Non-Catholics sometimes find the image of the Sacred Heart strange, even disturbing, but for Catholics it is one of the most comforting devotions in the Church. Each of us have our favorite image of the Sacred Heart, the one that speaks to us most deeply. In fact, just looking for a picture for this post I found so many different images that it was hard to choose one. No matter which one most moves our heart to devotion, every image reveals the vulnerability of God, sharing, no, offering, His Heart to us.
Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is the answer to the cry of longing within every human heart; it echoes our need to be loved and understood. He, too, asks for love and understanding from us in return, but since He cannot be outdone in generosity, He gives this back to us immeasurably.
This cry for love and understanding is like a sonar signal, which His Divine Heart picks up and bounces back to us a million fold. Really, the love and tenderness of Jesus’ Heart is infinite, and in return for our love (wobbly and feeble as even our best efforts sometimes are), He fills our small, often cracked, hearts to the brim. And when they can’t hold anymore, He stretches them (ouch, it’s usually painful), so He can fill them with more of His Love, with more of Himself.
In the Holy Eucharist we come face to Face with Jesus; He is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – His Sacred Heart is beating there on the altar. The old feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus (no longer on the calendar) was to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart, reminding us of the link between the Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist – in fact, it’s not just a link, for they are truly One.
“This is my body given up, this is my blood poured out”. We will hear [these words] until the end of time; and whose body, whose blood they are! We must enter into the mind of Christ, into his Heart on Maundy Thursday, into his Heart which became “Eucharistic”, to understand these words: “This is my body, this is my blood “. -Mother Julienne of the Rosary
Though the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus is no longer celebrated, the inextricable connection between the Sacred Heart and the Eucharist has not changed. The countless images of Jesus giving His Divine Heart to you and I, reveals the same vulnerability and trust inherent in His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was praying before the Blessed Sacrament when Our Lord said to her:
“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; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel the most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me that treat Me thus.“
The way to repair for the wounds we have inflicted on His Heart is by reparation through the Eucharist. Our Lord said:
“I ask of thee that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honour My Heart, by communicating on that day and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise thee that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its divine love upon those who shall thus honour It, and cause It to be honoured.”
Our Lord also revealed to St. Margaret Mary another way to make reparation to His Sacred Heart: the devotion of the nine First Fridays, centered around Mass and worthy reception of Holy Communion:
“I promise you, in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that Its all-powerful love will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure nor without receiving the Sacraments, My Divine Heart becoming their assured refuge in that hour.”
To draw close to the Eucharist is to draw close to the Sacred Heart. To be united to the Sacred Heart is to be united to the Eucharist. Or, as the blog Vultus Christi said much more beautifully:
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 very Heart of God is waiting for you in the nearest tabernacle. Go, and there find rest in Him.