Christ gave all Christians this command: "Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm" (Song 8:6), that is, impress upon yourself inwardly and outwardly the image of my interior and exterior life. "For love is as strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell," which means, as I have died a most cruel death to turn your love back to me, so if you love me, you must likewise die to sin, to yourselves, to the world and to all things, in order to live only in me and for me. As my infinite love for you would have made me suffer even greater torments if such had been necessary to save you from hell, so also, if you love me, you must be ready to suffer the pangs of hell rather than offend me!
Such is the command of the Son of God to every faithful soul, but no one has ever kept it perfectly except the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Would you see how she observed this command of her Son? Notice that our Redeemer does not tell her: "Put my seal on thy Heart and on thy arm;" but He says: "Put me, myself, as a seal upon thy heart and upon thy arm. As I am the perfect image of my heavenly Father and the divine character of His substance, make thy Heart also a living image of myself; make it live of my life; make it be animated by my spirit, filled with my sentiments, inflamed with love and charity for me, and adorned with all virtues. Put me also as a seal on thy arm, which means, let thy exterior person be an image and likeness of my own exterior, of thy modesty, humility, meekness, affability, mortification of my senses and holiness of all my outward bearing."
The Blessed Virgin Mary accomplished all these things most excellently and with an inconceivable love. "Love is as strong as death," and stronger still, for it vanquished the Almighty Himself and caused the Immortal One to die, Him who is beyond the scope of death. The Heart of the glorious Virgin Mary was so filled with love for God that she would rather have suffered every conceivable torment and death, than to do, say or think anything displeasing to His divine Majesty. "Love is as hard as hell." Witness the infinite love our Savior bears us, a love so admirable that He revealed to St. Brigid: "I am charity itself; and if I could endure as many deaths as there are souls in hell, I would do it most willingly and with perfect charity. I am ready to suffer for a single soul the very passion and death that I suffered for all mankind" (1). I read in a trustworthy author (2) that, when our most merciful Redeemer is obliged, by His justice, to chastise sinners, His infinite love for His creatures would make Him endure pain comparable to those of hell, if He were still capable of suffering.
So also was the Blessed Virgin Mary filled with love for her Creator and with charity towards souls, that she would gladly have suffered the pains of a thousand hells rather than consent to the least sin, and that she would willingly have undergone even more sorrow and suffering, if possible, in this world or in the next, in order to cooperate in the salvation of a single soul. We have also seen many saints inspired with this same readiness.
With much reason, therefore, does the Holy Spirit say, speaking of the love and charity of the Mother of God: "The lamps thereof are fire and flames" (Song 8:6). All her thoughts, words and actions were like fiery flames leaping from the furnace of her Heart and flaring up to highest heaven, where they kindled an even greater love in the hearts of the seraphim themselves.
But let us return to the divine words of the only Son of Mary to His Blessed Mother: "Put me as a seal …" and let us see how they show us a most glorious privilege of our admirable Mother. What greater favor can a ruler bestow on one of his subjects than to entrust his seal to him, saying: "Behold my seal; I place it in your hands together with my entire governing power, that you may use it as you see fit in sealing letters of every sort and kind."
This is the signal favor with which the King of Kings honors His glorious Mother when He says to her: "Put me as a seal upon thy Heart, as a seal upon thy arm," as though He were saying: "Thou hast had a very great share indeed in the sufferings and ignominies of my Passion; in like measure do I now wish to make thee participate in my dignity and kingly power."
Jesus speaks thus to the admirable Heart of Mary: "I give myself to thee, O my peerless Mother not as a lifeless and material seal, but like one that is living and divine. Put me as a seal, yet, put me myself as a seal on thy Heart and on thy arm, that all thoughts, intentions, desires and affections emanating from thy Heart may have the same virtue and effect as those proceeding from my own Heart; as also that thy hand and arm may possess, in a way, as much strength and vigor as my own, to sustain, defend, protect, assist and favor thy children and all who shall have recourse to thee. Finally I place my seal and my regal power in thy hands, that thou may dispose of them as thou wish and as I would dispose of them myself, namely, to grant petitions, to make liberal gifts, to dispense graces, for whatever end thou may choose. It is I who shall do whatever thou dost, and wherever thou dost place thy seal, I shall place mine."
After all this, do not be surprised if the Fathers of the Church declare that the admirable Mother of our Savior possesses all power in Heaven and on earth, and that God grants her every request. "All power is given to thee in Heaven and on earth," says St. Peter Damian (3). "The all-merciful and almighty God hath raised thee so high," asserts St. Anselm, "that thou art become all-powerful with Him" (4).
Infinite and eternal thanks be given to thee, my dearest Jesus, for having granted thy holy Mother so great a power. We are bound to express as much gratitude to thy infinite goodness, as though thou has granted the power to each one of us in particular, for thou has given it to Mary that she may help, defend and assist us in all corporal and spiritual necessities.
O Mother of perfect love, behold my miserable heart, together with the hearts of all my brethren; take full and entire possession of them; destroy whatever is displeasing, unite them to thine and make them, after the example of thy admirable Heart, glow as ardent lamps of fire and flame.
This article was excerpted from St. John Eudes, The Admirable Heart of Mary, part six, chapter V. St. John Eudes is a spiritual father of the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, 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. For more information on the order, visit heartsofjesusandmary.org.
(1) Revel, lib. I, cap. 48.
(2) Ghisler. in cap. 8 Cant, in Expostio. 2 versus sexti.
(3) De excel. Virg. cap. 12.
(4) Te pius et omnipotens Deus ita exaltavit, ut tibi secum omnia possibilia esse donaret. St. John Eudes does not give the reference to the works of St. Anselm.