On the third Friday after Pentecost, which is July 1 this year, the Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart, a devotion that was propagated in the Church from the 13th to the 16th centuries and came into full bloom in the late 17th century when St. John Eudes honored it with its own Divine Office and Mass propers and feast day. As often happens, what begins in one region, eventually, if it is worthy, spreads throughout the world to the whole Church and so we have this feast in the universal Church today.
To prepare for this feast, I wrote this post to share some new thoughts I've had about living with and loving Jesus.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance at the Crucifixion, is a symbol of His great love for us. We have this feast because devotion to the love (heart) of Jesus is a way we love Him back, heart to Heart. It reminds us that Jesus has feelings for every human being ever created without exception, and that those feelings are so strong he burns with the desire that we love Him in return. What lover does not burn with the desire to be loved by his beloved?
One of the beauties of different cultures is how language conveys meaning uniquely. In Korean, if a man is attracted to a woman and wishes to get to know her better (and vice versa), he will say he "likes" her, which means he wants to spend time with her, to interact with her, to find out if he should build a relationship with her.
If a man loves a woman (or vice versa) he says "she is in my heart." That means his feelings are so deep he carries his love with him always, is willing to make sacrifices for her or die for her if necessary because she is the most precious person to him in all the world. He seeks to please and delight her in simple ways because she is always, at some level, on his mind. This is not some infatuation, which the word "like" can account for. It is a permanent state that endures throughout the daily demands of his occupation, an attachment that never wavers, a love that places the loved one at greater value than self. It is both romantic and real. Our western use of "love" is overused and misapplied to such an extent it seems a lame expression for something so profound as "in my heart."
Jesus has us in His heart all day every day. He died for us. We are each of us most precious to Him. Our human hearts can't begin to fathom the love He gives to us because we can't imagine what infinite love is. Yet Jesus understands our creaturely limitations and desires that we "hold Him in our hearts", thinking of Him each day and loving Him in all we do. He may ask us to give our lives for His sake as He did for us and if we truly have Him in our hearts, we will do it with generosity and joy, no matter how horrifying the circumstances.
Grace allows us to grow in love of the Sacred Heart, to carry Him in our hearts. If we make a habit of saying this little prayer often during the day we will begin to return love for Love: "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus I implore that I may love Thee more and more." He will do the rest with the delight of the Beloved.