Over the course of this year, several of my letters to you have reflected on the fundamental virtue of Purity of Heart. In my letter to you of this past March, reflecting on the observance of the Lenten discipline, I wrote about the manifestation of a pure heart in an ever purer love of God and of our neighbor. In my letter in June—the month dedicated to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—, I focused on the Sacred Heart as the source of the purification of our hearts from the mar of sin, particularly through the grace received through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Most Holy Eucharist. Later this year, in the month of October, I will reflect on the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph, whose virginal fatherhood of the Lord Jesus extends to us, brothers and sisters in Christ. Saint Joseph serves as our guide and protector on the path of purification, on our earthly pilgrimage to eternal life, described by Our Lord with these words: “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7, 14).
During this month of August, marked liturgically by the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I offer a reflection on the model of purity of heart for us, the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is not only the model of purity of heart for us but our greatest intercessor in pursuing the pure and selfless love which we glimpse now “in a mirror dimly,” but which we will see “face to face” (1 Cor 13, 12) in the Holy Face of Jesus, at the culmination of our earthly pilgrimage.
God the Father chose Mary before the foundation of the world to be the mother of His only-begotten Son, God the Son Incarnate, and thus He formed her in the womb of her mother, Saint Ann, without the stain of original sin with its effect of concupiscence. The extraordinary grace of God in the Immaculate Conception perfected totally the Blessed Virgin in every fiber of her being. Not only was her womb an absolutely impeccable ark for the conception of God the Son Who alone is the source of all grace, but also her heart was perfectly united, from its very first beat, with His Sacred Heart.
Mary, who is the Immaculate Conception, was conceived already pure in heart—the Beatitude marked by a special distinction from all the other Beatitudes taught by our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount, since this specific Beatitude addresses our fundamental need for union with God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5, 8). The poor in spirit receive an eternal inheritance; mourners receive comfort; the meek receive their home in the Kingdom of Heaven; the hungry and thirsty for righteousness receive satiety; the merciful receive mercy; peacemakers receive Divine filiation; and the persecuted receive an eternal reward. The pure in heart, however, receive intimacy with God, since to “see” God in this sense signifies spiritual perception. Whoever possesses the qualities of this beatitude, whoever has a heart that is totally pure, beholds God inwardly, in the interiority of the soul.
Prior to the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin, having been conceived pure in heart, possessed a spiritual perception of God unlike any other creature in Salvation History, so much so that, when Saint Gabriel the Archangel appeared to her at the Annunciation, he greeted her as “full of grace” (Lk 1, 28). Mary was completely prepared to accept her vocation and mission as the Virgin Mother of God. Her unique intimacy with its spiritual perception led her naturally to the most profound and mysterious intimacy when God the Son took a human heart, His Sacred Heart, in her womb, under her Immaculate Heart.
From the first exercise of her divine maternity in Salvation History, as revealed in Sacred Scripture and expressed distinctively in her fiat (cf. Lk 1, 38), the Blessed Virgin Mary continues to participate in a singular way in the Redemptive mission of her Son, Jesus, through the perfect and pure union of her Immaculate Heart with His Sacred Heart. Having become God’s chosen instrument through which Our Lord Jesus Christ took our human nature and came to dwell among us to save us from sin and eternal death, the Blessed Virgin Mary also became the instrument through which Our Lord continues to pour forth into our hearts, from His glorious pierced Heart, the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. Drawing our hearts to her Immaculate Heart, the Virgin Mother of God leads us to place our hearts totally into the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Today, in a world that has grown secularized and hostile to His Law written upon our hearts, the purity of Mary’s Immaculate Heart is our model of faith, hope and charity. She is our model of intimacy with God Who has desired intimate union with us from the beginning when He made us His creatures in His own image and after His own likeness (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 273; Gn 1, 26-27). “For in Mary’s faith, first at the Annunciation and then fully at the foot of the Cross, an interior space was reopened within humanity which the eternal Father can fill ‘with every spiritual blessing.’ It is the space ‘of the new and eternal Covenant,’ and it continues to exist in the Church, which in Christ is ‘a kind of sacrament or sign of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind.’” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, no. 17. Cf. Roman Missal, formula of the Consecration of the Chalice in the Eucharistic Prayer; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 1).
The Lord Jesus Christ gives to us as a gift the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, while she, in total cooperation with His Divine Will, opens her Immaculate Heart to us as her children for the purpose of bringing us into His Sacred Heart. So, in time, our hearts can become pure “as He is pure” (1 Jn 3, 3). Pure in heart, we can “see God” (Mt 5, 8), can know Him with spiritual perception, understand ever more His love for us, and, with the help of His grace, respond to His love with pure and selfless love.
As our Blessed Mother, Mary Immaculate lovingly takes us in her arms and gathers us under her mantle, to protect us and to guide us to her Divine Son. As the Virgin of Virgins, she is our model and greatest intercessor, together with all the Virgin Saints, in living daily our most noble calling in Christ’s mission of eternal salvation. As the pure Ark of the New Covenant, her Immaculate Heart draws our hearts to her own which is ever perfectly united to the Sacred Heart of her Son, so that we may share in His saving work, bringing many souls to Him Who alone is our salvation.
During this month of August, I encourage you to unite your hearts to the Pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary, lifting up your hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our Blessed Mother will never fail in bringing you directly to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, her Divine Son, from which flows immeasurably and unceasingly the gift of His life given up for us.
Imploring Our Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to bless you, your homes, your families, and all your labors, I remain yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph,