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The Sacred Heart of Jesus: A heart that heals and unites

I think it is safe to say, considering the pandemic, that we are craving healing and unity in ways we had not imagined possible a few months ago. Health care providers have been on the front-lines of our physical care.

Mental health specialists and social workers are treating emotional and community needs. If we are going to see ourselves as whole, we must also not ignore our spiritual needs. Faith is the cornerstone of and connection to complete health.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can help restore us in this vital area of our spiritual wellbeing.

The historical origins of the devotion to the Sacred Heart and its doctrine go back to the dawn of Christianity. It was revealed to us by Jesus when he told us, in the only direct mandate he gave, to imitate Him. He told us, “Learn from me that I am meek and humble of heart” (Matt 11:29 NAB). But the doctrinal foundation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart was revealed on Calvary when the heart of Jesus was pierced by the soldier’s lance, and we are told, “there flowed out blood and water” (John 19:34).

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on June 19 this year and always falls nineteen days after Pentecost. It considers Jesus’ physical human heart as the image of his divine love for humankind. The words of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque are, “My love reigns in suffering, it triumphs in humility and enjoins itself in unity.”

Jesus’ Sacred heart belongs to all Christians as we are all baptized. This calls us to holiness and wholeness individually and as brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus Sacred Heart is offered in love to heal our wounds.

To end, here are some practical ways to honor Jesus’ Sacred Heart while bringing yourself comfort and strength. I often use them when I am stressed, lonely, delighted, or simply feel the need to bring God joy. Put your hands over your heart and say, “God is in me. He will take care of me.”

Putting your hand over your heart has been clinically proven to reduce stress. It produces feelings of trust, protection, love and belonging. It can be a strong support for healing and growth. Envision the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is both curious and comforting.

John A. Hardon S.J. writes in his book Devotion To The Sacred Heart that “when God became man, it was God — who is love — who became man.” In the languages of all nations, the heart is identified with love. Consequently, our devotion to the Heart of Jesus is directed to the love of Jesus in different ways. We love Him as:

• Our God, who out of selfless love, brought us into existence and destined us to possess Him for all eternity.

• Our God Incarnate who loved us enough to assume our human nature and, by His bodily death, redeemed us from the eternal death we deserve for our sins.

• Our Redeemer who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where He is preparing a place for us. There he is our God united in His human body and soul. We hope to be in His blessed company.

It was a Heart pierced for our offenses that draws us to find shelter there. When we are in pain, experience loss, or are in doubt, we have His heart to turn to because “God is Love” and loves us unconditionally (1 John 4:7-21).

Take comfort in His most compassionate and loving heart.

Tiffany J. Haller, Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry, St Ann Catholic Church, Loyalsock Township.

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