There is nothing so moving for a person of deep faith, than to look upon a beautiful image of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not the statue itself. We Catholics don’t worship statues. It is what the statue represents that moves us. The statue makes the incarnation present to us.
Our faith is very incarnational because God became man. We human beings are very incarnational. God gave us five senses and He uses these to touch our very being. In Catholic worship, all of our senses are used to captivate the whole person. Catholic worship is meant to be beautiful, we should be captivated by what we see. The way in which the readings are proclaimed and the various parts of the Mass are read should also engross us. Taste is also affected in the Mass when we receive the sacred Body of Our Lord. Smell is all encompassing through the use of incense and our sense of touch is influenced through the many gestures we make throughout. All of the senses helps us to take part with “full, active and conscious participation.” Of course there are those who may not have one or more of the five senses, but the others usually compensate for what we may lack.
So back to the point. The statue helps make present the incarnation. God became a man. What Jesus did for us can only be explained by love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (Jn 3:16) We cannot receive a physical hug from Our Lord. Yet, these external images and signs express a supernatural reality, something we need in our humanity. They all help us to realize, “God loves me!”
So why devotion to the Sacred Heart? The object of our devotion is not some physical piece of flesh, but the immense love that induced Him to die for us and to give Himself entirely to us in the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed Mother Teresa summarized it so well in saying: “We all know, when we look at the cross how Jesus loved us. When we look at the Eucharist we know how much He loves us now.”
This devotion is our return for this love. As St. Therese wrote: “Love is repaid by love alone, and nourished by sacrifice.” We need to have a passionate love for Jesus, who is always with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament. We must show this love by our sadness at seeing the neglect and abuse that He suffers for us by being present in the Blessed Sacrament. And finally, we need to make acts of reparation for contempt and want of love.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart is not some pietistical sap. It is a devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is a loving adoration and reverence shown by our visits and Holy Hours before Our Lord’s presence. This devotion is a way of making reparation for unworthy Communions, for poor treatment of the Holy Sacrament, for Masses offered sloppily and for neglect of the Real Presence.
The sad reality of our times is that the Most Blessed Sacrament is treated with contempt by many a Catholic and even many a priest. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament must be cared for like a helpless new born baby. We must show Him great love, care and selfless concern. This is what a concrete devotion to the Sacred Heart is all about. Let us strive to love Jesus, “for He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19)
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 until the end of time. Amen.