The Saints and the Sacred Heart

Jan van Eyck wikipedia.org

If the Lord never tires to forgive it is because His heart is never tired from loving us, poor sinners. In fact, God’s love in the heart of Jesus simply imparts to our hearts its inexhaustible love.

 The Sacred Heart of Jesus’ inexhaustible love is hidden knowledge coupled with wisdom. In his homily for the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart during his apostolic voyage to Canada St Pope John Paul II said:  In the Sacred Heart, every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In that divine heart beats God’s infinite love for everyone and for each of us as individuals.

God’s love for everyone is translated into every kind of blessing He lavishly gives us from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) tells us: As to persons living in the world, they shall find in this devotion all the aids necessary in their state of life: peace in their homes, consolation in their work, the blessing of heaven upon all their enterprises, comfort in their sorrows, a secure refuge during life and especially at the hours of death. It is plainly evident that there is no one in the world who will not receive all kinds of heavenly blessings if they have a true love of Jesus Christ manifested by a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Sacred Hart of Jesus is rectitude of faith. Fr Donald Miller OFM (1945-2017) writes: Just as we might view the birth of Jesus as the arrival of God’s love and light into a world grown cold and dark through sin, so we might view the growth of the devotion to the Sacred Heart as a response to the world grown cold though the religious confusion and a popular heresy of the time.

Jesus’ Sacred Heart is the very foundation of our humanity. Saint John Eudes (1601-1680) exclaimed:

 O Heart all loveable and all loving of my Saviour, be the Heart of my heart, the Soul of my soul, the Spirit of my spirit, the Life of my life and the sole principle of all my thoughts, words and actions, of all the faculties of my soul and of all my senses, both interior and exterior. Amen. If this heart loves us so much why don’t we let our past, troubled as it may be, find its final peace in Jesus’ heart? Hence, St Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) counsels us: Do not let the past disturb you. Leave everything in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and begin again with joy.

In her prayer to the Sacred Heart, as it was adapted by St Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) informs us that Jesus’ Sacred Heart is overfilled with eternal life, divinity and loving warmth. In front of such a great love she wants to be one with this Sacred Heart of Jesus. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and life-giving fountain of eternal life, infinite treasury of the Divinity, and glowing furnace of love, Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary. O adorable and glorious Saviour, consume my heart with that burning fire that ever inflames Thy Heart. Pour down on my soul those graces that flow from Thy love. Let my heart be so united with Thine, that our wills may be one, and mine may in all things be conformed to Thine. May Thy will be the rule of both my desires and my actions.

Jesus’ Sacred Heart is an inexhaustible fountain of love because its love is purely eucharistic. In his book The Sacred Heart is the Holy Eucharist Fr John A. Hardon SJ (1914-2000) writes:

It is impossible to identify the Holy Eucharist too closely with Jesus Christ … the Holy Eucharist is the whole Christ with His human heart. According to St. Margaret Mary, the Sacred Heart is the Holy Eucharist. So it follows that devotion to the Sacred Heart is devotion to the Holy Eucharist. It is infinite Love Incarnate living in our midst in the Blessed Sacrament.

It is solely Jesus’ Sacred Heart the sole remedy for a broken humanity. This element comes so powerful in the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart composed by Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903).

Most sweet Jesus, redeemer of the human race, look down upon us, humbly prostrate before your altar. We are yours and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your most sacred heart. Many, indeed, have never known you, many too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your sacred heart. Be you king, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be you king of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one shepherd. Be you king also of all those who sit in the ancient superstition of the Gentiles, and refuse not you to deliver them out of darkness into the light and kingdom of God. Grant, O Lord, to your Church, assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honour forever. Amen.

The same Pope, seeing the struggle of humanity in his era, felt the need to consecrate the whole human race publicly to the Sacred Heart. This he did in his encyclical Annum Sacrum in 1899: And since there is in the Sacred Heart a symbol and a sensible image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love one another, therefore is it fit and proper that we should consecrate ourselves to His most Sacred Heart – an act which is nothing else than an offering and a binding of oneself to Jesus Christ, seeing that whatever honour, veneration and love is given to this divine Heart is really and truly given to Christ Himself.

In the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), the experience the Sacred Heart becomes the loving complement for her emotional, affective and spiritual needs. From the subsequent excerpt taken from her poem entitled To the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She writes:

I need a heart burning with tenderness

Who will be my support forever,

Who loves everything within me, even my weakness…

And who never leaves me day or night.

I could find no creature

Who could always love me and never die.

I must have a God who takes on my nature

And becomes my brother and is able to suffer!

You heard me, only Friend whom I love.

To ravish my heart, you became man.

You shed your blood, what a supreme mystery!

And you still love for me on the Altar.

If I cannot see the brilliance of your Face

Or hear your sweet voice,

O my God, I can live by your Grace,

I can rest on your Sacred Heart!

O Heart of Jesus, treasure of tenderness,

You Yourself are my happiness, my only hope.

You who knew how to charm my tender youth,

Stay near me till the last night.

Lord, to you alone I’ve given my life,

And all my desires are well known to you.

It’s in your ever-infinite goodness

That I want to lose myself, O Heart of Jesus!

Let us always, everywhere and in whatever situation resort to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the sure source for an inexhaustible love. One of the best ways we can do this is to pray daily the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as given to us by St Margaret Mary Alacoque:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying Thee. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to Thee, and to do all for Thy love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease Thee.

I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation 9for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in Thee, O Heart of Love, I hope all from Thine infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist Thee. Imprint Thy pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget Thee or be separated from Thee.

I beseech Thee, through Thine infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Thy Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of Thy devoted servants.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I put all my trust in you!

 

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap was born in San Gwann on August 26 1972. After being educated in governmental primary and secondary schools as well as at the Naxxar Trade School he felt the call to enter the Franciscan Capuchin Order. After obtaining the university requirements he entered the Capuchin friary at Kalkara on October 12 1993. A year after he was ordained a priest, precisely on 4 September 2004, his superiors sent him to work with patients as a chaplain first at St. Luke's Hospital and later at Mater Dei. In 2007 Fr Mario obtained a Master's Degree in Hospital Chaplaincy from Sydney College of Divinity, University of Sydney, Australia. From November 2007 till March 2020 Fr Mario was one of the six chaplains who worked at Mater Dei Hospital., Malta's national hospital. Presently he is a chaplain at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor in the MUMN magazine IL-MUSBIEĦ, as well as doing radio programmes on Radio Mario about the spiritual care of the sick.