June 4, 2020
June is the month of the Sacred Heart as May is the month of Mary. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus historically was a big part of the spirituality of Holy Name Parish. It is still worth our meditation because it is a devotion that recalls the humanity of Christ and the infinite love of the heart of the God-Man Jesus.
I was fortunate to be able to go to Paray-le-Monial in France, where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque saw the visions of Jesus that gave form to an appreciation of His Heart as a symbol of the love that He has for us. I knelt near where she saw Christ and was able to hear Mass and receive communion. It was a spiritual experience and a blessing for me for which I am very grateful.
We should parse the symbolism of the image in order to think about what the devotion says to us. First of all, the Savior's Heart is on the outside, His chest is transparent to the transcendent love that is in His Heart. It is a heart of gold, like the common saying we have about a person with a heart that is of great beauty and value. The crucial aspect of devotion to the Sacred Heart is the love of Jesus. He loves us and invites us to love him. "Amor con amor se paga" is a Spanish proverb and it means, "Love is repaid by love." Seeing the love of Jesus should inspire us to love Him more. Above the heart is a cross, the sign by which He proved His love for us sinners. Beneath the cross are some flames, the sign of the ardent, burning love of Jesus, a love that is often quite unrequited by us. The heart has the crown of thorns, symbol the rejection that Jesus experienced and a hint about how devotion to Jesus' Sacred Heart has a dimension of wishing to make reparation for the indifference of so many to the love of Christ.
Everyone associates the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the Nine First Friday novena, but it is so much more. Here is a heart opened for us, literally by the lance which tore into His side when He hung upon the cross, but figuratively in the sense that Jesus never stops loving you. St. Ignatius said a prayer about hiding in the wounds of Christ. His Heart is a refuge for us, a safe harbor, a place where we are always welcome and will be safe.
The most famous prayer to the Sacred Heart is worth our echoing, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like unto thine." Amen.