Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and the 30th birthday of my middle child, Eric. If you could offer a quick Ave for him, I would be most appreciative. I am grateful to be able to visit with him today in Houston, Texas.
The following was originally penned in 2018:
In the pre-1955 liturgy, the Feast of the Sacred Heart had its own Octave. On the Thursday within the Octave, there was another feast called the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. The interplay between the two feasts is cause for reflection. In the 1955 “reforms,” the latter feast was completely suppressed, while the Feast of the Sacred Heart was retained as a Solemnity, with its Octave suppressed. However, by divine will, I just happen to be in possession of a 1948 Bugnini-free missal…
So let’s talk about the Heart of the Redeemer.
”I understood that devotion to the Sacred Heart is a last effort of His love towards Christians of these latter times, by proposing to them an object and means so calculated to persuade them to love Him… This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which Jesus desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them to the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion.” St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, vision of the Sacred Heart, 1673
“An object and means so calculated.” Thus did St. Margaret Mary introduce to the world a special weapon reserved for these latter days. It is very compelling as a means of amending your life. Have you ever set aside time and reflected on the Sacred Heart? On what it means? How it so fully expresses God’s love for us, in a very special way? Spend some time on it, because it’s really helpful. It’s a deeper meditation on the reality of the Incarnation: That God himself stitched together His own physical human heart, with the specific intent of having it pierced by us, for our sake.
Pierced by you, for your sake. You can find a good article HERE.
“The sweet liberty of the rule of His love.” The heart is where we discover the intimacy of Jesus’ love for us. It is very important to understand that this love is not simply for all mankind collectively, but for each one of us individually and specifically. He loves you personally, one-on-one, and more than anyone else loves you.
His love is not just in real time, but throughout time. He loved you before He created the universe, He loved you from the Cross, and He loves you now. He desires to have His love reciprocated. We do this by adoring him in praise and thanksgiving, and by ordering our lives according to His Word. If you’ve never understood that thing about having a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” this is exactly what it’s all about. When you really love someone, you try really hard not to hurt them, especially in the things He’s told you hurt Him most.
“The heart stands for love. The human heart of Jesus stands both for His human love and for the infinite love of His divine Person. His love was not just a shimmering, dreamy softness; it was wisely strong and true to its eternal purposes. Despite the anguish of Gethsemane, His love yielded His human life to crucifixion. His love had all the majesty and fullness of God, a height and a depth that make paltry the wisdom of men. Every mystery of His life, every miracle, sermon, and kindness, was a new revelation of divine love that enlightens and warms mankind.” (quote from a hand missal, Feast of the Sacred Heart)
His love for us burst forth physically in the spilling of His Sacred Blood. Not just in a general sense all through His Passion and death, but rather acutely as the lance, the Spear of Destiny, pierced his side and reached His heart.
That lance is you.
“They dug therefore, and they dug through not only His hands, but also His feet, yea, and His side also; and the very recesses of His most sacred Heart, they pierced with the spear of rage, though it had already been wounded with the spear of love. ‘Thou hast wounded,’ says the Spouse in the Canticles of love, “thou hast wounded my Heart, my sister, my spouse.’ O Lord Jesus, Thy spouse, Thy love, Thy sister has wounded Thy Heart. Why then was it necessary that that Heart should be wounded further by Thine enemies?” St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Vitis Mystica
Here follows again our Lord instructing St. Margaret Mary; note whom He cites as hurting Him most:
“Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus.”
The thing that most strikingly ties these two feasts together is the ontology of the Eucharist itself: Not only is it truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior, the actual re-presentation of Calvary itself for our consumption, but it is literally the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of God. Yes, that’s right, and there have indeed been examples of the host turning into visible flesh, and this flesh has been confirmed scientifically as actual heart muscle. Reflect on this as you read Pope Benedict XV on the institution of the Feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, 9 November 1921:
“The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.”
And finally, a short reflection on the Feast of the Eucharistic Heart from a priest at a Benedictine Priory who apparently has permission to celebrate it:
“The adorable mystery of the Eucharist sums up, contains, and communicates to us the entire mystery of Christ: His incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If you seek the open Side of the glorious ascended Christ, you will find it in the Eucharist. If you seek the pierced Heart of Christ, beating with love for the Father and with mercy for sinners, you will find it in the Eucharist. The Communion Antiphon of the Mass of the feast is meant to be repeated and treasured. It is, at once, a promise and an invitation: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”” HERE
You can read about Eucharistic miracles and the human heart muscle HERE.
History of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart HERE.
“O Lord Jesus Christ, Who hast poured forth the riches of Thy love for men in
instituting the Sacrament of the Eucharist: help us, we beseech Thee, to love Thy
most loving Heart and ever to make worthy use of so great a Sacrament.” Collect for the Feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus