Who Is the Month of August Dedicated To?
Traditionally, each month is dedicated to some major aspect of our faith such as the Precious Blood, St. Joseph, the Holy Name of Jesus and the Poor Souls. August has its major dedication too.
By Joseph Pronechen
We know that traditionally May is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. October to the Holy Rosary, and Our Lady of the Rosary. Now it’s time to also remember something little realized or often forgotten. August is the month traditionally dedicated by to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In fact, August once saw the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1944 Venerable Pope Pius XII set this feast to be celebrated on Aug. 22 as the Octave of the Assumption. Two years earlier he had consecrated the Christian family and whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the 25thanniversary of the Fatima apparitions.
Then in 1969, St. Pope Paul VI moved the date to the Saturday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (celebrated on the Friday before; the celebrations are next to each other). It means the Immaculate Heart of Mary feast falls on the third Saturday afterPentecost.
For the record, August still has three Marian feasts —the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (also remembering Our Lady of the Snows) on Aug. 5; the Assumption on Aug. 15; the Queenship of Mary on Aug. 22.
This might seem all rather recent, but well before August came to be dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary she was celebrated as such for centuries. Let’s take a quick peek at a few highlights.
“The real roots of the devotion to Mary’s Heart are in Scripture, where on two occasions reference is made to Mary’s heart by St. Luke,” points out Father Johanm Roten, a Mariologist at the University of Dayton. He refers to Luke 2:19 “Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart,” and Luke 2:51 “His mother (Mary) meanwhile kept all these things in memory, meaning in her heart.”
He also explained, “The most beautiful biblical text about Mary’s heart is theMagnificatbecause it reveals to us the wondrous riches of Mary’s humble and regal heart. Her heart sings the praises of God, but it is not a solitary song, my song about the history of my soul, but theMagnificatis the song of the history of salvation for all God’s people.”
Let’s fast forward to the early 15thcentury and St. Bernardine of Siena who, as Father Roten notes, has the title, the Doctor of the Heart of Mary. “In that Heart he sees, as it were, seven burning furnaces that give rise to seven flames which are the seven acts of love expressed in the seven ‘words’ of Our Lady found in the Gospel.”
Then in the 17thcentury, St. John Eudes broadcast the devotion and promoted a feast in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Soon several dioceses in France did so.
Devotion continued and surged in 1830 with the Miraculous Medal. Among the images Our Lady told St. Catherine Labouréto place on the medal was one of her Immaculate Heart placed next to the Sacred Heart.
Our Lady continued to bring devotion to her Immaculate Heart to the forefront, next at Fatima. There, and also later to Sr. Lucia, she made several specific mentions to her Immaculate Heart.
Mary Herself Tells Us
After the revelations at Fatima and those later to Lucia, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary spread rapidly and in even greater climes.
A short reminder: Our Lady mentioned her Immaculate Heart in her second apparition in June. She told Lucia she would stay on the earth after her cousins went to heaven sinceJesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.
Our Blessed Mother also told her,I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God.
Jesus, her Son, wants to make her known and loved with devotion established in the world to her Immaculate Heart. And the Immaculate Heart will not only be our comfort, but the way that will lead us to God. It’s a perfectly clear reason or instruction why we should be devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Then during the July apparition Our Lady told the children in detail about her Immaculate Heart, the reparation she asked for, and the results if people ignored this request.
She gave the children in this short prayer to say often especially while making a sacrifice to save sinners:O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In July she also told the children after she showed them hell where poor sinners go—To save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.
Let’s remind ourselves who it was who asked for this devotion: her Son Jesus.
Our Blessed Mother continued, telling the children, in part, about punishments and another war (World War II) if people didn’t listen and repent.To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.
That was not all. Our Lady made it very clear,If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
The triumph will come through her Immaculate Heart. No way or no one will prevent this. The question is, will we practice devotion to her Immaculate Heart. We have the month of August to remind us.
The Holy See’sDirectory on Popular Piety and the Liturgymakes clear “the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a celebration of the complex visceral relationship of Mary with her Son’s work of salvation: from the Incarnation, to his death and resurrection, to the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
That’s one explanation why Jesus wants devotion to his Mother’s Immaculate Heart spread.
The sameDirectoryalso has this to say about receiving Holy Communion on the Five First Saturdays. “This pious practice should be seen as an opportunity to live intensely the paschal Mystery celebrated in the Holy Eucharist, as inspired by the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Jesus and Mary are brought together here too.
Her Heart and Ways to Honor
First, the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia explains “what seems to attract us above all else is the love of this Heart for Jesus and for God.” And we’ve got to look at all the human heart of Mary suggests including her “joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for her God, her maternal love for her Divine Son, and her motherly and compassionate love for her sinful and miserable children here below.”
Father Roten has great insight for us into what it means when we speak of Mary’s heart.
“The expression ‘Mary’s heart’ is to be understood in a biblical sense: it denotes the person of the Blessed Virgin herself, her intimate and unique being; the center and source of her interior life, of her mind and memory, of her will and love; the single-mindedness with which she loved God and the disciples and devoted herself wholeheartedly to the saving work of her Son.”
Start in August
Now that we’ve looked at a bit of the history of the devotion and reasons isn’t this month of August a good time we begin, or increase, our honor and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
One way is to make or renew our individual consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope Pius XII explained that this consecration “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”
He consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942. Pope St. John Paul II renewed it twice, the second time in communion with the bishops of the Church, on Mar. 25, 1984. And Pope Francis did so at a Vatican ceremony on Oct. 13, 2013.
“By our consecration we promise to become dependent on Mary in all things: to offer all our prayers and oblations to God through Mary, and to seek every gift from God through Mary,” teach the Dominicans at The Rosary Center. “And we do this with the greatest confidence. Since she is our mother, she knows our needs better than we; and since she is Queen of Heaven, she has immediate access to the infinite treasury of graces in the Kingdom of her Divine Son.”
No wonder we’re advised to consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Jesus chose that we go to him through Mary — “both the mystery of God coming to us through Mary, and our being led to God through Mary, is a work of the Holy Spirit.”
If we make the consecration and honestly try to live it, what the Blessed Mother promised Lucia applies to us too:I will never leave you; my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and the way that will lead you to God.
Use St. Louis de Montfort’s method, Father Michael Gaitley’s33 Days to Morning Glory(more than one method in this book), or other suitable consecration prayers.
Next, the Rosary. “In our devotion to Mary’s Heart there is no more effective prayer than the Rosary which is about the mysteries of her Son’s life and hers. There is no better way to obtain through Mary’s intercession the help we desperately need to learn how to be loving and selfless,” reminded Servant of God Father John Hardon.
Also, since it’s already past for August, aim for September to begin the Five First Saturdays. Or continue to do First Saturdays if you’ve already completed the five. We don’t have to stop at five. We really can and should do them continuously because they honor Our Lady and continuously fulfill her requests.
Finally, during August we should do something extra, something special, something extra special for Our Lady. Get enrolled in the brown scapular, wear a Miraculous Medal, begin praying the Angelus daily, or the Memorare, or why not both? Why not all? To Jesus through Mary.