The Heart of the World

Thomas J. Euteneuer
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 70
June 01, 2007
Reproduced with Permission

One of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (Jn 19:34)

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Perhaps no other devotion can be said to be as central to our Christian faith as this devotion because it is rooted entirely in the central mystery of our faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Truly, the Sacred Heart stands at the very heart of our world and calls to all men to draw near. God did not just stand afar off in heaven to raise us out of our sins; He actually came to us and embraced the heartbreak that those sins bring into every single life. His Heart is a broken, pierced and torn heart that can console every person in his suffering.

In the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque in the 1670s, Jesus promised that all who would simply go to Mass and receive Communion on the First Fridays of nine consecutive months would have the grace of "final perseverance," that is, the grace of being faithful to the very end of life no matter what the challenges. Those who never think of the hour of death may presume that this moment will come and go with ease, but our enemy does not think so, and it is to this reality of spiritual combat in the final moments of life that the Lord directs His promise.

I learned how necessary the grace of final perseverance was when my grandfather passed away in 1974. This faithful Catholic man, a daily communicant into his eighties, in a coma on his deathbed, was put upon at that moment by some spiritual force that sought to snatch him from Christ. According to the eyewitness account, my grandfather was interiorly struggling for a significant length of time, moving up and down in his bed for dear life, with some deadly thing that came to claim his soul. Although he was totally unconscious, he was nonetheless fighting to the very end, and apparently he won. Soon after that experience he was at peace again and died shortly thereafter in grace. Or shall we say, grace won him. Grandpa had made the First Fridays - many times.

Jesus made other promises to those who would devote themselves to His Heart: that He would give them all the graces necessary for their state in life; give them peace in their families; console them in all their troubles; be their refuge in life and especially in death; abundantly bless all their undertakings; and bless those places wherein the image of His Sacred Heart would be exposed and venerated. My favorite promise of the Sacred Heart was the one for priests - "I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts." It is hard to think of a better return on an investment than the rewards promised for attending Mass and receiving Communion nine times!

Jesus also said that sinners would find in His Heart an infinite ocean of mercy; that tepid souls would become fervent and that fervent souls would rise speedily to great [spiritual] perfection. All persons who propagate this devotion "shall have their names eternally written in my Heart."

In an age so full of sin and heartbreaking human evils, we need recourse to the Heart that pumps life into the world. Jesus' Heart was pierced and opened so that all would see that He is not a heartless, cruel God but stands with us in our sorrows, pains and agonies of life, not just temporarily, but to the very end: "My Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour." May we take special refuge in His Heart this month and renew our devotion to Him who is so devoted to us.