I wish you all a joyful feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which we shall celebrate this year with austerity in the midst of the uncertainty that is still hanging around the globe over the pandemic virus. The twin feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary invite us to take care of our hearts to keep them steeped in God’s love when we navigate through the storms of life. On this feast of our identity as sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us grow closer to the heart of our Holy Mother and cultivate the resilience of a tender heart. The definition of a Claretian missionary which our Founder has bequeathed to us characterizes a heart on fire with God’s love.
The biblical notion of “heart” helps us understand Mary who “kept all things in her heart” (Lk 2:51) and “treasured” the words of the shepherds and “pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). ‘Heart’ in the Bible signifies the center of the whole person in the unity of all faculties without separation or division. Thus, we can love, serve, and praise God only with the whole heart, the whole person. There is nothing like half-hearted love, service, and praise of God. Mary’s heart with its radical openness to God is full of grace (cf. Lk 1:28). Her heart consecrated to God is a listening heart that can respond to God’s call with an unflinching “fiat”, a let it be (cf. Lk 1:38). No wonder, a heart like hers unceasingly glorifies the Lord and rejoices in God her savior (cf. Lk 1:46).
Bible also speaks of the hardness of a human heart (cf. Mt 19:8; Eph 4:18) when it is turned away from God. An unclean and hardened heart is the home of evil designs of all sorts (cf. Mk 7:20-23). Examples of the fruits of the hardened hearts abound in the world of human relationships including ours in communities and in apostolates. Living with a hardened heart has the fate of an eagle trying to fly high with a stone tied to its neck.
We have been dealing with the pandemic virus by cleansing ourselves regularly and distancing from possible contamination from the virus. It is all the more important to keep our hearts clean and uncontaminated by the invisible spiritual viruses of greed and deceit. Our hearts turned to God will produce fruits that nurture love and life in relationships. I believe, the blessedness of a pure heart is to love others and understand the events of life with the Heart of Christ. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is the forge of forming her sons in the art of loving like her Son.
Our Founder had great insight into the mystery of the Heart of Mary. The more he contemplated the life of Jesus, the more he came to value the Heart of Mary as the forge of his own formation as an apostolic missionary (cf. Aut 270). No other heart has known and contemplated the mystery of incarnation so close and so deeply like Mary. Being sons of her Heart is not a mere institutional title for us. It is our identity, our spirituality, and the mode of witnessing the joy of the Gospel. As sons, we walk with Her in love and trust and commit ourselves to Her that we may be conformed to the mystery of Christ and may cooperate with Her in her maternal role in our apostolic mission (cf. CC 8).
Let us pray with our Founder: “O Heart of Mary, forge and instrument of love, kindle in me the love of God and neighbor” (Aut 447).
Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF