A gift for spain and for the entire world
By Clara Martínez Gomariz, LHM
This past December 2nd, 2018, the Papal Nuncio, Mons. Renzo Fratini, opened the Holy Door of the Basilica of the Cerro de los Angeles in Getafe (Madrid) and inaugurated the Jubilee Year granted by the Holy See in order to commemorate the first centennial of the consecration of Spain to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The celebrations will conclude on November 24th of this year, coinciding with the festivity of Christ the King.
As the Home of the Mother, we desire to unite ourselves to the celebration that the Church has granted Spain and the entire world, by publishing a series of articles dedicated to the spirituality, worship, and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus over the course of this 2019 year . Throughout this series of articles, we will try to delve into the origins, evolution, meaning and actuality of this inexhaustible treasure of graces that Jesus Christ desires to pour out over all of humanity: “With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation” (Is 12:3).
WHY SHOULD WE ADORE THE HEART OF JESUS?
The heart is the muscle that pumps blood throughout the whole body, permitting oxygen and nutrients to get to the different organs and tissues. Given that it’s such a vital organ, it is considered to be the center of our being and a universal symbol of love. To love is to have an impulse towards another person that soon becomes the center of all other inclinations, and the heart is the force that impulses that love.
When we speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we refer to the physical and true heart of Christ himself, as well as the sign and symbol of his love, of his sentiments, affections, tenderness, and virtues. We refer to all of his Being: “It is the person of Jesus himself who opens his Heart to us, saying to us as he said to St. Margaret Mary: ‘Behold this Heart’. And we, looking the Heart that shows itself to us like this, learn how to know the Person in his entirety. In this way, all of Jesus is summarized in his Heart, just as everything is summarized in Jesus” (Bainvel. Devotion to the Sacred Heart, ch. VIII).
For this reason it has been said, rightly so, that devotion to the Sacred Heart is essentially “a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us” (Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, 107)
At the center of Scripture is the revelation of the love of God to men, and this is also the principal objective of this devotion.
In the Old Testament we find some passages that, when read in the light of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, truly find their meaning and show us the wealth of the open Heart of Our Lord: “Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, but I found none” (Ps. 69:20) . In Zechariah 13, we read: “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” .
The New Testament reveals the radical novelty of “the Love that saves us and makes it possible for us to live, even now, in God’s eternity” / (Benedict XVI 19/6/2009). In this sense, it becomes clear to us that it was the Blessed Virgin Mary who best knew the Love of her Son and who loved Him the most; the Sacred Hearts of both beat in unison from the very moment of the Annunciation.
Together with her, Saint John the Evangelist is, beyond a doubt, the first disciple of the Heart of Jesus, chosen as he was by Our Lord when he was allowed to lay his head on the Jesus’ breast the night of the Last Supper. As Origen, St. Jerome, St. Augustine and St. Gertrude affirm, though this gesture John penetrated into the secrets of the Heart of the Lord, into His thoughts and His deepest feelings, into the divine mysteries and was thus inflamed by His love and taken by the desire he has for others to know Him. He drank in secret what would later be offered to all men when Christ’s heart was opened on the Cross.
The first great revelation of the Heart of Jesus, made to St. Gertrude in the XIII century, took place on St. John’s feast day through his mediation and only after St. Gertrude herself had reclined her head upon Jesus’ side during the prayer of Matins. In this revelation, the saint affirms that, while the Evangelist was reclined upon the Lord’s breast, he felt His heartbeat and his soul was overwhelmed by sweetness and burnt for love. “And how is that you said nothing in your Gospel?”, she asked. Because “to tell of the bliss of His heartbeats has been reserved for latter times, that the time-worn world, grown cold in the love of God, may once more grow warm by hearing of such mysteries,” he responded.
St. John is the only evangelist that narrates the piercing of Christ’s side: “one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe” (Jn 19: 34-35) . Just as Eve was formed from Adam’s rib and was his spouse, the greatest work of Christ’s Love was taken from his side to be his spouse, the Church.
Saint John will mention the wound in Christ’s side three more times: the first time is on the day of His Resurrection when the Lord reveals Himself to the Apostles while they were gathered together; the second and third times are during the episode involving St. Thomas and his doubts. He is the only one to mention this most sweet wound: “He showed them his hands and side” (Jn 20:20) ; St. Luke, who was himself a doctor, will limit himself to saying: “He showed them his hands and his feet” (Lk 24: 40).
Throughout history, many saints have professed a great devotion to this mystery : St. Bernard, St. Clare, St. Bonaventure, St. Margarite of Cortona, St. Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Juliana, St. Theresa, Bl. Mary of Jesus, St. Jane Frances of Chantal and St. Francis de Sales. Among them, the following saints stick out in a particular way: St. John Eudes, St. Margaret M. Alacoque and St. Claude de la Colombiere, Bl. Bernardo de Hoyos, Sor Josefa Menéndez and St. Faustina Kowalska.
Although this devotion was initially developed in Benedictine, Cistercian, Franciscan, Dominican and Carthusian monasteries, the Society of Jesus will start to play a prominent role in the XVI century. The first displays of what can rightly be called devotion appear at this time in expressly formulated prayers and pious exercises. St. John Eudes is considered to be the one to initiate the liturgical expressions of this devotion. He composed a Mass and Office and so earned the name of Father, Doctor and Apostle of the Sacred Hearts. He wrote about both in his books, began a congregation dedicated to them, and achieved the authorization needed in order to celebrate it as a solemn feast in the France 1672.
As we will later see, even the Popes, especially in the XIX and XX centuries, tended to increasingly favour this devotion because they understood it as being providential in helping the Church and all of humanity against the challenges presented by modernity.
© HM Magazine; nº206 January-February 2019