Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Two Hearts that Beat as One...

Immediately after celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we turn our attention to his Mother, whose heart was pierced by a sword (cf Lk 2:35). The photo above from the Peterskirche in Vienna depicts this, a popular image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, ringed with roses and pierced with a sword. While the Son's heart was literally pierced by a lance from which blood and water flowed, Our Lady's heart was spiritually pierced by the sword of sadness. Any mother who has mourned the loss of a child (and I am thinking particularly of those, especially Americans and Iraqis, whose sons are sacrificed by warfare and violence) knows the great piercing pain and anguish of this sword. In their suffering, these mothers are united with one another and with Our Blessed Mother. Indeed, later medieval tradition ascribes seven sorrows to Mary and she is depicted as such, the Mater Dolorosa. Indeed, the Sequence of that feast (sadly now in abeyance), the "Stabat Mater" has been beautfully set to music by such diverse composers as Palestrina, Pergolesi, Stanford and Penderecki.

However, today's feast is of more recent provenance but has gained prominence as Our Lady of Fatima requested that the world be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in order that it be saved from the evils of war and destruction. The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is still imminent but the fall of Communism was a victory and a sign of even greater things to come. Indeed, an arch is being built in Buffalo to commemorate the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But triumphalism is far from the hallmark of Our Lady's heart. Rather, it is total humility and obedience to the will of God; a heart over-brimming with love, to the point of great suffering. Our Lady's heart stands for purity, truth and goodness; for the grace of God that filled her from conception. Hers is a contemplative heart, within which she constantly ponders the mysteries of God and his love (cf Lk 2:19).

The reason this feast comes right after the Sacred Heart is to highlight the closeness between Mary and Jesus. Both hearts bore the wounds of love. Both hearts beat as one, as scientists now explain how a baby's heart beats in time with its mother's. Both hearts long to do the Father's will. This intimacy of Mary and Jesus is beautifully portrayed in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' in a scene when Jesus is chained in a dungeon and many feet above, through thick stone flagstones, Mary can feel her Son's presence beneath her feet and she kneels and presses her face to the ground, to spiritually embrace her Son. Theirs was a union not just of the flesh but of the spirit through the one Spirit of God.

I end once more, with a quotation from Von Balthasar, taken from 'You Crown the Year with your Goodness' which expresses the above so succinctly and poetically. It is, as ever, amble food for thought and prayerful reflection:

"God creates a human heart that is open to him, so that he can enter into it with his limitlessness and involve it in his work of salvation, a heart that will never stop at some point and say 'thus far and no further'. A heart such as this can be asked to do anything; it can be stretched beyond its limits and laden beyond measure, and still, in virtue of the consent it has given, it will go on, right up to the Cross, to the night of forsakenness and futility; it will persevere in the same humility, the same courage, being of service in this work of salvation..."

That is the being of Mary's heart, in the likeness of her Son's and she invites us to also allow grace to transform our own sinful hearts to be like hers, to beat in tandem with Christ's Sacred Heart. When that happens, we can say her Immaculate Heart has truly triumphed.


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