Bulletin – September 2016
“So the faith was planted: so must it be restored”
Eight Pond Place – Oyster Bay, NY 11771
Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Taken from a sermon by The Most Rev. Clarence Kelly
Copyright © 2016 The Most Rev. Clarence Kelly
“That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that . . . you may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, to know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge.” (Ephes. 3:18,19)
…..These words, which are taken from the Epistle for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, are read, as well, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Let us, therefore, reflect on the love of the Sacred Heart in the hope that we may all be moved to renew our resolutions to be devoted to the Heart of Jesus.
…..To understand devotion to the Sacred Heart, it is necessary to understand something about the human heart in the thoughts of men. The heart of a man sustains his life. It carries nourishment to every part of the body. It beats about 100,000 times each day. It is in a sense the measure of a man’s life. Each beat carries away a moment. Every pulsation measures out a fleeting instant in time. The moments God apportions to a man are thus spent one by one with each beat of his heart. We may even say the limits of a man’s life can be measured by the number of beats allotted to him by God. When death finally approaches, in so many cases, it is to the heart that the life of a man retreats, and wages its final battle before death. In the Old Testament Job said: “The days of man are short, and the number of his months is with Thee [O God]: Thou hast appointed his bounds which cannot be passed.” (Job 14:5) It is no wonder that the human heart looms large in the thoughts of men. For it is the measure of his life.
…..In addition, the heart is also regarded by the common estimation of men to be the seat of human affections. The heart feels the movement of affections. Joy dilates it. Anguish contracts it. Suffering – such as the loss of a loved one and especially of a child – breaks it. Compassion melts it. Hope animates it. Sadness preys upon it and sometimes consumes it. These are affections that move the heart of man.
…..But, of all the affections that man knows, the one he most keenly feels is the affection of love or the lack thereof. The great Dominican theologian Father Garrigou-Lagrange says that on the level of sense from love “rises a series of passions: desire, joy, hope, audacity, hate, aversion, sadness, despair, fear, and anger.” (Everlasting Life, TAN page 3.) But we are speaking here of more than the passions. When we here speak of love in relation to the human heart, and ultimately in relation to the Sacred Heart, we do not speak merely of feelings. When we speak of love and the human heart, as well as the Sacred Heart, we speak of the love that emanates from and animates the soul – that is to say the will of man. For this is true love – the love that comes from the soul.
…..The heart, in symbolism, represents this love. There is no symbol more appropriate to stand for love than the human heart. In the estimation of men everywhere, the human heart is regarded as the seat and symbol of love. To this estimation the Son of God conformed Himself. He took a human Heart and instituted devotion to It. He made it the devotion for the end times. He reserved this devotion for the time when the hearts of men would grow so cold that only the fire of love in His Sacred Heart would be sufficient to set the hearts of men ablaze with love for God. When Our Lord walked the earth He said: “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of Heart.” When He appeared to St. Margaret Mary He said: “Behold the Heart that has so loved men so as to spare nothing.”
…..We live in the age of cold hearts and dark minds. We live in the true Dark Ages. The Middle Ages were a time of light and love. Now is a time of darkness and coldness. Only the Sacred Heart of Jesus is sufficient to light the way and to warm the world and the cold hearts of men. The coldness began many years ago with the spread of Protestantism and Jansenism. It was St. Margaret Mary, the Jesuits, and Pope Pius VI who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pius VI resisted the evil slanders of the Jansenists and declared that the Heart of Jesus was to be worshiped as the very Heart of God. He “declared that the Heart of Jesus is not separated or dissolved from the Godhead (cum separatione vel praecisione a divinitate), but [is] rather adored as ‘the heart of the Person of the Word, with which it is inseparably united’ (cor personae Verbi, cui inseparabiliter unitum est). D 1563.” [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, TAN, p.159]
…..In time the devotion spread. Pius IX extended the Feast of the Sacred Heart to the universal calendar of the Church. In 1928 Pius XI made it a feast with the rank of double of the first class with its own octave. He wrote about the devotion to the Sacred Heart in his Encyclicals of 1928 [Miserentissimus Redemptor] and of 1932 [Caritate Christi compulsi]. As Vicar of Christ on earth, Pope Pius XI declared that the purpose of devotion to the Sacred Heart was to make a return of love (love for love) to Jesus, to imitate the virtues of His Sacred Heart, and to move men to make reparation to that Heart for all the insults suffered by Him at the hands of men.
…..The object of this devotion is actually threefold. Thus theologians speak of the three objects of devotion to the Sacred Heart: the immediate object, the whole object, and the formal object. The immediate object of devotion to the Sacred Heart is the actual physical Heart of Christ. The whole object of the devotion is Christ Himself. The formal object of devotion to the Sacred Heart is the infinite perfection and redeeming love of Christ. The heart, as we said, is a perfect symbol of love. The Sacred Heart is a perfect symbol of the redeeming love of Christ. To this redeeming love of Christ we are devoted. We marvel at His love for us and at His desire to be loved by us.
…..This we proclaim in the litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the litany the Heart of Jesus is called a burning furnace of charity. It is a Heart of infinite majesty, a holy temple of God, and the gate of Heaven. The Heart of Jesus is full of goodness and love. It is patient and abounding in mercy. It is rich unto all who call upon It. It is the Victim for our sins. It is a Heart filled with reproaches. It was bruised for our offenses. It was obedient unto death. It was pierced with a lance. It is, therefore, no wonder that Satan is insane with hatred for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
…..It is also no wonder that the Heart of Jesus is the consolation of those who love God. Thus, the Heart of Jesus is our life and resurrection, our peace and reconciliation, our salvation, our hope, and our delight. It is the Heart of the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. It is the Heart that sets hearts on fire with holy charity.
…..St. Paul was ablaze with the love of Christ. He delighted to call himself “the prisoner of Christ.” He declared himself constrained to love Christ. The heart of St. Philip Neri pounded so fiercely with love for God that it is said the pounding actually broke his ribs. St. Francis of Assisi died of love. St. Gertrude the Great was privileged to hear the beatings of the Sacred Heart, as was St. Margaret Mary after her.
…..Each First Friday in many of our chapels there is all-night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Please reserve some time on First Friday evenings or early Saturday mornings for the Heart of Jesus. To St. Margaret Mary Our Lord showed His Sacred Heart and said: “Here is the Heart that so loved men.” He also said: “You at least make some return to Me.” To us He says the same things. Let us not disappoint Him.