Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Setting the Captive Within Our Own Hearts Free

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I place all my trust in You! 

The devotion to the Sacred Heart is very near and dear to, well, my own heart! It was in silent Eucharistic Adoration where Jesus offered me His Heart. He only asked for love in return. Doesn’t it blow your minds that Jesus’ Sacred Heart is present in the Eucharist, burning with mercy and love for us awkward, little humans?! Reflect on this for a moment!

Jesus gives Himself completely to us in the Eucharist and He only asks for our love in return. Oftentimes it is very difficult for us to return Jesus’ total and self-giving love with our own feeble love. Why is this? Well, may I suggest that it may be because we are captives within our own hearts. 

The late psychologist, Carl Jung, illustrates what I am trying to get at in the following reflection:

To accept oneself as one may sound like a simple thing, but simple things are always the most difficult things to do. In actual life to be simple and straightforward is an art in itself requiring the greatest discipline, while the question of self-acceptance lies at the root of the moral problem and at the heart of a whole philosophy of life. 
Is there ever a doubt in my mind that it is virtuous for me to give alms to the beggar, to forgive him who offends me, yes, even to love my enemy in the name of Christ? No, not once does such a doubt cross my mind, certain as I am that what I have done unto the least of my brethren, I have done unto Christ. 
But what if I should discover that the least of all brethren, the poorest of all beggars, the most insolent of all offenders, yes, even, the very enemy himself---that these live within me; that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I am to myself the enemy who is to be loved--what then?
The whole Christian truth is turned upside down; then there is no longer any question of love and patience; then we say “Raca” to the brother within us; then we condemn and rage against ourselves! For sure, we hide this attitude from the outside world, but this does not alter the fact that we refuse to receive the least among the lowly in ourselves with open arms. And if it had been Christ himself to appear within ourselves in such a contemptible form, we would have denied him a thousand times before the cock crowed even once. 

You see, when we do not accept ourselves as we are, even in our woundedness and with all our faults (St. Therese calls this our “littleness”), we become obstacles to God’s love. We become captives within our own hearts because we have become self-centered instead of God-centered. Because of our fallen human nature, we have the tendency to fixate on ourselves and on our various pains and sufferings instead of giving God the primacy in our lives. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, St. Paul tells his little community, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Retraining our sinful hearts to see God in everyone and everything, and consequently living in joyful adoration, allows God to transform our hearts into a Heart like His! God is the only one who can sanctify us; we cannot sanctify ourselves. 

During this sanctification process, we recognize our nothingness before God, who is EVERYTHING. This is where we need to humble ourselves and accept God’s merciful love. By accepting God’s love, we are better able to love Him in return. The whole devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus arose because people were rejecting His love!

Now, let us take a look at a journal entry from a 23 year-old seminarian right before his diaconate ordination:

Every time I hear anyone speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Blessed Sacrament I feel an indescribable joy. It is as if a wave of precious memories, sweet affections and joyful hopes swept over my poor person, making me tremble with happiness and filling my soul with tenderness. These are loving appeals from Jesus who wants me wholeheartedly there, at the source of all goodness, his Sacred Heart, throbbing mysteriously behind the Eucharistic veils….
Today everything which concerns the Sacred Heart of Jesus has become familiar and doubly dear to me. My life seems destined to be spent in the light irradiating from the tabernacle, and it is to the heart of Jesus that I must look for a solution of all my troubles. I feel as if I would be ready to shed my blood for the cause of the Sacred Heart. My fondest wish is to be able to do something for that precious object of my love. At times the thought of my arrogance, of my unbelievable self-love and of my great worthlessness alarms and dismays me and robs me of my courage, but I soon find reason for comfort in the words spoken by Jesus to Blessed Margaret Alacoque: “I have chosen you to reveal the marvels of my heart, because you are such an abyss of ignorance and insufficiency.”
Ah! I wish to serve the Sacred Heart of Jesus, today and always. I want the devotion to his Heart, concealed within the sacrament of love, to be the measure of all my spiritual progress. The conclusion of my resolutions during the holy Exercises is in my desire henceforth to do all that I have been trying to do till now in intimate union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
-Angelo Roncalli…….a.ka. Pope St. John XXIII

See how the future pope and Saint turned away from himself and accepted Jesus’ love despite his “littleness?” This is what we are all called to do! Most of us will not become the pope, but we can all become saints. 

May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen. 

In Christ’s Love, 

Sr. Katie Marie

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