The Practice of Devotion to the Immaculate Heart

It is not enough to believe the truth it must be lived, to the letter must be added the spirit, to faith works of charity. What the angel had hinted at the Blessed Mother brought forth the following year, God desires that this doctrine be made known and lived. Our Lady made this explicit in her second apparition, 13 June 1917. In explaining why Lucia would be remaining on earth, while Jacinta and Francisco would soon be taken to heaven, the Lady said,

Jesus wants you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. ... My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way leading you to God.

During the July apparition this was mentioned again. After showing them a vision of hell, and the souls condemned there, she states,

To save them God wants to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart.

She then goes on to connect both the conversion of individuals sinners and wayward nations to devotion to the Immaculate Heart. 

One can well ask, why has God reserved to our time the knowledge and practice of devotion to the Immaculate Heart and how is this connected to the conversion of souls? 

First, as was shown in the previous article on the dogmatic basis of devotion to the Immaculate Heart this doctrine was already implicit in the doctrine of the faith, as all doctrines must be. However, as has been the case with many teachings  it had to develop in the Church from the contemplation of more basic doctrines. Thus, generally, Mary's prerogatives and her role have only come to be fully understood after the basic Trinitarian and Christological dogmas were settled. It was only in the 1700s that Christ's divine-human love began to be revered under the symbol of the Sacred Heart and only in 1854 that the Immaculate Conception was formally defined. So, it would have been theologically difficult for the Church to have acknowledged it much sooner. 

The connection with the conversion of souls is this, Christ wills to associate believers with Himself in the meriting of salvation for actual souls. "Once for all" Jesus merited the graces of the Redemption, as only He can span the infinite chasm which sin opens up between God and man. But these graces must still be applied to the individuals who are to make up the Body of Christ the Church. The application of Christ's merits to souls can itself be merited on their behalf by our prayers and sufferings. This is the meaning of that mysterious passage in which St. Paul says that he "makes up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body the Church" (Colossians 1:24). Such a boast would sound blasphemous were it not for the nuptial unity of the Christian soul with her Bridegroom. This is naturally, therefore, uniquely true of the Immaculate One, whose compassionate Heart accompanied Her Son in every stage of His Redemptive Mission, especially the Last. She thus shares fully in the sufferings of the Bridegroom, the Bridal Price, as she does in everything that is His. For this reason she is our Model and our Tutor in compassionate (co-) suffering with the Lord and in reparative and intercessory suffering on behalf of sinners.

Finally, God's timing is always perfect and this is, in His Plan, the era of the Immaculate Heart. God has promised to Our Lady a Triumph over the evil one of a particularly humiliating nature for him. It will be accomplished by the handmaiden not the Lord, by the Woman not the Seed, and by the Bride not the Bridegroom. In this Triumph we are all called to share, and do share, to the extent that we live the Message of Fátima. Christ's suffering is over, Mary's suffering is over, our suffering, that of the Church, is not yet over. We are to offer it for the salvation of souls.


Specific Devotional Practices

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