Mary’s Immaculate Heart is wreathed in roses commemorating her purity, on fire commemorating her heart burning for love for God and humanity, pierced by a sword commemorating her seven sorrows, and surrounded by rays of light commemorating the passage from Revelations talking about Mary of “a woman clothed with the sun”.
Honoring Mary’s Immaculate heart has been a Catholic devotion since Biblical times, and is especially seen in Luke’s Gospel every time he mentions Mary “[treasuring] all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
Over the years, devotion to the heart of Mary has grown, especially with the apparition of Mary to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 in which Mary gave St. Catherine the design of the Miraculous Medal and promised great graces on all those who wear it. On the back of the medal there is the image of the Immaculate Heart next to the Sacred Heart.
Devotion to Mary’s heart reached new heights in the Fatima visions. In one of these apparitions Mary asked that for five months, on the first Saturday of the month we go to Mass and receive Communion for the reparation of sins against her Immaculate Heart*. In doing this, Mary promises to intercede for us at the hour of our death and grant us all the graces necessary for salvation (meaning we won’t go to hell).
The other requirements Mary asked for on these first Saturdays is to go to confession at some point in the month with the intension of reparation of sins against her heart (and to clean any mortal sins off your heart before reception of communion), to say five decades of the rosary on the Saturday (usually the Joyful mysteries) and then meditate on the other 15 mysteries for at least 15 minutes. In short, to spend time with Mary, our Mother.
In the apparition she says the Jesus was the one to request this devotion to his mother’s heart – to bring us closer to His mother whom he loves. Mary, as the only human besides Jesus to be free from sin, is the perfect model for us to follow to become like Jesus. Jesus knows this, so He tells us to love Mary, to talk to her, and become like her.
*This phrase “reparation of sins” means to offer a prayer or fast for the forgiveness of sins of yourself or others. Like a penance for another soul. Often, Jesus or Mary will ask for reparation to be made for sins against the Sacred Heart, or the Eucharist, or even clergy abuse. This consoles Jesus (He suffers greatly at seeing His mother sinned against) and teaches us to have better sorrow for our own sins – if we see and meditate on how much Jesus is hurt by the sins of others, we will better see how much He suffers for our own sins.
Specifically for the Immaculate Heart there are 5 blasphemies that we are offering reparation for on these first Saturdays.
1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
2. Blasphemies against Our Lady’s perpetual virginity
3. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize her as the Mother of men
4. Blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of their Immaculate Mother
5. Offenses of those who outrage Our Lady directly in her holy images
For more information on the First Saturday and First Friday devotions click here for an article by The Catholic Company.