June 28, 2019 — This week is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast, whose origins date back to the XVIIth century, gives us the opportunity to meditate on how Jesus expressed his love. It was also an occasion for the Jesuits of Canada to consecrate their Toronto offices on June 25.
A Meditation Centered on Love
The image of the Heart of Jesus raises a lot of questions. According to an interview given by Fr. Gilles Mongeau, SJ, to The Catholic Register, a true, close experience with Jesus, combined with the conviction that God’s love in Christ is real, is difficult to put into words or to describe in art. For many Jesuits over the last three centuries, devotion to the Sacred Heart constitutes “a kind of digest or summa of Ignatian spirituality,” said Mongeau.
“It promotes intimacy with Christ through service of the neighbour—contemplation in action—and it calls us to overcome violence with love,” he added. And this devotion is still relevant today.
“Interior conversion and intimacy with Jesus, solidarity with the whole of suffering humanity and overcoming violence with love—these are, for me, the key meanings of the devotion for today, and the Christian response to our present cultural situation”
“I remember praying, as a young Jesuit, with some of the darker parts of my personal history—particularly events that had left me scarred and hurt and unfree,” he said.
“I was asking for the grace of healing. I remember imagining these hurts as scars on my heart and then looking up at Jesus and seeing the exact same scars on His heart.”
South of the Canadian border, Fr. James Martin, SJ, offers essentially the same reflection. For him, the Sacred Heart invites us to reflect on how Jesus expressed his love and towards whom.
For me the answers to those two questions are abundantly, totally and completely; and everyone, especially those who were poor or marginalized. But there are other questions that Solemnity of the Sacred Heart raises: “How do I love?” and “Whom do I love?” And the most important question of all, “How can I love like Jesus?” Maybe that’s a question you can ask yourself all week, as you encounter each person with the love of your own heart, which seeks to love as Jesus’s Sacred Heart did.
The Jesuits and the Sacred Heart
The modern devotion to the Sacred Heart is closely related to the Society of Jesus. In 1675, Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque had a vision of Christ who revealed his Sacred Heart to her. These visions resulted in her being badly perceived at the Visitation Convent; however, she was consoled by Jesus who revealed to her that “a true and perfect friend” would be sent to her. Shortly afterwards, a new spiritual director, Fr. Claude La Colombière, SJ, arrived at the convent. He validated the visions of Marguerite-Marie Alacoque and promoted them with her, even when he was sent to other apostolates.