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“God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart..”

– Our Lady at Fatima, 1917

I have often heard Catholics say that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is something they can take or leave – but not something they necessarily need to have.

In one sense, this is true; God always allows us free will and will not trample on our ability to choose, regardless of the matter at hand or the consquences of the choices we might make. Such is the case regarding devotion to the Mother of God – we can choose to live out such a devotion, or not. We have that choice.

But in another sense, God has made it fairly clear that He desires that we do have such a devotion – the Lord came to us through the Blessed Virgin, after all, and this is most certainly a very prominent part of God’s plan for humanity. The Lord could have come to us in any way He chose – yet He came through Mary. God does nothing without a very good reason. And She is mentioned so often, at all the crucial points of the Scriptures – Her place there clearly stated for us. It’s pretty evident, then, that She is important.

We have the history of the Church herself – from it’s earliest days, the Church has had Mary very close to the centre but never in such a way that She obscures the place of the Lord Himself. And over the centuries, the theology of the Church has expressed increasingly clearly what the role of Mary is in the life of the Christian and of the Church itself. Along the way, the Saints have consistently been devoted to the Mother of the Lord and recommended Her to us.

Appearing at Fatima and revealing the purpose of Her visits there, the Blessed Virgin said – “God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart”. Note carefully those first two words – ‘God wishes’. The place of the Blessed Virgin, at Fatima as in the entirety of the history of salvation, is at the express will of God. He has given us this most heavenly Mother and He desires that we come to Her. She has a very singular place in the economy of salvation, a place occupied by no other – and She has duties towards us (given by Her Son upon the Cross), as much as we have duties toward Her.

Perhaps today, we might take a moment just to say ‘thank you’ to the Lord, for this gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary and for Her presence in our lives; and to ask for the grace of a true devotion toward Her in all things, that She might lead us ever closer to Her Son.

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