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Ordinary Time: June 8th

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

MASS READINGS

June 08, 2013 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

Grant, Lord God, that we, your servants, may rejoice in unfailing health of mind and body, and, through the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, may we be set free from present sorrow and come to enjoy eternal happiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Old Calendar: St. Francis Caracciolo, Confessor

In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior's Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today's feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue" (Decree of May 4, 1944).

Historically today is the feast of St. John Francis Regis, who was ordained into the Society of Jesus in 1630. He was gifted with a marvelous talent for missions, he labored for the conversion of the Huguenots, assisted the needy, and aided in the rescue of wayward women. Also the historical feast of St. Benno of Meissen who labored to convert the Slavs, established numerous religious edifices, and is said to have founded the cathedral of Meissen.


Immaculate Heart of Mary
The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The Gospel itself invited this attention with exquisite discretion and delicacy. What was first excited was compassion for the Virgin Mother. It was, so to speak, at the foot of the Cross that the Christian heart first made the acquaintance of the Heart of Mary. Simeon's prophecy paved the way and furnished the devotion with one of its favourite formulae and most popular representations: the heart pierced with a sword. But Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; "she cooperated through charity", as St. Augustine says, "in the work of our redemption".

It is only in the twelfth, or towards the end of the eleventh century, that slight indications of a regular devotion are perceived in a sermon by St. Bernard (De duodecim stellis).

Stronger evidences are discernible in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, usually attributed either to St. Anselm of Lucca (d. 1080) or St. Bernard; and also in the large book De laudibus B. Mariae Virginis (Douai, 1625) by Richard de Saint-Laurent.

In St. Mechtilde (d. 1298) and St. Gertrude (d. 1302) the devotion had two earnest adherents. A little earlier it had been included by St. Thomas Becket in the devotion to the joys and sorrows of Mary, by Blessed Hermann (d.1245), one of the first spiritual children of St. Dominic, in his other devotions to Mary, and somewhat later it appeared in St. Bridget's Book of Revelations.

St. Ambrose perceived in her the model of a virginal soul. St. Bernardine of Siena (d.1444) was more absorbed in the contemplation of the virginal heart, and it is from him that the Church has borrowed the lessons of the Second Nocturn for the feast of the Heart of Mary. St. Francis de Sales speaks of the perfections of this heart, the model of love for God, and dedicated to it his Theotimus.

In the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, ascetic authors dwelt upon this devotion at greater length. It was, however, reserved to St. Jean Eudes (d. 1681) to propagate the devotion, to make it public, and to have a feast celebrated in honor of the Heart of Mary, first at Autun in 1648 and afterwards in a number of French dioceses.

In 1799 Pius VI, then in captivity at Florence, granted the Bishop of Palermo the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary for some of the churches in his diocese. In 1805 Pius VII made a new concession, thanks to which the feast was soon widely observed. Such was the existing condition when a twofold movement, started in Paris, gave fresh impetus to the devotion. The two factors of this movement were first of all the revelation of the "miraculous medal" in 1830 and all the prodigies that followed, and then the establishment at Notre-Dame-des-Victoires of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, which spread rapidly throughout the world and was the source of numberless graces. On 21 July 1855, the Congregation of Rites finally approved the Office and Mass of the Most Pure Heart of Mary without, however, imposing them upon the Universal Church.

Excerpted from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913 edition.

Things to Do:


St. Francis Caracciolo
Francis founded the Order of Minor Clerks Regular with St. John Augustine Adorno. The congregation's apostolate was preaching missions and performing diverse works of charity. In the course of time he became known as "Venerable Father, the Preacher of the Love of God," a title merited for promoting devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and introducing nocturnal adoration in his community. He had a childlike love for the Blessed Virgin; his greatest joy was to be of service to his neighbor. God endowed him with the gift of prophecy and the discernment of spirits.

At the age of forty-four, while praying one day in the church at Loretto, he recognized that his end was near. Immediately he went to the monastery of Agnona in the Abruzzi, and exclaimed as he entered, "This is my final resting place." Shortly after, he was stricken with fever, received the last sacraments with deepest fervor, and quietly fell asleep in the Lord.

The Church selects our saint's zeal for prayer and his spirit of penance for emphasis in today's Collect, and proposes these two virtues for imitation. "In imitating him grant that we may make such progress that we may pray without ceasing and constantly have our bodies under subjection." This is not an easy task; the liturgy, therefore, provides the needed assistance, the example of St. Francis, and the holy Eucharist.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Naples, Italy; Italian cooks.

Things to Do:

  • St. Francis Caracciolo was much sought after as a confessor while his exhortations brought to repentance numerous public sinners, and he fortified the wavering and the despondent by personal encouragement and the recommendation of the two great Catholic devotions, those to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. Read this longer biography to find out more details about his holiness.

  • Cook up some Neapolitan (from Naples) type of Italian cooking, such as the Insalata di Rinforzo, as St. Francis is the patron of Italian cooks. He came from a wealthy and powerful family, born in the family castle at Villa Santa Maria in the Abruzzi province of Italy. As a youth he enjoyed hunting and other sports, often entertaining large hunting parties. These parties would have wonderful dinners prepared by the palace chefs. These chefs were so good that they accompanied the family to Naples during the winter season to learn the Naples (Neapolitan) cuisine as well as the Abruzzese.