Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

I’ve written a lot about this feast in previous years but realise I’d never admitted, until recently, that the often syrupy form it takes in some parishes was always a barrier to my appreciation of its theology and, indeed, historicity (it was clearly a pre-Reformation devotion at Netley, which was impeccably Cistercian). I suspect others feel the same. The clue to overcoming this will be found, as so often, in the preface for the feast and its reference to the piercing of Christ’s side with a lance as he hung on the cross, and the streams of grace and mercy which flowed from the wound.

Videos and television may have accustomed us to the sight of gore. Blood flowing from a wound may no longer have the power to shock. But for a Christian, the thought of God’s Son shedding his blood for us is truly awful. (Interesting: I originally wrote ‘bleeding for us’ but thought the more conventional phrase might be less offensive . . .) The blood of Christ washes us clean of sin, nourishes us in the Eucharist and restores us to union with God. Christ’s heart pulses eternally with that redemptive blood. The feast of the Sacred Heart, therefore, challenges us with a love so complete, so unremitting, that we are forced to choose: will we accept that love, or reject it? One of the wisest things ever said to me was to look in the eyes of a crucifix and say, if I dared, that I didn’t give a damn. One might do the same with an image of the Sacred Heart. Who could possibly be indifferent?

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7 thoughts on “Solemnity of the Sacred Heart”

  1. The predicament (if it is this) is to provide that interface .. A time of meditation is at best private..yet how might a.n.other encounter that crucifix and be enabled to “look in the eyes of the crucifix”
    Communities are essentially more of the same, so how does an ‘outsider’ encounter this moment of opportunity?
    The moment of grace allows us to dare to deepen our faith. I have heard from the few who have been shocked into discovery through such an encounter..but for most with a tentative thought there is no easy access (place) to look into those eyes.

    • I’m tempted to say: Find a crucifix (go into a church if you don’t have one) and just look at it. That’s called doing theology on your knees and is neither complicated nor difficult, but most of us prefer to lose ourselves in labyrinthine complexities, like the devils in Book II of ‘Paradise Lost’, if you remember.

    • Might I suggest the use of an icon? They are often referred to as portals to Heaven, good for centering the mind and freeing one’s soul to communicate with the Divine. We have two portrait sized icons on our wall, and I like to use a small card sized version while praying a scriptural rosary. They’ve been used since the early days of Christianity for just the purpose you seek.

  2. being the son of Irish immigrants , I grew up with a strange mix of pagan meets religion. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, with burning love for Men , my heart is always yearning ….. while ages course along etc.
    I loved the hymn and the story of St M.M. Alocoque, it has always held a special place for me.
    Without any theology.

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