Mary will repeat this same idea. However, it was this line of thought which delayed the official approbation of the devotion to the Heart of Mary.

In the 15th century one finds the names of John Gerson (+1429), Chancellor of the University of Paris and one of the most fervent promoters of the devotion to Saint Joseph, of Saint Lawrence Justinian (+1446), and especially of Saint Bernardine of Sienna (+1444) who is sometimes called "the doctor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary." We have a long sermon of the latter on the Visitation; in reality it treats exclusively of the Heart of Mary and contains "a beautiful treatise of divine love as seen in the Heart of Mary." (Bainvel).

In the last years of the 15th century, Nicholas of Saussay, Abbot of the Order of Citeaux, wrote an "Antidolariurn Animae" which contains a hymn of praise to the Heart of Mary: "I will speak to your Heart, Mary, the mirror of angelic beauty; I will speak to your pure Heart, 0 Queen of the world, and I will prostrate myself before this holy temple and render thanks to it with all the strength of my soul." In the same work is found a salutation to be recited during the Angelus and which is generally attributed to Julius II, the great Pope of the Renaissance: "I salute your virginal Heart whose purity was never stained with any sin." (Testamenturn Julii II Papae. )

During the 16th century many noteworthy religious defended this devotion most capably. Of these, let us name the Jesuits Cornelius a Lapide, Saint Peter Canisius, the Benedictine Louis de Blois, the Dominican Louis of Granada, and Lanspergius of Chartres. Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) profoundly influenced the development of the devotion to the Heart of Mary. The Bishop of Geneva ded­icated his admirable "Treatise on the Love of God" to the Heart of Mary. In his Sermon for the Feast of the Assumption he says: "In truth these were two persons, Our Lord and Our Lady, but they lived in one heart, and in one soul, in one spirit, in one life; for if the bond of charity so united the early Christians that they had only one heart and one soul, how much more reason have we to say that these were only one soul and one life." It must also be remarked that nearly all the great masters of the French School were influenced by the writings of Saint Gertrude and Saint Bridget; from this source they got the idea of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and they based the consecration not so much on the royalty of Mary (a very ancient Marian theme) as on the spiritual motherhood of the Virgin: Mary is Mother of all men.

II. Mother Mary of the Incarnation, foundress of the Ursulines of Quebec, Cardinal de Berulle, Father Poire, S.J., author of a book which was entitled The Triple Crown, introduce the period of public cult or the legal cycle. Saint John Eudes (1601-1680) was the great promoter of public cult to the Heart of Mary. Fr. Boyer remarks that if many Fathers and ecclesiastical writers have sung the praises of the Heart of Mary before Saint John Eudes, there are very few of them who "showed any signs of veneration of cult to it. " This Saint was the "father, the doctor and apostle" of this cult as Saint Pius X says in the decree of beatification. First as a member of the Oratory (from 1623 to 1643), and spiritual disciple of Bérulle and Condren, he assimilated the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Saints of the Middle Ages. He founded two religious congregations in 1641 and in 1643, giving them as their principal devotion, the cult of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary -at first united - since he honored the Heart of Jesus "in" and "with" the Heart of Mary (here the influence of Saint Gertrude and Saint Francis of Sales is felt) then as separated. His long contact with the Oratory (founded by Cardinal de Bérulle) familiarized him with the spirituality of the French School (de Bérulle, Condren) which preferred to venerate the Incarnate Word and His internal dispositions. He had a profound knowledge of patristic literature and succeeded in showing that this devotion was not as new as was pretended. He studied the works of Saint Francis de Sales, who laid stress on the most consoling truths of our religion (the Redemp­tion, the distribution of grace) and whose spirituality is summarized in one word: love. For him Christ is less the Adorer of the Father than the Friend of men "this loving Heart of our love. " Generally, a pronounced influence of Cardinal de Bérulle 7 on the thought of Saint John Eudes is admitted, but it is extremely difficult to evaluate its extent; many authors (among whom were the Eudist Fathers: Le Dore, Lebrun, Arragain) disagree with M. Bremond's assertion: the devotion of Cardinal de Bérulle contained in germ all the elements of the Eudist devotion to the Sacred Heart. "8

For a long time Saint John Eudes honored the Hearts of Jesus and Mary as united. The cult of both Hearts was implicated in the devotion to 'the Heart of Mary which for him constituted the intimate bond betweenthe Hearts of Jesus and Mary; consequently they have but one and the same -Heart and the Heart of Mary is divine. Hence it is question not of a physical union but of a moral one, "oneness of spirit, of will, of love, of affection and sentiment. " This idea was very dear to the French School, and especially to Saint John Eudes, who for thirty years hesitated to render distinct cults to each of these Hearts. Following tradition he places the entire compassion of Mary in Her Heart; all that Christ suffers in Her body, Mary suffers in Her Heart; he repeats the formula of Saint Lawrence Justinian: The Heart of Mary is "the mirror of the passion of Christ." But slowly the thought of Saint John Eudes evolves towards the point of separation. His devotion was directed to the Heart of Mary and secondarily to the Heart of Jesus. Then these two Hearts become the objects of separate cults with proper Masses, offices, and litanies. This evolution was brought about by the logic of the French School’s Mariology; it could be seen also in the logic of things. The Mariology of the French School established the principle that one must go to Jesus through Mary. This principle is in turn the expression of a theological principle: if we honor the Heart of Mary, it is logical to honor first the Heart of Jesus.

Saint John Eudes, whom the founder of the Society of Saint Sulpice M. Olier characterized as "the most remarkable man of his century," accomplished with regard to devotion to the Immaculate Heart what Saint Margaret Mary accomplished for devotion to the Heart of Jesus. He introduced this devotion into the lives of the faithful and gave it a public and liturgical character. In 1648 he published his book "The Devotion to the Most Holy Heart and to the Most Sacred Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary." The French Bishops regarded it with some reserve at first, but soon they fully endorsed it. Louis de Vendome, the French Cardinal Legate of Clement IX, following the example of Several Bishops approved the doctrine of Saint John Eudes and the Mass and Office of the Immaculate Heart on June 2, 1668. The first solemn celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Heart had taken place in the cathedral of Autun on February 8, 1648. But all this happened in France, far away from Rome. On June 8, 1669 the: Congregation of Rites refused its approbation for the Office and Mass in honor of the Heart of Mary; they were afraid of offering a further occasion of reproach to the Jansenists whose complaints were already exasperating. "Saint John Eudes also wrote a book entitled "The Admirable Heart of the Holy Mother of God." He had spent thirty years preparing this volume and only completed it on the eve of his death. His immediate successor. Fr. Blouet of Amilly published it (1681). This book is a true Summa of the devotion to the Heart of Mary wherein the Saint explains its nature, excellence, and prac­tices. In it he had already consecrated the hearts of all men to the Heart of Mary which he addressed as "Cor Marie, Rex cordis nostri."



The part played by Louis Marie of Montfort (1673-1716), although of major importance in general Mariology, is only a minor one with regard to devotion to Mary's Heart. 9 The movement which Saint John Eudes had inaugurated with so much success was effectively furthered by several religious orders such, as the Franciscans, the Benedictines, and the Jesuits. Father Pinamonti, S. J. (1632-1703) wrote Il Sacro Cuore de Maria Vergine which is a remarkable book, too long neglected, possessing many good qualities.

Saint John Eudes had always expected to see the devotion to the Heart of Mary approved by the supreme authority of the Holy See. This happiness was not however his. Certainly, the Holy Fathers, beginning with Alexander VIII (August 14, 1666) approved the erection of sanctuaries, of confraternities, but for very practical reasons - the Jansenism crisis, was at its height - they delayed giving this devotion the seal of their supreme authority. An early demand for appro­bation of the Mass and Office of the Heart of Mary was refused by Clement IX in 1669. Credit must be given to Father Pinamonti for restoring courage after the deception caused by this refusal.

It was the cult of the Heart of Jesus, founded on stronger arguments, which first received pontifical approbation. The history of this approbation gives us further proof of the intimate union existing between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Father Joseph de Galilee (1663-1749), a giant in thought and in action, was postulator for the cause. Clearly seeing the perfect analogy which existed between the two cults, he did not think that it was necessary to separate the cause of the Sacred Heart from that of the Heart of Mary. He hoped to obtain simultaneous approbation of both causes. Thus, he submitted to Pope Benedict XIII in 1726, a lengthy supplication called Memorial, which exposed in detail all the reasons, which, in his opinion, would justify the existence of the two feast days. The pro­moter of the Faith, Cardinal Libertine (the future Pope Benedict XIV), a man of superior intelligence, did not conceal his admiration of this masterly thesis, and later on he declared that it was unassailable. In this work Fr. de Gallifet sought for the consecration of the human race to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which he declared, were inseparable. His demand however, was unsuccessful; on June 30, 1729 the Sacred Congregation of Rites refused its approbation. The refusal was no longer motivated solely by the attitude of the Jansenists but by the fact that the cult of a physical heart, symbol of a person's love, presupposed the solution of a philosophical problem upon which the Holy See declined to commit itself for the present.

Seeing their failure, the successors of Fr. de Gallifet adopted new tactics: they resigned themselves to temporarily separating the two causes and relegated the feast of the Heart of Mary to the background. The cause for the feast of the Sacred Heart was taken up with the greatest vigor. At long last all the difficulties were dispersed when Clement XIII approved the Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart on January 26, 1785. This significant triumph stimulated the promoters of the cause of the Heart of Mary. But the road to be traveled was still long; Rome objected to the novelty of the cult, and an interminable multiplication of particular devotions was feared.

In his reply to a request for the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary made by the clergy and religious associations of Palermo (1799), Pius VI was most benevolent, returning all the good wishes of the Ordinary, and giving him all the necessary and opportune faculties with regard to the request. 10 The Bishop of Palermo, however, overstepped his faculties when he approved the Office and Mass of the Heart of Mary and imposed them on his diocese. The consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Fr. S. Spada, 0. P., immediately wrote him: "the Holy Father," he said "is in no way opposed to the cult and feast of the Heart of Mary but to the Office and Mass proper tothat feast; it is not yet time to solemnly approve this cult: The Holy Father strongly desires that any premature hopes about this question be dissipated at once."

Meanwhile, the petitions and requests became more urgent; the erection of confraternities, the concession of the feast day and of indulgences demanded their logical fulfillment: the Office and Mass proper to the Heart of Mary. In reply to a petition of several Bishops, Cardinals, princes, and religious Congregations Pius VII (December 31, 1805) permitted all who would so ask to celebrate the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary; in this case they could use the Office and Mass "Ad Vives" (August 5th) and read the lessons from the 5th day of the octave of the Nativity of the Virgin for the second Nocturn. The importance of this concession is very clear: the feast of the Immaculate Heart could be celebrated anywhere from now on. Only the proper Office and Mass remained to be sought.

On April 24, 1838 Gregory XVI approved the statutes of the archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart for the conversion of sinners, set up in the parish church of Our Lady of Victory in Paris. In 1832 Msgr. de Quelen had appointed Fr. Dufriche-Desginette as pastor of that important parish where religious indifference was so strong. The pastor implored Heaven to send him the means whereby he could cure the spiritual torpor of these souls confided to his care. One day while celebrating Holy Mass a secret voice spoke to him: "Consecrate your parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. " The pastor lost no time in making this con­secration and soon he witnessed an astonishing renewal of spiritual life in his parish. He founded the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary. This was confined to the limits of the parish for two or three years and although it was growing rather slowly, already it bore very salutary fruits: the sick who despaired of a cure recovered their health, hardened sinners suddenly reformed their lives. The renown of the association became widespread and people from all parts desired to join it. Its founder made a request to Rome, demanding the right to establish the Confraternity in whatever parish in France which might so desire. The Arch­bishop of Paris, Msgr. de Quelen, although very devoted to the cult of the Blessed Virgin, refused to support such a request which he judged excessive. A well-known and virtuous Catholic who only heard of this work in passing and who scarcely realized what it was all about, took up the affair with the Holy Father, Gregory XVI. The latter read the request, and surpassing even the wishes of the founder, he drew up a Brief by which he erected the said Confraternity into an Archconfraternity which could be established not only in France, but throughout the world. In 1847 the Archconfraternity numbered more than six million members; the mustard grain had grown into a giant tree which spread its branches over the whole world. Speaking of the spiritual fruits of this Archconfraternity, Father Roothan, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, could say that it was a unique event in the history of the Church. 11 Msgr. Raphael Bonamie, the second Superior General of our own Congregation, wrote in his Circular Letter of January 22, 1841: "We have affiliated all the members of our Congregation to the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary, established in Paris in the parochial church of Our Lady of Victory. "

In 1842 Gregory XVI approved the founding of a double "Pius Union of the Sacred Heart of Mary" for the clergy and the faithful in the Church of Saint Lawrence in Lucina at Rome.

At this point, we must not forget to mention the work of Saint Catherine Laboure. Since 1830, the year of the apparition of Our Lady, medals which showed the image of the Blessed Virgin on the front and the letter "M" with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary on the back, were being struck. Soon this medal was called the "miraculous medal," on account of the fact that all who wore it received many graces, conversions, and cures. The most famous of all who owe their conversion to this medal was Alphonsus Ratisbonne, a Jew who mocked the Catholic religion. During his trip to Rome, he took the advice of a close friend and wore the medal; a few days after he was granted a vision, he was converted.

Struck by the ever-increasing number of conversions by the lasting effects of devotion to the Heart of Mary, Pius IX, assenting to the numerous requests of Cardinals, Bishops and princes (including the King of Spain), conceded at last the Office and Mass of the Immaculate Heart as a "double of the first class" (July 21, 1855). During the examination prior to this act, one of the consultors remarked that the cult of the Heart of Mary already had the practical approbation of the Holy See, The Pope affirmed that Mary as the Queen of the Universe and the hopes of all hearts. He thought that it was now time to impose one Office upon all to be read on the same day. Another consultor believed that the disturbing times were par­ticularly favorable for invoking the protection of the Heart of Mary; regarding the name, he thought that the epithet "immaculate" should be replaced by "most pure. "



The custom of consecrating oneself to the Blessed Virgin is very old. History relates of individual and collective consecrations: parishes, dioceses, religious orders12, universities, and countries were consecrated to the Heart-of Mary. Saint Stephen (997-1038) proclaimed Mary Queen and Patroness of Hungary, the coins were stamped with the image of the Virgin, the royal palaces and everything which pertained to a house were dedicated to Mary. Saint Ladislaus who died without issue, proclaimed that the Blessed Virgin was the legitimate heir to the Crown.

In 1536, James Cartier, an illustrious Catholic and one of the first con­querors of Canada, dedicated that land to Mary. On August 15, 1638, Louis XIII consecrated France to Our Lady; this consecration was made in an official document which was ratified by Parliament. In 1647, the Emperor Ferdinand III promulgated a similar consecration of Austria. Poland, in the, reign of Casimir (who loved to propagate the invocation "Heart of Mary, my hope"), followed the example of France and Austria in 1656. During a plague which raged in 1747, Mexico was consecrated to Our Lady of Guadalupe; Benedict XV ratified the title of "Mary, Patroness of Mexico. " Spain, Latin America, Poland, Ireland, and many other countries were distinguished throughout the centuries for their devotion to the Mother of God; the great poet and novelist, Manzoni, could very well say: "Every nation can be proud of being under your sweet protection." The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima stimulated even further this movement of consecration. During its national pilgrimage to Fatima, May 31, 1931, Portugal was consecrated to the Heart of Mary. But the consecration of the world to the Heart of Mary was still lacking; this consecration would be the natural corollary of the consecration of the human race to the Heart of Jesus made by Leo XIII. (1899, encyclical Anum Sacrum). In May, 1938, the Bishops of Portugal requested this consecration from the Holy Father. This was not the first time that such a. petition was made. Already in 1864, several prelates of France and Spain had asked the Pope to perform this consecration. But Pius IX thought that it would be necessary to prepare the faithful for this event by preaching and by spreading literature. He commanded: "Pray that the world may become worthy of this favor. " In 1875, the Sovereign Pontiff approved the title "Immaculate Virgin, Queen of the Universe." A pamphlet edited in France in 1887, bearing the title "Mary, Queen of the Universe," had an unprecedented success.

But the real success of this movement has taken place since the beginning of the present century, often called the "Marian Era." Already in 1898 Leo XIII stated that he hoped to save human society "by firmly rooting it on the cult of Mary as upon an impregnable fortress." The Marian Congress held in Turin in 1898 voted by acclamation for the consecration of the Italian nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Several other congresses repeated the request for world con­secration to the Heart of Mary. Under the direction of Fathers Le Dore, a Eudist, and Lintello, S. J., more petitions (signed by 300,000 people) were filed in the Vatican. Saint Pius X replied that he "received them with joy" but he added that this question must proceed according to the Rules, i.e., that it must be first examined by the Congregation of Rites.

The movement advanced to the point where the old proverb "vox populi, vox Dei" was verified. Congress after congress repeated the request: the Congress of Rome in 1904, the Congress of Einsiedeln in 1904, the Congress of Saragossa in 1908, the Congress of Salsburg in 1910, the Congress of Treves in 1912... In France "the Guard of Honor of the Heart of Mary," founded in Besancon (1912), published thousands of leaflets bearing the formula of consecration. The apparitions of Fatima contributed much to the cause. In 1931, during the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus (431), all believed that the great moment had arrived. But, they were disillusioned. Rome would remain silent for more than 10 years yet. Outstanding theologians, including Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, 0.P. published treatises on the consecration; in Italy the circulation of a "Prayer to Mary Queen" ran into extraordinary figures and was approved by more than 200 Bishops. The Flemish, French, and German Marian Societies studied the theological and historical aspects of the consecration.

In 1937 on the occasion of the consecration of his Cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Virgin, the Vicar Apostolic of Suez received permission to add the in­vocation "Queen of the world, pray for us" to the Litany of Mary.

It was while World War II was raging that the hour of providence struck. On his accession to the throne of Peter, it was said that Pius XII would be a "Marian Pope" (Prof. Bittremieux). At long last Pius XII made the much desired act of consecration; he performed it on the occasion of the jubilee of Fatima. The consecration of the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was read out during his radio broadcast to the people of Portugal (October 31, 1942). He renewed this consecration in the Vatican Basilica on December 8,1942, 13 speaking as "the common Father of all Christians and Vicar of Jesus Christ. "

This event was a cause of great joy to all the faithful. In memory of this con­secration the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was imposed on the Universal Church to be celebrated on August 22nd, as a "double of the second class" (decree of May 4, 1944). Pius XII consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart on July 7, 1952.

This consecration of the world and the Church represents the culminating point of devotion to the Heart of Mary which had now received its most authentic approbation. And for us, children of the Sacred Hearts, it should be a stimulus to become more worthy of our esteemed vocation.

In his Circular Letter dated August 28, 1945, Very Reverend Father John of the Heart of Jesus d'Elbee wrote: "I preached at Rue de Picpus on that occasion (that is, during the aforementioned consecration) and I told the Sisters: We do not have to consecrate ourselves to the Heart of Mary. We have already made this consecration a century and a half ago. Our Congregation is dedicated to the Heart of its Mother and Queen since its foundation. But what a deep joy it is for us to renew our consecration through the lips of the Holy Father in union with mankind. Truly, our Founders had an extraordinary anticipation of the gifts which the Blessed Trinity in Its loving wisdom had reserved for the Church. Recently a Bishop told me: You are the Congregation of today.' The Spirit which has breathed on the Church, the Holy Spirit Himself, who compels hearts with irresistible force to embrace Mary, has also inflamed our love for Her... With all the conviction of my heart I encourage you also to let yourself be caught up in the movement of this Spirit. "

The members of our Congregation should rejoice in having played an important part in the present triumph of this devotion; their fervor in living and propagating this devotion will be the measure of further triumphs.




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