Science has a way of affirming and elucidating religious truth. Take the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, in the Holy Eucharist. In at least three places—Lanciano, Italy in the 8th century; Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1996; and Legnica, Poland in 2013—a consecrated host has metamorphosed into what seemed like bloody flesh.
In all three miracles, scientific testing confirmed that the substances into which the host transformed was human flesh and blood: heart tissue, to be exact, from a person who suffered great stress. The Buenos Aires tests, which were done when Pope Francis was an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese, also found that based on DNA analysis, the tissue came from a Middle Eastern man.
Besides miracles, theological tenets may also gain from scientific principles. The Church preaches that the Immaculate Heart of Mary has the closest affinity to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, reflecting the divine charity and mercy of Christ in her human love.
Genetics would support that teaching. With no human father, DNA would entirely come from the Blessed Virgin, but with the Y-chromosome for male gender replacing the X-chromosome, doctrinally by the act of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, the phrase Twin Hearts of Jesus and Mary is not just devotionally, but genetically true. Like twins, our Lord and our Lady have the nearly identical DNA, except for the gender gene.
To Jesus through Mary
For devotees of the Immaculate Heart, including the late Fatima visionary Lucia dos Santos (1908-2005), science isn’t needed to affirm their belief and practice in seeking Jesus’ will, grace and mercy through the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin, in whose womb His Sacred Heart took form, and by whose upbringing and example He learned human feelings and love.
“The Immaculate Heart of Mary is my refuge, especially in the most difficult hours,” Sister Lucia said in one of her many spiritual writings. “There I am always secure. It is the heart of the best of mothers. It is always attentive, and it watches over the least of her children.”
“How this certainty encourages and strengthens me!” the Carmelite nun continues. “In her I find strength and consolation. This Immaculate Heart is the channel by which God makes the multitude of His graces pour into my soul.”
This devotion to Jesus through Mary wasn’t just the fruit of Lucia’s spiritual musings, or even the Blessed Virgin’s instruction, but our Lord’s own instruction.
“Our Lord told me a few days ago,” Lucia recounted, “ ‘I desire very ardently the propagation of the cult and the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because this Heart is the magnet that draws souls to me, … the inexhaustible well causing the living water of My mercy to pour over all the earth.’ ”
Living our devotion to Mary
That sounds simple enough, many would-be devotees may say. We pray to Mary, and that opens the floodgates to Jesus’ mercy.
Not so fast. In fact, devotion demands far more than rote prayer, as Sister Lucia showed in her life and sacrifices, and expounded in “Fatima: A Spiritual Light for Our Time,” Volume 2, by Fr. Karl Stehlin of the traditional religious order, Society of Saint Pius X.
Fr. Stehlin cites elements of Sister Lucia’s devotion to the Immaculate Heart. First, it was her constant refuge in every moment and trial, as the vessel by which God’s grace gushed into her.
Quite simply, by turning to the Immaculate Heart for daily grace and aid in tribulation, one has no room to rely on the gods of this world.
Thus, Lucia’s undivided and unrelenting reliance on the Immaculate Heart reflects her total faith, hope and love for God, through Mary.
Compare that with modern man’s daily dependence on money, technology, and the mechanisms of law and society for every need and distress, and one can see why there is little devotion to God and His saints in our time.
Sacrifice is another element of Lucia’s devotion to the Immaculate Heart: she patiently bore every burden and pain, and offered all to Mary, especially her pains, difficulties, and frustrations in safeguarding and spreading the truths and messages of Fatima.
In believing and propagating her visions, Lucia suffered disdain and estrangement not just from her community, but even from her own family. Her own mother thought she was losing her wits, and she eventually lived away from Fatima for decades.
But with the Immaculate Heart as her companion and consolation, she entered the strict order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and never wavered in her witness to Fatima, declaring: “Even if they kill me, I cannot lie.”
Again, the comparison with our age shows why God is largely missing 100 years after the Fatima apparitions. Just wonder: To what do people today devote time, toil, treasure, tribulation, and even the termination of life?
Simplicity, humility and obedience
The final element of Sister Lucia’s devotion is one that may be missed even by those with great faith in the Immaculate Heart, and offer their whole lives to her: imbuing their souls and lives with Mary’s simplicity, humility and obedience.
True and complete devotion to the Immaculate Heart means supplanting one’s own heart with Mary’s, so that at every moment, one would think, feel and act as she would.
Lucia lived the simple life of a convent nun doing daily chores, even as she scribbled her Fatima accounts and messages with whatever paper and writing instruments she could find.
In the face of arrogant detractors disparaging her visions, she never let righteous pride prod her to unleash sharp rebukes, but simply shared her recollections in truth and love.
And while she might have aspired to a position of authority, with the weight of her spiritual revelations, Lucia remained a Carmelite nun living by the rule of her superiors.
May our devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary bring us closer to her and her Son every day. Amen.