Sacred Heart, Wounded Heart

Icon of the Sacred Heart
How does the human brain wrap itself around the eternal and infinite love of God for His creation? How can can we even begin to comprehend the depth of love in Christ’s wounded heart as he pours Himself out for us sinners at Calvary?

The truth is, we can’t. The saints and the mystics may catch glimpses, but we humans see all things divine, as Saint Paul said, through a glass darkly (cf. 1 Corinthians 13).

Fortunately, those saints and mystics have given us a wonderful point of focus for the “wonders of His love” – the Sacred Heart. The old Catholic Encyclopedia has an exhaustive article on the meaning of the devotion. The crux (if you will pardon the pun) is something like this:

[W]orship … although directed to the material Heart … does not stop there: it also includes love, that love which is its principal object, but which it reaches only in and through the Heart of flesh, the sign and symbol of this love. …

Hence, in the devotion, there are two elements: a sensible element, the Heart of flesh, and a spiritual element, that which this Heart of flesh recalls and represents.

In other words: humans, being physical creatures, can most easily understand and focus on physical things in our quest to understand the spiritual. Devotion to the physical “fleshy” Heart of Jesus inexorably leads us to true contemplation of the Sacred Heart, the source of His overflowing love.

Since God is love (1 John 4:8), devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus must ultimately bring us to closer devotion of the totality of God. As Jesus is both true man and true God, so must His Sacred Heart must encompass both the cardiac muscle in His chest and the totality of His divine love.

There’s something else here, though. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a wounded heart, a broken heart, a heart that comprehends all of our emotional hurt and transforms it on Calvary to a sacrifice pleasing to God the Father.

Come, let us adore Christ’s Sacred Heart, wounded for love of us.

(Invitatory Antiphon, Office of Readings for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart)

We are healed in that love.

Today on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, it would be a good time to remind ourselves of the infinite love He bears for His poor creatures, perhaps by use of one of the traditional prayers or something like it.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, pour out Your benedictions upon Your Holy Church, upon Your priests, and upon all Your children. Sustain the just, convert the sinners, assist the dying, deliver the souls in purgatory, and extend over all hearts the sweet empire of Your love. Amen.

It should be obvious that the devotion to the Sacred Heart is similar to the devotion to the Divine Mercy, which I have discussed several times previously.

They are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, we have this picture here on the left hanging in our dining room, which combines the two into a single, powerful image.

Many parishes, including ours, have the image of Divine Mercy hanging above a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

For the Divine love of the Sacred Heart is the Divine Mercy:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16).

In addition to being the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, today is also a day that the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy has designated as a World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

We strongly encourage each and every one of the faithful … to pray for our priests, today, this day this very moment … through prayer, celebration of the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration

It seems appropriate that on this Solemnity we should take a moment to pray for all our priests, and perhaps especially for past and future pastors.

Prayer for Priests
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of your divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the cross; priests, who as a pledge of your own most tender love will lovingly give your divine Son to the souls of men.

May your priests be faithful guardians of your Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards your children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with you through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of your divine Heart.

Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for your beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in your school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of your own spotless love.

Amen.

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