Adoration of the Sacred Heart
By Cardinal Pie
Nothing is more founded on reason, nothing is more conformed to the doctrines of the Faith than the adoration of the Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The heart of Jesus is what there is most profound in creation. It is the noblest part of the holy human nature of the Word made Flesh. In our very physical nature, the heart is everything: when it functions in an irregular manner, life is in danger; when it ceases to beat, man immediately ceases to live. Likewise in the moral order: it is through the heart that we are something. It is the heart which gives to thoughts, to actions, to intentions, their value, good or bad. The good is what comes out of the good treasure of our heart (Lk. 6:45). What constitutes evil is the bad dispositions of the heart (Mt. 15:19). Also, while the eye of man takes hold and fixes on exterior appearances, God looks only at the heart (I Kgs. 16:7). In the language of all peoples..., the heart has always signified courage, virtue, and especially love. After the grave has snatched away a cherished being from us, we believe that we still hold him completely if we possess his heart. This part, separate from the rest of the body, seems to remain essential.
Now, having stated this, what adoration do we not owe to the Heart of Jesus? Physically, this heart has been the principal organ of a life all together divine and human. This heart has painstakingly given up, one after the other, all the drops of the redeeming Blood. It has exuded and exudes each day all the drops of the Eucharistic chalice. And if the material heart of Jesus is already worthy of honor, what is it if we consider this Heart as the seat of His love, as the principle of His inspirations? When I adore the Heart of Jesus, I adore this effusion of eternal charity which has prompted the Word of God to offer Himself as victim for our redemption. I adore this love which has confined a God for nine months in the womb of Mary, which has given birth to God as an infant in Bethlehem, which has nailed Him to the cross; this love which keeps Him night and day on our altars, this love which spreads torrents from heaven or from the tabernacle, and which is diffused into hearts. Magdalen covered the feet of Jesus with her kisses and her perfumes, but His Heart made these feet run in search of the wandering sheep in pursuit of the poor sinner's soul. The invalids and all those who were suffering invoked the all-mighty arm of Jesus, but this arm was acting only under the guidance and by the impulse of His Heart. The children of Judea loved to be touched by the divine hands of Jesus, but these tender hands were only the instruments of His Heart. One among them, already a young man, was one day the object of an inexpressible glance from Jesus, but this sweet and penetrating glance... was a lightening bolt flashing forth the fire of love from His heart (Mk. 10:21).
To you who hardly give allowance to the veneration of the Heart of Jesus, what then are you leaving of Him to me, since the Heart of Jesus is the whole of Jesus? If you forbid me to love and honor His Heart, then you forbid me to think of Jesus, to love and honor Jesus. Deprive Him of His Heart, He will no longer be Jesus to me. But, beware, your censures would not succeed in stopping me. I have in my favor the authority of the very institution of Jesus. On the eve of His death, after giving His love to those close to Him in this world, He made an admirable summary, a marvelous memorial of all His gifts. It seems that nothing more could be added to this supreme invention of His love. But behold that, on the very day of His death, having offered up His great cry and commended His spirit, Jesus...provided for the accomplishment of a last oracle. What do I see? The side of Jesus opened, and His Heart offered to the eyes of mankind to be the object of their adoration and of their love! "Observe," says St. Augustine,"[St. John] has been mindful of the language he was to use. The word has fallen from a reflective and vigilant pen. The holy writer was careful not to say that the point of the lance had struck, had wounded-this expression or any similar might not have rendered the truth-but that it opened the side of Jesus in order that the gateway of life might be in some way made manifest in this Divine Heart, the source of the redemption, from which have flowed all the mysteries, all the sacraments of the Church, without which we have no access to the life which is the true life.
There it is, the first basis and the first establishment of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus. And if-notwithstanding the evidence through the centuries of a school of fervent worshipers and passionate admirers of this glorious Heart-the worship of the Sacred Heart is only taking its more explicit form in these last ages by a doctrinal and liturgical development, I would say that we see there a providential progress, an expansion of love announced by the prophets. "There will be in the last days," Zacharias had said, "a fountain open to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (Zach. 13:1).This gushing source is the Heart of Jesus, offered more authentically to us and reviving in our souls new impulses of ardor and of piety.
Who could remain cold and indifferent to the Heart of Jesus? It would mean not having a heart ourselves. God forbid I not speak to you of the Heart of Jesus without speaking also of your own heart, and without placing these two hearts in the presence of each other.
Your reason may have been misled, deceived, corrupted in many ways. You have been born and raised in an evil century. You have participated in a great many errors of your time. Moreover, the original fall has left a profound devastation in all of us; it has since gutted everything. However, in spite of the inclinations of corrupted nature, the allurements of the senses, and the prejudices of education, your heart has remained stronger than your mind. No matter what you do, below all these evil layers which have superimposed themselves one after another through acts of sin and lies, there remains at the core of your being a nucleus, a germ, a power for good that nothing has been able to destroy. In a word, there rests in your heart a faculty and a need to love: a faculty which can never completely translate itself into action, a need which can never find its hunger totally filled, as long as your love does not move towards its infinite end. I declare and promise that it is impossible for you to genuinely place the heart which beats in your breast in opposition to the Heart of Jesus without it immediately being carried toward His Heart by this movement of love which is the essential act of religion, and which, in itself, constitutes the accomplishment of all the divine law of the Old and New Testament: "Diliges: You will love. “This is why the Lord makes His tender invitation: "My son, give me thy heart" (Prov. 23:26), as though He were saying: Willingly I set aside all others. You will easily acknowledge, My son, that my spirit is above thine. Therefore, do not enter into a useless discussion with Me. For Me, I will always easily overcome your mind, if you want to give Me your heart completely: "Præbe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi: My son, give Me thy heart."
When you have withdrawn from Jesus Christ, you have withdrawn from your own heart. The Psalmist declared it thus-"Cor meum dereliquit me: My heart has abandoned me." Fugitives from this better portion of yourselves, come back, come back to your heart (Is. 66:8). Lord Jesus, You are the center and the magnet of hearts. Man will never place himself again under the inspirations of his own heart, without being carried back immediately to You.
The Catholic Faith is truly the religion of hearts, and the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ is the substantial summary of all Catholicism. The One who dwells in inaccessible light in heaven, wanting to draw nearer to us, to proportion Himself to us, to bring Himself to our level, at our ability, has taken our nature, our flesh. He made Himself man, and being man, He had a heart. And we also, although brought out of nothingness and formed from mud, we have received and carry in ourselves a heart. Here is the Creator and the creature, heaven and earth, Heart to heart. All religion is summed up in this Heart-to-heart confrontation of God and man. Let us pray with the Church the invitatory of one of the most ancient offices of the Sacred Heart: "Deus ergo nos apponentem Cor suum, venite adoremus: God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, His Son, disposing His Heart to us, let us come and adore Him."
Taken from: Homily for the Closing of a Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus," VI, 609-614