I visited The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal last summer in Paris. Built in 1815, it was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (yesterday’s Feast Day). Fifteen years later, a young novice named Catherine Labouré had three conversations with the Blessed Virgin in the chapel where she was told to create a medal following the instructions she was given. The Miraculous Medal now is worn by millions around the world. On the back of the medal are two hearts: One heart has a crown of thorns, depicting Christ’s Sacred Heart and the other is pieced with a sword, revealing Simeon’s prediction that Mary’s heart would be pierced.
My grandmother had a strong devotion to Mary, her Immaculate Heart and the Miraculous Medal. I returned to the humble chapel on rue du Bac as the Chapel to honour my grandmother and to begin my pilgrimage last summer. I spent a good amount of time praying there, arriving just in time for mass. I sat there, pondering a good number of things, but not for a minute did I have an inkling of what was to come until I left the grounds and noticed this:
The protection of God is always there. I clung to that message for some reason. It became a mantra of sorts. Only later would I comprehend its significance.
Mary’s Immaculate Heart was pierced but she knew that God never left her, even if life events were unclear. Today’s Gospel in the temple shows Mary a glimpse of the worry to come. How many times must she have leaned on the words that God.has.this though in her era it sounded differently, much like it would have for St. Catherine in the statue above. Over the centuries, the face of God shows compassion and mercy to ones who call out, to those whose hearts are being pierced. This message that God is always there protecting us is one I have held tightly these months.
Our hearts may not be immaculate but God wants our hearts to be at peace. En route to Nazareth, Mary must have pondered and treasured the strange occurrences at Jerusalem that year. Jesus now twelve was growing up and the angel visits to both her and Joseph must have wafted in and out of Mary’s memories over that decade and beyond. The sense of foreboding was probably gnawing at her sanity. Her Immaculate Heart knew its share of worry and pain. She had been forewarned. Into each life comes a sword–a layoff, a death of a loved one, an addiction, a failure, a persistent fear, an illness. When our hearts are pierced we have choices to make. We can flee to the protection of God or we can flee into the arms of the Evil One who wants us to abandon our faith. I choose to remain faithful to the One who has this. What about you?
What is piercing your heart these days? Do you believe that the protection of God is always there?