The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus will be observed Friday, June 7, followed the very next day by the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

It’s the perfect time to brush up on the theology behind devotion to what St. John Paul II called “the alliance of the hearts of Jesus and Mary” — and luckily, a local priest has just published a book on the subject.

Fr. Dwight Campbell, S.T.D., J.D., is the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese parishes in Kenosha and an instructor at the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners. His book, “Through the Heart of Mary to the Heart of Jesus,” was recently published by the Friars of the Immaculate.

“What I tried to do in my work was to show how this devotion developed to the heart of Mary, and how from the beginning it was related to the heart of Jesus,” said Fr. Campbell. “That’s very important because the goal of the devotion to the heart of Mary is not the heart of Mary. It’s the heart of Jesus.”

That’s illustrated by the book’s opening lines, taken from a quote attributed to Filipino prelate Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, who said that “the heart of Jesus is the place of arrival. The heart of Mary is the way.”

“Mary’s heart will lead us to the heart of Christ,” said Fr. Campbell. “That’s what I want people to take away from reading this book.”

“Through the Heart of Mary to the Heart of Jesus” is based on Fr. Campbell’s dissertation on the same topic, revised and edited for a wider audience. Fr. Campbell initially completed his dissertation in the mid-2000s for a doctorate in sacred theology at the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio. He chose this topic specifically because he felt there was a dearth of modern scholarship on it.

“I found it to be fascinating,” he said of his research process, which included Sacred Scripture and the works of Church Fathers, the visions of mystics and the writings of learned saints like St. Francis de Sales.

Fr. Campbell also delved into the anthropological foundations for the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.

“Every culture has looked to the heart as the primordial symbol of the human person — what is going on interiorly,” he explained. “Your thinking, your willing, your affections, your emotions, your love — the heart represents all these things. It represents the entirety of the person.”

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is often thought to have begun with the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1670s, said Fr. Campbell, but in actuality it is far more ancient than that. The visions of St. Margaret Mary merely confirmed a devotion rooted in the Crucifixion, when the side of Jesus (and consequently his heart) was pierced by the centurion. In his book, Fr. Campbell explores early Christian devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the writings of St. Justin Martyr and St. Cyprian, following its development through the centuries into the modern era.

The heart of the Blessed Virgin, meanwhile, also has a rich history of devotion that is rooted in Scripture. In Luke 2:19, the apostle writes that “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart,” highlighting that it was within the heart of the Blessed Virgin that these Gospel truths were first discerned, contemplated and safeguarded.

In Luke 2:35, Simeon tells Mary in the temple of Jerusalem that “a sword will pierce your own soul also.” In the early church, this reference to Mary’s “soul” was equated to her heart, said Fr. Campbell, and the prophecy is clearly fulfilled at the foot of Calvary, where Mary endures the unthinkable suffering of watching her son’s Crucifixion.

The first modern work on the heart of Mary, “The Admirable Heart of Mary,” was authored in the 17th century by St. John Eudes. “He considered the hearts of Jesus and Mary to be one heart,” said Fr. Campbell. The alliance is supported by an abundance of private revelation, including the visions of St. Catherine Laboure and the Marian apparitions at Fatima — which gave rise to the First Friday and First Saturday devotions for reparation for offenses against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, respectively.

With this work, Fr. Campbell hopes that more Catholics will understand how inextricably these two devotions are linked, and how necessary they are for the Christian life.

“The heart is the symbol par excellence of Christ’s divine and human love in his interior life. And by analogy, it’s the same with Mary,” explained Fr. Campbell. “This devotion was requested from heaven, and it’s got a basis in the whole Catholic Tradition. I want people to walk away saying, ‘I’ve got to have a devotion to the hearts of Jesus and Mary.’”

Fr. Campbell’s book can be purchased online at Locally, it can be purchased from Holy Family Catholic Bookstore in Pleasant Prairie, the gift shop at the Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill in Hubertus, and T.H. Stemper Co. in Milwaukee.

Holy Family Catholic Bookstore will also host Fr. Campbell for a book signing event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1.

The cover of Fr. Dwight Campbell’s new book features original artwork depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Submitted photo)