Relevance of the Sacred Heart Today

taken from Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of Saint Louis de Monfort

Sacred Heart of Jesus the King

Although some of our contemporaries show a certain lack of enthusiasm for devotion to the Sacred Heart (and some of its iconography is admittedly in poor taste), this devotion is bound up with the very foundation of our faith, which acknowledges that Christ is one person – the Eternal and most adorable Wisdom – in two natures: human and divine. We are therefore justified in worshipping his Heart as an appropriate object of the adoration given to him and as the most profound expression of what humanity of all ages has recognized as the symbol of their noblest sentiments. Adoration of the Heart of Christ is strong testimony that this man Jesus is personally our God. The Heart of Jesus is the Heart of our Incarnate God.

Devotion to the Heart of Jesus gives a new, ‘intelligent’ (‘intus legere’, ‘to read deep within’), and penetrating insight into the Word of God, Who has kept on saying to humanity from the beginning of its history, ‘I will take you for my wife … in steadfast love and in mercy.’ (Osee 2:21–22) Jesus carried this love to extremes during his earthly life by lavishing blessings on those suffering physically and mentally: ‘They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well: he even makes the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.”’ (Mark 7:37)

Saint Louis de Montfort and Bl. Marie Louise Trichet

How have humans repaid him? Their fickle hearts have repeatedly broken ‘the everlasting covenant’ (Isaias 24:5) that God made with them and have repaid Him only with ingratitude. [Saint Louis de] Montfort said in his time,

‘It was that blood-stained mouth
That spoke seventeen hundred years ago;
In a dying and living voice –
Words that I can hardly understand.’

These words are no less relevant at the threshold of the third millennium:

‘As the world nears its end I open,
My Heart burning with love for sinners.
But to My advances they respond
Only with cold indifference.’

In 1990, on the occasion of the three-hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Margaret Mary, Pope John Paul II wrote to Bishop Raymond Séguy of Autun that Saint Margaret Mary ‘was conveying to us an ever-relevant message’, and he urged that it be made ‘more widely known’. At a time when humankind worldwide fills the air with groans of misery and loneliness and rushes headlong after false and elusive happiness, the Sacred Heart repeats with more aptness than ever: ‘Come to me, all you that are … carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28)

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

All the writings of Montfort are pervaded with these sentiments of the Heart of Jesus. Like his writings, his social and missionary activity was steeped in the compassionate understanding of human beings that characterises the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In this connection, reading his writings again with a different approach may be necessary for some who have only a superficial knowledge of him. The new evangelisation is a much talked about topic nowadays, but the implication is that the world has lost the sense of the Good News that Christ brought two thousand years ago, and, in its bewilderment, looks to a host of self-styled saviours, as shown by the vast number of new religions. We live in a time of great confusion; the sheep are scattered, and the number of ‘lost sheep’ keeps growing.

‘Oh, I have lost a precious soul;
My sheep has gone astray.
My Sacred Heart is deeply grieved
Because my sheep has surrendered to my worst enemies.’

It takes missionaries of Montfort’s stamp to care for the lost sheep.

‘Shall I stand by and see, indeed,
My brother die in sin
With heart unmoved?
Great Lord, not I!’

In the spiritual economy, in the eyes of the Heart of Jesus, there is neither inflation nor recession. In Year 2000, as in Year 1 of the Christian era, the value of a human soul is the same.

‘God alone knows its invaluable price …
The price of the blood of Jesus Christ.’

Montfort’s writings make it clear that once devotion to the Sacred Heart has been renewed in the light of Scripture and with the help of reliable human sciences, it can be a radical remedy for the evils of our day, especially in the struggle against the tendency to regard each human being as a mere interchangeable number. ‘In this context, the Heart of Jesus reminds men and women that their immortal destiny transcends their economic power and their social role within societies of mortals; they are the object of a personal love as individuals on the part of the One Who, for the sake of all human beings, agreed to take a human body of flesh and bone and assume the human sufferings of all human hearts of all times (cf. Matthew 8:17, Isaias 53:4) through His Incarnation, which was not only ontological and physical but also psychological and universal in Its effects …

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