(Australia, the antipodean Land Down Under, is under a severe lockdown, with people arrested for surfing all alone, and, what is far worse, no sacramental participation, not least the Eucharist on this Holy Thursday. So perhaps this meditation will help life their, and our, spirits in this time of isolation. For the Heart of Jesus is always close by. Editor)
On December 27, 1673, Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (†1690)“My Divine Heart is so passionately inflamed with love… that, not being able any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its ardent charity, It must let them spread abroad through your means, and manifest Itself to man, that they may be enriched with Its precious treasures which I unfold to you, and which contain the sanctifying and salutary graces that are necessary to hold them back from the abyss of ruin.” Jesus requested the practice of attending mass, going to confession, and receiving him in the Eucharist on the first Friday of 9 consecutive months. (Would that we still could! Editor)
Nowadays many Catholics seem to unjustifiably belittle the Veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They dismiss the images of Our Lord literally pointing to His bleeding heart as a purely private devotional painting, considered appropriate to old ladies. In twentieth century Australia, the Sacred Heart was well established as an aspect of Catholic culture, but in a postmodern, secular and multicultural society its significance declines steadily. Notwithstanding this, especially in times of distress, tribulation and suffering, when all ordinary means appear insufficient, it may be necessary to resort to something exceptional, far more distinguished. Perhaps, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is, after all, deeply rooted in the life of Christian people, will manifest its ultimate power in the struggle against evil. Through Jesus, all things are possible.
St. Pope John Paul II writes the following relevant words in his encyclical Dives in misericordia:
“The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ. In fact, it is precisely this drawing close to Christ in the mystery of his Heart which enables us to dwell on this point – a point in a sense central and also most accessible on the human level – of the revelation of the merciful love of the Father, a revelation which constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man.”
Australia’s first saint, Mary Helen MacKillop (†1909), believed that God’s compassionate love which is embodied in the Sacred Heart would become reality for her Sisters and for the people with whom they shared their lives.
On June 22, 2006 the Lord appeared to Polish mystic Alicja Lenczewska(†2012 ) indicating the quickest route to the unity of the whole humanity. ”Your harmony with brothers – harmony between people – the return to original harmony is possible in my wounds, in my Heart opened with the sword of sorrow”.
And as she continues:
“Today, I saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the sky, in the midst of a great brilliance. The rays were issuing from the Wound and spreading out over the entire world.” (The Diary of St. Faustina, 1796)
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is profoundly Eucharistic. At Mass, the faithful are (in normal circumstances, which our current ones most certainly are not, Editor) nourished at the Paschal banquet of our Redeemer’s Body and Blood. “My flesh is real food and my blood is a real drink”. (John 6:55).
The Eucharistic miracle of Buenos Aires (to take but one example amongst many) is an extraordinary sign of the times. Through it Jesus desires to arouse in us a lively faith in His real presence in the Eucharist. In March 2004, in order to remove any doubts concerning the Eucharist miracle of Buenos Aires, two Australians, journalist Mike Willesee and lawyer Ron Tesoriero consulted the leading expert in cardiac pathology and forensic medicine, Professor Frederick Zugibe of Columbia University. It must be stressed that he did not know that the sample was from a Consecrated host. After studying it, he said “The sample you brought me is a heart muscle, a myocardium, more precisely the left ventricle.” Finally the Professor excitedly inquired ”You have to explain one thing to me, if this sample came from a person who was dead, then how could it be that as I was examining it the cells of the sample were moving and beating? If this heart comes from someone who died in 1996, how can it still be alive?” This means that eating a consecrated host we actually touch the living Heart of Jesus.
One of the mystics and stigmatics of the twentieth century whose life was maintained by the Eucharist, was Venerable Marthe Robin (†1981). Notably, Marthe ate nothing but the Eucharist for over 50 years. The evidence of this phenomenon was corroborated by independent doctors. In addition, from 1930 on, she lay paralyzed and never slept. Repeatedly the host, entering into her, instantly disappeared without any normal ingestion. However, it was not the substance of the host that fed her, as she revealed, because she only received holy communion once a week. In 1958 she gave a reason for this fact to the French philosopher Jean Guitton: “This is my only food. Someone moistens my mouth, but I cannot swallow. The host gives me a physical impression of food. Given that Jesus is my entire body, it is He who nourishes me. It’s like a resurrection.”
It appears that faith or its absence can be held accountable for the vicissitudes of history. In June, 1689, in order to avoid that the eldest daughter of the Church – France is totally devastated by the Revolution, secularization of the nineteenth and gradual Islamisation of the twenty-first-century, Jesus commanded King Louis IV to consecrate himself and the country to His Sacred Heart.
“Make it known to the eldest son of my Sacred Heart, that as his temporal birth was obtained by devotion to the merits of My Holy Childhood, so he will get his birth to eternal glory by the consecration which he will make of himself to my adorable Heart, which means his triumph, and through it, to the great of the earth. I want My Heart to reign in his palace, to be painted on his standard and engraved in his arms, to make him victorious over all his enemies, and by placing at his feet these proud foes, to make him victorious over all enemies of the Holy Church.”
Unfortunately, the Sun King, turned down flatly the request from heaven. For 100 years, the next kings of France delayed performing this consecration which simply meant jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. The King’s grandson, Louis XVI, in 1791 promised to make it while imprisoned, but he had no power to put that promise into effect. Four years later he was executed, likewise thousands of bishops, priests, religious and lay Catholics who were killed by the guillotine during the “Reign of Terror.”
In 1938, in a mystical vision, the Servant of God Rozalia Celak (†1944), heard from the heavenly messenger “My child! God will severely punish people for sins and crimes they committed in the whole world. God’s justice cannot endure those transgressions any longer. Only countries will be spared where Christ reigns” The enthronement of Christ could be seen as a natural continuation of the Sacred Heart’s enthronement. The reign of Christ the King – that is not a democracy but divine order in the world.
‘Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool (Isaiah 1: 18). [i] The Savior’s Heart wants us to return to the Father’s love, which is the source of every authentic love: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).
[i] The list of Australian cardinal sins is a long dozen, some of them I managed to describe in the essay Quo vadis, Australia. For the sake of truth I should also mention another sort of misdeed that is often brushed aside by Catholic websites. Between 1910-1970, many part-Aboriginal children in difficult circumstances were forcibly removed from their families as a result of various government policies. Many Australian politicians regard those practices as unacceptably authoritarian, to say nothing of being blandly racist. What is becoming perfectly evident is the hypocritical way in which the Commonwealth of Australia cares about its own children, regardless of color, gender or age. On average, over 16 children are removed every day from their natural family by Australia’s child protection workers, most commonly due to cases of abuse, neglect or family violence. This grew from 7.4 per 1,000 children at 30 June 2011 to 8.7 per 1,000 children at 30 June 2017. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2017 alone there were 47,915 children living in out-of-home care. The ocean of suffering is immense, only God knows their misery.