Heart to Heart
These past two days we have been celebrating the hearts of Jesus and of Mary. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is one of my favourites. Nowadays it seems that the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been archived back to the time of our grandparents or our parents. I remember in school learning to sing 'Sweet heart of Jesus' with great fervour as taught to us by the Sisters of Mercy. Even now when I hear it, I am still somewhat nostalgic. I doubt somehow that these are the songs which my nieces are learning in their school choir for Mass. I also remembered how often we prayed the short prayers to the Sacred Heart in class, in assembly, when we were in trouble or anxious: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you" or "Sweet heart of Jesus, make me love you more and more". In primary school, some of us used to deliver the Sacred Heart Magazine (also known as the Messenger, a Jesuit Publication) to elderly people in our town. My Nana was subscribed to it and part of my childhood summer holidays was spent reading the collection of magazines from the year. Is it any wonder I ended up in the convent!
Fr. William Byrne reminds us that the "devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a human heart that is inflamed with divine love, is a powerful meditation and an important theological bridge that helps us understand who Jesus is and how much he loves us."
I am reposting his five reasons to adore the Sacred Heart as I think they are very insightful:
1. A Sacred Sonogram - Imagine if sonograms had existed at the time of Jesus. Just a little more than a week after the Annunciation when Mary says yes to being the mother of God, we would have seen something amazing on that screen, a little beating heart. That tiny pulse, undetectable to the human ear but resounding in heaven, meant that our God has a heart.
2. What John didn't hear, but the angels did. - At the Last Supper, John the beloved laid his head on Jesus' chest. Jesus knew that Judas, one of his chosen Apostles, was going to betray him. What John did not hear but what echoed in heaven was the sound of a breaking heart. The Sacred Heart is as human as yours and mine, it is a sign of the true humanity of Jesus. Its beat quickened when Jesus laughed with a loved one, and it ached with sorrow when he experienced betrayal. Think how truly his heart feels your joys and sorrows.
3. Blessing not bitterness. - "But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out." (John 19: 33-34) The Sacred Heart of Jesus was wounded and from that wound came blood and water. From his suffering, blessings flowed - the water of Baptism and the blood of the Eucharist. From our pains and hurts, what flows? Grudges, blame and anger or mercy, compassion and forgiveness? Don't wait for suffering to come to turn to Christ on the cross, but begin to pray now that when we are put to the test, blessings and not bitterness will flow from our wounded side.
4. Certain wounds never heal. - When the soldier thrust the lance into Jesus' side, he was already dead. As Thomas learned, those wounds never healed. He was able to feel the marks of the crucifixion and put his hand into Jesus' side. The water and blood, Baptism and Eucharist, have never ceased to flow from the Heart of Christ. His mercy is without end. After you receive Communion at Mass, stay after a few minutes and recall his overwhelming, never-ending generosity. Pray that just as his love flows from the cross into you and me that they may flow from you and me into the world.
5. Like unto Thine. - The Sacred Heart of Jesus, a human heart, opened the gates of heaven for each of us. In Jesus, humanity entered into union with God that could only happen when God became a man. As he took a human heart, he invites us into his divinity.
"To Jesus through Mary" has been an often repeated phrase of devotional writers and preachers. St Louis Marie De Montfort has formulated perhaps the most clear devotion and adoration of Jesus Christ, that is, to love him and gift ourselves to him through Mary, with her spirit, with her Immaculate Heart. In his book, True Devotion to Mary, he shows that proper devotion to the Mother of God only makes one more Christ centred. She always leads us to her Son so we can discover the immensity of His love. St. Augustine also reminds us that to “fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” A heart is like a mirror, it reflects who you are, it's to be handled with care! The one person you can give your heart to without the fear of being broken is God. May you keep seeking the greatest romance ever written!