On the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary we recommend this Byzantine image of Mary nursing the child Jesus.
Jesus nursed at his mother’s breast. His first comfort was from her body. His first shelter was in her arms.
In the liturgy we proclaim that it is “right and just” to praise God. We might also say it is “right and just” that the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on the first Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The first heartbeat the unborn child Jesus heard and felt was Mary’s own. That rhythm was his first lullaby.
Jesus’ heart beat within Mary’s body. His great heart was carried alongside her own generous one. Jesus and Mary’s hearts were as close as two hearts can ever be.
Like all mothers, Mary must have kissed the pulsing soft spot in Jesus’ tiny head. She must have rested her hand on his sleeping back, feeling his steady breath and the rhythm of his heart. So we give thanks that, in the Church’s own rhythm of days and seasons, their hearts are kept close.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus always falls on the first Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi. These are enfleshed days, days to remind us that we are not dis-embodied spirits, but, as C. S. Lewis put it, we are amphibians, half spirit and half flesh. God creates both our flesh and our spirit. Both are holy and both are redeemed. There is no stronger argument for this than Mary and Jesus. Jesus was conceived in a woman’s womb. He grew there and he was born out of a woman’s body, coming in a rush of fluids, all of it forever made holy by his sharing in womb and blood.
Jesus nursed at his mother’s breast. His first comfort was from her body. His first shelter was in her arms. His first joy came from her smile.
Pray in thanksgiving today for Mary’s body and your own. Give thanks that you, too, are allowed to share in her life as the God-bearer when you receive Christ in the Mass. Be still, and listen to your own heart as it beats. Lie close to someone you love and feel the steady beat of another’s heart. Give thanks that we, like Mary, share with God the Most High, the Savior of the world, this gift of heartbeats, known and counted and kept against the dark.
Litany of Loretto
Mary, Mirror of justice.
Seat of wisdom.
Cause of our joy.