A visit with our Bishop: Our mother’s immaculate heart

One hundred years ago this month, our Blessed Mother revealed to one of the three child visionaries in Fatima, Portugal, her Son’s eternal desire for all people to be devoted to her Immaculate Heart.
This is the very same heart that was protected for all eternity from the stain of Original Sin, that nourished our Lord and Savior while He was helpless in the womb, that cried out in silent agony as her Son was crucified and died, and leaped with joy that will never end upon hearing of His rising from the dead.
“He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart,” Mary told the young Lucy in a June 13, 1917, apparition. “To whoever embraces this devotion I promise salvation; these souls shall be dear to God, as flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.”
In each of her apparitions at Fatima, Mary spoke to the children of God’s divine love and mercy toward all of the world, reflected in her Immaculate Heart.
It should come as no surprise that our founding bishop, Bishop Joseph M. Marling, C.PP.S., offered the Solemn Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as his first Mass as your bishop, and less than a month later entrusted our diocese to her patronage under that title.
He knew she wouldn’t let him down. As a seminarian, Bishop Marling honored a pledge he had made to Mary to take her name as his own middle name. He believed that she had saved his life, and he entrusted his Priesthood to her continued intercession.
The Diocese of Jefferson City was founded in 1956, in the midst of the terrors of the Cold War, which contributed to a renewed devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in the Church.
I believe that our world is in even greater need of her help today than it was when our diocese was brand new.
From my earliest days as your bishop, I have shared your devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and have encouraged parishes to display her image and celebrate her feastday.
I cherish the fact that my earthly mother was a member of a parish in St. Louis named for the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the time of her death.
Like many things, the Church’s observance of our diocese’s patronal feast is tied to the celebration of Easter.
Each year, we celebrate the beautiful Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Friday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost. This year, it falls on June 23.
The day after the Feast of the Sacred Heart, we regularly observe the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
But there’s a hitch this year: June 24 happens to be the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. In the hierarchy of liturgical observances, a solemnity trumps a feastday.
For this reason, I have decreed that in the parishes and missions of our diocese, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary should be transferred to replace the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. That is this Sunday, June 25.
I have instructed Father Daniel Merz, chairman of our Diocesan Liturgical Commission, to announce to all parishes that the Saturday evening “anticipated Masses of Sunday” and all Masses on Sunday, June 25 should take the prayers and readings for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Music leaders in each parish are encouraged to take the feastday into account when planning for this Sunday’s Liturgies.
I invite all of our local Church to join me in taking this special opportunity to thank God for the special grace and strength that comes to us through the intercession and patronage of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. May we constantly rededicate ourselves to her motherly love and protection.
I close with a blessing I gave to all of you on Pentecost Sunday back in 2001:
“My brothers and sisters in the Lord, our Blessed Mother Mary at the Visitation, just as at the Annunciation, offered herself without hesitation to the mystery of God’s plan for salvation, and in the upper room waited patiently with the Apostles for the Holy Spirit. May she, who is our diocesan patroness as the Immaculate Heart of Mary, be our guide on the path to true holiness, and may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon each of you and remain with you forever.”

Comments are closed.