Devotion to the Sacred Heart: Truth in Charity in Troubled Times

The designs of His Heart are from age to age, to rescue their souls from death, and to keep them alive in famine (Ps. 32 – Entrance Antiphon). ⧾

Having celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi which commemorates the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, we rejoice today in the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, His Eucharistic Heart, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and of whose fullness we have all received. Our Lord has revealed to us the truth that liberates and He beckons all who follow Him to His Sacred Heart, burning furnace of charity: ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Mt. 11:28-30). Devotion to Our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart, source of all consolation, has as its goal the conformity of our own heart and mind to the Heart of the Saviour; such that we can assert with the Apostle Paul that we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

In these troubled times, prominent, though dissonant, voices in the Church are attempting to associate this devotion to ideologies that negate the moral law in the name of love or charity. This is in no way acceptable or even remotely possible, because truth and charity can never be at odds. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross observed that we must not accept anything as truth if it lacks love and anything as love if it lacks truth. Integrating truth and love in theory and in practice is not without its challenges, most especially in our youth when the passions of idealism can sometimes overwhelm us; and without the temperate and moderating influence of wisdom we risk falling into error. We must be vigilant lest ideology be given dominance over practicality – over the truth that reality never betrays. Most ideologues are self-deceived; and those who follow them fare no better. Therefore, we place our trust in the Heart of Our Lord, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand’ (Jn. 10:27-28).

If we wish to conform our hearts and minds to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, then we must follow the example of the saints who most faithfully practised this devotion in a spirit of adoration, imitation and reparation. Glib and fatuous assertions about God’s love no matter what we do, are an affront to the Heart of Our Saviour, abyss of all virtues and victim for our sins. In a spirit of profound adoration we must do all that we can to assert the truth that the Heart of Our Saviour is indeed Sacred for in Him dwells all the fullness of the divinity, substantially united to the Word of God and therefore, the tabernacle of the Most High. We must recover and yes, restore reverence in our churches so that Our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart may truly be even for us poor sinners, delight of all the saints. This is especially needed today as we seek to undo the liturgical abuses that have caused so many to falter and even fall away from the practice of the faith.

A profound spirit of the imitation of Christ is also an essential aspect of the devotion to the Heart of Our Saviour, fount of life and holiness and rich to all who call upon Him; for a disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught, will be like his teacher (Lk. 6:40). Fidelity to prayer and to the work that Providence has allotted us in a spirit of obedience enables us to advance along the path of devout humility that Our Lord Himself became for us. Moreover, in paying Him the homage of our devotion, we offer Him worthy reparation. This is a concept which, owing to a variety of factors and currents, is now foreign to most Catholics. The very concept of salvation, however, affirms the truth of our restoration in Christ. Those who invoke the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and are enriched by the love of the Saviour are so inspired to love more – despite their own poverty, our poverty; and in so doing, we can make up (repair) for those who love too little or even betray love. This is how we stand before God for all, and so exercise a priestly function in keeping with our share in the life and mission of Christ – Priest, Prophet and King.

As a consequence, there develops in those who practise this devotion a profound love for sinners – that is, for those who knowingly and unknowingly reject God’s love. Those who endeavour to have the mind of Christ and to conform their own hearts the Heart of the Saviour arrive at the conviction that in receiving an overflowing measure from that fount of heavenly gifts they too become the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. John Vianney, the patron of priests said that the priesthood is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. All those who practise this devotion can no less also be this very same love, a source of strength and consolation, rescuing those in danger of spiritual death and spiritual famine in a time of rebellion and confusion such as ours. May our celebration of this beautiful Feast deepen our love of God and make us generous in our prayer and penance for the conversion of poor sinners. May we grow in our conviction and understanding that the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is for all who humbly come to Him seeking salvation, truly the house of God and gate of heaven.