The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

This post is part of the First Friday link-up at Catholic Cravings.

I don’t listen to the radio much anymore, so it was in the chair at the dentist’s office where I first heard this song. I was waiting for my x-rays to be developed; I could hear the lyrics quite clearly in that quiet room. A woman’s voice sings plaintively:

Because of you

I never stray too far from the sidewalk

Because of you

I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt

Because of you

I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me

Because of you

I am afraid

I later learned that this song was the singer’s reaction to her father’s rejection of the family years earlier. It’s hard to put that kind of thing behind you. It haunts you, as the song haunted me. If Wikipedia is to be believed, “Because of You” went platinum and topped the charts in several European countries – evidence that it resonated not only with American listeners. What a fitting anthem for our generation of broken homes and disposable vows.


My heart can’t possibly break

When it wasn’t even whole to start with….


Then one day, I heard another song. That song, too, was sung by a young woman, and that song too contained that poignant attribution: “because of you.” Yet, to my surprise, it was different. It wasn’t actually “because of you” – it was “because of You” – and that capitalization made all the difference in the world:


For love of You, I’m a sky on fire

Because of You, I come alive

For love of You, I’m a sky on fire

Because of You, I come alive

It’s Your Sacred Heart within me beating

Your voice within me singing out

For love of You, oh, for love of You

Oh, so, for love of You, God

That song also haunts me. It points us to the remedy – the only remedy – to the fear and pain suffered by generations of offspring of the macabre “me-first” experiment. It is His Sacred Heart within us beating that is the answer to the anguish we have endured; It is the courage to trust and to love. Real love flows first from His Heart to ours. It is His Heart now that beats within us and His life that we lead, and we are not afraid – far from it. Christ’s body is a sky on fire, a sign to the world, because we are not limited to the modern-day ballad of betrayal. Within us beats the Heart that is our Peace.


Because of You….



On the memorial of St. Isidore of Seville


Deo omnis gloria!

This post is part of the “First Friday Link-up” at Catholic Cravings.

Living where I do in central Virginia, I am surrounded by Evangelical Christians. I was one of them myself until about 10 years ago, when I became convinced of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Having lived among Evangelicals for so many years, I can tell you that they are, for the most part, great people. Those of them with children do their utmost to raise those kids “in the fear and admonition of the Lord.” Many of the women I work with are Evangelicals, and I oftentimes see them checking in with their children via text or a phone call. One thing that has impressed me is that these ladies religiously end their phone calls to their children with the words, “I love you,” even if the phone call is basically the extension of a running argument that started two days ago. Hypocritical? I would say not. But why end a phone call with an “I love you” if the call is essentially a squabble ending in a huff?

Because it’s true.

Evangelicals will be the first to tell you that “love” is not just a feeling – it is an act of the will. They strive to express to their kids that very real love that they may or may not happen to be feeling at the end of each phone call, because it is the most important part of that call. “I love you” are very important words.

This is exactly the Catholic point when it comes to rote prayers like the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Protestants break out in hives when they think about the Catholic practice of praying litanies, or rosaries, or novenas. How insincere can you get, praying pre-written words! Sincerity means spontaneity – never saying the same thing twice! Sincerity means praying in words that just pop into your brain! Sincerity means praying only what you happen to feel at the moment!

Since when?

sin·cer·i·ty [sinˈseritē]: the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy.

Evangelical Protestants and Catholics can certainly agree on what prayer is supposed to be – prayer is an “I love You” to God. On a morning when I get up on the wrong side of the bed, discover that the kids ate the last of the Krispy Kremes, learn that my dog bit my neighbor (and my neighbor bit him back), get a traffic ticket on the way to First Friday Mass, and arrive late, I still can breathe a heartfelt “I love You, Jesus!” as I genuflect before the Tabernacle, not because I’m feeling overcome with warm fuzzies, but because it’s true. I still can sing “What Wondrous Love Is This” – not because I happen to feel wondrously loved at that particular moment, but because it’s true. As upset as I am, I still can (and should) pray the Divine Praises before the Eucharist at Benediction:

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar!

I still can (and should) pray the words to the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart:

You are the Font of Divine Love, and concerned for all Your creatures for whom You shed Your Precious Blood upon the Cross. Receive me, Beloved Redeemer, as I seek to give myself totally to You.

Not because I’m feeling all ooey-gooey at the moment – left to my own devices, my prayer at that point might be a lot closer to a gripe. When “ugh” is all I can think of to pray, the prayers of the Church come to my rescue – not because I long to hypocritically mouth pre-written sentiments, but because the sentiments expressed in the prayers are true, whether my feelings happen to coincide at the moment or not. These “I love You’s” are an act of the will, and they are, needless to say, very pleasing to God.

So, when I leave the Real Presence of the Lord to go and pay my traffic fine, it’s a mighty good thing to have prayers like the Litany of the Sacred Heart to fall back on. In all likelihood, a sincere “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine!” will be the most important words I say today.


On the memorial of St. Paul the Simple

Deo omnis gloria!

Another First Friday, another nag – at least that’s how I feel about it. No, the priest wasn’t nagging us at Mass this morning; it was me, nagging God again. It seems that every time I receive Jesus in Holy Communion, every time I go to Adoration, every time I pray the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart, I hear myself nagging God with these words: “Change me, Lord.”

I can’t stop, although it isn’t as if He’s never obliged me. I’ve been a Christian since my infant baptism, a Catholic for nearly 11 years now, and I’m still here, stuck in the mud. God has worked in amazing ways, delivering me from sins I felt doomed to commit and recommit, teaching me to trust and obey more profoundly, granting that I might grow and mature in faith, hope and love – in other words, making possible truly undeserved progress in my spiritual life! And yet I’m still here, stuck in the mud of my self-absorption.

All of those wonderful, undeserved graces, all the deliverance, all the progress – it’s not enough, because I’m still not like Jesus. When people look at me, they still don’t see Him.

And so I nag, “Change me, Lord! I don’t want much – just holiness!” Snatches from the Psalms float through my brain, the ancient cries of folks in distress:

O God, hasten to deliver me; O LORD, hasten to my help! Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer! Give ear to my words, O LORD, and consider my groaning! Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray! In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. To You, O LORD, I call! My rock, do not be deaf to me, for if You are silent to me, I will become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your power! Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth! Give ear to my prayer, O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication! Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted. Hear my cry, O God! Give heed to my prayer! From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint!

Nag, nag, nag – at least I’ve got Biblical precedent! Jesus Himself endorsed the persistent widow, nagging the judge into seeing things her way. In the presence of His Most Sacred Heart in the Eucharist, I can’t help but blurt out to Jesus my importuning. I need you to change me!! Fortunately, the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart gives words to my longing:

As I consecrate myself to You, I ask You to create in me a new heart, one which will be free from sin and filled with compassion and love for all people.

A new heart – yeah, that’s the ticket! That’s what I need!!

And He knows it, better than I do….

That’s why the devotion is there for me, every First Friday: another chance to kneel in Adoration, another opportunity to gaze upon the Heart that so loved the world, another opening for my pesky little squeaks of a prayer to ascend with the incense before the altar. Believe it or not, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is a tried-and-true spiritual principle! As a very saintly man once advised:

Do not ever lose heart when the tempest rages; place all your trust in the Heart of the most gentle Jesus. Pray and I might add, devoutly pester the divine Heart. St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Change me, Lord!


On the memorial of Bls. Anselmo Polanco Fontecha and Felipe Ripoll Morata

Deo omnis gloria!

This post is part of the First Friday link-up at Catholic Cravings.

Last year we had an exceptionally mild winter here in central Virginia, which must have been the cause of much embarrassment to the weather gods, as they are attempting this year to make up for that oversight with a vengeance. We were broadsided yesterday by a blast of Arctic air, and it’s only going to get colder over the next week or so. I realize that “cold” is a relative term – our low of 18⁰ F last night may sound toasty to folks in your part of the world, but it’s all in what you’re used to. We have thin blood, and we prefer our overnight lows to approach as near to the higher side of freezing as possible. It was 22⁰ F at noon here today, and I am not the only person contemplating moving closer to the equator.

It was under those questionable conditions that I left my house yesterday evening for Adoration. This being central Virginia, we have something of a shortage of Christians of the Catholic persuasion, and our parish only has Adoration once a month. If you miss it, as I did last month due to illness, you’re out of luck for the coming 30 days. So I wasn’t about to let a little cold weather stop me from driving downtown to adore Jesus in the Eucharist; as a former Protestant, I figure I have quite a backlog of missed Adoration opportunities to make up for….

There were probably 10 cars in the parking lot when I arrived, but I found that those folks weren’t there for Adoration. When I approached the chapel, I realized that it was gonna be Jesus, me, and Tom, the man who makes Thursday evening Adoration possible at our parish. Since I came screeching in at the stroke of 7, I knelt in the hallway leading to the chapel to watch Tom place the Host in the monstrance and raise it high in adoration. I entered the chapel and assumed my customary station in as obscure a corner as I can find (I am massively shy – so shy that my heart overflowed with joy when I got up to lead the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart after Mass this morning and found that someone had placed a large poinsettia on the piano, behind which I could stand to lead the Litany). A second man entered the chapel to adore, but only stayed 10 minutes. For the rest of the hour, it was Jesus, and me, and Tom. His son is a priest in Richmond, and I wonder if he dreams of packed chapels and perpetual Adoration.

It was a very short hour, but Adoration always flies by, at least for me. I know a lot of people will bring their rosary with them, or reading material. I’ve tried that, but my favorite occupation is still best summed up in the words of the old French peasant who explained Adoration thus: “I look at the good God, and the good God looks at me.” I was grieving, as usual, over the small number of participants. It is unfathomable to me why the chapel isn’t packed to overflowing at every Eucharistic opportunity. He is here, the One adored by shepherds and kings alike. They apparently had tons more sense than we educated, 21st-century spiritual geniuses.

When the hour ended, my friend and I knelt to recite the Divine Praises. Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar! Tom then walked to the altar and raised the monstrance high, turning it to face me in my obscure corner.

And it was just Jesus and me. Time stopped, and it became what I hope will be the defining moment for my year: I looked at the good God, and the good God looked back at me, with love.

Today is First Friday as well as the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. I am offering up my Rosary today for Catholic bloggers, several of whom have recently experienced setbacks, financial strain, miscarriage and the loss of loved ones. Last year was pretty hard on me as well. I realize that all of this, like the cold temperatures, is relative – my disappointment with my circumstances might be someone else’s glee at having accomplished so much. As much as I would love to put it all behind me and start over, I am, at my age, skeptical of things like New Year’s resolutions. They don’t stick. I have about 50 years of resolutions behind me at this point; I know whereof I speak. My life reminds me of that precursor to the endless loop, the old children’s song, “Michael Finnegan”:

There was a man named Michael Finnegan,

He grew whiskers on his chinnegan,

Shaved them off, but they grew in again,

Poor old Michael Finnegan (begin again)….

That song has become for me, as for so many, the soundtrack to my life, and it’s getting old. Only Jesus can rescue me from the endless loop of trying harder and failing harder, of “begin again, begin again, begin again,” because only Jesus can provide the missing variable: a new heart, a heart like unto His own. Hiding behind the poinsettia this morning, I prayed with special love:

As I consecrate myself to You, I ask You to create in me a new heart, one which will be free from sin and filled with compassion and love for all people. Make me an instrument in Your divine plan of salvation. Ever keep me strong in faith, hope and love, and never let me be separated from You.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Yours.

He is, after all, the One Who met me last night at Adoration, the One Who promised that He is indeed making all things new. Without Him, our resolutions don’t stand a dieter’s chance at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through. With Him, we can be changed. We are changed. He breaks the cycle of “begin again,” and makes us new. We look at the Good God, and see Love.

New year – new heart!


On the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Deo omnis gloria!

This post is part of the “First Friday link-up” at:

“Alle Jahre wieder kommt das Christuskind!” was one of the first things I learned about the celebration of Christmas in Germany – “Every year the Christ Child comes again!” I was a Protestant back then, and while the German concept of Sankt Nikolaus didn’t strike me as too terribly odd – he was a dead ringer for Santa, though he didn’t seem to understand that Christmas takes place on the 25th, and chose to make an appearance each year on the 6th instead – the excitement over the strange being known as the “Christkind” really rubbed me the wrong way. “Christkind” translates literally as “Christ child,” and the idea that Germans had fictionalized the Nativity narrative, telling their children that the baby Jesus comes to earth year after year after year to, in effect, play Santa – that really got my dander up. It sounded so incredibly Catholic. If you’ll believe you can pray to dead people and work your way to Heaven, you’ll find yourself teaching your kids that the baby Jesus brought them their Christmas tree!

Imagine my shock when I learned that the originator of the Christkind hoax was none other that the Great One, Martin Luther.

Luther, you see, had a problem with St. Nicholas. The real Nicholas was a historical figure, a 4th-century Catholic bishop who championed the divinity of Christ at the pivotal Council of Nicaea. December 6th is his feast day, and the Germans of Luther’s time were accustomed to giving and receiving gifts on that day. Luther wanted to take the focus off the Catholic bishop as the bearer of good gifts and place it on Jesus, so he encouraged the giving on gifts on the day that “Christ’s Mass” had been celebrated, as well as encouraging the story that it was Jesus Who was responsible for the gifts.

Go figure.

Well, I didn’t care if Martin Luther had started the practice – I was against it! The very idea of encouraging the notion that the historical figure Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, was still somehow, in some way, shape or form an infant upset me. I knew that some Catholic saints such as Anthony of Padua, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Bologna and Agnes of Montepulciano had claimed to have seen the Child Jesus in visions and have interacted with Him. “Nonsense!” I insisted. “Jesus is no longer a baby!! Jesus, the grown Man, was crucified and resurrected. To claim that you’ve seen that Man with the nail prints in His hands and feet is one thing, but to claim that He appeared to you as a tiny baby? Puh-leeeze….

That was, of course, before I began contemplating the mysteries of Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart.

My objection to the Christ Child lay in the recognition of the reality of how different I am from the babe that lay in my mother’s arms all those years ago. To say that I’ve changed is an understatement – I have become, almost literally, another person entirely. I was tainted, of course, by original sin, but as a newborn I was at least innocent of any deliberate evil. I certainly cannot say that now. This is par for the human course; boys and girls, as they grow, learn that they can get what they want by manipulating their environment. And so you lie to your mother, you steal from your siblings, you pretend you don’t hear your father calling you, you plot and connive, you conceal, you prevaricate, you defy. All this before you even start school. Once the process of organized socialization begins, you learn a whole new set of tricks from your depraved little co-conspirators. By the time God the Holy Spirit is finally able to wrestle your wanton heart into submission, it has been pitted by repeated sin; it is pock-marked, and pebbly, and distressingly worn. When you hand the sorry thing over to God, He is able to begin the process of creating in you a new heart, one free from sin – a process that will take the rest of your natural life, and quite probably a large dose of purgatory, to complete.

In this life, no, you will never be the same.

Jesus was different. The incomparably pure Heart of the Eternal Son of the Father, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mother’s womb, substantially united to the Word of God, never experienced a stain. Jesus increased in years, in wisdom and in stature, but His innocent Heart was never compromised – It remained the Abyss of all Virtue. The Heart of the Babe in the manger was the Heart that gave Itself freely on Calvary as the Victim for our sins; the Heart that cried out “Father, forgive them” could have gone back to the manger and slept in heavenly peace. The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, and therefore the Man Who after His resurrection appeared to His disciples in forms that they did not recognize could certainly appear to His more recent disciples as the Babe that He once was, and forever is, by virtue of the unchanging purity of His Most Sacred Heart.

And so, as a Catholic, I have made my peace with the Christ Child – not with the one Lutherans made up to deliver gifts, but with the real One, the One who allowed Sts. Agnes, Catherine, Francis and Anthony to adore Him. I hope to always be allowed to adore Him as well, in this life and in the next, and His Heart of Infinite Majesty, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mother’s womb.


On the memorial of St. Nicholas of Myra

Deo omnis gloria!

This post is a part of the First Friday link-up at

There are people who think that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is dead. Of course, there are people who think that the saints are dead, those men and women mentioned in the Book of Revelation:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

On this First Friday, which coincidentally falls on the Solemnity of All Saints, the Catholic Church is here to tell you – the saints are unfathomably alive, and so is the devotion to the Sacred Heart of their Lord.

It is common knowledge that the Church holds up thousands of saints for emulation, a very biblical thing to do as St. Paul encouraged when he wrote, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” Yet there is an even greater number of saints in the presence of God, faithful Christians who are never going to have a parish named after them or get their mug shot on a holy card, people like your great-uncle Joe and your grandma Theresa who died in God’s friendship, underwent purgation and now stand with the multitude before the throne and before the Lamb. On the first day of November, the Church asks us to remember not only the canonized saints, but Theresa and Joe as well, and to make sure that one day we join them….

Now, I never met your grandma or your great-uncle, but I can tell you for certain that if they are now in the presence of God, they share a vital organ with the canonized saints: the Heart of Jesus. As the Litany assures us, the Most Sacred Heart is the “delight of all saints.” All saints, the famous and the unknown, share the same important characteristic; they are not dead; their eternal lives began here on earth when He gave each of them a new heart – His Heart.

For His Heart is mine. I will say it boldly, for Christ is my Head, is not what belongs to my Head mine? Therefore as the eyes of my corporal head are truly my eyes, so is my spiritual heart my heart. Therefore, it is well with me: truly I have but one Heart with Jesus and what wonder that there should be but one heart with the multitude of believers. St. John Eudes

He brought me into such close intimacy with Himself that my heart was espoused to His Heart in a loving union, and I could feel the faintest stir of His Heart, and He of mine. The fire of my created love was joined with the ardor of His eternal love. St. Faustina Kowalska

When Mass was over I remained with Jesus in thanksgiving. Oh, how sweet was the colloquy with paradise that morning! It was such that although I want to tell you all about it, I cannot. There were things which cannot be translated into human language without losing their deep and heavenly meaning. The Heart of Jesus and my own—allow me to use the expression—were fused. No longer were two hearts beating but only one. My own heart had disappeared as a drop of water is lost in the ocean. Jesus was its paradise, its king. St. Pio of Pietrelcina

This Sacred Heart is the source of consolation for all the saints. They never tire of contemplating His pierced side from whence flowed water and blood, because they drink from that Fountain the waters of life:

It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting. Arise, then, beloved of Christ! Imitate the dove ‘that nests in a hole in the cliff’, keeping watch at the entrance ‘like the sparrow that finds a home’. There like the turtledove hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, ‘draw water from the wells of your Savior; for this is the spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers’, inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile. St. Bonaventure

Then it was as if You opened the Heart in Your most holy body to me, so that I could look right inside of it there before me. You commanded me to drink from that source. You invited me to draw the waters of my salvation from Your fountains, You, my Savior. How strong at that moment was my desire that streams of faith, hope and charity might overflow from it into me. St. Peter Canisius

The saints give themselves up to be immolated in the Burning Furnace of Charity, and in thus losing their life, they find it:

Oh, if we could but understand the love that burns in the Heart of Jesus for us! He has loved us so much, that if all men, all the angels, and all the saints were to unite, with all their energies, they could not arrive at the thousandth part of the love that Jesus bears to us! – St. Alphonsus Liguori

Hail! O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and quickening source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary, O my amiable Savior. Consume my heart with that burning fire with which Yours is ever inflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love, and let my heart be so united with Yours, that our wills may be one, and mine in all things be conformed to Yours. May Your divine will be equally the standard and rule of all my desires and of all my actions. St. Gertrude the Great

They proclaim His Most Sacred Heart to be their hiding place:

O Jesus! draw me into Thy Sacred Heart; and that I may dwell there, wash me from my iniquities, purify me from every stain. O most beautiful of the children of men, Thy Sacred Heart has been opened only that we may be able to dwell in it in safety and in peace. St. Bernard of Clairvaux

My Lord, I desire nothing but Thee, and never shall I find rest until I succeed in concealing myself entirely in Thy Divine Heart St. Catherine of Genoa

I wish, oh Jesus, that my voice could reach to the ends of the world, to call all sinners and tell them to enter into Thy Heart….Oh, if only all sinners would come to Thy Heart!… Come! Come sinners, do not be afraid! The sword of Justice cannot reach you Here! – St. Gemma Galgani

They expound upon His Sacred Heart, extolling It in sermons, in poetry and in prose:

To celebrate the Heart of Christ means to turn toward the profound center of the Person of the Savior, that center which the Bible identifies precisely as his Heart, seat of the love that has redeemed the world. If the human heart represents an unfathomable mystery that only God knows, how much more sublime is the heart of Jesus, in which the life of the Word itself beats. In it, as suggested by the beautiful Litanies of the Sacred Heart that echo the Scriptures, are found all the treasures of wisdom and science and all the fullness of divinity. In order to save man, victim of his own disobedience, God wished to give him a “new heart,” faithful to his will of love . This heart is the heart of Christ, the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, which began to beat in the virginal womb of Mary and was pierced by the lance on the cross, thus becoming for all the inexhaustible source of eternal life. That Heart is now the pledge of hope for every man. How necessary for contemporary humanity is the message that flows from contemplation of the heart of Christ. Where, indeed, if not from that source will it be able to attain the reserves of meekness and forgiveness necessary to heal the bitter conflicts that bloody it? Bl. John Paul 2

In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced,

The kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together.

Here is for us the source of life.

This heart is the heart of the triune Divinity,

And the center of all human hearts

That bestows on us the life of God.

It draws us to itself with secret power,

It conceals us in itself in the Father’s bosom

And floods us with the Holy Spirit. St. Edith Stein

My God, my Savior, I adore Thy Sacred Heart, for that heart is the seat and source of all Thy tenderest human affections for us sinners. It is the instrument and organ of Thy love. It did beat for us. It yearned over us. It ached for us, and for our salvation. It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us. It is the channel through which has come to us all Thy overflowing human affection, all Thy Divine Charity towards us. All Thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and our Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes, in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart. O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fullness, Thou didst save me by Thy divine strength, and Thy human affection, and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith Thou didst overflow. Bl. John Henry Newman

May thy heart dwell always in our hearts!

May thy blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!

O sun of our hearts, thou givest life to all things by the rays of thy goodness!

I will not go until thy heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!

May the heart of Jesus be the king of my heart!

Blessed be God.

Amen. St. Francis de Sales

The Heart of Jesus is the comfort and the strength of all the saints:

No matter what my sufferings may be, I will never complain, and if I have to undergo any humiliation I will seek refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St Alphonsa Muttathupadathu

And when all earthly succor is withheld, their belief in the Love that burns in the Heart of their Savior transcends the darkness:

In my heart there is blind trust in the Sacred Heart. – Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

The grace to live and die in the Sacred Heart was granted these men and women, as their holy lives bear witness. They lived and they died, and yet they live now even more fully, because it was the Heart of the One Who conquered death which beat, and still beats, in their breasts. As He promised, those who believe in Him shall never die. Neither shall devotion to that Sacred Heart, that one Heart shared by all believers, weaken or die. St. Josemaría Escrivá, lover of Jesus’ Heart, put it so simply:

True devotion to the Sacred Heart has always been and is still truly alive, full of human and supernatural meaning. It has led and still leads to conversion, self-giving, fulfillment of God’s will and a loving understanding of the mysteries of the redemption.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Delight of All Saints

I put my trust in You!


On the Solemnity of All Saints

Deo omnis gloria!

Photo credits:

This post is part of the First Friday link-up at O Most Sacred Heart.

Ours is not so much the age of invention as the age of “reinvention.” Certainly, people were reinventing themselves long before our time; Jay Gatsby is literary proof of that. But in the modern era we are not content to merely reinvent ourselves; we also enjoy reinventing others. You would think that we would use our sophisticated 21-century historical and archaeological techniques to more closely approach the truth concerning famous folks of the past, but that’s no fun. What is fun is reinventing them – making them over in our own image….

A Newsweek article from 2012 urged the world to “forget the church and follow Jesus.” But sadly, there are many reinventions of Jesus – alongside the Jesus of orthodox Christianity we have the Jehovah’s Witness Jesus, the Mormon Jesus, the Jesus of the Jesus Seminar, the homosexual Jesus, etc. Lest the reader follow the wrong one, the journalist behind the Newsweek article defined Jesus for us: His Jesus lived among us to heighten our awareness of the “constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God.” His Jesus minded his own beeswax, avoiding controversy like the plague, and would have shunned the current discussions on abortion and homosexual marriage rights, for he was a Jesus who embraced a simple life, living close to nature, refusing to meddle in the affairs of others, gently serving the unfortunate, abstaining from the comforts material goods can bring – kind of a St.-Francis-of-Assisi Jesus who just wanted to be left alone to do good. His Jesus’ meddling followers later embellished their master’s teachings and gilded his portraits until the Jesus of the Church bore little resemblance to the humble carpenter. Unsuspecting humanity was sold a fake Jesus whom his followers then manipulated for their own worldly purposes. The Jesus that this writer proposes brought mankind a message of renunciation, of a refusal to wield power, of an abhorrence of pontificating on controversial topics. His Jesus would not have dreamed of picketing outside of abortion clinics; he would instead have been waiting outside town to offer forgiveness to any woman who sought him out, having realized that she had killed the children God had sent her. His Jesus preached a Christianity that butted out. St. Francis apparently got it; St. Catherine of Siena clearly did not. It is this totally unengaged Jesus who will, nay, who must serve as our example if we Christians hope to survive as a religious entity. Following the Jesus of orthodox Christianity, the writer claims, is a dead-end proposition.

There was a predictable response to these suggestions. The article began with the assertion that Christianity is “in crisis.” So what else is new? Historically speaking, Christianity has always been in crisis – the gates of you-know-where have yet to prevail. Christians would agree wholeheartedly with the writer’s proposition that what the world needs is Jesus. However, while the world needs Jesus in the worst way, what the world must not do is leave the Church and follow THAT Jesus. Jesus established a Church; to leave the Church means to leave Him. Theologically speaking, there’s no getting around that point.

Yes, the world needs Jesus. Cults, schismatics and even atheists are all eager to provide some kind of Jesus for the world to follow. The Catholic answer to that must always be: Jesus – yes!  But not THAT Jesus. The world needs God the Son, Redeemer of the world, full of goodness and love, in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead! The world needs Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, rich to those who call upon Him, Who found it unthinkable that any person be left alone to die in his sins! The world needs Jesus, Source of all consolation, Victim for our sins, Who would love the young woman considering abortion so much that He would not shy away from talking her out of what she was planning to do. The world needs Jesus, Who out of the burning depths of His charity refused to leave the world the way it was….

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus has faced a similar public relations fiasco. When asked, “Can an increase in devotion to the Sacred Heart help to restore the 21st-century Church?” many would answer, “Are you kidding me? Devotion to a soppy, maudlin, kitschy superstition? How is that going to restore the Church of our day?? That’s exactly what we need less of!”

And the answer to that objection is, of course: Not THAT Sacred Heart.

The REAL Sacred Heart was revealed to St. Margaret Mary by Jesus Himself with these words:

Behold this Heart, Which has loved men so much that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them Its love ….

The folks who reinvented the Sacred Heart as a throw pillow are the same ones who reimagined St. Francis of Assisi as a garden gnome. Yet the real St. Francis traveled to Egypt to request of the Sultan a trial by fire to prove the claims of Christianity – pretty gutsy behavior for someone who supposedly just wanted to hide in the woods and serenade the fauna. And the Real Jesus inflicted upon the real St. Francis the gift of the stigmata, that he might suffer as the Real Jesus suffered. So much for a refusal to confront the culture or to get involved in someone else’s affairs.

To anyone with a doily allergy, devotion to the Sacred Heart evokes images of limp wrists and low blood pressure. The Real Sacred Heart is anything but. The Real Sacred Heart is ablaze with all-consuming love, and anyone who approaches It can expect to go up in flames.

Does the Church of the 21st century need more of that? You bet your garden gnomes we do.


On the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi

Deo omnis gloria!