Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
After we have contemplated the Holy Eucharist on the Solemn Feast of “Corpus Christi”, a gift crowning all the the gifts of the love of Jesus for men, the Church invites us today to give direct consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His gifts. We may call the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the feast of His “merciful love” (as our dearest St. Therese of the Child Jesus would have it). “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary.
Today’s Liturgy inspired with this thought, reviews the immense benefits we owe to love of Christ and sings a hymn in praise of His love: Cogitationes cordis Ejus (The thoughts of His Heart…), chants the Introit of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “are to all generations: to deliver them from death, to feed them in time of famine” (Ps 32.11,19, DRV). The Heart of Jesus is always in search of souls to save, to free from the snares of sin, to deliver from the dominion of Satan, to wash with His Blood, to feed with His Body. The Heart of Jesus is always living in the Eucharist to satisfy the hunger of all those who long for Him, to welcome and console all those who, disillusioned by the vicissitudes of life, take refuge in Him, seeking peace and refreshment. Jesus Himself is our support on the hard road of life. Take up My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls (Mt 11.29). It is impossible to eliminate sorrow from our life; yet if we live for Jesus we can suffer in peace and find in the Heart of Jesus repose for our weary soul.
The object of Christian devotion to the Sacred Heart is, properly speaking, the physical Heart of Jesus which is worthy of adoration, because it is part of His sacred humanity, hypostatically united to the Eternal Word [hypostatic union: the union of human nature and divine nature in the Person of Our Lord]. However, the ultimate object of this devotion is the love of Jesus, the symbol of which is His Heart. In other words, “beneath the symbolic image of the Heart, we contemplate and venerate our divine Redeemer’s immense charity and generous love” (Pope Pius VI). This is the real meaning of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by which the Church asks us to honor the Heart of Jesus as the visible representation of His invisible love. “Your charity has allowed You to be wounded by the visible blow of the lance,” the Liturgy of today’s Feast sings, “so that we may venerate the wounds of Your invisible love” (Roman Breviary).
Therefore, the principal object of this devotion is the love of Jesus, an uncreated love with which He, as the divine Word, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, loved us from all eternity (I have loved thee with an everlasting love…, Jer. 31.3), and from all eternity willed to become incarnate for our salvation. It is also the created love of charity with which, as Man, He loved us even to the death of the Cross, meriting for us by His love that same charity by which we are enabled to love Him in return. Here we find the most profound significance of devotion to the Sacred Heart. St. Teresa Margaret of the sacred Heart of Jesus had such thorough understanding of this meaning that she made this devotion the center of her life. The process of her canonization says that the Saint “saw the Heart of Jesus as the center, the source of the love with which the divine Word, in the bosom of the Father, loved us from all eternity, and merited for us in time the power to love Him in return, on earth and in heaven, by our sharing in this love.”
Other devotions to Our Lord have for their object the mysteries or special aspects of His life, as for example, the Incarnation, the hidden life, the Passion. Devotion to the Sacred Heart, on the contrary, has a more general object, the love of Jesus, which constitutes the profound, essential reason for all His mysteries, the love that is the first and only cause of all He has done for us. In this sense, devotion to the Sacred Heart touches, as it were, the mainspring of all the mysteries of the Redeemer, the essential “raison d’etre” of His life, His Person. It is the love which explains the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, the life of the Man-God, His Passion, His Eucharist. We cannot possibly understand the mystery by which the Son of God became Man, died on the Cross to save mankind, and then became their Food, if we do not admit this infinite love which compelled God the Creator, the Most high, to find a way to give Himself entirely for the salvation of His creatures. The Church gives expression to this interpretation: “Amor coegit Te Tuus mortale corpus sumere” (“Thy love has impelled Thee” – or rather, has ‘constrained’ Thee, if we accept the Latin word in its full sense – “to assume a mortal body, so that as the new Adam, Thou wouldst restore what the old Adam had lost,” Hymn, Office of Matins). The hymn continues, now praising the eternal love of the divine Word, now the human love of Jesus; two loves which, in fact, cannot be separated, just as the sacred humanity of Jesus cannot be disassociated from the Eternal Word which assumed it [what the Catholic theology calls the ‘hypostatic union’]. Jesus is both God and Man, hence His love is both divine and human. He loved us and continues to love us as God and as Man. His human, created love is made sublime by the eternal love of the divine Word, or rather, it becomes the very love of the Word Who makes it His own, just as all the sentiments and acts of Christ as Man are raised to a supreme dignity. Thus, His divine love becomes sensible, comprehensible, and tangible to us by means of the manifestations of His human love. It is always the humanity of Jesus which reveals His divinity to us, and just as we know the Son of God through His sacred humanity, so do we know His divine love through the human love of Jesus.
Promises made by Our Lord Jesus Christ to St. Margaret Mary in favour of those who practice devotion to His Sacred Heart:
1. “I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.”
2. “I will establish peace in their families.”
3. “I will console them in their difficulties.”
4. “I will be their secure refuge during life, and especially at death.”
5. “I will shed abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.”
6. “Sinners shall find in My Heart a fountain and boundless ocean of mercy.”
7. “Tepid souls shall become fervent.”
8. “Fervent souls shall rise speedily in great perfection.”
9. “I will bless every house in which the picture of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honoured.”
10. “I will give priests the power of touching the hardest of hearts.”
11. “Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart and they shall never be effaced.”
12. “I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of every month for nine consecutive months, the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die under My displeasure nor without receiving the Sacraments, and My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge at that last hour.”
A blessed Feast to all!