When I was growing up, we often had Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house. My grandmother was a wonderful cook, and we all looked forward to our visits there.
There would be seven of us around the table, but someone else was there as well: Jesus. Not just Jesus in our hearts and our fellowship together, but also a large, rather graphic picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – always within view during the meal. I often wondered about that image and what it was trying to say to us. It seemed a strange choice for the dining room!
Fast forward about 20 years, when I joined a parish named for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690), who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after a series of visions or revelations of Christ. There I found the answer to my childhood question: love. This image of Jesus and his heart – and the feast day that goes with it – is a reminder that Jesus’ heart of flesh, the heart of his incarnation and his life on earth, was offered to us as a gift of love.
As Pope Leo XIII put it, “There is in the Sacred Heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return.”
Devotion to the Sacred Heart seems rather quaint in our 21st-century world, with its fast pace and technological innovations. Is this kind of devotion even relevant anymore? I have to say that it is, because our world is in desperate need of love in action. By praying to the Sacred Heart, we not only become joined with Jesus’ own heart and love, we gain the strength to share his boundless love with others.
Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor