Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: meditation from Divine Intimacy
22 June 2022
by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD
Since the ascent from Lent to Easter and from Easter to Pentecost, we have continued to contemplate the holiest mysteries of our faith with the feasts of Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi. Now, as we prepare for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we reflect on the love of Our Lord, manifested in all of the mysteries of His Life, Death and Resurrection — and in His Ascension, by which He has opened Heaven to us and prepared to consummate His promise to send the Holy Ghost, by which He is with His Church until the end of time. All the while, we continue the ascent of our earthly pilgrimage toward the heavenly Jerusalem, and our liturgical ascent toward the feast of the Assumption, when our Mother Mary received her rightful crown as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Towards the end of his life, Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD (1893–1953), began to compile and condense his life’s work, which covered all aspects of the interior life, into a book of meditations for every day of the liturgical year. He was assisted in this task by the Discalced Carmelite nuns from the Monastery of St Joseph in Rome, with whom he worked closely in setting out this work, according to the method of mental prayer of St Teresa of Avila and the spiritual doctrine of St John of the Cross; both of which are oriented towards intimacy with God through contemplation in a spirit of love. After Fr Gabriel’s death, the community, completed the work which would become known under the title of “Divine Intimacy”.
O Jesus, grant that I may penetrate the secrets hidden in Your divine Heart.
After we have contemplated the Eucharist, a gift crowning all the gifts of the love of Jesus for men, the Church invites us to give direct consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His gifts. We may call the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the feast of His love for us. “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” Jesus said to St Margaret Mary; “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” the Church repeats to us today, showing us that it is truly “in the Heart of Christ, wounded by our sins, that God has deigned to give us the infinite treasures of His love” (cf. Collect).
Today’s liturgy, inspired with this thought, reviews the immense benefits we owe to the love of Christ and sings a hymn in praise of His love. “Cogitationes cordis ejus,” chants the Introit of the Mass:
“The thoughts of His Heart (the Heart of Jesus) are to all generations: to deliver them from death, to feed them in time of famine.”
The Heart of Jesus is always in search of souls to save, to free from the snares of sin, to wash in His Blood, to feed with His Body. The Heart of Jesus is always living in the Eucharist to satisfy the hunger of all who long for Him, to welcome and console all those who, disillusioned by the vicissitudes of life, take refuge in Him, seeking peace and refreshment. Jesus Himself is our support on the hard road of life.
“Take up My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls, Alleluia.”
It is impossible to eliminate sorrow from our life; yet if we live for Jesus we can suffer in peace and find in the Heart of Jesus repose for our weary soul.
Today’s Gospel and Epistle lead us to consider the Sacred Heart of Jesus even more directly. The Gospel (Jn 19:31–37) shows us His Heart pierced with a lance: “One of the soldiers opened His side with a spear,” and St Augustine offers this comment:
“The Evangelist says … opened, to show us that thereby the door of life was thrown open, through which the Sacraments of the Church flow forth.”
From the pierced Heart of Christ, symbol of the love which immolated Him on the Cross for us, came forth the Sacraments, represented by the water and the Blood flowing from the wound, and it is through these Sacraments that we receive the life of grace. Yes, it is eminently true to say that the Heart of Jesus was opened to bring us into life. Jesus once said, “Narrow is the gate … that leadeth to life” (Mt 7:14); but if we understand this gate to be the wound in His Heart, we can say that no gate could open to us with greater welcome.
St Paul, in his beautiful Epistle (Eph 3:8–19), urges us to penetrate further into the Heart of Jesus to contemplate His “unsearchable riches” and to enter into “the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God”. This is the mystery of the infinite, divine love which has gone before us from all eternity and was revealed to us by the Word made flesh; it is the mystery of the love which willed to redeem us and sanctify us in Christ “in whom we have… (free) access to God”.
Again Jesus presents Himself as the door which leads to salvation.
“I am the door. By me if any man enter in he shall be saved” (Jn 10:9).
This door is His Heart, which, wounded for us, has brought us into life. By love alone can we penetrate this mystery of infinite love, but not any kind of love will suffice. As St Paul says, we must “be rooted and founded in charity”. Only thus shall we be able “to know … the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge, that [we] may be filled unto all the fullness of God”.
“O Jesus, by a divine decree, a soldier was permitted to pierce Your sacred side. As the blood and water came forth, the price of our salvation was poured forth, which flowing from the mysterious fountain of Your Heart, gives power to the Sacraments of the Church to bestow the life of grace, and becomes for those who live in You, a saving drink of living waters, bubbling up to life eternal. Arise, my soul, beloved of Christ, watch unceasingly, place your lips there, and quench your thirst in the Saviour’s fount.
“O Jesus, now that I have been brought into Your most sweet Heart, and it is a great good to be here, I do not want to let myself be easily torn away from it. Oh! how good and pleasant it is to dwell in Your Heart! Your Heart, O good Jesus, is a rich treasure, it is the precious pearl which I have found in the secret of Your pierced Body, as in a furrowed field. Who would cast aside this pearl? Rather I will give all the pearls in the world, I will exchange for it all my thoughts and affections and I will purchase it for myself. I shall entrust all my cares to Your Heart, O good Jesus, and without fail it will support me. I have found Your Heart, O Lord, O most benign Jesus: the Heart of my King, my Brother, my Friend! Hidden in Your Heart, what is there that I shall not ask of You? I shall ask that Your Heart be mine also. If You, O Jesus, are my Head, can I not say that it is mine as well as Yours? Are not the eyes of my head also mine? Then the Heart of my spiritual Head is my Heart. What joy for me! You and I have but one heart. Having found this divine Heart which is Yours and mine, O most sweet Jesus, I beseech You, O my God: receive my prayers in that sanctuary where You are attentive to them and, even more, draw me entirely into Your Heart ” (St Bonaventure).
Conclude by short acts of thanksgiving, offering and petition.
Divine Intimacy by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene can be found here in its entirety.