The Queen of Heaven Pleads ...
by Archbishop Arulappa,
Retired Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, India
In the request made by Our Lady through Sister Lucy, we see Our Lady begging Sister Lucy to console Her wounded Heart! Our Lord made a similar request through St. Margaret Mary. How are we to understand this?* Do Jesus and His Mother need our consolation? Are They not now in Heaven beyond all pain and suffering? Indeed They are. But, in some mysterious way, sin hurts Them. For sin is love rejected! And love rejected cannot but cause some mysterious pain to Our Lord who is the Head of the Church which is revealed to us as the (Mystical) Body of Christ. When the Body (i.e. men) suffer on account of sin, the Head too suffers in some way, more or less as the head in a human being suffers when some member of the body experience suffering. Remember, when Saul was making Christians suffer, Jesus appeared and said: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" In some mysterious way this suffering of Jesus is on going! And when Jesus suffers, is it possible for His Mother (whose heart is one with the Son) not to suffer? (But all this will yet be beyond our full understanding).
*(Note: Read this article together with what Archbishop Arulappa said in The Fatima Crusader, issue 41, page 3: "The Two Hearts". (See also the article by Archbishop Arulappa, "Shall We Not Heed the Request of the Wounded Heart of Our Mother" in this issue.)
Gaze upon Our Heavenly Mother with devotion. Listen with your heart.
Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix
But why is devotion to Mary so important? Why is it, as it is often asserted, necessary? On what exactly is this devotion based?
To answer these questions we have to consider the truth what the Church has always taught viz. the truth that She has been chosen by the Redeemer as Co-Redemptrix and Co-Mediatrix.
There are however, those, especially today, who strongly object to the title 'Co-Redemptrix'. It is too much, they say, to speak of Her as Co-Redemptrix, since Christ alone is the Redeemer.
If it is too much to call Mary Co-Redemptrix, what shall we say about Her being called 'Mother of God'? Is not the title 'Mother of God' infinitely greater than 'Co-Redemptrix'? In fact, She is Co-Redemptrix precisely because She is Mother of God the Son, Who became the Redeemer only through Her co-operation and consenting to bear Him in Her womb. The redemptive action i.e. the suffering and death were possible for Him only by becoming man. For divinity cannot suffer nor die. So, when Mary consented to be the Mother of the Redeemer She consented at the same time to suffer with Him.
As St. Bernard says, addressing Mary, "No sword could penetrate (as Simeon had prophesied) Your Son's flesh without piercing Your soul". So the Son and the Mother both suffered for our redemption — the Son as the principal agent of redemption, and the Mother as the Co-operatrix with Him.
It should be noted that the word Co-Redemptrix is just another word for Co-Operatrix. The objectors to this title should realize that this title does not place Mary in the same level as the Son. As Vatican II says, "The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary". Her part in the work of redemption is definitely subordinated to that of Jesus — it is secondary, therefore there can be no real objection to the use of 'Co-Redemptrix' when speaking of Our Lady. The particle 'Co-' modifies and limits Her part. It makes it secondary or subordinate to that of Jesus. 'Subordinate' however does not mean 'not worthwhile'!
This title has been explicitly used even by Vatican II in the section on Mary. For details please read my article "The Two Hearts" published in The Fatima Crusader issue 41.
This 'devotion' of the Five First Saturdays has to be understood with all this in the background.
(A note regarding the five reasons given in the folder for the Five First Saturdays. They refer in general to the growing disrespect with which Our Lady is treated by some Christians and even by some Catholics these days.
The fourth and the fifth reason seem to refer specially to the children being taught early not to care for the Blessed Virgin and to the destruction of the Sacred images — especially in Russia during the past decades.)
One More Devotion?
But why one more devotion? Are there not enough devotions already? — This could be, in fact is, a question raised especially by those who do not believe in Fatima. To adequately answer this question we need to go to the root of the matter and discover or rediscover the precise and exact meaning of the word 'devotion'. As it is, this word is now freely used for any pious (or devotional) practice such as recitation of certain prayers in honor, say, of St. Anthony, or in honor say of Our Lady of Vailankanni, etc. Novenas, even the so-called 'perpetual' ones are to be included in these practices. 'Devotions' such as the ones on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays are also to be put in the same list.
But it is to be understood that the word 'Devotion' means something far more significant and particular. This word is derived from the Latin 'Devotio' which had its root in the verb 'devovere' which means 'vow, offer or dedicates oneself to'. The one who vows, offers or dedicates oneself says in effect, "I belong to you, and so I wish to live for you, I have nothing else to live for, make my life truly yours, i.e. truly to belong to you and you alone, and do not let me share it with something or someone else, make my every action reflect your love for me and my poor love for you ... etc."
Now, such words could not be addressed to any one else except to God the author of all, of all one had and of all one is. It follows then that 'devotion' can be strictly, essentially and primarily used only in the sense of some pious or devotional practice.
Devotion therefore in this full and essential sense can be applied to God the Father as the Creator, to the Son as the Savior and to the Holy Spirit as the One Who sanctifies.
There is only one other person in relation to whom it can be used in a 'secondary' and complementary way - and that is the Blessed Virgin Mary as the most loving daughter of the Father, as the most worthy Mother of the Son and as the most beloved spouse of the Holy Spirit.
There is a verse in one of the Latin Hymns in honor of Mary which can be translated as follows:
Created you were by the unbegotten Father,
Loved you were greatly by the One Begotten Son
Fecundated you were by the Holy Spirit
You were thus all divinely made.
Let us note the word 'Divinely' is not the same as 'divine'. For Mary could never be made divine, i.e. equal to God; She was given a share in the Life of the Trinity as abundantly as a creature could receive, next of course to the human nature of Christ. To no other creature the above words could be applied. For no other creature shared the life of God in such an abundant measure.
Hence, next to the Trinity comes this glorious person Mary. Hence, St. Ephrem says "After the Trinity the Mistress of all, after the Paraclete another Consoler, and after the Mediator the whole world's Mediator ..."
And as the One whose Heart was one with the heart of Her Son (Read the article: "The Two Hearts", The Fatima Crusader, Issue 41) and as the One who suffered and loved most after Her Son, no ordinary 'devotional practice' is enough to honor Her as She deserves. Something more is needed. An offering or dedication of oneself (though in a complementary and secondary way) as explained above is required.
We could not say "I belong to you" absolutely, but I am Yours next to Your Son; we could not say "I have nothing to live for except You", but "next to my Savior I wish to live for Your honor", etc.
An offering of oneself in this sense is what is required in this devotion. It is therefore not one more devotion, i.e. not one more devotional practice, but one that has been included already in the revelation of the essentially intended devotion to the Sacred Heart. Since this devotion to the Sacred Heart is nothing but offering or dedicating oneself (as explained above) to the Infinite Love (symbolized by the Heart); devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can only mean offering or dedicating oneself next to the Heart of the Son, to the great love shown by Mary in Her suffering in union with Her Son for sinful mankind.
Let it however be understood that even this 'secondary' dedication was not an absolute need, but the most loving Father of a wonderful daughter (though made wonderful by Himself by the Immaculate Conception), the most loving of Sons, Jesus, and Her most glorious spouse the Holy Spirit so willed that it be so. The whole matter depends entirely on the plan of the Trinity. And can we think that the most wonderful of Sons ever born of women would not wish to honor His Mother this way!
Was it by chance that the piercing of the Heart of Mary was the first prophesied soon after the birth of the Son? It meant to say that Her motherhood was not going to be one solely of dignity and glory but of great suffering. That was on the first page of the Gospel. And when we come to the last page, we see the Heart of the Son actually pierced!
To say or think that these two piercings (the first one only moral), have no connection is to miss the main point of the whole economy of salvation of mankind.
And so, devotion to the Immaculate Heart is no mere devotional practice, but one that is a sort of complement to the devotion to the Sacred Heart which certainly is no mere devotional practice, if properly understood. And this becomes clearer when we hear in the Fatima Revelations that God wants devotion to the Immaculate Heart to be established in the world. When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary and revealed the 'devotion' to His Heart it was He Himself who was establishing it — in the sense of helping souls to rediscover the meaning of that opening of His Heart on Calvary.
When now it is said that God wants devotion to the Immaculate Heart to be established in the world and to be placed by the side of the Heart of the Son, we are to understand that up to now we had not realized what the Heart of the Mother suffered for us — and had not realized the place She deserves beside the Heart of Jesus ...
If all this is properly understood, it will become clear that this is no new devotion but one that has to be realized in close union with the Heart of Jesus — by committing ourselves, our life, our actions to the love of the Two Hearts, and by doing sufficient reparation for all our failures!
The very word 'Reparation' used so much by Our Lady in Fatima and elsewhere is enough to show that this is not a mere devotional practice but one that is necessary in union with Jesus' Heart for our very salvation. For there is no salvation without reparation! ...
Next to the Savior Jesus no other person sacrificed for man as Mary and therefore next to Jesus no other person deserves the 'devotion' we have been trying to explain here: a total, though secondary, consecration or dedication to the love which the Mother showed so abundantly after the Savior.
Just as the sacrificial love of Mary's Heart was next only to that of Jesus, so too our sacrificial love for many should be next to the one to Jesus. Intense sacrificial love for a person is but another way of being dedicated or consecrated to the other person.
This is in fact what is meant by 'devotion' to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
There are some who dismiss the whole question viz. the apparitions at Fatima as absolutely uncalled for on the grounds that they (the apparitions with their message) do not pertain to the Church as a whole. They may at most concern the persons to whom the 'revelations' were made. In support of this they assert that revelation pertaining to the whole Church closed with the death of the last apostle. If 'revelation' is understood as proposing some new Truth of Faith, it is certainly true that this revelation (which may be called 'Public') closed with the death of the last apostle.
But Revelations made to persons later like St. Margaret Mary, St. Bernadette (Lourdes) and now to the three children at Fatima do not propose any new doctrine of faith; as can be easily seen, they are 'revelations' only in the sense of 'warnings' and counsels which include some particular devotion. Far from being revelations of new doctrines they are merely confirming what has been already revealed with 'warnings', which poor human beings are badly in need of now and then. They are an expression of the immense concern, mercy and goodness on the part of Our Lord or/and His Mother for us poor sinners!
Are we to say that after the revelation was closed, Our Lord and His Mother (who had to go through so much suffering for our salvation) should no more worry about us! That would be a complete disappreciation of the depth of love and mercy shown towards us by both the Son and the Mother the Son who became our mediator of redemption and the Mother who was constituted mediatrix of intercession, as St. Louis de Montfort well distinguished!
The Excellence of the Immaculate Heart of Mary should induce us to practice this devotion — and thus manifest our appreciation of such a glorious Heart.
What Is This Excellence?
Speaking of the development of the human character of Jesus, Father M.J. Lagrange, O.P. in his famous book The Gospel of Jesus says: "there was in Him, something of His Mother's influence. Where do we find the grace, the exquisite delicacy, the kindly tenderness that we find in Him? And these are precisely the characteristics of such as have had their hearts softened by the tenderness of a mother's love, their minds refined by communication with a beloved and revered mother who has taken delight in teaching them how to appreciate the more delicate refinements of human life?"
Does this mean that the goodness, tenderness, love, mercy and all that goes to make a fully developed human heart was derived only from His Mother's Heart? This could not be the meaning of the passage quoted. We know that the Heart of Jesus was substantially united with the Word of God (i.e. with the person of God the Son) and that it was formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin. There doubtless shone in the human heart of Jesus something of the divine splendor and quality of divinity itself.
Hence it shared the goodness (and its rays such as tenderness and kindness) in an extraordinary way. But it was still exclusively divine; there was, as it were, no human touch in that heart. It was this human touch that the most wonderful motherliness of Mary supplied to Her Son. A certain mystery naturally shrouds the whole 'formation' of the Heart of Jesus, but we can see fairly well that the humanness of His Heart could not be an aspect of the divineness of His nature. Its final explanation can only be understood when its formation in Mary's womb could not be without its human consequences — No other human heart can in any way be compared to Jesus' Heart, since no other could share this divineness and humanness at the same time.
The Grace of Special Assistance
at the Hour of Death
This is the grace promised. This is called 'grace of final perseverance'. No one can be absolutely certain of dying in God's grace and of being saved! We can only pray and hope for that grace. This devotion of the Five First Saturdays is a way of such prayer and hope.