The Call of the Divine Heart

Written by  Abbe F. Maucourant

 

The Sacred Heart is our treasure; it is “the refuge of poor sinners” (Lanspergius); “the nest for doves and innocent souls” (Saint Bernard); “the retreat for all the Saints of God” (Saint Claude de la Colombiere); “and for us all, the Tabernacle of a tenderness without limit.” (Saint Anselm) When Our Lord revealed His Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary (His beloved disciple), He said to her: “If you knew how I long to be loved by men! I thirst, I am on fire with the desire of being loved!” And always that same Heart of His pursues our hearts, and always He speaks the same words to us: Abide in My love. (John15:9) Let us now consider, first, the call of the Divine Heart; second, the answer of the human heart.

During one of her revelations, Saint John said to Saint Gertrude: “The pulsations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus shall be a most sweet language, which shall last until the end of time; that the world, becoming torpid and frozen on account of its great age, may be warmed and comforted by the heat of Divine Love.” It was at Paray-le-Monial that the Tabernacle opened, and Jesus Christ showed Himself to His humble servant under a Human Form. He held in His hands His own Heart, pierced with a sword. “Behold,” said He to her, “Behold this Heart, which has loved men so much. My Divine Heart loves men so passionately that, not being able any longer to contain the flames of its ardent love, it must of necessity reveal them.” (Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary)

“ ‘Loves men so passionately!’ those are strong words! But, my Savior, how canst You have such thoughts as these? We are so utterly unworthy, we have the greatest difficulty in putting up with ourselves, in bearing with ourselves. We are so disagreeable to ourselves and to each other. And yet You say that You love us passionately! And yet, Lord, if such is Thy will, so may it be. It is a master-stroke of Divine Mercy. Our dear Lord is like that!” (J. Tissot)

In the course of His revelations, Jesus said to this confidante of His: “I will make you read in the book of love.” That book was His Heart. He loves us, as God loves us, with an infinite love; He loves us also with a human love which is a created, limited love, as everything human must be; but with noble affection, as a perfect man must needs love. This love of His is of the same nature as our purest human affections: as the love of a father for his child; of a brother for his brother or sister; of a friend for a friend. I have longed for a God Who will love me as I understand love; and I find Him in the words: “He was made Man for us; He took flesh for our sakes.” Since He has taken a heart like mine, since He has opened His heart to me, as a token of His love, it is easier for me “to feel, to inhale, to taste the sweetness and the infinite goodness of the Divinity.” (Saint Ignatius)

In His state of glory now, He still remains sensible to those sweet and peaceful influences which can cause neither trouble, nor wrong, nor disorder. Therefore (and this is my greatest consolation) whatever I give Him (my love, my sacrifices, my devotion) has an effect upon His Divine Heart, and can make it beat with more sweetness, and throb with loving joy. So that He can receive something from me! Nothing which can really make Him richer (I know that!) but something which is a response to His great love for me. As for Him, what is it that He has not given to me? He said: “My Heart is consumed with the desire of communicating itself to souls.” It is the love of Jesus Christ which pours over all the members of His Mystical Body, the graces of which He is the source. And it was to recall all this to our memories, and “to announce from God a new compact of love” (Mgr. Landriot) that Jesus made that new revelation of His Sacred Heart; “adding to His invitations a promise of admirable recompenses.” (Pope Leo XIII) Saint Margaret Mary, who has transmitted to us all these appeals for our love, exclaims at last: “I have no longer any wish but for God alone, and to bury myself in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

“Behold,” said Our Lord Jesus, “behold this Heart which has loved men so much, and which, in return, has met with nothing but ingratitude from the greater part of them; do you, at least, give Me the joy of atoning for this ingratitude.” He had already spoken as follows to Saint Francis of Assisi: “My Heart is calling to thy heart; I am waiting for you; make haste and come to Me.” But it is really to all of us that He spoke, when He said to Saint Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? It is therefore “a return of love” which our good Saviour desires, that He may convert souls to Himself. Saint Margaret Mary, his “beloved disciple,” as He called her, understood this so well, that she said, among the “three tyrants” which persecuted her soul, the most powerful “was such a great desire to love the Sacred Heart that it seemed everything she saw ought to be changed into flames, that He might be loved.”

To study the Sacred Heart that we may love it; to love it, and always try to love it more; to live in conformity with this love, is what Jesus asks of us, when He shows us and gives us His Heart. Sovereign Justice commands our fear; the greatness of God calls for our admiration; His Infinite Perfection excites our adoration; but His Love cries out for our love in return, and the essence of all religion is, that the heart of man should be one with the Heart of God, in loving union with our dear Redeemer. Let us, then, give Jesus a love of complacency, rejoicing in all His perfections; a love of preference, choosing His commandments and following His wishes above all things; a love of filial friendship, that we may always live with Him in holy, intimate, and reverential communion of thoughts, interests, and affections.

Our Saviour went so far in His condescension as to express what practices would be agreeable to Him. “That His image should be exposed and honored in houses, and worn upon the person, in order that it might touch the insensible hearts of men;” “that a special feast should be celebrated in honor of His Sacred Heart, and that Christians should receive Holy Communion on that day, as an act of reparation;” “that the Holy Hour should be observed, during the night between Thursday and Friday, to be mercy for sinners, and to comfort Him for the agony He endured in the Garden of Olives, when His disciples had forsaken Him.” Also, “that we should remember Him whenever the clock strikes.”

Yet, in spite of all this, the words of Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi might be said at the present day: “O Love! You art not loved! You art not loved! ...” The impious blaspheme; the ignorant have not the slightest idea of this Love; the indifferent sleep, labor, eat, and drink, and at last they die. Even among Christians there are but few who love without counting the cost, who “love with all their heart.” The Sacred Heart complained especially of lukewarm souls, and of the imperfections and even treasons of “consecrated souls.” The reason why He specially complained of these last is because He has loved them most; and this must also be the reason why we should be more faithful and devoted, and so more pleasing to Him.

Affections: “Heart of my Saviour, save me. Heart most merciful, supply for my deficiencies. Heart most patient, bear with me. Heart of my Master, teach me. Heart of my Father, govern me. Heart of my Brother, dwell with me. Heart of my Shepherd, guard me. Heart of my Bridegroom, love me. Heart of my Friend, caress me. Heart most desirable and most beautiful, ravish me. Heart of my King, crown me.” (Saint Margaret Mary)

Examination: Have I devotion to the Sacred Heart? Have I, in my house, or on my person, an image of the Sacred Heart, and what do I do to honor it? Do I go to Holy Communion in reparation on the First Fridays of the month? Do I try to live for the love of Jesus, according to all the requirements of my vocation? Is everything in my heart given to Jesus and belonging to Him? What is there in my soul that might grieve Him, or stand in the way of His Will for me?

Resolution: “I will try to do everything and suffer everything for the love and glory of the Sacred Heart.” (Saint Margaret Mary)