In this chapter I shall show how Mary’s Heart bears a striking resemblance to divine purity and sanctity. The most pure and holy Heart of Our Lady is a living image of those two adorable perfections, which are one and the same, for St. Dionysius tells us that sanctity is perfect purity, (1) purity meaning freedom from the slightest imperfection.
The most holy Heart of Mary is indeed an excellent image of divine purity and holiness. Not only was her most pure and holy Heart always far removed from every kind of sin, but it was entirely free from attachment to created things, and intimately united to God by its pure and holy love for Him together with the eminent practice of all the other virtues which Mary’s Heart possessed in so high a degree. The Queen of Virtues is called by St. John Damascene “the abode and the sanctuary of all virtues.” (2) Even though Our Lady dwelt for years in this world full of filth and abomination, poisoned by the venom of sin, her most holy Heart never contracted the least stain or blemish, was never attached by an inordinate affection to any creature nor even to God’s gifts and graces. The Blessed Virgin remained always intimately united to God, as though nothing else existed save God and herself. Thus were the divine words most perfectly fulfilled in her divine Heart: “Let my heart be undefiled in thy justifications,” (Ps. 118:80) that is, let my heart be immaculate by its union and adherence to Thy divine Will, which justifies, sanctifies and even deifies the hearts that love it and perfectly follow it.
The most holy Heart of the Queen of all Saints remained forever immaculate, preserved in eminent purity and holiness, and entirely filled with the purity and sanctity of God Himself. Her being was transformed and submerged in divine purity and holiness, to the surpassing extent that her Heart merited to obtain the world’s salvation. As St. Anselm expresses it: “The pure sanctity and holy purity of Mary’s devout Heart, surpassing by far the purity and sanctity of all other creatures, merited for her the sublime dignity of becoming the Restorer of the world wrapped in perdition.” (3)
If you would find a place in the sanctuary of Mary’s admirable Heart, which so perfectly mirrors the purity and sanctity of the Most High, you must purify your heart and realize the meaning of the words: “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thess. 4:3) These words are not meant just for souls specially consecrated and set apart. You must apply them to yourself, you who bear the name and imprint of Christ and membership in His mystical Body. The sanctification of your spirit, heart and body is more than a commandment; it is a privilege, a participation, granted to you through the purity and sanctity of the heart of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and your own Mother.
Strength and Power of God Mirrored in the Admirable Heart of Mary
The principal and most common appellations given to God in Sacred Scripture are the words strong and mighty. He says of Himself: “I am the most mighty God” (Gen. 46:3) and “I am God Almighty” (Gen. 35:11).
If you should ask how these two attributes differ from each other, I would answer that in God power and strength are one and the same perfection; yet there is some difference between their effects. It belongs to all-powerfulness to work great and admirable wonders and the characteristic of strength is to accomplish all things easily, without pain or fatigue.
Let us now see the strength and power operate in the Heart of our august Queen. I visualize their image engraved on her pure Heart most perfectly. Consider the power which the Heart of the Mother of the Almighty exerts over Him Who has chosen to obey her as His Mother: “And he was subject to them.” (Luke 2:51) The maternal authority and power God has given Mary over Himself will never be separated from her divine maternity, for the Son of Mary will never relinquish the nature He assumed in His Beloved Mother’s womb and never will He withdraw the privileges He once conferred upon her.
If the heart of the faithful Christian, who believes in Jesus Christ, finds everything possible according to His holy word: “All things are possible to him that believeth,” (Mark 9:22) what can be impossible for the maternal Heart of Mary who conceived the Son of God in her sacred womb, gave Him birth, nourished Him, took care of Him in childhood, accompanied Him in all labors and sufferings, and loved Him more than all the hearts of Heaven and earth put together?
“If all things are possible to him who believes, how much more must this be true of her who loves Him?” says Gerson. “And of her who bore Him,” adds St. Bernardine of Siena.
If the Apostle St. Paul says that he can do all things “in him who strengthened me,” (Phil. 4:13) what must be the power of the maternal Heart of the Queen of Apostles bearing eternally within itself Him who is called in Sacred Scripture, “Christ, the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24)? Her Heart is filled and animated by the power and strength of the Most High. Cannot we then say that her virginal Heart is all-powerful in Him who is her strength and power, as He is her soul and her spirit?
Hers is the Heart of the valiant woman spoken of by Solomon, always inspired with vigorous and manly virtue, through which she accomplished all things with sovereign perfection and without the least defect. This valiant woman’s Heart bore the sharpest pain and the most violent anguish with marvellous constancy and unshakeable fortitude. Her intrepid Heart crushed the infernal dragon’s head, that is, sin, prefigured by Holofernes, and the powers of hell fear the Immaculate Heart even as an army in battle array (Can. 6:3) because Our Lady fought courageously against all God’s enemies and obtained a glorious victory.
But what is more, she vanquished, so to speak, the Almighty Himself. For I hear an angel saying to Jacob: “Thou shalt no longer be called Jacob, but thy name shall be Israel,” which means according to St. Jerome and the Septuagint “strong against God.” (Gen. 32:28) This interpretation agrees with the Angel’s own explanation, for after having said: “Thy name shall be Israel,” he adds; “for if thou hast been strong against God, how much more shalt thou prevail against men?” Jacob had overcome only an angel, but that angel represented God; hence he was told he had overcome God Himself.
Jacob’s holy daughter, the worthy Mother of Christ, has, in a way really overcome God Himself. How often has she not, through the efficacy of her prayers and merits, and by the power of her love, disarmed the anger of God and arrested the torrent of His indignation, which would otherwise have flooded and destroyed the world because of its innumerable crimes? How many times has Our Lady besought divine vengeance to lay aside the thunderbolts ready to be hurled against criminal mankind? How often has her Heart’s incomparable charity clasped the hands of God’s terrible justice and stopped Him from punishing men as they deserve? “How powerful is her love,” says Richard of St. Victor, “since it overcomes the Almighty.” (12) Yes, the love and charity of Mary’s Heart are powerful, and have as it were vanquished God Himself!
History is filled with instances where Our Lady has shown her incomparable power on behalf of those who invoke her protection, manifesting publicly to armies and nations the strength that she also extends to each Christian in his own inner struggle against sin. But her strength is for those who invoke, love, honor and venerate her heart.
O Glorious Queen of the World, make us sharers in the divine power which fills thy holy Heart and give us strength against the enemies of thy Divine Son, who is all and does all in thee!
This article was excerpted from St. John Eudes, The Admirable Heart of Mary, Part Four, Chapters III-IV, and edited by the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at www.heartsofjesusandmary.org. The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary is a contemplative community of lay and religious dedicated to serving the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through Eucharistic Adoration, contemplation, and corporal works of mercy.
(1) De divinis Nominibus, cap. 12, sect. 2.
(2) Virtutum omnium domicilium. De fide orthodoxa, lib. 4 Cap. 15.
(3) Pura enim sanctitas et sanctissima puritas piissimi Pectoris ejus, omnem omnis creaturae puritatem sive sanctitatem transcendens, incomparabili sublimitate hoc promeruit, ut Reparatrix perditi orbis benignissimi fieret. De excell. B. Virg. Cap. 9.
(4) De gradibus Caritatis. O quam potens est amor ejus, qui vincit Omnipotentem. (St. John Eudes does not give the complete reference).