Eucharist and the Alliance
of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
For most people a title like the present one
must seem strange. The Eucharist and the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and
Mary is a strange title even to many Catholic believers.
Before we go any further, we had better explain
what this title means. There are three basic terms that call for explanation:
- The Eucharist
- Two Hearts
By the Eucharist we mean the true Body and Blood
of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances
of bread and wine, in order to offer Himself in the sacrifice of the Mass, and
to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion, and to be adored in the
By Alliance we mean not only cooperation but dedicated commitment.
By the Two Hearts we mean the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
With this as a short introduction we are ready
to reword our title to read, The wellbeing, even the survival, of the human
family depend on the faith of married people in the Holy Eucharist in imitating
the mutual love of Jesus and Mary.
No Eucharist Without Mary
It is remarkable how widespread is the ignorance
of so many professed Catholics in just what happened when the angel appeared
to our Lady at Nazareth.
When Mary told the angel, Be it done to me
according to your word, God, who was present as God on earth from the dawn
of creation, began to be present on earth as the God-man. In other words, God
began to exist as man the moment Our Lady consented to becoming the Mother of
Once God became man, He intended to remain Incarnate
for all eternity. He lived a human mortal life until His death on the cross.
When He rose from the dead, He remained on earth visibly for forty days. Then
He ascended into heaven and, as we profess in the Creed, He is seated at the
right hand of His heavenly Father.
But on the night before He died, He ordained
His apostles as priests, mainly to continue doing what He had done when He changed
bread and wine into His own living Body and Blood. Why did He do this? In order
to be not only in heaven, but to remain on earth as the God-man in the Holy
Eucharist until the end of time.
It is impossible to exaggerate the role of Mary
in the Holy Eucharist. Except for her, there would not have been any Incarnation,
and without the Incarnation there could be no Eucharist.
Christ in the Eucharist, therefore, is identical
with the Christ of history in possessing the same human nature. But this presents
two more possibilities. Having the same human nature can mean that in both cases
He has only the same human soul, or that He also has the same human body.
Orthodox Catholic doctrine teaches, of course,
that the identity of Christs human nature covers both body and soul. Consequently
we find a stress in the documents of the Church on a bodily presence in the
Blessed Sacrament, as a counterpoise to the error of spiritualizing Christ in
the Eucharist to the exclusion or at least the oversight of His body. The Churchs
infallible teaching could not be clearer. In the Eucharist is present the whole
Christ, humanity and divinity, body and soul. Everything which makes Christ,
Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament.
As Jesus told the crowd, Amen, Amen, I say
to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood you
shall not have life in you (John 6:54).
As Catholics we believe that Jesus Christ is
present on earth in the fullness of His humanity. Unless this were true, there
could be no adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There could be no Sacrifice
of the Mass, and no Holy Communion.
All of this we owe to the Blessed Virgin Mary
once she agreed to conceive the Incarnate Son of God and give Him birth at Bethlehem.
Alliance of Two Hearts
In Sacred Scripture, the human heart means many
things, but it especially means selfless love.
When we speak of the hearts of Jesus and Mary,
we mean the two loves of Jesus and Mary.
On Jesus side, His love is that of the living
God whose very definition is love. This infinite love, who is God, became man.
In other words, Jesus is Love Incarnate. Moreover, Incarnate Love not only became
man but remains man in heaven at the right hand of His heavenly Father and on
earth in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. After all, the Eucharist is
Jesus Christ. And heaven is the Holy Eucharist unveiled and enjoyed for all
On Marys side, the Immaculate Heart is her
sinless love as the virginal Mother of Christ. Her Immaculate Heart is a symbol
of her selfless love as spiritual Mother of the human race.
Our special focus here is on the alliance of
these two hearts. As an alliance, we may say it began when the Second Person
of the Holy Trinity took on our human nature.
At that moment, the God who is God existed from
all eternity began to exist as man in the womb of His Mother Mary.
Except for the heart that Mary had, she could
not have conceived her Son or given Him His heart of flesh. The Heart of Jesus,
we may say, began in the Heart of Mary.
It was, therefore, from the first moment an
exchange of hearts. Moreover, it was not only an exchange of bodily hearts,
Mary giving Jesus His heart of flesh. It was also an exchange of spiritual hearts
or loves between Mary and Jesus. He gave His Mother the grace to enable her
to love Him whole-heartedly. She gave Him the fullness of her maternal
affection as only one who was full of grace could provide.
That was only the beginning of the alliance
of the two hearts.
At the Visitation, Our Ladys greeting of Elizabeth
also sanctified the yet unborn John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth.
After all, an alliance is a partnership. In
this case, it was the partnership of Jesus and Mary. He, as the Source of all
grace was being carried in Marys womb. She, as the Mother of Divine Grace,
was the channel from Jesus to John, to sanctify John just because she greeted
her kinswoman at the Visitation in a town of Judah. The Church commonly believes
that John the Baptist, though not conceived without sin was born without sin.
Marys Son so loved His Mother that at the sound of her voice He cleansed the
soul of John the Baptist months before he was born.
In Bethlehem, the alliance between the hearts
of Jesus and Mary literally opened the heavens. When he was born in the stable,
by His divine power He sent His angels to the shepherds to announce His birth.
Thus began what has been going on ever since,
and will continue to the end of time: The alliance between the hearts of Jesus
and Mary in proclaiming The Good News of salvation to a fallen human race.
Mary was the first evangelist of her divine
Son. The moment she gave Him birth, the angels appeared from heaven to proclaim
that the Savior of the world was born. All she had to do was show her new-born
Child to the shepherds, and they believed. They in turn told others, who in
turn told others, who in turn told us. Every Christian believer, including ourselves,
traces his faith to the faith of Mary who inspired the faith of the shepherds
who passed on their faith over the centuries, even to us, two thousand years
since that first morning in the stable in the City of David.
It was that alliance born of love, between Jesus
and Mary that has generated every believer in Christ in the last two millennia.
In the Temple at the Presentation, it was again
the alliance of hearts, of Jesus and Mary that revealed what the children of
Mary and the followers of Christ are to expect. Simeon told our Lady, This
Child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a
sign that shall be contradicted. And your own soul or heart a sword shall
pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Let us be sure we listen to what we are hearing.
Simeon told Mary that her Son would be the occasion for the fall and
for the rise of many. Ever since Calvary, when His enemies crucified Him, Marys
Son has indeed been the cause for the rise and sanctification of many. But let
us hear the rest: also for the fall, or the condemnation of many.
Christ has had friends; but also his enemies
from the beginning. The Herods, and Pharisees, and Scribes, and Judases, and
Pilates who condemned Jesus in the first century have continued to condemn Him
ever since. The Mother of Jesus has also been the compassionate Mother of Sorrows.
Her alliance with Jesus is an alliance of patience and mercy for sinners who
continue to hate her divine Son even as they rejected and crucified Him on the
first Good Friday of Christian history.
When Mary found her Son among the doctors of
the law in the temple at the age of twelve, she was deeply pained by what He
had done. Yet so far from apologizing as you might expect to His mother, He
told her that His first duty was to be about His Fathers business.
Jesus professed His divinity even though He
knew this would hurt His mother. His real Father was not Joseph, but the First
Person of the Trinity; but Jesus knew that His mothers love for Him would not
waver because she did not fully understand.
Part of the price of love is suffering and faith
without comprehending the reason for the suffering. After all, the alliance
of the hearts of Jesus and Mary was not - and is not an alliance of equality.
Jesus is God; Mary is His creature. Jesus sets down the conditions for loving
Him; we should not expect Him to explain all the reasons why, even to His Mother
whom He loved so dearly.
Building the Family on the Alliance of the Two Hearts
All that we have seen so far was preliminary
to what we are to explain now. What do we intend to explain? That the human
family, especially the modern family in the Western World must either rebuild
its faith on the hearts of Jesus and Mary or disappear from human history.
We are saying an awful lot, and that word awful
is spelled awe-ful. It is awesome to predict what will happen to the once sound
and stable family in Euro-America unless we Euro-Americans recover or restore
our faith in the loving hearts of Jesus and Mary.
- It tells us
that only a believing Christian family can resist the seduction of the paganized
world that is inspired by the devil to destroy family life.
- This faith
tells us that only the grace that comes from faith in Jesus and Mary can cope
with the powers of evil unleashed by our media of social communication.
- This faith
tells us there is no alternative: Either believe in the love of Jesus and Mary
or be swept out of existence by the deluge of global selfishness that God has
permitted to flood the modern world.
We press our question: Can we be more specific?
Yes, painfully specific.
The heart of Jesus, on earth in His human body
at the marriage feast of Cana, listened to His mother asking her Son to work
the miracle of changing water into wine.
So close was the alliance between these two
hearts that Mary had only to tell Jesus about the guests at the wedding They
have no wine.
That was enough. Immediately she went to tell
the stewards to, Do whatever He tells you. They obeyed and filled six huge
jars full of water, and the water was instantly changed into wine.
Here we have Marys own formula for the family
in our day, as in her day, Do whatever my Son tells you. He will work the
miracle of changing not only water in stone-jars into wine, but hearts of stone
into hearts of love.
What must we do? We must practice heroic charity
in our own lives. We must pray especially to Our Lord in the Eucharist, to convert
these hearts of stone into hearts of Christian Charity. And we must re-evangelize
a paganized Western society to return to its faith in Jesus and Mary.
Practice Heroic Charity. As we read Our Lords discourse at the Last Supper,
we are struck by His emphasis on
- the love we should have for one another;
- the love that is modeled on His own love for us;
- the love that that very night He would begin to reveal, by undergoing His passion out of love for us.
This selfless love is a humanly impossible love.
Only God could make the demand for this depth of love, because only God could
give us the strength to practice this love.
Where, over the twenty centuries since Holy
Thursday night, where has this selfless love been most demanded of Christs
followers? Where over these same centuries has it been practiced so heroically
that whole nations have embraced the true faith because they were inspired by
this miracle of charity? Where? In the believing Christian and I mean truly
I never tire repeating that in the early Church
Christians were called the anima mundi, the soul of the world. It was
believing and heroically loving Christian families that gave the life of the
Spirit to the world in which they lived.
It is the same Christians today, faithful to
Christ and His Church, who are the soul of the world as we enter the twenty
first century. Their heroic love as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers
and children inspired by Jesus and Mary, will bring back the family that is
being wiped out by self adoring people in what were once Christian countries
of Europe and America.
Prayer Especially to Our Lord in the Eucharist. It is not
commonly known that the early Christians assisted at Mass and received Holy
Communion every day. They had to! Otherwise they would not have had the courage
they needed to die a martyrs death or live a martyrs life.
All the pious exhortations I could make would
be wasted if I did not strongly urge you to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion
if at all possible every day.
I would add an urgent recommendation to spend
some time everyday praying to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus is the Holy Eucharist with the fullness
of His divinity and humanity and therefore with His Sacred Heart. Except for
Mary, He would not have His humanity, nor His Sacred Heart. We may therefore
say, The Heart of Jesus is the heart that He received from His mother Mary.
She is now with Him the Eternal High Priest ever interceding for us at the throne
of His heavenly Father.
Does the restoration of the Christian family
require a miracle? Indeed, a series of miracles. But it is the same identical
Jesus really present in the Holy Eucharist who performed the wonders narrated
by the Evangelists. Christ is ready, as He said, to work even greater miracles,
like the restoration of family life, if only we believe.
Re-evangelize a Paganized Western Society. We have no choice. As the Christian faith goes so goes
All of us, bishops and priests, deacons and
religious have the duty to re-evangelize.
But the special responsibility for this missionary
work lies with the laity, as our modern popes never tire repeating.
It is especially you fathers and mothers, and
you children who will become adults whose duty it is to proclaim Jesus and Mary
to an unbelieving world.
If you do, and in the measure that you do, you
will change the present course of history.
The hearts of Jesus and Mary are the models
you must imitate. Jesus loved His mother so deeply that on the cross He entrusted
to her motherly care all of mankind. Mary loved her Son so deeply that she was
splattered with His blood as He was bleeding to death on Calvary.
The hearts of Jesus and Mary are also your hope
beyond time into eternity. After all, the alliance of these two hearts continues
now in heaven. They are cooperating, He is our Savior and she is our co-mediatrix
in obtaining the light and strength we need
- to preserve the family where it is still strong;
- to strengthen the family where it is still weak;
- to resurrect the family where it has died.
But we must do our share. We must become part
of the alliance of three hearts: of Jesus and Mary and our own heart united
with theirs, here on earth by faith in anticipation of our union with them in
the heavenly family of the Holy Trinity.
Most Holy hearts of Jesus and Mary, you are
united in the blessed alliance that began at the Annunciation and will continue
into endless eternity.
We beg you to unite our hearts as families here
on earth so that we may all be re-united in heaven with You, never again to
be separated from each other or from You.
But we need your grace, dear Jesus, and your
intercession, dear Mary, to rise above our human weakness, and thus give witness
to the world that love comes from God and will never end. Amen.
Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica