August = Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Catholic Church dedicates the month of August to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Immaculate Heart is often venerated together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the devotion we celebrate in June), and with good reason. Just as the Sacred Heart represents Christ's love for mankind, the Immaculate Heart represents the desire of the Blessed Virgin to bring all people to her Son. There is no better example of the Christian life than that offered by Mary.
Immaculate Heart of Mary refers to the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, but, above all, her devotional love of God the Father, her immense love for her son Jesus Christ, and her motherly compassion and love for all mankind. Mary was a first-century Jewish woman of Nazareth, the wife of Joseph, and the mother of Jesus. Both the New Testament and the Quran describe Mary as a virgin. Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit and vowed to forever remain a virgin, Joseph agreed to marry her and accompanied her to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.
The veneration of the Heart of Mary is analogous to the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There are, however, differences in this analogy as devotion to the heart of Jesus is especially directed to the "divine heart" as overflowing with love for humanity. In the devotion to Mary, however, the attraction is the love of her heart for Jesus and for God.
The second difference is the nature of the devotion itself: in the devotion to the Heart of Mary, study and imitation are as important as love. The aim of the devotion is to unite humankind to God through Mary's heart, and this process involves the ideas of consecration and reparation. Many people consecrate themselves to Mary through this devotion in August or on her Feast Day in June.
Gospel of Luke says "Mary kept all things in her heart, that there she might ponder over them." Luke 2:35 recounts the prophecy of Simeon that her heart would be pierced with a sword. This image (the pierced heart) is the most popular representation of the Immaculate Heart. Traditionally, the Immaculate Heart is depicted pierced with seven swords or wounds, in homage to the seven dolors of Mary and roses, usually red or white, wrapped around the heart.
John's Gospel also brings attention to Mary's heart when it speaks of Mary at the foot of the cross during Jesus' crucifixion. Augustine of Hippo says "she cooperated through charity in the work of our redemption". Augustine says that she was more blessed in having Christ in her heart than in giving birth to him.
Devotion to the Heart of Mary began in the Middle Ages. Saint Francis de Sales speaks of the perfections of this heart, the model of love for God. John Eudes (d. 1681) spread the devotion, pushed to make it public, and to have a feast celebrated in honor of the Heart of Mary. However, it was only in 1805 that Pope Pius VII allowed a feast to honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Something that really helped the devotion along was the introduction of the Miraculous Medal by Catherine Laboure in 1830. More than four million Miraculous Medals were distributed throughout the world within four years. Many blessings have been attributed to the wearing of a miraculous medal hence the name but it was originally called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, it is also known as the Medal of Our Lady of Graces.
As a reminder for this devotion, pray the rosary, say the Memorare and if you have not done so already consecrate yourself to Mary and she will take you under her arm like her child and as any mother would she will comfort you, love you and advocate for YOU.