Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
February and Valentine’s Day have passed, and you may still be yearning for some love. I have some good news- you can experience love and goodness more than just once a year when Feb. 14 comes around. Allow me to introduce you to one of the most popular and widespread devotions of the Catholic Church, a devotion that is particularly unique and beautiful: The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Let’s first look at how this devotion came to be. Throughout the years, many of the Saints have specifically promoted and encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One Saint in particular, St. Margaret Mary, experienced a number of revelations and encounters with the Lord himself. Christ spoke to her of his passionate love for humanity and the graces given to believers who love him back. A letter written in 1685 by Margaret Mary Alacoque describes those who devote themselves to the Sacred Heart, “which includes an abundant shower of blessings on every place where a picture of his Divine Heart shall be set up and honored.” So, throughout the years, Christ revealed the image of his Heart to St. Margaret Mary, and she noted: “I saw this divine Heart as on a throne of flames, more brilliant than the sun and transparent as crystal. It had its adorable wound and was encircled with a crown of thorns, which signified the pricks our sins caused him. It was surmounted by a cross which signified that, from the moment of his Incarnation, that is, from the time this Sacred Heart was formed, the cross was planted in it.”
This specific description of Christ’s Sacred Heart has been artistically depicted in photos, images, paintings, and badges, and can be found in the houses of Catholics all throughout the world.
Supporting the artistic depictions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) officially recognizes and teaches about the devotion that has inspired many believers. Further explaining the meaning of Christ’s Heart, the CCC states, “He has loved with a human heart. For this reason, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for salvation, is quite rightly considered the chief sign of that love,” according to CCC 478. In the Bible, there are multiple examples of Christ expressing his love in many ways. His entire Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, along with the various miracles he performed are symbols of his divine and life-giving love. The artistic pictures and badges of the Sacred Heart depict this love by showing Christ’s blood flow out, which represents his sacrifice on the cross.
The thorns symbolize our sins, faults, and weaknesses, so it is humanity’s sins that piece the heart of Jesus. Yet, his love still pours for us, and not only does he accept us as we are, so broken and weak, but he extends his mercy to all sinners. Jesus himself says in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
So, what does all this mean to you? How can the Sacred Heart of Jesus impact and transform your own life? Well, let’s look at the words of Jesus himself, as spoken to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Jesus revealed twelve promises to those who devote themselves and honor his Sacred Heart, and I now wish to highlight a few of them: “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life,” “I will establish peace in their homes,” “I will comfort them in all their afflictions,” “I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death,” “I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings,” “Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy,” and “Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.” Understanding these truths, here is the core message of the Sacred Heart: Jesus is always with you. No matter where you go, you are never left on your own with the absence of his divine, merciful, and heavenly love. Jesus’ love surrounds and envelopes your being, and he invites each of us to accept this love, love him back, and in turn, be open to offering love to others. Junior Olivia Abbott remarks, “Falling in love with Jesus is a relationship like no other because you are not afraid to fall. You can only benefit from his love, which allows you to grow stronger with each mistake. He makes you feel wanted and you know that you are chosen because he loves you.” By allowing your own heart to be transformed by Jesus’ Sacred Heart, you are allowing his love to transform your hardened heart into one that is filled with compassion, mercy, and kindness.