The Spirituality of
Fatima and Medjugorje
Fr. Edward Carter, S.J.
Shepherds of Christ Ministries
PO BOX 193
Morrow, Ohio 45152-0193
Fatima and Medjugorje:
The Point of Convergence
Before we discuss consecration to the Heart of Christ and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we should first establish what we mean by the word consecration.
To consecrate means to make holy. Only God can make one holy. Our fundamental consecration takes place in Baptism; in Baptism we are sealed with the holiness of God. The Persons of the Trinity communicate Themselves to us in a most intimate manner. They dwell within us and give us a share in Their own holiness. Through Baptism, we truly receive a participation in the divine life, and this sharing is our life of sanctifying grace, our Christ-life.
The reference to our life of sanctifying grace as the Christ-life reminds us that our being consecrated by God in Baptism is mediated by Christ. In fact, our act of being consecrated by God in Baptism is a participation in Christ's own consecration. A. Bossard develops the idea extremely well:
By the Incarnation, in and of itself, the Humanity of Jesus is consecrated, so that in becoming Man, Jesus is ipso facto constituted Savior, Prophet, King, Priest and Victim of the One Sacrifice that was to save the world. He is the "Anointed" par excellence, the "Christ" totally belonging to God, His Humanity being that of the Word and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. When, by a free act of His human will, He accepts what He is, doing what He was sent to do, He can say that He consecrates "Himself." In Christ, therefore, what might be called His "subjective" consecration is a perfect response to the "objective" consecration produced in His humanity through the Incarnation.
And what Christ does brings with it a "consecration" for His disciples, a very special belonging to God, since He imparts to them His own life precisely by making them participate in His own consecration.
Through Baptism Christians also are consecrated and "anointed" by the power of the Spirit. They share, in their measure, in the essential consecration of Christ, in His character of King, Priest, and Prophet (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Rev. 5:9; etc.). With Christ and through Christ, they are "ordered" to the glory of God and the salvation of the world. They do not belong to themselves. They belong to Christ the Lord, who imparts His own life to them....
The vocation of those who have been baptized is to "live" this consecration by a voluntary adherence-and one that is as perfect as possible-to what it has made of them. Living as "children of God," they fulfill subjectively their objective consecration; like Jesus, they consecrate themselves. This is the deeper meaning of vows and baptismal promises, together with the actual way of life corresponding to them. The baptismal consecration is the fundamental one, constitutive of the Christian. All consecrations which come after it presuppose and are rooted in it...." (28)
The above details the awesome privilege and responsibility which come to us through Baptism. In Christ, we are consecrated with the holiness of God. We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and through Christ, we are called to help continue the work of the redemption. We have a mission to accomplish. We are called to participate in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly mission of Jesus. We are called to give an ongoing "yes" to our objective consecration-to that which has happened to us in Baptism. This "yes" is our subjective act of consecration.
To aid us in a special way in living our ongoing "yes"--our life of subjective consecration--God has given us devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the center of these devotions is a specific act of consecration. This act of consecration is a very special and attractive way to live out our baptismal consecration.
Some may ask at this point, "Why the act of consecration to Mary? Is not the act of consecration to Christ sufficient?" Again, Bossard puts it very well:
If, in the strict sense in question here, consecration makes one belong to God--and Christ is God--how is it possible to speak of consecrating oneself to Mary? It is possible because, by God's will, Mary has something to do with our Christian life, with our sanctification. She is certainly not, like Christ, the source of salvation, but she is maternally ordered to our life as children of God--always, however, in perfect union with her Son and subordinate to Him. ... Hence, in the full sense of the word, a consecration to Mary includes, at least implicitly, a real and essential reference to Christ and to the Baptism that binds us to Him. (29)
Jesus Himself has told us that He wishes us to entrust--to consecrate--ourselves to Mary. We have that striking and touching scene on Calvary:
Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and His mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing His mother and the disciple He loved standing near her, Jesus said to His mother, "Woman, this is your son." Then to the disciple He said, "This is your mother" (John 19:25-26).
Of course, the beloved disciple is John, who represents all of us. In giving Mary to John as his spiritual Mother, Jesus also gave Mary to us as our spiritual Mother. He is entrusting us to Mary. He calls attention to the fact that Mary is the Mother of our Christ-life, our life of grace. In subordination to God, she gives us this life of grace, nourishes it, brings it to full development. As she cooperates with the Holy Spirit, she assists us in living our baptismal consecration-the consecration which makes us belong entirely to God in Christ.
Pope John Paul II has put before us the meaning of Mary's spiritual motherhood on many occasions--in his homilies, his acts of consecration, and in his writings. In his encyclical letter, "The Mother of the Redeemer" (Redemptoris Mater), he comments on the above Scripture passage:
It can also be said that these same words fully show the reason for the Marian dimension of the life of Christ's disciples. This is true not only of John, who at that hour stood at the foot of the Cross together with his Master's Mother, but it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and, at the same time, he gives her to him as his mother. Mary's motherhood, which becomes man's inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual. The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. (30)
Yes, Jesus has given Mary to each of us as our spiritual Mother. He wants us to grow in our appreciation of this great gift by allowing Mary to be more and more Mother to us. He wants us to grow in our entrustruent to her, in our consecration to her, so that she may lead us ever closer to Himself. All this reminds us that Jesus has willed that Mary be our Mediatrix with Him. Perhaps no other devotee of Mary has emphasized this truth more than St. Louis de Montfort. In speaking of this Marian Saint, Fr. Authur Collings observes: "Perhaps, in the final analysis, the greatest contribution of this Breton saint to the theology of Marian consecration is precisely in his insistence on Mary's mediation as willed by God." (31)
St. Louis de Montfort, himself, emphatically reminds us why we consecrate ourselves to Mary: "The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus." (32)
At both Fatima and Medjugorje Mary has asked us to consecrate ourselves to her in a particular way--consecration to her Immaculate Heart. Mary, our Mother, shows us her Heart as the symbol of her love. She tells us that she loves us with an overwhelming love and asks that we respond to this love by loving her in return, by making a total gift of ourselves--a total entrustment of ourselves--to her Immaculate Heart. She asks this of us so that she may be able to exercise her motherhood toward us as fully as possible. She wants us to imitate her own great love for Jesus, for the Father, and for the Holy Spirit. Her love for the Persons of the Trinity is symbolized by her Heart, as is her love for us.
A great sign of our consecration to Mary the Immaculate Heart, is the wearing of the Brown Scapular. Sr. Lucia, one of the Fatima visionaries, has said that we should wear the scapular as part of living the Fatima message. She tells us that "the Rosary and the scapular are inseparable." Our Lady, when she gave the scapular to St. Simon Stock in 1251, said, "Whoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire." Only a properly authorized priest can validly enroll one in the Brown Scapular. (33)
How can we refuse the love and the loving request of our Mother? If we respond by consecrating ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, we can experience a remarkable sense of being loved, a sense of peace and joy, a sense of security and warmth. Resting secure within the Heart of our Mother, we are strengthened in all circumstances "to be for Christ''-- to live out our baptismal consecration. Amid laughter and tears, success and failure, times of exhilaration and times of sorrowful disappointment, we can rest secure in the maternal heart of a Mother who loves us with an unfathomable love. If we can remain within the refuge of Mary's Immaculate Heart, nothing can prevent us from also growing in our consecration to the Heart of Christ. And this, indeed, is why Mary wants us to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart--so that she may lead us ever closer to the Heart of Jesus. This was emphatic at Fatima, and most certainly at Medjugorje.
In speaking of our consecration to the Immaculate Heart, Pope John Paul II stated:
Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the Heart of her Son, for as the Mother of Christ, she is wholly united to His redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said, "Do whatever He tells you," Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the Heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of Our Savior. (34) (emphasis added)
Yes, Mary the Immaculate Heart points to the Heart of Jesus and she wants us to immerse ourselves in the flames of this Heart. She wants us, in her company, to seek our refuge in Jesus' Heart. She asks us to dwell within her own Immaculate Heart more and more so that she may more and more place us deeply within the Heart of Christ. In all this, Mary cooperates with the Holy Spirit in forming Christ in us in ever greater measure. Her desire for us is that we grow in the likeness of Jesus, that we become, to an ever greater degree, Christians according to the Heart of Christ.
Devotion to the Heart of Christ is rooted in what took place upon Calvary:
It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath--since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity--the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Him, and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found He was already dead, and so, instead of breaking His legs, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water (John 19:31-34).
It is interesting to note that St. John is the only one of the four evangelists to record this piercing of Jesus' Heart upon Calvary. How fitting! Jesus loved John with a most special love. John was the one who placed his head against Jesus' Heart at the Last Supper. John was the one to whom Jesus entrusted Mary and the one whom Christ entrusted to Mary as his spiritual Mother; John represented all of us. John, special recipient of Jesus' love, witnessed and recorded the piercing of Jesus' Heart, this heart which is symbol of Christ's love.
St. Bonaventure, a doctor of the Church, comments on how the Church was born from the pierced Heart of Jesus:
Then, in order that the Church might be formed out of the side of Christ sleeping on the cross... the divine plan permitted that one of the soldiers should pierce open His sacred side with a lance. While blood mixed with water flowed, the price of our salvation was poured forth, which gushing forth from the sacred fountain of the Heart, gave power to the sacraments of the Church.... (35)
>From its roots on Calvary, devotion to the Heart of Christ has developed down through the ages. Numerous popes of recent times have highly recommended devotion to the Heart of Christ. One of the highlights of these papal affirmations has been Pope Pius XII's encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart, Haurietis Aquas. In speaking of the greatness of this devotion, Pius XII states:
Indeed, if the evidence on which devotion to the wounded Heart of Jesus rests is rightly weighed, it is clear to all that we are dealing here, not with an ordinary form of piety, which anyone may, at his discretion, slight in favor of other devotions, or esteem lightly, but with a duty of religion most conducive to Christian perfection. For if devotion, according to the common theological definition which the Angelic Doctor gives, "is apparently nothing else but the will to give oneself readily to things concerning the service of God," can there be a service to God more required and necessary-and at the same time nobler and more pleasant--than that which pays homage to His love? (36)
Pope Pius XII also speaks to us concerning Christ's Heart as symbol of love:
Wherefore, the Heart of the Incarnate Word is rightly considered the chief index and symbol of the threefold love with which the Divine Redeemer continuously loves the Eternal Father and the whole human race. It is the symbol of that divine love which He shares with the Father and the Holy Ghost, but which in Him alone, in the Word, namely, that was made Flesh, is it manifested to us through His mortal human body, since "in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead, bodily." It is, moreover, the symbol of that most ardent love which, infused into His soul, sanctifies the human will of Christ and whose action is enlightened and directed by a twofold most perfect knowledge, namely the beatific and infused. Finally, in a more direct and natural manner, it is a symbol also of sensible love, since the body of Jesus Christ, formed through the operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, has a most perfect capacity for feeling and perception, much more than the bodies of all other men. (37)
Jesus shows us His Heart as symbol of His great love for us. This love is directed at each of us in a most precious, unique way, for He knows each of us by name. He knows each of us much, much better than we know ourselves. He loves each of us in our uniqueness with an incomprehensible love. In the greatness of this love for us, He hung upon a cross, His body racked with the indescribable pain of crucifixion; a body which had already been greatly weakened by the agony in the garden, by the cruel scourging, and by the carrying of the Cross. Besides the overwhelming physical pain, there was the agonizing suffering of His Heart. Part of this anguished suffering of His Heart was the knowledge that His love would be refused by so many down through the centuries. He knew that this love would be rejected so many times, even scorned and laughed at.
What is our response to Christ's love for us? With St.Ignatius Loyola, let us ask, "What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What am I going to do for Christ?"
It is our privilege and duty to give ourselves to Christ. It is our privilege and duty, each day, to say "yes" to our baptismal consecration. Each day we have a renewed opportunity to realize that we do not belong to ourselves, but that we belong to God, in Christ. At Medjugorje, Our Lady reminds us of this:
Dear Children, today I wish to place you all under my mantle to protect you from every satanic attack. Today is the day of Peace, but throughout the whole world there is much lack of peace. Therefore, I call you to build up a new world of peace together with me, by means of prayer. Without you, I cannot do that, and, therefore, I call all of you with my motherly love, and God will do the rest. Therefore, open yourselves to God's plans and purposes for you to be able to cooperate with Him for Peace and Good. And do not forget that your life does not belong to you, but is a gift with which you must bring joy to others and lead them to Eternal Life. May the tenderness of my little Jesus always accompany you. Thank you for responding to my call (December 25, 1992).
Each day is a precious opportunity "to be for Christ and others." Each day is a precious opportunity to renew that consecration to the Heart of Christ. In renewing that consecration, we can speak to Jesus in words such as these:
Jesus, You have loved me so much. You continue to love me with a love whose depths I cannot fully comprehend. You have given and do give Yourself completely to me. Help me give
myself entirely to You. In myself, I am so weak and helpless. But in You, I am so strong. With Your grace, I make this gift of myself joyfully and gratefully. I make this gift of myself through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Heart of my Mother, this Mother who loves me so much, who has such a great desire for me to daily approach Your Heart. How much Mary desires that I immerse myself in the love of Your Heart! How eager she is to help me draw strength from Your Heart, in order to pour myself out anew in love for God and neighbor!
Jesus, I love You so much, and how much I want to grow in love for You! You are my salvation, You are my reconciliation, You are my happiness, my peace, my joy. You are my perfect Friend!
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque sheds further light on what is involved in consecration to the Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary, to whom Christ revealed the secrets of His Sacred Heart, serves as a most eminent teacher for instructing us on how to live out our consecration. In a letter to a friend, the Saint says:
... I shall simply tell you, as a true friend in the adorable Heart of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, that when I pray to Him for you, this thought occurs to me: If you want to live wholly for Him and attain that perfection He desires of you, you must make a complete sacrifice of yourself and of all that you have, without reserve, to His Sacred Heart. You must no longer will anything, but with the will of this most loving Heart, love nothing except with His love, act only according to the lights He gives you, undertake nothing without first asking His counsel and help. All the glory must be His. You must thank Him for the ill as well as for the good success of your undertakings, always satisfied, never worrying about anything. As long as this divine Heart is satisfied, loved, and glorified, that must be enough for us. (38)
That we should give special attention to St. Margaret Mary's teaching concerning the Sacred Heart is confirmed by the following words of Pope Pius XII:
We mention, by way of example, the names of those who achieved special distinction in establishing and promoting devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, St. Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed Henry Suso, St. Peter Canisius, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John Eudes....
Among those who have promoted this most excellent devotion, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque occupies the chief place of honor. (39)
Yes, St. Margaret Mary holds a preeminent place in the history of devotion to the Heart of Jesus. I consider myself very privileged to have been able to make a recent pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial. This is the French town where St. Margaret Mary lived out her religious life at the Convent of the Sisters of the Visitation. I was privileged to make a holy hour in the Chapel of Apparitions, the place where St. Margaret Mary received apparitions and revelations from the Sacred Heart. This was one of the most special experiences of my entire life.
St. Margaret Mary stated that Jesus has given twelve promises to those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart:
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart is exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
12. I promise you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment. (40)
In conclusion, we restate the fundamental idea of Part II of this book: the point of convergence of the message of Fatima and that of Medjugorje is the call to conversion through consecration to the Heart of Christ and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The spirituality of Fatima and Medjugorje is a spirituality of Hearts and hearts--one which involves the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and our own hearts.
Christ, the Sacred Heart, and Mary, the Immaculate Heart, manifest their great and unfathomable love for us. They reveal Their Hearts as symbols of this love, and They ask for our consecration in return. To say ""yes" is to live out our baptismal consecration in a most special way. To say "yes" to Their request is our salvation. To say "yes" is to find the substantial and ongoing happiness we all seek. To say ""yes" is to dwell secure in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, where we feel loved and protected, where we find peace and joy, where we are fired with the determination to pour ourselves out in love for God and neighbor. To say ""yes" is to go to the Father, with and through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, with Mary, our Mother, at our side.