A Little-Known Secret Fulton Sheen Introduced Me to About the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts
BY CHRISTOPHER WEST
The Church celebrates the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on consecutive days. In 2020, they fall on June 19-20. Little do people know the nuptial meaning of these two great feasts.
Certainly popular devotion recognizes that the consummate moment of the love shared between these two hearts takes place at the Cross. It’s when Christ’s heart is pierced by the lance that Simeon’s prophecy – “a sword shall pierce your heart also” – comes true. But few realize that when Christ says “It is consummated” from the Cross, he is speaking of his marriage to the Church, symbolized by “the woman” below him.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen summarizes the teaching of countless saints and mystics when he proclaimed:
Now we’ve always thought, and rightly so, of Christ the Son on the cross and the mother beneath him. But that’s not the complete picture. That’s not the deep understanding. Who is our Lord on the cross? He’s the new Adam. Where’s the new Eve? At the foot of the cross. … If Eve became the mother of the living in the natural order, is not this woman at the foot of the cross to become another mother? And so the bridegroom looks down at the bride. He looks at his beloved. Christ looks at his Church. There is here the birth of the Church. As St. Augustine puts it, and here I am quoting him verbatim, ‘The heavenly bridegroom left the heavenly chambers, with the presage of the nuptials before him. He came to the marriage bed of the cross, a bed not of pleasure, but of pain, united himself with the woman, and consummated the union forever. As it were, the blood and water that came from the side of Christ was the spiritual seminal fluid.’ And so from these nuptials ‘Woman, there’s your son’ this is the beginning of the Church.
Christ gave himself up for her, the Church, his Bride, “that she might be immaculate” (see Eph 5:27). Mary’s Immaculate Heart is the certainty that what Christ did on the Cross had its effect. These two feasts, then, celebrate the fact that divine love has not only been perfectly poured out of a human heart, but also perfectly received by a human heart, and perfectly returned. The nuptial mystery is consummated! This is our hope! Let us enter these feasts celebrating this “great mystery” anew!