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At the Heart of Every Christian is the Heart of Mary

June 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Dr. Peter Howard, Mary, Mary

At the Heart of Every Christian is the Heart of Mary ImmaculateHeartMariaJohannBurgaunerKastelruth2

Summer is here, the Easter season is over and we now re-enter “Ordinary Time.” The big temptation is to sigh, HolySpiritDetailChairOfSaintPeterbut don’t! Let’s look at why we shouldn’t. The first reason is to look at the first feasts of Ordinary Time after the Easter season. The Church sets forth a “spiritual lineup” which illustrates She takes seriously the mandate of Jesus on Pentecost Sunday to “go and make disciples of all nations.” The Church provides us with the spiritual compass from which we set out to the four corners of the earth to bring the joy of the Gospel, restoring all things in Christ and leading the world back to the Father.

Secondly, we see from the readings that carry us throughout the Easter season, that the life of the early Church, the ordinary time which followed Pentecost was anything but “ordinary.” Miracles abounded and the Church grew at incredible rates as a small band of brother apostles took the words of Jesus to heart. From Pentecost onward, the infant Church lived a true life in the Holy Spirit, which makes the extra-ordinary the “ordinary” (or new norm) for the life of the Christian. In other words, the life of the Christian is nothing less than a life of heroic virtue that flows from a living faith, a firm hope and burning charity.

As we reenter Ordinary Time, the Church sets our spiritual compass for the new evangelization with four great feasts: Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let’s look briefly at their connection and the wisdom of the Church in putting these at the forefront of our meditation throughout this liturgical period.

LucaRossettiTrinitaTheHolyTrinity2At Pentecost, the Church is sent out on its mission to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The first Sunday of Ordinary Time, Trinity Sunday, reminds us of the goal of that mission – a goal that is communion with God who is a family of Persons. All of our evangelization is oriented to bringing the world to the ultimate goal of our striving – union with God. What will sustain our efforts and journey to the Father? Well, the Church answers that with the second feast day following Trinity Sunday: the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. AdorationJesusChristBlessedSacramentEucharistMonstranceThe Church points us to that Sacrament which She calls “Most Holy” because it is the source and summit of the Christian Life. In other words, our spiritual life as Catholics can’t live without it – we can’t make substantial (perhaps “super-substantial” is more fitting) growth without it. We are what we eat and there is nothing more “organic” to the Christian life than the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Whose Life, sacrificed for ours, gives us true life.

ModifiedDetailEudisteFund2Then we have the two feasts we celebrate this weekend: the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. One saint who we can especially thank for his preaching on the inseparable nature of the two hearts of Jesus and Mary was St. John Eudes (1601—1680). The fitting juxtaposition of these feasts came only after the Second Vatican Council, which highlights the closeness these feasts share in the teaching and life of the Church.



Immaculate_Heart_of_MaryLeopoldKupelwieser2I’d like to focus the remainder of this reflection on today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I recall to your attention my last reflection at the end of my Marian series for the month of May, where we meditated on the importance of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This feast provides us with additional insights as to why we consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart. First, we turn our attention to the Heart of Mary. Why is this important? Because it reminds us that our spirituality is a relation with a person and not an object. There is nothing mechanical about authentic Christian spirituality. It is one that speaks cor ad cor (“heart to heart”) and it is in the heart where we find the influx and outflow of life, which takes place at every beat. And the most important force which comes into and flows out of our heart is Love. When our heart stops beating, our time to prove our love for God and our neighbor comes to an end . . . as the great saints always remind us, in the end we will be judged by how much we have loved. So, devotion to the heart of Mary is about understanding what made hers so beautiful and good that God would take His own from her – and about asking the Holy Spirit to make our heart the same.

PoussinAnnunciation(sm)RestoredTraditions(adjusted) REQUIRES HOT LINKSecondly, why is “Immaculate” emphasized with Mary’s heart? As we have seen in previous posts, “Immaculate” speaks not only to Mary’s sinlessness, but to the unique mystical, spousal union she shares with the Holy Spirit. Because of Mary’s perfect union with the Holy Spirit she is without sin and immaculate in every way, in her heart is found the perfection of the eight Beatitudes—especially “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). Just imagine how Mary’s Immaculate Heart would have allowed for a clarity of knowledge, and wisdom of God, in an immeasurably greater way than all the saints and angels combined.

In conclusion, this feast highlights that at the heart of Christian spirituality is the heart of Mary, from whose heart the Sacred Heart of Jesus took flesh. It was the humility and love in her Immaculate Heart that made possible the mystery of the Incarnation and, consequently, our redemption. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, therefore, becomes God’s touchpoint with humanity—and consequently, the beginning of our touchpoint back to God.

HeartsOfJesusAndMary2Therefore, as we head out into the deep (duc in altum!) during this “ordinary” time of the Church, let us refocus our spiritual efforts on the beautiful truths and mysteries wrapped up in these last four feasts ending with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Herein do we find our way forward in the new evangelization. Meditating on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we find ourselves meditating on two hearts joined as one. And as Mary is the model of Christians, we must ask ourselves whether our hearts desire the purity, the humility and the love of the one creature called Immaculate, who shows us the way to the heart of the Trinity in a way like no other. Mary Immaculate, to you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! Keep us free from all sin! With hope and trust we reach out to you! Take us by the hand and show us the way!

Read Dr. Howard’s May Marian Series on Mary (Click on any title to link to article):

  1. The Month of Our Blessed Lady
  2. 1917
  3. Fatima, Mary and the Moslems
  4. The Powerful Crown of Roses
  5. In the End My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph!


Art: Painting of Virgin Mary, Johann Burgauner, 1849, CCA-SA; Holy Spirit Detail of Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, Sergey Smirnov, own work 03.05.2008, CC-SA; Trinità (The Holy Trinity), Luca Rossetti da Orta, 1738-9, PD-US; Detail of Adoration Jesus Christ Blessed Sacrament Eucharist Monstrance, Liz Estler, 2014, PD-self; Modified detail from Painting with St. John Eudes with fathers and sisters of the congregations founded by himself. Painted for the ceremony of beatification of Eudes, author unknown, 1909, PD-US copyright expired; The Heart of Mary, Leopold Kupelwieser (1796-1862), date not listed, CCA-SA; all Wikimedia Commons.  L’Annonciation [The Annunciation], Nicolas Poussin, ca 1653, Restored Traditions, used with permission.  Emblem of the Missioners dels Sagrats Cors, with the Sacred Hearts, author unknown, 1910, PD-US copyright expired; Mirror of detail of Immaculée Conception (Immaculate Conception), Michel Oster, 19th century, PD-US copyright expired; both Wikimedia Commons.

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About Peter Howard

Dr. Peter Howard presently lives in Illinois with his wife, Chantal, and five children. Dr. Howard is a professor of Theology at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation ( In 2015, Peter and Chantal founded dedicated to the mission of “awakening Catholic families to their critical call to live their faith with courage, passion and purpose.” He is also a Catholic videographer (, author and national Catholic speaker who has spoken at the 2015 American Chesterton Society Conference, 2012 Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, Kansas; the United States Air Force Academy; parish retreats and on Catholic radio programs such as Radio Maria. Peter earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas [Angelicum] in Rome, Italy. Dr. Howard's theological expertise lies predominantly in Mariology and the teachings of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. He is the author of the 2014 book: The Woman: The Mystery of Mary as Mediatrix in the Teaching of Fulton J. Sheen. Like his spiritual mentor, +Fulton Sheen, Dr. Howard is passionate about evangelizing families by communicating the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith as the answer to the challenges and errors of the world. If you would like to invite Dr. Howard to speak at your parish or event, contact him at

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  • Patricia

    The beginnings of “ordinary time” that are highlighted in this posting are really profound and a condensed version of salvation history: Beginning with the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth with the command for the Apostles “to go out and teach all nations” (Pemtecost) and ending with our communion with God in the Life of the Trinity (Trinity Sunday) which we can access by the path of Love and Life in the Living Water (Sacred Heart) with the two pillars, the Eucharist (Corpus Christi) and Mary ( Immaculate Heart of Mary) to sustain and guide us!
    Thank you for that great insight into how the Holy Spirit perfected Mary in all the Beatitudes as His Spouse and works on “perfecting” us in charity and other virtues too – well, trying to make us saints, if we cooperate 🙂 – through the teachings of our Catholic Church as He guides and directs our path to Heaven!

    • DrPeterHoward

      Thank you, Patricia. I need to remind myself often of these beautiful truths the Church lays out before us to inspire and guide us. Truth is, there is never a dull moment in the life of the Church! Pretty awesome.

  • Judy Silhan

    Beautiful reminder of the importance of consecrating ourselves to Mary. Yes, Dr. Howard, despite the struggles, I made my official Consecration to Mary a few weeks ago, on the feast of The Visitation. Prior to your class, I did not understand, but now I see clearly how Mary is my “…touchpoint back to God.” Getting to know Our Lady and her love for her Son as well as for each of us, provides help in learning to love others as Jesus commands us.

    • DrPeterHoward

      That is wonderful news, Judy. Your perseverance and consecration to Mary, I assure you, made both Jesus and Mary VERY happy. The next important thing to do is to do your best, with all of us, to live it out each day . . . and focus only on each day. I am very happy for your perseverance, Judy. God bless you.

  • A. Crawford

    Big thank you to Dr. Howard for this Marian series–I greatly appreciate them! Thanks again.

    • DrPeterHoward

      Thank you and God bless you!

  • Charles Saliba

    Few weeks ago I just bumped into St.Elizabeth of Toss Rev.

    Here is a very exiting and interesting part which I feel I should post:

    “After this, therefore, on the following night, while I was praying to God with devout mind, asking that he would allow me to see that virgin of whom I have spoken before I died, suddenly so great a shining light appeared before my eyes, although I was in darkness, that the sun was nothing in comparison. And from out of that shining light I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Virgin of the stock of David, you shall bear my Son.’ And it added, ‘Know with complete certainty that that honour and reverence which, out of love for me, you longed to pay another virgin, shall be paid to you by others. I wish you to be that virgin who is to bear my Son. And not only will you possess him through you and in you, but in right of marriage you will be able to give him to whomsoever you please.
    Anyone who has not loved you nor believed that you were the mother of my Son, who took flesh from you for the salvation of the human race, will not have my grace or love, nor will he enter my Son’s kingdom. You alone will be able to offer to others my Son and his grace, which you will receive from me.’

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