Skip to comments.Catholic Meditation and Devotion: The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Posted on 04/28/2006 8:00:53 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum
It was to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Order of the Visitation of Our Lady that Our Lord chose to reveal to the world His Sacred Heart, thus opening a New Era of Grace and Mercy in the history of the Church and the world. These private revelations took place during the years 1673-1675, and are drawn from the diary of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the witness of her fellow sisters, and that of her spiritual director, St. Claude de La Colombiere.
The First Apparition: December 27, 1673
On the Feast of St. John the Evangelist Our Lord came to St. Margaret Mary, while she was in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and granted her the same privilege as He had done to St. Gertrude. This is how St. Margaret Mary describes the event in her autobiography:
"One day, having a little more leisure-for occupations confided to me left me scarcely any-I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, when I felt myself wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence, but to such a degree that I lost all thought of myself and of the place where I was, and abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, yielding up my heart to the power of His Love. He made me repose for a long time upon His Sacred Breast, where He disclosed to me the marvels of His Love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart, which so far He had concealed from me. Then it was that, for the first time, He opened to me His Divine Heart in a manner so real and sensible as to be beyond all doubt, by reason of the effects which this favor produced in me, fearful, as I always am, of deceiving myself in anything that I say of what passes in time. It seems to me that this is what took place:"
"My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for men, and for you in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning Charity, It must needs spread them abroad by your means, and manifest Itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the accomplishment of this great design, in order that everything may be done by Me."
"After this He asked me for my heart, which I begged Him to take. He did so and placed it in His own Adorable Heart where He showed it to me as a little atom which was being consumed in this great furnace, and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart, He restored it to the place whence He had taken it saying to me:"
My well-beloved, I give you a precious token of My love, having enclosed within your side a little spark of its glowing flames, that is may serve you for a heart and consume you to the last moment of your life; its ardor will never be exhausted, and you will be able to find some slight relief only by bleeding. Even this remedy I shall so mark with My Cross, that it will bring you more humiliation and suffering than alleviation. Therefore, I will that you ask for it with simplicity, both that you may practice what is ordered you and also to give you the consolation of shedding your blood on the cross of humiliations. As a proof that the great favor I have done to you is not imagination, and that it is the foundation of all those which I intend further to confer upon you, although I have closed the wound in your side, the pain will always remain. If before, you have taken only the name of My slave, I now give you that of the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart."
"After such a signal favor which lasted for a long time, during which I knew not whether I was in heaven or on earth, I remained for several days, as it were, on fire and inebriated (with divine love) and so completely out of myself, that I had to do myself violence in order to utter a single word. The effort I had to make in order to join in recreation or to take food was so great that it was all I could do to overcome myself, which was a cause of considerable humiliation to me. I was not able to sleep, because of the pain of the wound, which is so precious to me; it produces such heat within me that it burns and consumes me alive. I also felt such a plentitude of God, that I could not explain myself to my Superioress, as I should have wished, regardless of any suffering and confusion which the recital of these favors might cause me. I would rather have accused myself of my sins before the whole world than speak of these graces on account of my extreme unworthiness. It would have been a great consolation to me had I been permitted to read aloud my general confession in the refectory, in order thereby to make known the depth of corruption which is in me, so that none of the favors I received might be attributed to me."
Our Lord makes known the Devotion of the First Fridays: June 1674
"On the First Friday of each month, the above-mentioned grace connected with the pain in my side was renewed in the following manner: the Sacred Heart was represented to me as a resplendent sun, the burning rays of which fell vertically upon my heart, which was inflamed with a fire so fervid that it seemed as if it would reduce me to ashes. It was at these times especially that my Divine Master taught me what He required of me and disclosed to me the secrets of His loving Heart. On one occasion, while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, feeling wholly withdrawn within myself by an extraordinary recollection of all my senses and powers, Jesus Christ, my sweet Master, presented Himself to me, all resplendent with glory, His Five Wounds shining like so many suns. Flames issued from every part of His Sacred Humanity, especially from His Adorable Breast, which resembled an open furnace and disclosed to me His most loving and most amiable Heart, which was the living source of these flames. It was then that He made known to me the ineffable marvels of His pure love and showed me to what an excess He had loved men, from whom He received only ingratitude and contempt.
"I feel this more than all that I suffered during My Passion. If only they would make Me some return for My Love, I should think but little of all I have done for them and would wish, were it possible, to suffer still more. But the sole return they make for all My eagerness to do them good is to reject Me and treat Me with coldness. Do you at least console Me by supplying for their ingratitude, as far as you are able."
"On representing to Him my inability, He replied:"
"Behold, this will supply for all that is wanting to you."
"And at the same time His Divine Heart being opened, there issued from It a flame so ardent that I thought I should be consumed, for I was wholly penetrated with it, and being no longer able to bear it, I besought Him to have pity on my weakness."
"I will be your strength. Fear nothing, but be attentive to My voice and to what I shall require of you that you may be in the requisite disposition for the accomplishment of My designs. In the first place you shall receive Me in Holy Communion as often as obedience (to your confessor and superiors) will permit you, despite the mortification and humiliation it may cause you, which you must receive as pledges of My Love. You shalt, moreover, communicate on the First Friday of each month. Every night between the Thursday and the (first) Friday I will make you share in My mortal sadness which I was pleased to feel in the Garden of Olives, and this sadness, without you being able to understand it, shall reduce you to a kind of agony harder to endure than death itself. And in order to bear Me company in the humble prayer that I then offered to My Father, in the midst of My anguish, you shall rise between 11 P.M. and midnight, and remain prostrate with Me for an hour, not only to appease the divine anger by begging mercy for sinners, but also to mitigate in some way the bitterness which I felt at that time on finding Myself abandoned by My Apostles, which obliged Me to reproach them for not being able to watch one hour with Me. During that hour you shall do what I shall teach you. But listen, My daughter, believe not lightly and trust not every spirit, for Satan is enraged and will seek to deceive you. Therefore, do nothing without the approval of those who guide you; being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient."
Our Lord Purifies His Servant
After this apparition St. Margaret began to suffer from a mystical fever. The Most Holy Trinity appeared to her on another occasion. At the request of her religious superiors, she was asked to pray for a cure to her strange sickness. In response the Blessed Virgin Mary came to her and granted her request. The next year (1675) Our Lord came and asked her for a bitter sacrifice to appease His justice which was aroused by the sins of a single house of religious. She accepted to make this sacrifice. And so, on the vigil of the Presentation (February 2), for the length of one long night she suffered mystically the indescribable tortures of hell and volunteered herself for an extraordinary public penance, which in her humility she does not describe for us. The next morning, at Mass, Our Lord spoke to her:
"At last peace is restored, and My Sanctity of justice is satisfied by the sacrifice you have made in honor of that which I made at the moment of My Incarnation in the womb of My Mother. I wished to renew and unite the merit thereof with this act of yours in order to apply it in favor of charity, as I have shown you. Hence it is that you must no longer lay any claim to whatever you may do or suffer, either to increase your merits or to make satisfaction by penance or otherwise, since everything is sacrificed in favor of charity. Therefore, in imitation of Me you must act and suffer in silence without any other interest than the glory of God, in the establishment of the Reign of My Sacred Heart in the hearts of men, to whom I wish to manifest It by your means."
Thus Our Lord spoke to her, after she received Him in Holy Communion.
Our Lord Requests the Devotion of First Fridays be practiced: June 16, 1675
During the octave in preparation for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, while St. Margaret was close to the choir grate, Our Lord appeared to her upon the Altar.
"Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus. Therefore, I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor My Heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored."
The Devotion is Made Known to the World
Our Lord had St. Margaret ask that a Feast in honor of His Heart be offered Him by the Church on the Friday after the Solemnity of His Body and Blood (Corpus Christi), that such homage be paid to Himself by the King of France, and that the mission of propagating this devotion was to be entrusted to the Order of the Visitation Sisters and to the priests of the Society of Jesus.
After St. Margaret made this known to her spiritual director, the future St. Claude de la Colombiere. He consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and began to spread the devotion. From Paray-le-Monial, her convent, this devotion spread rapidly, under the care of the Jesuits, to the entire Church. Today, just out side of Paris, France, you can visit the Basilica built as a Act of National Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which commemorates the Apparitions of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She is buried at Paray-le-Monial, which is between Lyons and Paris. Her feast day is October 16. --George Pollard
Source: Catholic Culture
Catholic meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus Ping!
Prayer before an Image or Picture of the Sacred Heart
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, pour out Your benedictions upon the Holy Church, upon its priests, and upon all its children. Sustain the just, convert the sinners, assist the dying, deliver the souls in purgatory, and extend over all hearts the sweet empire of Your love. Amen.
The Human Heart of Jesus
Our First Intimations of the Sacred Heart Come in Our First Earthly Moments
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that if you want to build up the faith, you should begin by understanding nature. Meditation on the creation is indeed necessary in order to build up man's faith in God. Considering God's works, we are able to admire the wisdom and power of God. This admiration, then, moves us to reverence and to love of God.
The study of creation is necessary not only for the building up of faith, but for the destruction of errors. The philosopher Jacques Maritain pointed out that there is a tendency for Catholics to suffer from the sin of sacramentalism, dismissing nature in favor of the sacrament, as if all you have to do is to be open to grace to make your way in the world. But grace can only build upon nature.
I would like, then, to consider the human heart.
From the very moment of our conception, we are brought up under the umbrella of a mother's pulsating heart. We go through the whole embryological, fetal period, for nine months, having our tensions relieved, gaining our peace, by the regular rhythmic pulsating of the mother's heart. We live in an environment where, as unborn infants, we receive our oxygen from the mother without having to breathe, we get our food through the mother's circulation without having to eat. It is a peaceful existence always associated with the reassurance of a living mother, detected by the pulsating heart.
Our own heart comes into existence about 25 days after fertilization. If you consider this heart in proportion to the rest of the body, it is, at six weeks' gestation, around nine times the size of an adult heart. And the little embryo, which is now around a quarter of an inch, is bent over because it has a big head, and its head is leaning against its own pulsating heart, and its heart tone is beating in harmony with the mother's heart tone.
When the newborn baby is born into the world a strange world with considerable motion, light and noise the baby is now cold. It has gone through a very hard experience, coming down the birth canal. What will reassure this baby? It is the mother's bosom. The newborn goes directly to the mother's breast, and there it hears an old familiar tune, the pulsating beat of the mother's heart. And the baby once again feels secure.
Research shows that if you observe several hundred right-handed mothers, 80 percent of them will hold their babies on the left side. Observe left-handed women, and you'll find, again, that 80 percent of them hold their babies on the left side. Both groups, whether right- or left-handed, hold the baby close to the heart. If you ask left-handers why they do this, they'll reply, "Because I'm left-handed and can hold my baby more securely this way." If you ask right-handers, they'll say, "I'm right-handed, and holding my baby on the left frees my right hand to do other things."
These are rationalizations. Both groups are holding their babies on the left side for some reason that is obscure to them. It is not obscure to the baby.
Neither the child's heart nor the mother's heart accomplishes this peace on its own. Each is part of a constellation.
Consider the human and Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Pope John XXIII described as throbbing mysteriously behind the eucharistic veils. Pope Paul VI said that the Eucharist is the outstanding gift of the Sacred Heart.
When the baby is held to the mother's breast, the outstanding gift is the mother's milk. Thus the Sacred Heart is to the Eucharist as the mother's heart is to maternal milk, the milk of kindness. In both cases, we are relating the heart to food, to sustenance.
And what does the baby do most of the time at the mother's breast? It is looking at the mother's face. Mothers have long known what doctors have only recently found out: that babies can see, they can hear and they can smell. A baby can identify mother within 48 hours of birth. At the breast, nature has placed the baby at the optimum position and distance to see the mother's face.
Note, then, that when we want an expression of love from God, we ask Him to show His face to us: "Lord, let your face shine on us, and we shall be saved" (Ps 80:3). "May God show kindness and bless us and make His face smile on us" (Ps 67:1).
This is a very moving one: "If my father and mother desert me, Yahweh will care for me still" (Ps 27:10). This is the difference with the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart never fails to love a person, whereas sometimes parents can fail their children.
As we consider God's face, and the Eucharist, and the pulsating heart, the Sacred Heart, we discern a constellation that reflects what nature intends.
Moreover, Pope Pius XII said: "In order that favors may flow in great abundance on all Christians, even on the whole human race, from devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined."
The grace that comes from the Sacred Heart, the grace that comes from God's smiling face, the grace that comes from the Eucharist, all together make good the promise of nature from our earliest moments of life.
Adapted from a 1979 address by Dr. Herbert Ratner, the renowned philosopher of medicine
Short Litany of Aspirations
May I prove to You my love, O heart of Jesus, by a spirit of self-sacrifice for your interests.
May I cheerfully make every sacrifice You demand of me, 0 heart of my Jesus.
May the sacrifices You ask of me glorify You, *
May each sacrifice made forYour love draw me nearer to You,
By increasing in the spirit of self-sacrifice, may I become more like You.
May the sacrifices I make be agreeable to You,
May each sacrifice win one soul to You,
May each sacrifice prevent one mortal sin,
May each sacrifice earn a special grace for some soul,
May each sacrifice merit a holy death for some soul,
May each sacrifice relieve a soul in purgatory,
May each sacrifice ascend as a prayer to You,
May each sacrifice be as a hymn of praise to You,
May Your Holy Spirit instruct me more and more in the spirit of self-sacrifice,
May the spirit of self-sacrifice increase in our family,
May the same spirit be propagated throughout the whole Church, 0 Heart of my Jesus,
And may it hasten the Church's triumph.
O Lanb of God, sacrificed for us, give us a spirit of self-sacrifice.
O Lamb of God, daily immolating Yourself upon the altar for us, give us grace to immolate our wills for Your sake.
O Lamb of God, dying for us, give us grace to die to all that wounds your Sacred Heart.
* O Heart of My Jesus
Caritate Christi Compulsi (On The Sacred Heart)
To the Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries of Localities having Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Benediction.
Constrained by the Charity of Christ, in Our Encyclical Letter Nova impendet on the second day of October in last year, we incited the children of the Catholic Church--and, indeed, all men of good heart--to a pious emulation in love and in helpful action, so that the terrible evils that come from the economic crisis, and are everywhere oppressing human society, might be in some measure mitigated. Our invitation, indeed, was warmly welcomed with remarkable unanimity, through the active liberality of all. Nevertheless, since the distress is increasing and the hosts of men in affliction by enforced idleness are almost everywhere growing greater; and since seditious men make use of these difficulties and turn them to the advantage of their own several factions, it has come to pass that public institutions themselves are in a most critical situation, so that a very grave danger of disturbances and of a general upheaval is threatening civil society. In this state of things, Venerable Brethren. stirred up by the selfsame charity of Christ, We once more address you all, and the faithful committed to your care, and indeed all men, exhorting all and several that with all their forces united in a spirit of charity they should endeavor to withstand, by every possible effort, the calamities by which civil society is now afflicted and those yet graver calamities threatening it in the future.
2. Anyone who considers carefully the prolonged and bitter series of sufferings, the unhappy heritage of sin, whereby, as by so many stages, we mark the course of fallen man in this mortal pilgrimage, can hardly find any occasion since the flood, when the race of man was so deeply and so commonly tried by so many and such great distresses of body and of mind as those which we lament to see in the present troubles; for even the most terrible calamities and disasters which have left indelible traces on the records and the life of nations did but devastate now one people, now another. But in this troubled time the whole human race is so pressed by the scarcity of money and by the straits of the economic crisis that the more it struggles to get free, the more it feels itself inextricably fettered. And from this it comes that there is now no nation, no state, no society, no family, that is not either itself oppressed, more or less gravely, by these calamities, or else seems likely to be dragged down headlong by the ruin of others. Nay more, those very men, very few indeed, who since they are endowed with immense riches, seemed to control the government of the world, those very few, moreover, who, being addicted to excessive gain, were and are in great part the cause of such great evils; those very men--we say--are often, with little honor, the first to be ruined, grasping the goods and the fortunes of very many unto their own destruction; so that we may see how the judgment, spoken by the Holy Spirit concerning guilty individual men, is now verified in the whole world: "By what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented" (Wisdom xi. 17).
3. Lamenting this unhappy state of things from our innermost heart, We are compelled as by a certain necessity to express, according to our weakness, the same words that came from the love of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, crying out in like manner: "I have compassion on the multitude" (Mark viii. 2). But, indeed, the root itself from which this most unhappy state of things arises is yet more to be lamented; for if that judgment of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed by the Apostle St. Paul, "the desire of money is the root of all evils," was always in close agreement with the facts, this is more than ever true at the present time. For is not that avidity for perishable goods which was justly and rightly mocked, even by a heathen poet as the execrable hunger of gold, "auri sacra fames"; is not that sordid seeking for each one's own benefit, which is very often the only motive by which bonds between either individuals or societies are instituted; and, lastly, is not this cupidity, by whatsoever name or style it is called, the chief reason why we now see, to our sorrow, that mankind is brought to its present critical condition? For it is from this that come the first shoots of a mutual suspicion which saps the strength of any human commerce; hence come the sparks of an envy which accounts the goods of others a loss to itself; hence comes that sordid and excessive self-love which orders and subordinates all things to its own advantage, and not only neglects but tramples upon the advantage of others; and, lastly, hence come the iniquitous disturbance of affairs and the unequal division of "possessions, as a result of which the wealth of nations is heaped up in the hands of a very few private men, who--as We warned you last year, in Our Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno--control the trade of the whole world at their will, thereby doing immense harm to the people.
4. Now if this excessive love of self and of one's own, by an abuse of the legitimate care for our country and an undue exaltation of the feelings of piety towards our own people (which piety is not condemned but hallowed and strengthened by the right order of Christian charity) encroaches on the mutual relations and the ties between peoples, there is hardly anything so abnormal that it will not be regarded as free from fault; so that the same deed which would be condemned by the judgment of all when it is done by private individuals, is held to be honest and worthy of praise when it is done for the love of the country. In this way, a hatred, which must needs be fatal to all, supplants the Divine law of brotherly love which bound all nations and peoples into one family under one Father who is in Heaven; in the administration of public affairs the Divine laws, which are the standard of all civic life and culture, are trampled under foot; the firm foundations of right and faith, on which the commonwealth rests, are overturned; and, lastly, men corrupt and obliterate the principles handed down by their ancestors, according to which the worship of God and the strict observance of His law form the finest flower and the safest pillar of the state. Furthermore--and this may be called the most perilous of all these evils--the enemies of all order, whether they be called Communists or by some other name, exaggerating the very grave straits of the economic crisis, in this great perturbation of morals, with extreme audacity, direct all their efforts to one end, seeking to cast away every bridle from their necks, and breaking the bonds of all law both human and divine, wage an atrocious war against all religion and against God Himself; in this it is their purpose to uproot utterly all knowledge and sense of religion from the minds of men, even from the tenderest age, for they know well that if once the Divine law and knowledge were blotted out from the minds of men there would now be nothing that they could not arrogate to themselves. And thus we now see with our own eyes--what we have not read of as happening anywhere before--impious men, agitated by unspeakable fury, shamelessly liking up a banner against God and against all religion throughout the whole world.
5. It is true, indeed, that wicked men were never wanting, nor men who denied the existence of God; but these last were very few in number, and, being alone and singular, they either feared to express their evil mind openly, or thought it inopportune to do so. The Psalmist, inspired by the Divine Spirit, seems to hint this in those words: "The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God" (Ps. xiii. 1, lii. 1); as though he showed us such an impious man, as one solitary in a multitude, denying that God his Maker exists, but shutting up this sin in his innermost mind. But in this age of ours, this most pernicious error is now propagated far and wide amid the multitude, it is insinuated even in the popular schools, and shows itself openly in the theaters; and in order that it may be spread abroad as far as possible, its advocates seek aid from the latest inventions, from what are called cinematographic scenes, from gramophonic and radiophonic concerts and discourses; and possessed of printing offices of their own, they print books in all languages, and, taking a triumphant course, they publicly display the monuments and documents of their impiety. Nor is this enough; for dispersed among political, economical and military parties, and closely associated with them, through their heralds, by means of committees, by pictures and leaflets, and all other possible means, they labor diligently in the evil work of spreading their opinions among all classes and societies, and in the public ways; and to carry this further, supported by the authority and work of their universities, they succeed at last by forceful industry in binding fast those who have incautiously allowed themselves to be aggregated to their body. When We consider all this careful labor devoted to the advantage of an unlawful cause, that most sad complaint of Christ our Lord spontaneously rises in our mind and on our lips: "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light" (Luke xvi. 8).
6. Now, the leaders and authors of this iniquitous faction do all they can to turn the present distress and need of all things to their own purpose; and they seek, by infamous cavils, to persuade the people that God and religion are to blame as the cause of all these great evils; and that the sacred Cross of Christ our Savior itself, the ensign of poverty and humility, may be compared with the ensigns of the modern lust of domineering; as though, forsooth, religion was joined in friendly union with those conventicles of darkness which have brought such an immense mass of misery upon the whole world. And by this line of argument they strive, not without fatal effect, to mix up the struggle for daily food, the desire to possess a smallholding, to have a fair wage, an honorable home and, lastly, those conditions of life that are not unworthy of a man, with their iniquitous war against God. It may be added that these same men, going beyond all measure, treat alike the legitimate appetites of nature and its unbridled lusts, so long as this seems to favor their impious plans and institutions; as though the eternal laws promulgated by God were in conflict with man's happiness, whereas they create it and preserve it; or as if the power of man, however much it may be augmented by the latest inventions of art, could prevail against the most mighty will of God the Best and Greatest and give to the world a new and a better order.
7. And now, indeed, which is much to be lamented, immense multitudes of men, having completely lost touch with the truth, adopt these delusions, and believing that they are fighting for livelihood and culture utter violent invectives against God and against religion. Nor is this directed against the Catholic religion alone. For it is against all those that acknowledge God as the Author of this visible world, and as the Supreme Ruler of all things. Moreover, the Secret Societies, which by their nature are ever ready to help the enemies of God and of the Church--be these who they may--are seeking to add fresh fires to this poisonous hatred, from which there comes no peace or happiness of the civil order, but the certain ruin of states.
8. In this wise, this new form of impiety, while it removes all checks from the most powerful lusts of man, most impudently proclaims that there will be no peace and no happiness on earth until the last vestige of religion has been uprooted, and the last of its followers beheaded-- as though they thought that the wondrous concert wherein all created things "show forth the glory of God" (cf. Ps. xviii. 2) could ever be reduced to everlasting silence.
9. We know very well, Venerable Brethren, that all these efforts will come to nought, since without doubt, and in His own appointed time, "God shall arise, and his enemies shall be scattered" (Ps. Ixvii. 2); We know that the gates of Hell shall never prevail (cf. Matt. xvi. 18); We know that Our Divine Redeemer, as was foretold of Him, "shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth" (cf. Isaias xi. 4); and there will be a dreadful hour for those wretched men, when they shall fall "into the hands of the living God" (cf. Heb x. 31).
10. Our unshaken hope in this complete victory of God and of the Church receives daily confirmation (such is the infinite mercy of God!) from the noble ardor of innumerable souls whom we see turning themselves to God, in every country and in all classes of society. For most certainly a very powerful afflatus of the Holy Spirit is rushing through all lands, and is moving the hearts, especially the hearts of the young, to mount upwards to the highest summits of the Christian law, and, raising them above the vain observance of men, makes them ready to undertake even the most arduous deeds. This divine afflatus, We say, stirs the souls of all, even those who were unwilling, filling them with an intimate solicitude, and gives the yearning for God even to those who do not dare to acknowledge it. In like manner Our invitation to laymen, calling them to join the hosts of Catholic Action in order that they might become partakers in the apostolate of the hierarchy, has been accepted by the multitudes of the docile and the magnanimous in all lands; and the number of those who are striving with all their strength to defend the Christian law and to bring the whole life of the commonwealth into harmony with it, is daily growing both in the cities and in the country; and these men strive likewise to confirm the principles they preach, by the example of a blameless life. But when We behold so much impiety, so much trampling under foot of the most holy institutions, such great destruction of immortal souls, and lastly such great contempt of the Divine Majesty, We cannot refrain, Venerable Brethren, from pouring out the most bitter sorrow by which We are oppressed, and from lifting up Our voice with all the strength of 478 the apostolic heart, in defense of the outraged rights of God, and of the holy desires of the human soul in its absolute need of God; and We do this the more readily because these hostile hosts, raging with diabolical spirit, are not content with declamation, but are striving with all their strength to give effect to their nefarious plans as speedily as possible. Woe to the race of men if God, being treated with such contempt by the natures He has made, should leave an open course to these floods of devastation, and should use them as scourges to punish the world withal!
11. It is needful, therefore, Venerable Brethren, that we should unflinchingly set up "a wall for the house of Israel" (Ezechiel xiii. 5), and that we too should join all our forces together into one solid band against these hostile ranks which are hostile both to God and to mankind. For in this fight we are contending for the greatest question that can be proposed to human liberty: either for God or against God; here, again, is a debate in which the fate of the whole world is concerned; for in every matter, in politics, in economics, in morals, in discipline, in the arts, in the state, in civic and domestic society, in the East and in the West, everywhere we meet with this debate, and its consequences are a matter of supreme moment. And so it comes to pass that even the masters of that sect which foolishly says that the world is nothing but matter, and boasts that it has already shown for certain that there is no God--even these are constrained, again and again, to institute discussions about Him, though they thought they had done away with Him altogether.
12. Wherefore, We exhort all, private individuals as well as states, in the Lord, that now when such grave matters are agitated, critical questions concerning the welfare of all mankind, to lay aside that sordid and selfish regard for nothing but their own advantage, which blunts even the keenest minds, and cuts short even the noblest enterprises if they go the least bit beyond the narrow bounds of self-interest. Let all, then, join together, if need be even at the cost of serious loss, so that they may save themselves and all human society. In this union of minds and of forces, those who glory in the Christian name ought surely to take the foremost place, remembering the illustrious examples of the Apostolic age, when "the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul" (Acts iv. 32). but besides these, all whoever sincerely acknowledge God and honor Him from their heart should lend their aid in order that mankind may be saved from the great peril impending over all. For since all human authority must needs rest on the recognition of God, as on the firm foundation of any civil order, those who would not have all things overturned and all laws abrogated, must strive strenuously to prevent the enemies of religion from giving effect to the plans which they have so openly and so vehemently proclaimed.
13. Nor are We unaware, Venerable Brethren, that in this fight for our altars we must also use all the legitimate human arms which are ready to our hands. For this reason, in Our Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno, following in the footsteps of Our predecessor, Leo XIII of illustrious memory, We contended so strenuously for a more equal division of earthly goods, indicating all those things by which the health and vigor of all human society may be most efficaciously restored, and peace and tranquillity may be given to its laboring members. For since a most vehement desire of obtaining a certain honorable happiness, even on this earth, has been implanted by the Maker of all things in the minds of mortal men, the Christian law has ever regarded with benevolence and actively fostered all legitimate efforts to promote the progress of true science, and to lead men by the right path to a higher condition.
14. However, in the face of this satanic hatred of religion, which reminds Us of the "mystery of iniquity" (Thess. ii. 7) referred to by St. Paul, mere human means and expedients are not enough, and We should consider ourselves wanting in Our apostolic ministry if We did not point out to mankind those wonderful mysteries of light, that alone contain the hidden strength to subjugate the unchained powers of darkness. When Our Lord, coming down from the splendors of Thabor, had healed the boy tormented by the devil, whom the disciples had not been able to cure, to their humble question: "Why could not we cast him out?" He made reply in the memorable words: "This kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting" (Matth. xvii. 18, 20). It appears to Us, Venerable Brethren, that these divine words find a peculiar application in the evils of our times, which can be averted only by means of prayer and penance.
15. Mindful then of our condition, that we are essentially limited and absolutely dependent on the Supreme Being, before everything else let us have recourse to prayer. We know through faith how great is the power of humble, trustful, persevering prayer. To no other pious work have ever been attached such ample, such universal, such solemn promises as to prayer: "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened" (Matth. vii. 7). "Amen, amen I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name He will give it you" (Io. xvi. 23).
16. And what object could be more worthy of our prayer, and more in keeping with the adorable person of Him who is the only "mediator of God and men, the Man Jesus Christ" (I Tim. ii. 5), than to beseech Him to preserve on earth faith in one God living and true? Such prayer bears already in itself a part of its answer; for in the very act of prayer a man unites himself with God and, so to speak, keeps alive on earth the idea of God. The man who prays, merely by his humble posture, professes before the world his faith in the Creator and Lord of all things; joined with others in prayer, he recognizes, that not only the individual, but human society as a whole has over it a supreme and absolute Lord.
17. What a spectacle for heaven and earth is not the Church in prayer! For centuries without interruption, from midnight to midnight, is repeated on earth the divine psalmody of the inspired canticles; there is no hour of the day that is not hallowed by its special liturgy; there is no stage of life that has not its part in the thanksgiving, praise, supplication and reparation in common use by the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church. Thus prayer of itself assures the presence of God among men, according to the promise of the divine Redeemer: "Where there are two or three gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matth. xviii. 20).
18. In addition, prayer will remove the fundamental cause of present day difficulties, which We have mentioned above, that is the insatiable greed for earthly goods. The man who prays looks above to the goods of heaven whereon he meditates and which he desires; his whole being is plunged in the contemplation of the marvelous order established by God, which knows not the frenzy of earthly successes nor the futile competitions of ever increasing speed; and thus automatically, as it were, will be re-established that equilibrium between work and rest, whose entire absence from society today is responsible for grave dangers to life physical, economic and moral. If, therefore, those, who through the excessive production of manufactured goods have fallen into unemployment and poverty, made up their minds to give the proper time to prayer, there is no doubt that work and production would soon be brought within reasonable limits, and that the conflict which now divides humanity into two great camps struggling for transient interests, would be changed into a noble and peaceful contest for goods heavenly and eternal.
19. In like manner will the way be opened to the peace we long for, as St. Paul beautifully remarks in the passage where he joins the precept of prayer to holy desires for the peace and salvation of all men: "I desire, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high station, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of truth" (I Tim. ii. 1-4). Let peace be implored for all men, but especially for those who in human society have the grave responsibilities of government; for how could they give peace to their peoples, if they have it not themselves? And it is prayer precisely, that, according to the Apostle, will bring the gift of peace; prayer that is addressed to the Heavenly Father who is the Father of all men; prayer that is the common expression of family feelings, of that great family which extends beyond the boundaries of any country and continent.
20. Men who in every nation pray to the same God for peace on earth will not kindle flames of discord among the peoples; men who turn in prayer to the divine Majesty, will not set up in their own country a craving for domination; nor foster that inordinate love of country which of its own nation makes its own god; men who look to the "God of peace and of love" (II Cor. xiii. 11), who turn to Him through the mediation of Christ, who is "our peace" (Eph. ii. 14), will never rest until finally that peace which the world cannot give, comes down from the Giver of every good gift on "men of good will" (Luc. ii. 14).
21. "Peace be to you" (Io. xx. 26) was the Easter greeting of Our Lord to His Apostles and first disciples; and this blessed greeting from those first times until our day has ever found place in the sacred Liturgy of the Church, and today more than ever should comfort and refresh aching and oppressed human hearts.
22. But to prayer we must also join penance, the spirit of penance, and the practice of Christian penance. Thus Our divine Master teaches us, whose first preaching was precisely penance: "Jesus began to preach and to say, Do penance" (Matth. iv. 17). The same is the teaching of all Christian tradition, of the whole history of the Church. In the great calamities, in the great tribulations of Christianity, when the need of God's help was most pressing, the faithful either spontaneously, or more often following the lead and exhortations of their holy Pastors, have always taken in hand the two most mighty weapons of spiritual life: prayer and penance. By that sacred instinct, by which unconsciously as it were the Christian people is guided when not led astray by the sowers of tares, and which is none other than that "mind of Christ" (I Cor. ii. 16) of which the Apostle speaks, the faithful have always felt immediately in such cases the need of purifying their souls from sin with contrition of heart, with the sacrament of reconciliation, and of appeasing divine Justice with external works of penance as well.
23. Certainly We know, and with you, Venerable Brethren, We deplore the fact that in our day the idea and the name of expiation and penance have with many lost in great part the power of rousing enthusiasm of heart and heroism of sacrifice. In other times they were able to inspire such feelings, for they appeared in the eyes of men of faith as sealed with a divine mark in likeness of Christ and His Saints: but nowadays there are some who would put aside external mortifications as things of the past; without mentioning the modern exponent of liberty, the "autonomous man" as he is called, who despises penance as bearing the mark of servitude. As a fact the notion of the need of penance and expiation is lost in proportion as belief in God is weakened, and the idea of an original sin and of a first rebellion of man against God becomes confused and disappears.
24. But We, on the other hand, Venerable Brethren, in virtue of Our pastoral office, must bear aloft these names and these ideas, and preserve them in their true meaning, in their genuine dignity, and still more in their practical and necessary application to Christian life. To this We are urged by the very defense of God and Religion, which We sustain, since penance is of its nature a recognition and a re-establishment of the moral order in the world which is founded on the eternal law, that is on the living God. He who makes satisfaction to God for sin, recognizes thereby the sanctity of the highest principles of morality, their internal binding power, the need of a sanction against their violation. Certainly one of the most dangerous errors of our age is the claim to separate morality from religion, thus removing all solid basis for any legislation. This intellectual error might perhaps have passed unnoticed and appeared less dangerous when it was confined to a few, and belief in God was still the common heritage of mankind, and was tacitly presumed even in the case of those who no longer professed it openly. But today, when atheism is spreading through the masses of the people, the practical consequences of such an error become dreadfully tangible, and realities of the saddest kind make their appearance in the world. In place of moral laws, which disappear together with the loss of faith in God, brute force is imposed, trampling on every right. Old time fidelity and honesty of conduct and mutual intercourse extolled so much even by the orators and poets of paganism, now give place to speculations in one's own affairs as in those of others without reference to conscience. In fact, how can any contract be maintained, and what value can any treaty have, in which every guarantee of conscience is lacking? And how can there be talk of guarantees of conscience, when all faith in God and all fear of God has vanished? Take away this basis, and with it all moral law falls, and there is no remedy left to stop the gradual but inevitable destruction of peoples, families, the State, civilization itself.
25. Penance then is, as it were, a salutary weapon placed in the hands of the valiant soldiers of Christ, who wish to fight for the defense and restoration of the moral order in the universe. It is a weapon that strikes right at the root of all evil, that is at the lust of material wealth and the wanton pleasures of life. By means of voluntary sacrifices, by means of practical and even painful acts of self-denial, by means of various works of penance, the noble-hearted Christian subdues the base passions that tend to make him violate the moral order. But if zeal for the divine law and brotherly love are as great in him as they should be, then not only does he practice penance for himself and his own sins, but he takes upon himself the expiation of the sins of others, imitating the Saints who often heroically made themselves victims of reparation for the sins of whole generations, imitating even the divine Redeemer, who became the Lamb of God "who taketh away the sins of the world" (lo. i. 29).
26. Is there not perchance, Venerable Brethren, in this spirit of penance also a sweet mystery of peace? "There is no peace to the wicked" (Is. Iviii. 22), says the Holy Spirit, because they live in continuous struggle and conflict with the order established by nature and by its Creator. Only when this order is restored, when all peoples faithfully and spontaneously recognize and profess it, when the internal conditions of peoples and their outward relations with other nations are founded on this basis, then only will stable peace be possible on earth. But to create this atmosphere of lasting peace, neither peace treaties, nor the most solemn pacts, nor international meetings or conferences, nor even the noblest and most disinterested efforts of any statesman, will be enough, unless in the first place are recognized the sacred rights of natural and divine law. No leader in public economy, no power of organization will ever be able to bring social conditions to a peaceful solution, unless first in the very field of economics there triumphs moral law based on God and conscience. This is the underlying value of every value in the political life as well as in the economic life of nations; this is the soundest "rate of exchange." If it is kept steady, all the rest will be stable, being guaranteed by the immutable and eternal law of God.
27. And even for men individually, penance is the foundation and bearer of true peace detaching them from earthly and perishable goods, lifting them up to goods that are eternal, giving them, even in the midst of privations and adversity, a peace that the world with all its wealth and pleasures cannot give. One of the most pleasing and most joyous songs ever heard in this vale tears is without doubt the famous "Canticle of the Sun" of St. Francis. Now the man who composed it, who wrote it and sang it, was one of the greatest penitents, the Poor Man of Assisi, who possessed absolutely nothing on earth, and bore in his emaciated body the painful Stigmata of His Crucified Lord.
28. Prayer, then, and penance are the two potent inspirations sent to us at this time by God, that we may lead back to Him mankind that has gone astray and wanders about without a guide: they are the inspirations that will dispel and remedy the first and principal cause of every form of disturbance and rebellion, the revolt of man against God. But the peoples themselves are called upon to make up their minds to a definite choice: either they entrust themselves to these benevolent and beneficent inspirations and are converted, humble and repentant, to the Lord and the Father of mercies, or they hand over themselves and what little remains of happiness on earth to the mercy of the enemy of God, to the spirit of vengeance and destruction.
29. Nothing remains for Us, therefore, but to invite this poor world that has shed so much blood, has dug so many graves, has destroyed so many works, has deprived so many men of bread and labor, nothing else remains for us, We say, but to invite it in the loving words of the sacred Liturgy: "Be thou converted to the Lord thy God."
30. What more suitable occasion can We indicate, Venerable Brethren, for such a union of prayer and reparation, than the approaching Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? The proper spirit of this solemnity, as we amply showed four years ago in Our Encyclical Letter Miserentissimus, is the spirit of loving reparation, and therefore it was Our will that on that day every year in perpetuity there should be made in all the churches of the world a public act of reparation for all the offenses that wound that divine Heart.
31. Let, therefore, this year the Feast of the Sacred Heart be for the whole Church one of holy rivalry of reparation and supplication. Let the faithful hasten in large numbers to the eucharistic board, hasten to the foot of the altar to adore the Redeemer of the world, under the veils of the Sacrament, that you, Venerable Brethren, will have solemnly exposed that day in all churches, let them pour out to that Merciful Heart that has known all the griefs of the human heart, the fullness of their sorrow, the steadfastness of their faith, the trust of their hope, the ardor of their charity. Let them pray to Him, interposing likewise the powerful patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, for themselves and for their families, for their country, for the Church; let them pray to Him for the Vicar of Christ on earth and for all the other Pastors, who share with him the dread burden of the spiritual government of souls; let them pray for their brethren who believe, for their brethren who err, for unbelievers, for infidels, even for the enemies of God and the Church, that they may be converted, and let them pray for the whole of poor mankind.
32. Let this spirit of prayer and reparation be maintained with keen earnestness and intensity by all the faithful during the entire octave, to which dignity it has pleased Us to raise this feast; and during this octave, in the manner that each of you, Venerable Brethren, according to local circumstances, shall think opportune to prescribe or counsel, let there be public prayers and other devout exercises of piety, for the intentions We have briefly touched on above, "that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid." (Hebr. iv. 16.)
33. May this be indeed for the whole Christian people an octave of reparation and of holy austerity; let these be days of mortification and of prayer. Let the faithful abstain at least from entertainments and amusements however lawful; let those who are in easier circumstances deduct also something voluntarily, in the spirit of Christian renunciation from the moderate measure of their usual manner of life bestowing rather on the poor the proceeds of this retrenchment, since almsgiving is also an excellent means of satisfying divine Justice and drawing down divine mercies. And let the poor, and all those who at this time are facing the hard trial of unemployment and scarcity of food, let them in a like spirit of penance offer with greater resignation the privations imposed on them by these hard times and the state of society, which divine Providence in its inscrutable but ever-loving plan has assigned them. Let them accept with a humble and trustful heart from the hand of God the effects of poverty, rendered harder by the distress in which mankind is now struggling; let them rise more generously even to the divine sublimity of the Cross of Christ, reflecting on the fact, that if work is among the greatest values of life, it was nevertheless love of a suffering God that saved the world; let them take comfort in the certainty that their sacrifices and their trials borne in a Christian spirit will concur efficaciously to hasten the hour of mercy and peace.
34. The divine Heart of Jesus cannot but be moved at the prayers and sacrifices of His Church, and He will finally say to His Spouse, weeping at His feet under the weight of so many griefs and woes: "Great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt." (Matth. xv. 28.)
35. With this confidence, strengthened by the memory of the Cross, sacred symbol and precious instrument of our holy redemption, the glorious Invention of which we celebrate today, to you, Venerable Brethren, to your clergy and people, to the whole Catholic world, We impart with paternal love the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross, the third day of May in the year 1932, the eleventh of Our Pontificate. (Pope Pius XI)
Daily Prayer to the Sacred Heart
0 Sacred Heart of Jesus, mercifully accept the prayer which I now make to You for help in the moment of my death, when at its approach all my senses shall fail me.
When, therefore, 0 kind and merciful Jesus, my weary and downcast eyes can no longer look up to You, be mindful of the loving gaze which I now turn to You, and have mercy on me, a sinner.
When my parched lips can no longer kiss your most sacred wounds, remember that hour those kisses which I now imprint on You, and have mercy on me, a sinner.
When my cold hands can no longer embrace Your cross, forget not the affection with which I embrace it now, and have mercy upon me, a sinner. When my swollen and lifeless tongue can no longer speak, remember that I called upon You now, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, to you I commend my soul.
0 Sacred Heart of Jesus, filled with infinite love, broken by my ingratitude and pierced by my many sins and yet loving you still, accept this act of consecration that I make to You of all that I am and all that I have. Take every faculty of my soul and body, draw me day by day near and nearer to Your Sacred Heart, and there, as I can bear the lesson, teach me Your blessed way.
0 Sacred Heart of Jesus, Incarnate Son of God, who for our salvation did vouchsafe to be born in a stable, to pass Your life in poverty, trials, and misery, and to die amid the sufferings of the cross, I entreat You, in the hour of my death to say to Your divine Father, "Father forgive Him"; Say to my soul, "This day you to shall be with me in Paradise." My God, my God forsake me not in that hour. "I thirst"-truly, my God, my soul thirsts after You, who are the fountain of living waters. My life passes like a shadow; yet a little while and all will be consummated. Wherefore, my adorable Savior from this moment, and for all eternity, "into your hands I commend my spirit." Lord Jesus, receive my soul.
O Queen of the Holy Rosary and most kind and loving Mother of Perpetual Help, in memory of your Seven Sorrows, intercede for us with your divine Son and beg Him, in honor of His precious blood and sacred passion and death upon the cross, to forgive our sins and grant us the grace of a holy and happy death. Amen. (Say one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.)
Heart of Jesus, have mercy!
1. "We honour your Heart, O Jesus ...".
I thank divine Providence that together with all of you here present I am able to give praise and glory to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the most complete revelation of the paternal love of God. I am glad that the devout practice of reciting or singing the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day during the month of June is very much alive in Poland and continues to be followed.
I greet everyone gathered here this Sunday afternoon. In a special way I greet Bishop Andrzej, Pastor of this Diocese, his Auxiliary Bishop and the whole Polish Episcopate with the Cardinal Primate, who celebrated today's service, the priests, consecrated men and women and all the People of God in the Diocese of Elblag. I extend a cordial welcome to the pilgrims from Russia, from the district of Kaliningrad, who have come here with their Archbishop, Tadeusz. I also greet the faithful of the Greek Catholic Church. And I greet all the members of the young Church in Elblag, which is particularly linked to the figure of St Adalbert. Not far from here, according to tradition, he gave his life for Christ at Swiety Gaj. In the course of history, the death of this martyr has produced in this land abundant fruits of holiness. In this place I wish to remember Bl. Dorota of Matowy, wife and mother of nine children, and also the Servant of God Regina Protmann, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Catherine, whom God-will-ing the Church will raise to the glory of the altars during this pilgrimage through my ministry in Warsaw. Another one to be enrolled in the ranks of the blessed will be a son of this land, Fr Wladyslaw Demski, who gave his life in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, publicly defending the cross which was sacrilegiously profaned by the executioners. You have received this magnificent spiritual heritage and you must care for it, develop it and build the future of this land and of the Church in Elblag on the solid foundation of faith and religious life.
Christ's Heart is fount of life and holiness
2. "Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us".
Thus we invoke Jesus in the litany. Everything that God wanted to tell us about himself and about his love he placed in the Heart of Jesus, and by means of that Heart he has told us everything. We find ourselves before an inscrutable mystery. In Jesus' Heart we read the eternal divine plan of the world's salvation. It is a plan of love. The litany we have sung marvellously expresses this whole truth.
We have come here today to contemplate the love of the Lord Jesus, his goodness which is compassionate towards every person; to contemplate his Heart blazing with love for the Father, in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Christ loves us and reveals his Heart to us as the fount of life and holiness, the source of our redemption. In order to have a deeper understanding of this invocation, we must turn perhaps to Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman in the little town of Sychar, at the well which had been there since the time of the patriarch Jacob. She had come to draw water. Jesus said to her: "Give me a drink", and she answered him: "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?". The Evangelist then adds that the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. She then received Jesus' response: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water ... the water that I shall give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (cf. Jn 4:1-14). Mysterious words.
Jesus is the source; it is from him that divine life in man finds its beginning. To have this life, we need only approach him and remain in him. And what is this life if not the beginning of human holiness, the holiness which is in God and which man can reach with the help of grace? All of us wish to drink from the divine Heart, which is the source of life and holiness.
3. "Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times" (Ps 106:3).
Brothers and sisters, meditating on God's love, revealed in the Heart of his Son, requires a consistent response on our part. We have not been called only to contemplate the mystery of Christ's love, but take part in it. Christ says: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (Jn 14:15). He thus places before us a great calling and at the same time a condition: if you want to love me, keep my commandments, keep God's holy law, walk in the ways God has shown you and I have shown you by the example of my life.
Ten Commandments are foundation of morality
God's will is that we keep the commandments, that is, the law of God given to Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses. Given to all people everywhere. We know the commandments. Many of you repeat them everyday in prayer. That is a very good and devout practice. Let us repeat them now, as they are found in the Book of Exodus, to confirm and renew what we remember:
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour's house.
You shall not covet your neighbour's wife" (cf. Ex 20:2-17).
This is the foundation of the morality given to man by the Creator: the Decalogue, the ten commandments of God pronounced resolutely on Mount Sinai and confirmed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, in the context of the eight Beatitudes. The Creator, who at the same time is the supreme lawgiver, has inscribed on the human heart the whole order of truth. This order determines what is good, provides a foundation for the moral order and constitutes the basis of the dignity of man created in God's image. The commandments were given for the good of mankind, for man's personal good and the good of family and society. They are truly the way for all people. The material order by itself is not enough. It must be completed and enriched by the supernatural order. Thanks to this, life takes on a new meaning and man is made better. Life, in fact, needs the power that comes from divine, supernatural values; only then does it take on its full splendour.
Christ confirmed this law of the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount he spoke clearly to his hearers: "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Mt 5:17). Christ came to fulfil the law, above all to give it its proper content and meaning, and to show its full significance and depth: the law is perfect when it is pervaded by love of God and love of neighbour. It is love that determines man's moral perfection and his likeness to God. "He who has my commandments and keeps them", says Christ, "he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him" (Jn 14:21). Today's liturgical celebration dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of God's love, for which man yearns intensely. It shows us that the practical response to this love is the keeping of God's commandments in our daily lives. God does not intend that they should grow dim in our memory but that they should remain forever impressed on people's consciences so that, knowing and keeping the commandments, they "might have eternal life".
Sin weighs heavily on mankind's history
4. "Happy are they who practise righteousness".
The Psalmist refers thus to those who follow the path of the commandments and keep them to the end (cf. Ps 119:32-33). Keeping the divine law, in fact, is the basis for obtaining the gift of eternal life, that is, the happiness that never ends. To the question of the rich young man, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" (Mt 19:16), Jesus responds: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17). This response by Jesus is particularly important in our modern reality, in which many people live as though there were no God. The temptation to organize the world and one's own life without God or even in opposition to God, without his commandments and without the Gospel, is a very real temptation and threatens us too. When human life and the world are built without God, they will eventually turn against man himself. We have seen many proofs of it in this 20th century now drawing to a close. Breaking the divine commandments, abandoning the path traced out for us by God, means falling into the slavery of sin, and "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23).
We find ourselves face to face with the reality of sin. Sin is an offence against God, it is being disobedient to him, to his law, to the moral norms which God has given to man, inscribing them on the human heart, confirming and perfecting them by Revelation. Sin pits itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from him. Sin is "love of self carried to the point of contempt for God", as St Augustine put it (De Civitate Dei, 14, 28). Sin is a great evil in all its many dimensions. Starting with original sin, to the personal sins committed by each person, to social sins, the sins which weigh heavily on the history of the entire human family.
We must be constantly aware of this great evil, we must constantly cultivate the subtle sensitivity and clear consciousness of the seeds of death contained in sin. This is what is commonly known as the sense of sin. Its source is to be found in man's moral conscience; it is linked to the knowledge of God, to the experience of union with the Creator, Lord and Father. The more profound this awareness of union with God strengthened by a person's sacramental life and by sincere prayer the clearer the sense of sin is. The reality of God lays open and sheds light on the mystery of man. We must do all that we can to make our consciences more sensitive, and to guard them from becoming deformed or imperceptive.
From the Heart of Jesus we learn God's love
We see what great tasks God has put before us. We must truly form our humanity in the image and likeness of God, to become people who love the law of God and want to live according to it. The Psalmist cries out: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Ps 51:1-2). Is this not for us a touching example of the man who presents himself repentant before God? He desires metanoia for his own heart, so that he may become a new creature, different, transformed by God's power.
St Adalbert stands before us. We feel his presence here because in this land he gave his life for Christ. For a thousand years he has been telling us, by the witness of his martyrdom, that holiness is attained by sacrifice, that there is no room here for compromise, that we must be faithful to the end, that we must have the courage to protect the image of God in our souls even if it means paying the ultimate price. His martyr's death is a reminder to all that by dying to evil and sin they will enable the new man to come to birth in themselves, the man of God who keeps the Lord's commandments.
5. Dear brothers and sisters, let us contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the source of life, since by means of it victory over death was achieved. It is also the source of holiness, since in it sin the enemy of man's holiness, the enemy of his spiritual development is defeated. The Heart of the Lord Jesus is the starting-point of the holiness of each one of us. From the Heart of the Lord Jesus let us learn the love of God and understanding of the mystery of sin mysterium iniquitatis.
Let us make acts of reparation to the Divine Heart for the sins committed by us and by our fellow men. Let us make reparation for rejecting God's goodness and love.
Let us draw close each day to this fount from which flow springs of living water. Let us cry out with the Samaritan woman: "Give us this water", for it wells up to eternal life.
Heart of Jesus,burning flame of love,
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, expiation for our sins
have mercy on us. Amen.
Pope John Paul II
Remember, O most kind Jesus, that none who have had recourse to Your Sacred Heart, implored its assistance, or called for mercy, have ever been abandoned. Filled, and animated by this same confidence, O divine Heart, Ruler of all hearts, I fly to You, and oppressed beneath the weight of my sins, I prostrate myself before You. Despise not Your unworthy child, but grant me, I pray, an entrance into Your Sacred Heart. Sustain me in all my combats and be with me now, and at all times, but especially in the hour of my death. 0 gracious Jesus! 0 amiable Jesus! 0 loving Jesus!
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