I remember one time a young woman asked me how old I was, and when I replied, she exclaimed, “Oh, how lucky! You grew up in the ‘80s!” I was a little taken aback. She was referring to the music I grew up with as a regular American child in that bygone era. I guess she really loved music from the ‘80s. Of course, we know the famous Latin saying, De gustibus non disputandum est, meaning more literally, “Regarding tastes, there can be no disputes,” but rendered usually as “There is no arguing with taste” or “There is no accounting for taste.” Growing up, I guess I did like a lot of the music I heard. One current tv series based in the period of my childhood has exposed many younger Americans to that music catalog, and led to a bit of a musical revival and reconsideration, especially in comparison to the darker “Grunge” era that followed in the 1990s.
But my word, there was also some terrible schlock. It’s perfectly human to tend to forget the bad music and only focus on the good stuff. That’s the way music becomes “timeless.” Nobody remembers 90% of the music from any era. There were even more than the handful of Classical composers I tend to listen to on the radio station when I drive.
One thing that a lot of secular music with lyrics seems to express, regardless of the era, is the theme of “two hearts beating as one.” This speaks to a human desire to seek another and be so compatible with the other, that it truly does feel as if there were “two hearts beating as one,” that is, two people who think and act alike, perfectly in tune with each other. The dream is always to find that special someone, the “soulmate,” and live happily ever after, as sometimes you see some older married couple still holding hands, and still very much in love.
Of course, people don’t tend to write songs about all the hard work in the middle, from the wedding to the grave, that marriage entails, that even those sweet old couples had to go through in reaching that point that so many people are so envious of. We just didn’t see that hard work, for the most part.
And that very human desire, as poetic or as trite as it may sound to us, is ingrained in us. The bitter man who rejects that kind of closeness and intimacy is often just lashing out from a place of pain for not having that intimacy. Scripture could very well be summarized as a love story between God and His people, where in the honeymoon stage, He made man in His image, male and female He created them, and He saw some of His own goodness in man, and so He was pleased and declared it good. But as close as God was to Adam, this was not enough. By his human nature, Adam longed for someone more like himself to likewise share his joy, and so God created Eve. Genesis implies that their relationship with God before the Fall was very close. God would even walk with them in the Garden (see Genesis 3). And then, sin ruptured both relationships, between the Man and the Woman, and between them and God. Discord entered Paradise, and the Man and the Woman felt shame from their now sin-wounded nature. Genesis 3:8 speaks of God still looking for them, not because He “lost” them, but because He knew that they were lost without Him. The phrase there is that He looked for them “in the breezy time of the day,” literally, “the wind of the day,” which probably meant sunset. It truly was the sunset, not in the sense of the sunset years of a couple in love, but the sunset of their relationship as it was meant to be.
And then God does something that is puzzling to many, but that I find wonderful: He asks Adam, “Where are you?”
God knows perfectly well where Adam is. When God asks you a question in Scripture, it’s not for Him to gain knowledge, but it’s often to make the person being asked the question to come to a realization. I imagine it’s much like our parents asking us, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Oh, they knew exactly what we were doing. In a similar manner, God wants Adam to realize just what he had done.
When we sin, we are in a way breaking that same harmony, that same intimacy. The call to repentance and conversion begins with God asking us, “Where are you?” much in the way He asked Adam, as if to say, “Where are you? Why is there a rupture between us? Come back, and let us set things aright.”
And here is where we arrive at the wonder of the Immaculate Heart. It is little wonder that the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are so often depicted together. Those two are truly the “two hearts that beat as one.” Her will is to do the will of her Son. The Son’s will is to do the will of the Father. Through His human nature, then, Jesus Christ re-establishes that harmony and spiritual intimacy between the Woman, Man, and God.
Our Lord teaches us in the Beatitudes,
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”
She is most blessed, because she is most pure, and she is most pure, because she seeks the will of God above all things, and the end for us of the will of God is to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and our neighbor as ourself.
But we ignore one simple fact, and this I believe, although you are free to disagree with me, that it still takes hard work in this life, even for the Blessed Virgin Mary, to keep that relationship strong with God. Look at all the hard work it took from God’s perspective – we see it on the Cross every day.
O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, teach us to love your Son as you did, but teach us also to put in the hard work that love, true Love, requires.