Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate 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.
The big back-to-back feasts coming this Friday and Saturday are the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The best of all places for them to be celebrated is right where they are — next to each other.
Why? Sister Lucia of Fatima gives one excellent reason she heard from Jesus himself. In A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary we learn that Lucia wrote to her confessor in 1936 telling him that she asked the Lord why he did not convert Russia himself without the Holy Father making the consecration to his Mother’s Immaculate Heart.
Our Lord answered, “Because I want my whole Church to acknowledge this consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in order to later extend its cult and to place devotion to this Immaculate Heart alongside devotion to my Sacred Heart.”
Again, when St. Jacinta was exceptionally ill and about to go the hospital, she directed her cousin Lucia: “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. If I could only put into the hearts of all the fire that is burning within my own heart, and that makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so very much!
Another saint tells us the same. In Fatima on May 13, 1982, in his homily during Mass, St. John Paul II said: “The Immaculate Heart of Mary, opened with the words ‘Woman, behold, your son!’, is spiritually united with the heart of her Son opened by the soldier's spear. Mary's Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier's spear struck that blow.”
Venerable Pius XII had this to say officially: “In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined. For, by God's Will, in carrying out the work of human Redemption the Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably linked with Christ in such a manner that our salvation sprang from the love and the sufferings of Jesus Christ to which the love and sorrows of His Mother were intimately united.”
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
“It seems to me that our Lord’s earnest desire to have His Sacred Heart honored in a special way is directed toward renewing the effects of redemption in our souls. For the Sacred Heart is an inexhaustible fountain and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure,” wrote St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Remember, Jesus appeared to her in the 1670s as the Sacred Heart.
Speaking about the Sacred Heart in 2013 and mentioning that June is traditionally the month of the Sacred Heart, Pope Francis said that “the Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God's mercy.” The Directory of Popular Piety says that the devotion grew into “a trust in his infinite mercy symbolized by his Heart.” It adds that in the light of Scriptures, “the term ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and sanctification of mankind.”
In 1984, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, Pope John Paul II said, “In the Sacred Heart every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In that Divine Heart beats God's infinite love for everyone, for each one of us individually.”
Ah, but so many forget! Appearing to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus requested to be honoured in his Sacred Heart, and as expiation asked for a devotion to frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and observing a Holy Hour. Again, appearing during the octave of Corpus Christi in 1675, Jesus said, “Behold the Heart that has so loved men … instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude.” Then he asked for this feast of reparation on the Friday in the Corpus Christi octave.
Keep this in mind, too, about this solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost, which is Corpus Christi Sunday. There is personal consecration to the Sacred Heart which Pius XI called the principal practice. Then there is family consecration to the Sacred Heart, in which the family, as the Directory of Popular Piety states, “is dedicated to Christ so that he might reign in the hearts of all its members.”
Another devotion is praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart, Church-approved since the 19th century.
Remember the practice of the Nine First Fridays. Jesus told St. Margaret Mary, “I promise you, in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last moment.” They’re to be made in reparation to His Sacred Heart. I personally know of a case where this promise was unquestionably fulfilled last year. Jesus made 12 other promises too.
Venerable Pius XII explained in his encyclical On Devotion to the Sacred Heart that the importance of the revelations to St. Margaret Mary was that “Christ Our Lord, exposing his Sacred Heart, wished in a quite extraordinary way to invite the minds of men to a contemplation of, and a devotion to, the mystery of God's merciful love for the human race. In this special manifestation Christ pointed to His Heart, with definite and repeated words, as the symbol by which men should be attracted to a knowledge and recognition of His love; and at the same time he established it as a sign or pledge of mercy and grace for the needs of the Church of our times.”
More recently Jesus also gave us an indispensable gift for our times too. As Pius XII also stated in that encyclical, “Another most precious gift of His Sacred Heart is, as we have said, Mary the beloved Mother of God and the most loving Mother of us all.”
Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In Fatima, during Our Lady’s second apparition on June 13, 1917, she spoke for the first time about her Immaculate Heart. She told Lucia that Jesus wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.
Then on July 13, Our Lady gave the children in this short prayer: Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
That same July 13 after Our Lady had shown the children a vision of hell where poor sinners go, she told them, It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.
During the same apparition, Our Lady referred twice more to her Immaculate Heart: If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred, and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
On June 6, 1929, at the convent in Tuy, Spain, Sister Lucia saw a vision of the Holy Trinity. Jesus appeared crucified. Lucia wrote, “Beneath the right arm of the Cross was Our Lady, and in her hand was her Immaculate Heart.” It was Our Lady of Fatima, and her heart had a crown of thorns and flames.
Lucia explained the meaning of Our Lady’s heart in this vision. “It is a symbol of love that protects and saves. It is the Mother who sees her children suffering and suffers with them, even with those who do not love her. For she wants to save them all and not to lose any of those the Lord has entrusted to her. Her Heart is a safe refuge. The devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the means of salvation for these difficult times in the Church and in the world.” In these dire times should we continue to forgot about, or ignore, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? We do so only at our own peril.
St. John Paul II recognized the dangers, the “ immensity of human suffering” and the “almost apocalyptic menaces looking over the nations and mankind as a whole,” during that 1982 homily in Fatima. He emphasized, “My heart is oppressed when I see the sin of the world and the whole range of menaces gathering like a dark cloud over mankind, but it also rejoices with hope as I once more do what has been done by my predecessors, when they consecrated the world to the Heart of the Mother, when they consecrated especially to that Heart those peoples which particularly need to be consecrated. Doing this means consecrating the world to him who is infinite holiness. This holiness means redemption. It means a love more powerful than evil. No "sin of the world" can ever overcome this love … Mary’s appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new ‘signs of the times.’ It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.”
In 2017, Pope Francis echoed how the Blessed Virgin Mary “warned her children of the great evils which would result from the spread of atheistic communism and apostasy in the Church, while announcing the sure hope of salvation through the giving of our hearts totally, one with her Immaculate Heart, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her message is as timely today, when the world and the Church are once again suffering great confusion and turmoil, as it was one hundred years ago.”
John Paul II during that Fatima trip saw this connection of the Two Hearts. “Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Savior, bringing it back 'to the very source of its Redemption.’”
Servant of God Father John Hardon emphasized a way that brings the Two Hearts together all the time. “In our devotion to Mary’s Heart there is no more effective prayer than the Rosary, which is about the mysteries of her Son’s life and hers.” Didn’t, and doesn’t, Our Lady continuously call for us to say the Rosary whose mysteries are constantly bringing her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of her son together?
Their Two Hearts — put their picture in your home! — are ready and waiting with mercy and blessings for us as we look eagerly and expectantly to the promised triumph of the Immaculate Heart.