Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Now that Fatima has celebrated 100 years, the message is more urgent than ever. As culture and peace continue to deteriorate, still Our Lady of Fatima has the answer to reverse the downward spiral. Beginning with these two “musts.”
The daily Rosary. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Servant of God Sister Lucia tells us why in her Memoirs and explains more in her book, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima.
Concerning devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, two major blue-letter (for the Blessed Mother) dates after the 1917 apparitions are Dec. 10, 1925 and Dec. 17, 1927.
On that Dec. 10, 1925 — which happened to be the feast of Our Lady of Loreto — Sister Lucia was in her cell in the convent in Pontevedra, Spain, when the Blessed Mother appeared to her. Our Lady didn’t arrive alone. Jesus was with his Mother, appearing as a child standing on a luminous cloud.
Sister Lucia described what happened, referring to herself in the third person.
“The most holy Virgin rested her hand on her shoulder, and as she did so, she showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which she was holding in her other hand. At the same time, the Child said:
Have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”
Then Our Lady told her:
Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.
Let’s see how this instruction and promise tie into devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
Lucia did not make this request known because it pertained to one of the three secrets the children received in the apparitions and which they were to keep just that — secret — until heaven gave the okay. Two years later, when her superiors asked her to write down this latest apparition, she first went to pray before the tabernacle. It was Dec. 17, 1927. She asked Jesus how she was to fulfill this request which were part of the secrets. She wanted heaven’s authorization before revealing anything.
Lucia was concerned about this part of the July 1917 revelations: Our Lady said, Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.
Nothing could be more obvious — devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was heaven’s plan, the plan of God, the plan of her Son.
When Lucia wanted to know if she was to remain alone on earth, not with her cousins Jacinta and Francisco, Our Lady answered, No, daughter. I shall never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.
Then on that Dec. 17, 1925, Lucia said, “Jesus made her hear very distinctly these words: My daughter, write what they ask of you. Write also all that the most holy Virgin revealed to you in the Apparition, in which she spoke of this devotion. As for the remainder of the Secret, continue to keep silence.”
What to Reveal
The first revelation of heaven’s plan for the Heart of Our Lady came in the 1917 apparitions.
In her Memoirs Lucia explained, “Our Lady told us, in the July secret, that God wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart.” Our Lady said, Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart. Three times her Immaculate Heart was mentioned in that July apparition, also referring to the conversion of Russia and the vision of hell. Our Lady said, You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.
Reflecting on the June 1917 apparition, Lucia emphasized devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was essential. Our Lady told her that “her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God. As she spoke these words, she opened her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts….From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Later Lucia revealed, “In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.”
Before St. Jacinta was taken to the hospital, she told her cousin: “You will remain here to make known that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary…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. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace since God has entrusted it to her.”
When Lucia was a Carmelite writing CALLS, she meditated much about this and shared her extraordinary Marian insights.
“We all know that a mother’s heart represents love in the bosom of a family,” Lucia explains. “All children trust in the heart of their mother, and we all know that we have in her place a special affection. The same applies to the Virgin Mary. Thus this message says: My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Hence, the Heart of Mary is a refuge and the way to God for all his children.”
Why does Jesus wants his Mother’s Immaculate Heart venerated alongside his Sacred Heart?
“It was in this Heart that the Father placed His Son, as if in the first Tabernacle,” Lucia explains, and “it was the Blood of Her Immaculate Heart which communicated to the Son of God His Life and His human nature, from which we all, in turn receive ‘grace upon grace’ (John 1:16).”
So how does this work out? “I see that from the very beginning Jesus Christ united to his redemptive work the Immaculate Heart of Her whom He chose to be His Mother,” Lucia says. (St. John Paul II has written similarly.) “The work of our redemption began at the moment when the Word descended from Heaven in order to assume a human body in the womb of Mary. From that moment, and for the next nine months, the Blood of Christ was the Blood of Mary, taken from Her Immaculate Heart; the Heart of Christ was beating in unison with the Heart of Mary.”
Lucia notes a whole new generation is born from this Mother — “Christ in Himself and in His Mystical Body. And Mary is the Mother of this progeny chosen to crush the head of the infernal serpent.” Recall we’re in the Mystical Body of Christ.
The devotion to her Immaculate Heart means no less than victory over the devil and evil (Genesis 3:16). Sister Lucia puts it this way: “The new generation that God foretold would be born of this woman, will triumph in the battle against the progeny of Satan, to the point of crushing its head. Mary is the Mother of this new generation, as if she were a new tree of life, planted by God in the garden of the world so that all her children can partake of her fruit.”
Recall the July 13, 1917 vision where Our Lady showed the children hell and sinners? And what she said next was another reason for this essential devotion? She said:
To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.
Devotion and Eucharist Connect
Lucia explains the necessity of devotion to the Immaculate Heart in yet another beautifully descriptive way. From their mother’s heart children receive their natural life, their life-giving blood so “we could almost say that the heart of the mother is the heart of the child. And we can say the same of Mary when she carried the Son of the eternal Father in her womb. Hence, it follows that the Heart of Mary is, in some sense, the heart of all that other generation, the first fruit of which is Christ.” We are that other generation.
“And it is from this fruit (Christ) that other generation of this Immaculate Heart is to be fed, as Jesus said: I am the bread of life. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As (...) I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. (John 6, 48; 56-57).”
Lucia illuminates the permanent connection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Holy Eucharist. “It is the body received from Mary, that in Christ becomes a victim offered up for the salvation of mankind; it is the blood received from Mary that circulates in Christ’s veins and which pours out from His Divine Heart; it is the same body and this same blood, received from Mary, that are given to us, under the appearances of bread and wine, as our daily food, to strengthen within us the life of grace, and so continue in us, members of the Mystical Body of Christ, his redemptive work for the salvation of each and all to the extent to which each one clings to Christ and co-operates with Christ.”
Sister Lucia spotlights these conclusions.
One: “God began the work of our redemption in the Heart of Mary, given that it was through Her ‘fiat’ that the redemption began to come about.”
Two: “Hence it is that this Immaculate Heart must be for us a refuge and the way that leads to God.”
Three: “Thus we see that devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary must be established in the world by means of a true consecration, through conversion and self-giving.”
Four: “Christ began, with Mary, the work of our salvation. The Christ Heart beats are those of the Heart of Mary…it was from Mary that Christ received the Body and Blood that are to be poured out and offered up for the salvation of the world. Hence, Mary, made one with Christ, is the co-Redemptrix of the human race.”
It all boils down to heaven’s directives and promise delivered by Mary.
Jesus wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.
You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.