The heart of Jesus was formed and began beating in the body of a young Jewish girl. It stopped beating about thirty-three years later and was pierced by a soldier’s lance. Ever since, it has been a symbol of the God-Man’s love for the human race, for us. Three recent experiences have renewed my interest in devotion to the Sacred Heart. First, was a story Sister Mary John Albert told. Her family had always had devotion to Jesus under this title, and they displayed the image in their home. As a girl, Sister was drawn to the Sisters of Notre Dame, her teachers, who had special devotion to the Sacred Heart. She joined the community, leaving her parents with an empty nest, for she was an only child. When she was a novice, her parents informed her that they wished to adopt a baby. For months they applied to various agencies but were rejected because of their age. (The father was 40, the mother, 36!) Sister prayed furiously to the Sacred Heart. As time drew near for her to make her vows and become a professed sister, she dared to give Jesus an ultimatum: “You don’t get me if my parents don’t get a baby.”
Sister Mary Agera, SND, attended a conference in Montreal where she met some sisters who ran an orphanage. She explained how Sister Mary John Albert’s parents desperately wanted another child. In June (the month of the Sacred Heart) on the very feast of the Sacred Heart, the parents received a letter from the bishop of Montreal inviting them to come and choose from children at the orphanage. They adopted a six-week-old baby boy. Sister got a brother and made her vows.
My second encounter with the Sacred Heart came as I read a new book about Pope Francis’s reactions to wise advice from the elderly. He told how a brave single mother from Sicily had helped his mom weekly in their home in Argentina. After he was ordained, she came to see him, but he had no time to talk and, to his deep regret, let her know he wasn’t available. He lost track of her. Then one day a visitor’s cabdriver turned out to be the woman’s son, and Pope Francis reconnected with her. When she visited him, she gave him a medal of the Sacred Heart. To this day he wears it under his white cassock on his heart. He said, “Her medal of the Sacred Heart of Jesus helps me through struggles to this day.”
Third, in the process of writing a book about St. Julie Billiart, I realized how much she was enamored with the Sacred Heart. At the age of ten she was enrolled in the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, signing up to spend from two o’clock to three on Good Friday in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. On the day of her first vows, she consecrated herself anew to the Sacred Heart. She had her community, the Sisters of Notre Dame, pray an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day together. On the Thursdays before First Fridays (observing First Fridays is a Sacred Heart devotion) the Sisters made a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. For twenty-three years Julie was paralyzed and usually bedridden. Then one day a priest asked her to make a novena to the Sacred Heart for someone he knew. On the fifth day of the novena, he told Julie to stand and walk. And she did. She was the “someone.” At the age of fifty-two, St. Julie began making one hundred and twenty journeys, often on foot!
In a previous blog post you can find more information about the Sacred Heart, such as how this devotion began: “Why the Sacred Heart?” at https://bit.ly/2hKcFpz
What have been your experiences with the Sacred Heart of Jesus?