This is the month dedicated to Mary's love for all of us -- here's how to celebrate it!
August is the month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and this August is an especially fitting time for us to find strength in this devotion, as we handle constraints and stress stemming from health concerns, societal upheaval, and economic worries.
Many of us are, or know, someone who has been personally impacted by the coronavirus. Even as churches have re-opened, many have had to reduce their capacity, cut back on their number of Masses, and navigate postponements of cherished events. It can be surreal out there, in a masked world where friends and strangers alike are trying to stay at least six feet apart.
So what better time is there to run to our spiritual mother? We should never keep our distance from her, and are always safe in her arms. Our Lady of Fatima famously said, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” She also said, “Don’t lose heart … My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” We can put our anxieties aside by resting in Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The Memorare reminds us: “Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgins of Virgins, Our Mother.”
This month, let’s fly to our Mother’s Immaculate Heart. To help you do that, here are some ways you can do just that. Find the suggestions that are just right for you, depending on whether you’re celebrating the re-opening of your church or are under self-quarantine:
1Begin the first five Saturdays devotion on August 1st
This devotion is also called the Act of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was requested by Our Lady of Fatima. For five months in a row, on the first Saturday of the month, you make an act of reparation to Mary by receiving Communion, praying the Rosary, keeping Mary company for another 15 minutes by meditating on the Mysteries, and going to Confession within 8 allotted days. If you are reading this after the first of August, mark your calendar and resolve to start next month! It’s a beautiful devotion that never fails to produce rich rewards. Here’s more about how to do it.
2Call your mother first thing in the morning
Your Heavenly Mother, that is! Celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary by praying the Fatima Morning Offering daily this month, as it concludes with these words, invoking the Immaculate Heart:
Precious Blood of Jesus, save us!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
3Pray the Rosary every day
Our Lady of Fatima told us to pray the Rosary every day. In the words of St. Padre Pio: “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.”
Happily, there’s ways to keep your Rosary fresh and charged with new levels of love. For example, you can pray a Scriptural Rosary, try a Seven Sorrows Rosary, or focus on works of art associated with each mystery. This book is filled with ways to breathe new life into the Rosary, and whether you pray it daily, sometimes, or rarely, it will forever cure you of any impulse to think of it as “monotonous.” The book also includes art and music to enliven your prayer.
4Wear the Miraculous Medal
This is a powerful sacramental, and we need those in the times we’re in! All who wear it, especially around the neck, are promised great graces by Our Lady. The back of the Miraculous Medal depicts Mary’s Immaculate Heart, pierced by a sword. If you don’t have a medal, this is the perfect month to get one — and even better, don’t forget to have it blessed by a priest. While you’re at it, get one for a family member or friend. Here’s a beautiful gesture I’ve witnessed: a former student of mine, a deacon, always has a few blessed miraculous medals on hand to offer anyone he meets who is going through a difficult time, so why not carry some extras? Wear and distribute as an act of great devotion and a testimony to the power of prayer.
5Create a home altar honoring the Immaculate Heart
Choose a painting, holy card, or statue depicting the Immaculate Heart of Mary and place it in the center of your table or on the mantel. Have the children help to choose the flowers(whether from your home garden, or a local store) that will adorn your humble home altar and remind you of Mary’s beautiful heart.
6Engage children (and the young at heart!) by making heart-shaped cookies or cake
Decorate with pink and red icing. Have a simple home prayer service for the Immaculate Heart of Mary by saying favorite Marian prayers together as a family, playing a beautiful Marian song like “Ave Maria” (and even singing along as a family) and then enjoying the dessert in celebration of Mary. To make it even more meaningful, make enough cookies or an extra cake and bring to someone who could use a good cheering up!
7Have children make Immaculate Heart greeting cards
Fold construction or computer paper in half to make a card. On the cover, have kids draw a heart. Then surround the heart with roses. Finally, include the depiction of the sword of sorrows. If children are too little to draw well, you can draw the heart, have the kids color it in and then get rose stickers or using a glue stick, paste rose petals around the heart. Help them compose a message of love inside the card, and give as a gift to a grandparent, relative, or friend to whom you want to send love.
8Spend time in prayer with the Prophecy of Simeon
The beautiful scripture of Luke 2:35 reminds us of the sword that would pierce Mary’s heart. Spend time reading, meditating, praying on and contemplating this scripture. This prophecy of Simeon is also the first sorrow of Mary. Bring thoughts of your own sorrows to prayer both to seek Mary’s intercession and to increase compassion and love as you console Our Lady in prayer.
9Go to Mass on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption
Mark your calendar now for this holy day of obligation (on a Saturday this year, the day of the week already dedicated to Mary) and attend Mass if you can, praying to the Immaculate Heart on the Feast of the Assumption.
Another special day to honor the Immaculate Heart by attending daily Mass (though not a holy day of obligation) is Saturday, August 22, the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why not stop after Mass to light a candle for your intention at the Marian altar in your parish?
If you can’t get to Mass for these feasts, make time to pray as a family, asking for Mary’s intercession.
10Consecrate yourself and your children to the Immaculate Heart
Consecrate each of your children to Mary with this prayer and then celebrate with your child/children. Then do something special to celebrate, like having each of them draw a picture of himself or herself with Mary, sharing a special dinner, or going on a family picnic.
What if you are worried about your older children who may have lost faith or fear the difficulties your little ones might someday face? There’s a lovely quote by Fr. Gobbi, a Marian priest, that advises, “every time you pray the Rosary, say, ‘I bind all my children to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’” He taught that “Our Lady will see to their souls.” We can always remember St. Monica who persisted in tearful prayer for her son, Augustine. With that spirit of trust in Mary’s maternal love, let us offer rosaries for our children.