Around the 16th century, the Church began to dedicate each month to a specific devotion to help us sanctify our actions and give order to our days. With this in mind I can say, the beauty of the liturgical year really is something to behold and be delved into. Mother Church, in her infinite wisdom, knows that we need daily, weekly, and monthly encouragement to strengthen our relationship with God, Mary, and His saints. Sometimes these dedications change or rotate, but it is a tradition of the Church to have a monthly focus. Let's take advantage of this opportunity to learn something new or grow stronger in a devotion that we might already have.
For August, we are turning our minds and hearts toward the heart of Our Blessed Mother. The perfectly pure and holy heart of a woman who teaches us how to love God above all else. Mary knows how to do this with such great depth that she can draw us into herself with the only intention of helping us to better know Jesus, her son.
What is the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
This term refers to Mary's pure and perfect heart which gave the profound fiat to God's will. According to Catholic dogma, Mary was sinless throughout her entire life and she remained meek and cooperative with the redemptive mission as the Mother of God. It is her heart that helps us learn how to love God fully and faithfully.
What is the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
Devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary have long existed in more private and less formal ways but it finally began to flourish with the help of St. John Eudes. He spoke tirelessly about the hearts of Jesus and Mary along with the importance of drawing near to them as wellsprings of grace and mercy. Around the 17th century, parallel with an increase in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was established. And in the 19th century, the apparition to St. Catherine Laboure and the formation of a society was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the devotion grew even more.
In this closeness to Mary's heart we seek to transform our own hearts to be more like hers in virtue, and to help us love God as she does. This involves a total gift of self so that we can be united to God, through Mary's maternal love for us and her son. For all that Mary is, we honor and revere her extraordinary life, example, and motherhood.
6 Ways to Engage in this Devotion
1. Wear a Miraculous Medal
On one side of the Miraculous Medal are the words, O Mary, Conceived Without Sin, Pray for Us Who Have Recourse to Thee. In her apparition to St. Catherine Laboure she is confirming the dogma of her Immaculate Conception. On the other side is an image of the cross with the letter "M," and underneath it the symbols of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, emphasizing the devotion to her holy heart.
2. Make a Heart Craft
I really like this one from Shower of Roses. You cut a construction paper heart, cut up streamers, and glue them down to look like flowers and a flame on top. If you want more details on this craft, click here.
(Image: Shower of Roses)
3. Start the First Five Saturdays Devotion
Our Lady promised to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who practice the First Saturday devotion on five consecutive months, with the intention of making reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
What do you do?
Go to confession
Receive Holy Communion at a Saturday Mass
Pray 5 decades of the rosary
Keep Our Lady Company by meditating for 15 minutes on one or more of the mysteries of the Rosary
4. Make Heart Shaped Cookies
I have a really good sugar cookie cutouts recipe here. Don't forget to decorate them! :)
5. Consecrate Yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Here are three great resources to help you prepare and get started.
6. Pray with the Prophecy of Simeon
“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many may be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” (Luke 2:34-35)