A Heart-Felt Devotion

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It's one of those feast days where the holy thing celebrated is so theologically and spiritually rich, so close to the nuclear core of the faith that, as a writer, it's overwhelming. Where do I begin?

I could talk about the history of the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the Church, tracing it back variously to the efforts of St. John Eudes (1601-1680) and the mystical visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), disseminated especially through her confessor St. Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682).

I could talk about the connections between the Sacred Heart devotion and Divine Mercy.

I could speak of how God is love, and so the Heart of Jesus means the very essence of God, as well as the dwelling place for the Trinity, and how every Christian heart is meant to also become a sacred heart, a heart with room for the Holy Trinity, and therefore for everything and everyone beloved by the Trinity.

I could talk about how the phrase "bleeding heart" is most aptly attached to the Heart of Jesus, and how Christians are meant to pursue and promote "bleeding heart" politics, merciful politics, keeping in the forefront of all politics the dignity, rights, and responsibilities of every human being.

I could talk about how the promises attached to the Sacred Heart devotion are the perfect ingredients for the reform and renewal of the Church today.

I could talk about this, and so much more - for the Sacred Heart of Jesus is inextricably connected with the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the Christian life, as Eucharistic miracle after Eucharistic miracle have confronted science with inexplicable heart tissue, often bearing the signs of intense physical suffering.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the reason we have the tremendous gift of the Holy Eucharist, for it was for love of the world that Jesus took on human flesh in the first place. It was the hypostatic union of His divinity and humanity that made possible the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which the substance of Jesus takes the place of the substance of bread and wine. In the Eucharist, because of the love of the Sacred Heart, we receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. We receive the Sacramentum Caritatis, the Sacrament of Charity, and so are filled with the divine life and love.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the beating center of the life of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The Heart of Jesus is on fire eternally with love and mercy, a love and mercy that demands to be transmitted to the whole of creation. As Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, explains so well in his Consoling the Heart of Jesus, the Lord, in a sense, suffers as a result of our rejection of His love. As Jesus told St. Faustina:

I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me - clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls.

Jesus complained to me in these words, Distrust on the part of souls is tearing at My insides. The distrust of a chosen soul causes Me even greater pain; despite My inexhaustible love for them they do not trust Me. Even My death is not enough for them. Woe to the soul that abuses these [gifts] (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 50).

So open your heart to the Sacred Heart devotion! Open your heart to the will of God, who is Himself Love and Mercy. Reach out to the Sacred Heart with prayer, especially the Divine Mercy devotions. Hang an image of the Sacred Heart in your home. Honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist by praying for priests, and perform works of mercy for your neighbors, thereby consoling the Heart of Jesus.

Happy feast!


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