Heart to Heart on the Sacred Heart
I have to admit that my favorite time in the liturgical calendar is the Summer/Fall Ordinary Time. After celebrating the High Holy Season of Easter, we come upon Pentecost. Every year on Pentecost Sunday at the Pantheon in Rome, the Church celebrates the ancient tradition of rose petals descending from the “Holy Ghost” hole (video below) in the ceiling, symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and Our Blessed Mother. It is a tradition that I love, for it creates a sense of wonder and joy. The very next Sunday we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, the revelation that God is a relationship of Persons, and therefore, God is love. And…the following Sunday, in procession, we celebrate Christ’s presence among us in the Most Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi.
Check out the video of the rose petals!
All of these mysteries lead us to ponder the love of God in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a visceral image, the human heart, the flesh, of Our Savior enmeshed in the crown of thorns. There is a stained glass window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus above the altar at my local parish. I find myself mesmerized by it at times. It seems to me an invitation, a call to love Our Lord deeper and deeper. The more I meditate on this divine image, the more I feel a more profound sense of Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
This divine image and the Blessed Sacrament are intertwined, for it is the heart of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist. In St. Luke’s gospel, our Lord tells us that he “eagerly” desired to share his body and blood with us. When one loves someone, they want to be with their beloved. Jesus invites us, at every Mass, to draw us closer to Himself. An infallible proof of God’s goodness is his desire, not only to give himself up for us to save us, but to give himself to us. Having no greater good, he gives us himself, the very essence of who he is, his love, his divine life – and he does so generously in the Blessed Sacrament.
The first of the commandments in the Decalogue tells us that we are to love God with all our hearts. Why? As St. Augustine famously said “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in thee.” We will never find peace in our lives, until we rest in God. We were created for eternal beatitude, for union with God. Each one of us have been in the mind of God for all eternity. There has never been a time when we have not been in his mind. Our lives are his gift to us. Our love is our gift to him.
Of course, what prevents us from loving God with all of our hearts is our sinful desires, our self-love. I have always been fascinated by St. Teresa of Avila’s description of the transverberation of her heart. An angel of the Lord pierced her heart with an arrow, down to her very entrails, and when it was removed, she was filled with the love of God. The piercing of the heart is the invasion of God’s grace, his mercy. Of course, I am not a mystic nor a saint, so for a sinner like me, the infusion of God’s grace often seems like a severe mercy. I have many times felt that isn’t wasn’t an arrow that pierced my heart, but a bullet. That a truth bomb went off, and the shrapnel got lodged in my heart. The wound is deep and I have no choice but to feel the pain. Let’s face it, the worst type of spiritual suffering we encounter is the kind we bring upon ourselves, due to our own sins. God makes his presence known to us, he jars our consciences, and we are forced to confront our poverty before God. We are humbled and without excuse. When God pierces the heart in such a way, it doesn’t feel like mercy as much as it does punishment.
But, of course, it is a mercy. Whenever Our Lord calls us to live “in spirit and in truth,” He is calling us to love as He loves. In the midst of our misery, we often forget a fundamental truth – that God is good. St. John tells us that God sent His Son “not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” Our Lord came to “give us life and more abundantly.” But we live in a fallen world and the cross is a fact of life. The heaviest ones are usually the ones we build ourselves. From my own experience, I can say that is usually at the point when our suffering seems most unbearable and we are ready to despair, that Christ meets us. He embraces our cross with us and gives us the strength to endure. As he tells us “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Right now, we see the tapestry of our lives from the backside, and it seems like a jumbled mess. But, when we go before God on that fateful day, we will see how God was working things to our greater good the whole time. We must trust that everything that God allows to happen to us is for our greater good. To believe this, is to have hope. And St. Paul tells us “…and hope does not disappoint.” Jesus promises us in the beatitudes “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” One way to look at this is to say that what we mourn is our sinful lives, of a life wasted on vain pursuits. We mourn the fact that we have not loved God nor our neighbor. But when we acknowledge this, those ugly parts of ourselves, in humility before Our Blessed Lord, he is there to comfort us. He meets us where we are at and tells us “Child, your sins are forgiven you. Go and sin no more.”
Our spiritual lives are a constant pruning process to prepare us for eternal beatitude with God. It is only the pure of heart that see God, those who are tested and tried as silver tried by fire. We must be willing to unite our hearts – our wounded, broken hearts – to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as St. John Paul II said “heart to heart”.
And what will we find there? The great mystery of the Divine Love.
“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
And what has not entered the human heart,
What God has prepared to those who love him.”
This article, Heart to Heart on the Sacred Heart is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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