September 2019 Allocutio

In her Legion the Hearts of Jesus and Mary beat in unison

Fr. Liam Ó Cuiv

On this 15th day of September the Church normally celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The fact that this feast occurs one day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross shows that the feasts are intimately related to each other, as are the Feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which similarly follow each other.

While devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be traced back to St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the 11th century, the joint devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary was first formalised by St. John Eudes (1601-1680) during the 1600’s. In this St. John Eudes seems to have been influenced by St. Francis de Sales who in his writing on the perfections of the Heart of Mary, saw her as model for the love of God.

Church authorities were initially slow to approve a feast and liturgical devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Following the revelation of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Labouré in Paris in 1830 where the two hearts are featured together, there was renewed impetus in the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in 1855 the Congregation of Rites in Rome gave approval to an office and Mass to the Heart of Mary.

Today, more than ever, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is intimately associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As legionaries we are familiar with the fact that our Founder, Frank Duff, had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and had the image of the Sacred Heard before his eyes on the wall opposite his bed in his bedroom. The love of God portrayed in this image was absolutely central in his spirituality and shaped his life in bringing souls to know the love of God. But we cannot ignore the fact that in our Opening Legion Prayers we invoke the Immaculate Heart of Mary immediately after the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In the Handbook we find a find a beautiful expression of the relationship of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary: “With full knowledge, [Mary] welcomed that infant life with all it stood for. She was no less willing to endure anguish with him than she was to taste bliss with him. In that moment, those Sacred Hearts entered into a union so close as to approach identity. Henceforth, they will beat together in and for the Mystical Body” (p.57).

On this very day, Sunday 15th September in the year 1985, Pope Saint John Paul in his Angelus address said the following: “At the foot of the Cross is the Mother: The Mother of Sorrows. We record it today on the day after the Exaltation of the Cross. When the side of Christ is pierced with the centurion’s lance the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: ‘A sword will pierce your own soul too’ (Lk 2, 35). The words of the prophet are a foretelling of the definitive alliance of hearts: The Son’s and the Mother’s; the Mother’s and the Son’s.”

This ‘alliance of hearts’ was something newly coined by St. John Paul, and may have emerged from his devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. It is said that the seriously ill Saint Jacinta Marto told her cousin Lucia not long before her death, “Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at His side.”

Speaking to Legionaries in 2007, Fr. Bede McGregor quoted the words of Pope Pius XII: ‘By the will of God, the most Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably joined with Christ in accomplishing the work of man’s redemption, so that our salvation flows from the love of Jesus Christ and His sufferings, intimately united with the love and sorrows of his Mother. It is then, highly fitting that after due homage has been paid to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Christian people, who have obtained divine life from Christ through Mary manifest similar piety and the love of their grateful souls for the most loving heart of our Heavenly Mother. (Allocutio June 2007).

There seems to be a growing devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary throughout the Catholic world. Where once we would have heard of families and homes being consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, today it seems there is a desire in the hearts of many to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the same time. And, surely, we can see this as the best way for us to respond to the love of Jesus. Mary is the vehicle by which we can love Jesus. It fulfils the maxim ‘to Jesus through Mary’. In this regard let me quote once more from the Handbook (p. 195):

“Through me, Mary desires to love Jesus too in the hearts of all those whom I can kindle with love as the result of my apostolate and my perpetual prayers. If I wholly identify myself with her, she will so flood me with her graces and with her love that I shall come to resemble an over-brimming stream that in its turn will flood the souls of others. Because of me, Mary will be enabled to love Jesus and to fill him with joy, not only through my own heart but also through the countless hearts that are united with mine.” (Paul De Jaegher S.J.: The Virtue of Trust).

If Legion spirituality is quintessentially the spirit of Mary let our service of the Immaculate Heart of Mary lead us to fully seek to ally ourselves with Mary to the Heart of Jesus, to join ourselves to this holy alliance of hearts.