Before expounding the prodigious virtues and the incomparable marvels of the admirable Heart of Mary, according to the lights which He Who is the Source of all light will be pleased to give me, I shall point out the various meanings of the word “heart” in Sacred Scripture.
1. The word “heart,” first of all, signifies the material and corporeal heart that beats within our breast, the noblest part of the human body. It is the principle of life, the first organ to begin to live and the last to be stilled in death; it is the seat of love, hatred, joy, sadness, fear and every passion of the soul. Of this heart does the Holy Spirit speak when He says: “With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issues out from it” (Prov 4:23).
2. “Heart” is also employed in Scripture to signify the memory. This is, no doubt, its meaning in these words of Our Lord: “Lay it up therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before how you shall answer. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay” (Lk 21:14). That is, remember when you are brought before kings and judges for my name’s sake, not to prepare an answer for your enemies because I will give you wisdom, which your enemies will not be able to gainsay.
3. It likewise denotes the intellect, with which we meditate. Meditation is, in fact, discursive reasoning on the things of God, tending to persuade and to convince us of the truth of Christian doctrine. This is the heart alluded to in the words: “The meditation of my heart (is) always in thy sight” (Ps 18:15). In other words, “my heart, that is, my intellect, is always occupied in meditating and contemplating Thy glory, mysteries and works.”
4. The word “heart” expresses the free will of the superior and rational part of the soul, the queen of the other faculties, the root of good and evil, and the mother of virtue and of vice. Our Lord refers to this heart when He says: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil” (Lk 6:45). Here, “a good heart” means the righteous will of the just man, from which all kinds of good can come; and “an evil heart” means the bad will of the wicked, which is a source of all kinds of evil.
5. We must also understand by the word “heart” that highest part of the soul which theologians call the point of the spirit. It is the seat of contemplation, which consists in turning the mind directly toward God and viewing Him in all simplicity, without discursive reasoning or multiplicity of thoughts. The Fathers of the Church apply to this power of the soul those words which the Holy Spirit puts in the mouth of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I sleep, and my heart watches” (Song 5:2). According to St. Bernardine of Siena and several other writers, sleep and rest of the body did not prevent Mary’s holy Heart, that is, the highest part of her mind, from being always united to God in sublime contemplation. (1)
6. At times “heart” stands for the whole interior life of man; I mean, of course, the spiritual life, as indicated by these words spoken by the Son of God to the faithful soul: “Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm” (Song 8:6), that is, stamp the image of my interior and exterior life in your interior and exterior life, in your soul and in your body, by a perfect imitation of Me.
7. The word “heart” can also signify the Holy Spirit, the veritable Heart of the Father and the Son, Whom They desire to give us for our own mind and heart. “And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you” (Ezek 36:26).
8. The Son of God is called the Heart of the Eternal Father in Sacred Scripture, and it is of this heart that the Father speaks to His Spouse, the Blessed Virgin, when He says to her: “Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse” (Song 4:9), or according to the Septuagint: “Thou hast ravished my heart.” And the Son of God Himself is called in Scriptur