The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Monastic writers used to call Mary Mater monachorum, the “Mother of monks”, and today’s feast explains why. The Gospel says that Mary kept all these things in her heart, an immaculate heart, which is to say, a place where she could hear the word of God, and keep it. A Cistercian monastery is also a place where the monks can return to the immaculateness, the purity, of the Rule of St Benedict, and be a community of those who hear the word of God, and keep it.
On this feast of her Immaculate Heart, Mary shows us that the word of God is not something merely external to us. It is the deepest mystery stored up in our own being, that in which we live, and move, and have our being.
Mary lived entirely for the Fruit of her womb. Even after she gave him birth, she continued to carry him within her by faith. She had only to look into her Immaculate Heart in order to find him.
Yet she also continued to turn her gaze on the Child growing up by her side. Often she did not understand what he meant: when he remained behind in the temple without telling her; and when, as she stood at the foot of the cross, Jesus told her that the fruit of someone else’s womb, John, was to be her son.
Mary always obeyed this word that she recognized as divine, because, by a kind of solemn profession, she had already accepted it in advance. “Let it be done to me according to your word”, she said. “Receive me, O Lord, according to your promise, and I shall live”, says the monk.
Mary let herself be led to areas which she did not understand, and the monk who lives his vows can expect to encounter areas of the monastic life which he will not understand.