The Son of Thy Handmaid
Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word (Our Lady’s Fiat at the Annunciation)
Yesterday, August 22, is the traditional feast day for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was established by Pope Pius XII in 1944. The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary celebrate this day with great joy and solemnity. It is the feast day of the Order. It is also the feast day of the Queenship of Mary.
Where does one begin to extol the most pure and virginal Heart of Mary? As soon as a faithful one hears the words “Immaculate Heart” he is moved to a love that is filial in a way that is even more intimate than that of the love of God. “Woman behold thy son, behold thy mother,” Jesus beseeches us, in the person of the Beloved Apostle, from the Cross.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart preceded that of devotion to the Immaculate Heart, but, in the seventeenth century, Saint John Eudes (whose feast day was a few days ago) joined the two Hearts together. So intimately did he unite them as a devotion that he referred to both as “the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.” His magnum opus was entitled Coeur Admirable (the Admirable Heart of Mary). And, thusly, she is addressed as Mother Most Amiable in the Litany of Loreto.
Just as with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we must love not only the interior Heart of Our Lord’s Human Soul, but His flesh and blood Heart as well. The two, body and soul, are of one substance. So, too, with Mary. Although her physical Heart was not pierced on Calvary, as was that of Jesus, her inner Heart, her soul, was sorely pierced. “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce,” Simeon foretold. (Luke 2:35) Mary’s Immaculate Heart is the treasure chest for the gold of her inestimable virtues, surpassing those of all the saints and angels put together. But they have been hidden until these latter days. “All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders” (Psalms 44:14). The great Marian saints have introduced us to these unique virtues. And the greatest of all Marian saints, Louis de Montfort, has had the privilege in more recent times (+1716) of expounding the knowledge of them in the highest degree.
Isaias, upon seeing the glory of the “just one” could find no words to express what he saw. All that he could say was “My secret to myself, my secret to myself” (24:16). So, it seems, were the glories of Mary, the King’s daughter, a secret for many centuries. No longer is this so. In fact, in his treatise, The Secret of Mary, Saint Louis de Montfort, has bequeathed this secret to us. In token to the devotion he propagated, we can be lifted to the highest realm of grace, that of being true slaves of Mary, Slaves of her Immaculate Heart.
And, lastly, in our times, in 1917, we know so well how Our Lady revealed to the children that Jesus wishes to establish devotion throughout the world to her Immaculate Heart. It is the theme of the first of the three secrets given on July 13 along with the terrible vision of hell: “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.” On June 13, Our Lady said to Lucia: “To whoever embraces this devotion I promise salvation; these souls shall be dear to God, as flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne.” As she delivered this promise, she opened her hands and in the palm of her right hand she held her Heart, her Immaculate Heart, encircled with thorns that pierced it and these thorns, she said, were the “sins of humanity” which outrage her Immaculate and Maternal Heart.
There are two occasions in the Gospels which honor the Heart of Mary. Both are recorded by Saint Luke. The first was when the shepherds of Bethlehem related to Mary and Joseph the message of and their vision of the angels: “But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart” (2:19). And the second was when the Child Jesus, at twelve years of age, told His mother in the temple that He must be “about His Father’s business . . . and he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart (2:51).
There is no word, concerning her Son, that Mary did not ponder in her Heart. We do not need the fact related in exact words in the Gospels, but we know it for certain because in the Infancy accounts, for example, and the “losing” of the Child Jesus in the temple, Our Lady revealed the events to Saint Luke who had inquired of the facts directly from her for his narration. And so, too, did Mary reveal to Saint Luke what the prophet Simeon had foretold of her Heart’s piercing.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary was cruelly pierced on Calvary. There, on that hill, she suffered with her Son. There, on that hill, she became our Co-Redemptrix. She did not protest the awful violence. It was the price for sin. She co-suffered. She endured. Her Heart sighed as she stood so valiantly, saying to Jesus, “Do whatever He tells you.” Thus, as Jesus prayed to His Father, “Not My will but Thine be done,” so, too, Mary prayed the same words. Hence, Saint Augustine writes that Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; “she cooperated through charity in the work of our redemption.”
There are seven sorrows of Mary, but the four sorrows of the Passion are the most wrenching for her Immaculate Heart. Alas, now, as Mother of the Church, Mary’s Heart is pierced even still. And it is a maternal Heart, a physical maternal Heart, that is pierced with swords thrust therein by the ingratitude of sinners. These, along with the just, are “the rest of her seed,” which the dragon makes war upon (Apoc. 12:17). Only a mother can suffer so much for her children.
In conclusion, I have found several astonishing verses I had never noticed before in the Books of Wisdom. They are the words of a child, yearning for the intercession of Mother Mary:
“O look upon me, and have mercy on me: give thy command to thy servant, and save the son of thy handmaid.” (Psalm 85:16)
“O Lord, for I am thy servant: I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds:” (Psalm 115:16).
“For I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid, a weak man, and of short time, and falling short of the understanding of judgment and laws.” (Wisdom 9:5).
There you have it! Even in the Old Testament, the just were sons of Mary, the handmaid of the Lord.