The Immaculate Heart of Mary As Our Refuge
Since our present times are entrusted to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, I thought it would be good to deepen our understanding of Our Blessed Mother’s most loving and merciful heart. Since Our Lord told Sr. Lucia of Fatima that He desired to establish devotion in the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, let’s humanly try our best to enlighten our minds more regarding Her heart.
To whom should we have recourse in our afflictions of life? After God, Mary, the Mother of God. Why? Because in Her Immaculate Heart we always find consolation and help. I’m sure all of us remember the wedding feast of Cana in St. John’s Gospel. Mary turns to her Son and says, “They have no more wine!” She didn’t think to herself that it was a concern of hers. She had compassion. Our Lord approves and blessed her request. Jesus works his first public miracle through our Blessed Mother by changing water into wine for the wedding guests at Cana. So who can doubt Mary’s goodness? Never let it enter into your mind loves us less now that she is in Heaven. No, love is stronger than death and many waters cannot quench it. Mary’s Immaculate Heart breathes love for us, even in Heaven, and a great deal more now than when she was on earth!
St. Bonaventure said, “Great was the mercy of Mary towards the unfortunate when she lives in exile on earth, but it is far greater since she reigns in Heaven. St. Alphonsus Liguori also adds, “For Now she more clearly understands our misery, and therefore has more compassion for us.”
The Fathers of the Church find a sure refuge in Mary’s Immaculate Heart for all those who are afflicted. St. John Damascene says, “The Blessed Virgin is a sweet repose to all who laden and are burdened. She is a safe port to the shipwrecked.” Yet St. Bernard of Clairvaux goes even further when he says, “Mary has become all to all. She opens her heart of mercy to all that each one may perceive of its plenitude, to the captive—redemption; to the sick, health; the afflicted, consolation; sinners, pardon; the just, grace. Mary allows all to come to her for relief, shows mercy to all with graces of all kinds. She comes to the assistance of everyone in need.”
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a refuge for those spiritually afflicted. A good example is when we are tempted. Many have forgotten that we are surrounded by powerful enemies who desire nothing less than our eternal ruin. These enemies are the devil. “The devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet.5:8).
Another one of our temptations is the flesh. Every man is tempted by his own concupiscence being drawn away and allured. We also have temptations from the world. For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life. These things are not of the Father but only of this world. And the world passes away, but he that does the will of God will live forever with Him!
For protection against these enemies of our salvation we should have recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is the powerful woman who has crushed the serpents head, and the wonderful Ark before which all the powers of darkness take to flight. St. Francis de Sales happily experienced what it is to have great confidence in Mary. When he was seventeen years old he was in Paris, France where he attended and lived so piously, that inflamed with the love of God he, even at that age, seemed to experience the joy of Heaven. A very severe trial came his way. The devil suggested to him the terrible thought that God had decreed from all eternity to condemn him to hell and that his ruin was inevitable. Mary interceded as St. Francis had a tender devotion to Mary from a very young age. He fervently prayed to Mary on his knees. He immediately felt relief and peace was restored to his soul. His devotion to Mary increased throughout his life. So do not lose courage when trials and temptations assail you. Appeal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with trust. She will protect you against all the enemies of your souls and the grace to be victorious over them.
There is another example of the great intercession of Mary. I tis when we fall into mortal sins. We know that when we commit a mortal sin we are in danger of losing our immortal souls unless we repent. Let’s face it, we could die at any moment! Since Our Blessed Mother wants nothing more than that all men be saved, it’s evident that she does all she can to rescue “poor sinners.” Look at the prayer she gave to the three children of Fatima to say in-between each decade of the Rosary, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”
She seems to say to God right before His justice is about to hit us, “My Lord and my God. I had two sons, Jesus, your son and mine, and man. Man by his sins has slain my son Jesus on the cross; now Thy justice will slay the murdered, my second son. Please here my prayer. Leave me not childless but spare the sinner!” Do you think the Father in Heaven would turn a deaf ear to her? Certainly not, for as the Bible says, “that the prayers of a just man avails much and the prayer of the saints disarms the anger of God and moves His heart to mercy toward the sinner.” So what would the intercession of Mary do for sinners? She is the Mother of God ! St. Bernard said, “Mary is the mother of the King of Heaven, therefore she cannot remain unheard. Therefore, if a sinner has fallen so low that neither angel nor saint could obtain of God the grace of pardon for him – there is one who can yet save him, the Blessed Mother of God.”
The last example I’d like to give is the intercession of Our Lady when we someone is on their deathbed. When we are about to die, the devil will use any means to bring our souls to hell. Remember the words of Holy Scripture, “The devil is come down to you having great wrath knowing that he has but a short time.” (Apoc. 12:12) This is why we should entrust our souls to near death to Mary. She takes her children under her protection defending them against the assaults of the evil spirits and she will obtain for us a happy death (along with St. Joseph!). St. Bernard says, “This exalted Queen of Heaven takes the souls of the faithful servants under her heavenly mantle and accompanies them before the judgment seat of her Son and there intercedes for them. I don’t remember which saint said it but when he was dying said, “O Father, how glad I am now that I served the Mother of God faithfully in life. Death has nothing bitter for me. I do not fear it because the Queen of Heaven is my advocate.”
To sum up. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a refuge for those afflicted bodily and spiritually. She consoles us and gives strength to the sorely tempted, pardon for sinners and protection for the dying. So have great confidence in Mary. I can tell you that if not for the prayers of my grandmother to her, I could have easily gone astray. Pray to her daily, especially the Rosary. Definitely practice the Christian virtues, especially humility and chastity. If you have a problem against chastity, a tender-hearted devotion to Mary will help cure it. Serve God all the days of your life. If you do this, Mary will be a good Mother to you and will obtain from God all that is good for you, especially the most desirable and greatest of all graces, the grace of a happy death.
Those flames that shoot out from the Heart of Mary symbolize the love of God of which she was filled. The sword that pierced her heart teaches us that we most pierce our heart by the sword of penance, so take Mary as your model. Consider, therefore, whether your love for God resembles flames. Are youth thoughts and actions directed to God? Do you try and do God’s will? The best way to do this is to conform your heart to Mary’s. May the wreath of flowers which encircle her heart admonish you carefully to avoid every sin and help you to live according to your state in life. God bless you.