St. John Damascene(4) says that the earthly paradise, Noe’s ark, the burning bush, the Tables of the Law, the Ark of the Covenant, the golden vessel containing the manna, the golden candlesticks in the Tabernacle, the table with the loaves of proposition, Aaron’s rod, the furnace of Babylon, were all figures of the incomparable Virgin Mary.
The Eternal Father did not content Himself with prefiguring the person of His Son Jesus in His prototypes, Abel, Noe, Melchisedech, Isaac, Jacob,
Moses, Aaron, Josue, Samson, job, David and manyother holy persons who lived under the Old Law, which preceded His Son’s appearance on earth.
God also wished to give us several beautiful representations of His mysteries in detail, such as His divine espousal of human nature in the Incarnation, His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension.
In like manner, God the Father was not satisfied to foreshadow and represent the person of the Mother of His Beloved Son merely in the person of Mary, sister of Moses, in the Prophetess Debbora, wise Abigail, chaste and generous Judith, beautiful and compassionate Esther, and many other valiant women. Beyond this, the Eternal Father designed to entrust to us special pictures and images of the mysteries and qualities of His incomparable Mother, her virtues and even the more noble faculties of her virginal body. Several passages of Sacred Scripture reveal these pictures, especially the twenty fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus, and the Canticle of Canticles, where her Immaculate Conception is represented by the lily growing among thorns without being wounded by them:
“As the lily among thorns;”(5) her Nativity, by the rising dawn;(6) her Assumption, by the Ark of the Covenant which St. John saw in Heaven;(7) the sublime eminence of her dignity, her power and her holiness, by the height of the cedar of Lebanon;(8) her charity, by the rose;(9) her humility, by the spikenard;(10) her mercy, by the olive;(11) her virginity, by the closed gate of the Temple which God showed to Ezechiel the Prophet.(12)
But above all else, Our Heavenly Father has willed to place before our eyes a wealth of beautiful figures and marvelous representations of Mary’s most holy Heart. He has done this to show us how much He values and cherishes this lovable Heart and because the rare and wondrous perfections that fill it are well-nigh innumerable and can be represented and described only through a great number of figures and symbolic pictures.
Among the many images and representations of the Admirable Heart of Mary I can distinguish twelve of surpassing beauty. Six of them are found in the principal divisions of the universe; namely,the heavens, the sun, the center of the earth, the inexhaustible fountain of Genesis, the sea and the
Garden of Eden.
The six others appear in six of the most important manifestations witnessed by the world from the time of Moses to the death of Our Lord. They are the burning bush of Mount Horeb, the mysterious harp of David, the magnificent throne of Solomon, the marvelous Temple of Jerusalem, the miraculous furnace of Babylon, and the Holy Mount of Calvary.
In this Part we shall consider one by one the first six manifestations of the august Heart of the Queen of Heaven. We shall dwell at length upon them so that we may be inspired to bless and praise the hand of the Divine Artist who drew them, to reverence and admire the rare perfections of the prototype whose too inadequate reflection they are, and to evoke a higher esteem for the devotion to the holy Heart of Mary. It is a well founded devotion, testing on a solid basis, because its first origin and firm foundation is the Adorable Heart of the Eternal Father, Who drew these symbolic pictures for us.
MARY’S HEART, THE HEAVENS
THE first symbolic picture of the Admirable Heart of Mary which the Eternal Father has given to us is the heavens.
Mary’s pure Heart is truly a heaven of which the sky over our heads is a mere shadow and image. It is a heaven exalted above all others, of which the Holy Ghost speaks when He says that the Saviour of the World went out from a heaven surpassing all others in excellence, when He came on earth to redeem mankind: A summo caelo egressio ejus.(1)
As Our admirable Mother had formed her Divine Son in her Heart before conceiving Him in her womb,(2) we can truly say that, having remained hidden in her Heart for a little while even as He had been in the Heart of His heavenly Father from all eternity, Our Blessed Saviour emerged from it to manifest Himself to men. But just as He went forth from heaven and His Father’s bosom, without however relinquishing them:
Excessit, non recessit; so also is His Mother’s Heart a heaven whence He came forth in such a manner that He nevertheless remained and will remain forever in it: “For ever, 0 Lord, thy word standeth firm in heaven.”
The heavens are called the special work of God’s hands: “The heavens are the works of Thy hands,” (5) but the Heart of the Mother of God is the unequalled masterpiece of His omnipotence, His unfathomable wisdom and His infinite goodness.
God made heaven to be the particular abode of His Divine Majesty:
St. John Eudes repeats very often that Mary conceived her Divine Son in her Heart through faith and love before conceiving Him in her womb. In this connection he likes to quote the words of St. Augustine (Lib. de S. Virginitate, c. 3): “Mary’s maternal relationship would have availed nothing, if she had not borne Christ in Her Heart more happily than in her body”; and also the saying of St. Leo the Great: “She conceived (Christ) in her soul before conceiving Him in her body.”
“The Lord hath prepared his throne in heaven.” (6) It is true that He fills both heaven and earth with His divinity: “I fill heaven and earth,” (7) but heaven to a far greater degree than earth, for He has established there the fulness of His grandeur, power and divine magnificence:
.«Thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.” (8) In like manner, we can truly say of the Heart of the Blessed Mother of God that it is a real Heaven of the Divinity, of the divine attributes and of the Most Blessed Trinity.
The Admirable Heart of Mary is an empyrean heaven, that is, a Heaven all fire and flames, ever burning with the fire and flames of celestial love, holier and more ardent than the love of the Seraphim and of the greatest Saints who dwell in the empyrean heaven.
Mary’s pure Heart is the Heaven of Heavens, created for God alone, because it is the priceless inheritance and rich portion of the Lord, who always possessed it most entirely: “The heaven of heaven is the Lord’s.” (9) Yes, the most holy Heart of the Queen of Angels is the Heaven of Heavens for three significant reasons.
First of all, Jesus Christ is truly the Heaven of the Blessed Trinity. The Holy Ghost assures us that the fullness of the Divinity abides in Him: “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead,” (10) and this same Jesus has forever fixed His dwelling in the Blessed Heart of His most worthy Mother. This must not surprise us, for Sacred Scripture reveals that even in this present life, He maintains His dwelling in the hearts of all who believe in Him with a firm and perfect faith. We can therefore conclude that, as our most lovable Saviour is Himself a Heaven, possessing no abode more glorious and delightful, next to the adorable bosom of His Eternal Father, than the Heart of His holy Mother, which is itself a Heaven, He is truly Heaven dwelling within a heaven. In this way, the Heart of the Mother of Jesus can be said to be the Heaven of Heaven.
Secondly, Mary’s Immaculate Heart is the Heaven of Heaven because the spotless Virgin is really a heaven considered in her own person. This is the quality ascribed to her by the Holy Ghost, according to a learned and holy writer: “From heaven the Lord hath looked upon the earth.” (11) As this commentator explains it, “the Lord, dwelling in the Blessed Virgin Mary, as in a heaven, has turned the eyes of His mercy towards the earth, that is, towards sinners.” (12) Then the same author goes on to Say that this marvelous.
Virgin is a heaven because, as all living things in the order of nature receive their life from the influence of heaven, so does Holy Church teach us that the life of grace is given to us through the Blessed Virgin Mary: Vitam datum per Virginem.”
Now if this incomparable Virgin is a Heaven, our own heaven in this world of grace, because next to God the source of our spiritual l i f e ,we can well say that her Heart is the Heaven of Heaven, having been the principle of her corporal and spiritual life on earth and of the eternal life that she now enjoys in Heaven.
Thirdly, the Admirable Heart of Mary is the Heaven of Heaven, because, as St. Bernard says, it contains the entire Church, which is called in Sacred Scripture the Kingdom of Heaven, and because all the children of the Church receive through Mary the life of grace.(14) If St. Paul assured the Christians of his time that they were in his heart,(15) who would dare to contradict St. Bernardine of Siena,(16) who tells us that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, like a good mother, carries all her children in her Heart? Who will contradict me if I add that Our Lady will forever carry all the inhabitants of heaven in her inmost Heart, which becomes the Heaven of Heaven, and a true Paradise of the Elect, in which they find the fullness of delight and joy, due to the inconceivable love for each soul which consumes her maternal Heart?
Thus the blessed will forever sing: Sicut laetantium omnium nostrum habitatio est in corde tuo, sancta Dei Genetrix. 0 holy Mother of God, thy boundless charity has so vastly extended thy maternal Heart that it has become like a great city, or rather an immense heaven, full of ineffable consolations and unspeakable joys for thy beloved children, whose happy dwelling it shall be for all eternity.
The Heart of our Holy Mother is thus truly a heaven, an empyrean heaven, the Heaven of Heaven. 0 Heaven, more exalted, more extensive and more vast than all the heavens! 0 Heaven, enclosing Him whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain! 0 Heaven, filled with more praise, glory and love of God than the Heaven where eternal bliss resides! 0 Heaven, wherein the King of Heaven reigns more completely than in all other heavens! 0 Heaven, where the Most Holy Trinity dwells more worthily and accomplishes wonders far greater than in the empyrean heaven!
O Heaven, in which divine mercy has established its throne and deposited its treasures,where it hearkens to the cry of the unfortunate and helps them in all their necessities! “0 Lord, thy
mercy is in heaven.”(17)
Let us draw nigh to this throne of grace and with great confidence present our requests to the Mother of grace and mercy. Through the intercession of her Heart, most exalted, yet most tender, we shall obtain the graces that we need to become pleasing in the sight of the celestial majesty of God.
Rejoice, 0 readers, rejoice, you whose great happiness it is to be numbered among the true children of the Mother of pure love, for your names are written in her maternal Heart! Lift up your eyes and your hearts to that beautiful heaven! It is there that your hearts will find light, strength, powerful aid in the battle of life, guidance and succor, and above all inspiration to love your Creator and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven,strongly, purely and above all things.