On Friday, June 24, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is particularly special this year, for two reasons.
First, June 24 is normally the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist each year, essentially six months before the birth of Christ. But as the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart takes place on the Friday following Corpus Christi, this year the celebration of the birth of the precursor of the Lord has been moved to June 23. This shows the importance of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart not only as a devotional historical event, but as a celebration of the Lord Jesus himself. The words of John the Baptist: “He must grow; I must diminish” (John 3:30), applies also liturgically.
The second reason this year’s celebration is special is that it takes place at the start of the American Church’s three-year Eucharistic revival, which began on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on Sunday. As such, what Jesus revealed to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque between 1673 and 1675 can provide an important program for all of us in the Church on how to experience this revival.
That’s because Jesus’ revelations to this 17th-century Visitation nun in Paray-le-Monial, France, were essentially Eucharistic. Not only did three major revelations of Christ to Saint Margaret Mary take place in connection with the Holy Eucharist – twice in Eucharistic adoration and once as she prepared to receive Holy Communion – but devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to the mystery of the human and divine love of Christ, which led Jesus to give his body and his blood for us on Calvary and to continue to give us this Body and this Blood on the altar.
In his third and last revelation to Saint Margaret Mary, on June 16, 1675, during the octave of preparation for the celebration of Corpus Christi, Jesus made quite explicit the link between his Sacred Heart and the Holy Eucharist. Pointing to her flaming heart crowned with thorns, Jesus said to her:
This is the heart that has loved men so much that it spared nothing, until it was exhausted and consumed in testimony to its love. In gratitude, I receive from most only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most vividly is that it is hearts dedicated to me that treat me like this.
Jesus connects the “heart that so loved men” to our response in his “sacrament of love”, which is how he identifies himself with the Holy Eucharist, an expression adopted by Pope Benedict in his apostolic exhortation to 2007 Sacramentum Caritatis, dedicated to the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.
Jesus frankly laments that his selfless love is not shared. He spared nothing, exhausting and consuming himself to show us how much he loved us, assuming our nature, patiently supporting us as his creatures, even allowing us to persecute him, mock him, torture him and crucify him. , then going so far as to give himself to us in the guise of bread and wine as our spiritual food. In response, he says he only receives from most, including priests and religious, ingratitude, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness and contempt.
Such words should touch anyone who truly loves the Lord. But they also offer a path of repair and love. The words that Jesus gives us reveal what he would like to see from us in terms of his eucharistic outpouring, namely the opposite of what he deplores, each of which must become a touchstone of eucharistic renewal.
Instead of ingratitude, we must approach the Eucharistic Jesus with unceasing thanks; instead of irreverence, great piety; instead of sacrilege, with souls made holy and pure; instead of coldness, with ardent love; instead of contempt, full of praise.
Let’s take every spiritual staple back.
First, gratitude. We can never thank the Lord enough for having humbled himself to become our food and for always remaining with us in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus once healed 10 lepers but only one of the 10 returned to thank him (Luke 17:11-19); the Eucharist is much more than a miraculous healing from the most loathsome and debilitating disease in the world.
How to thank him for this gift of love? First of all, we must not take it for granted, but come and receive it as often as possible and as best as we can, going to mass not only when we have to but because we want to. When we receive it, we should spend time in thanksgiving, immediately after receiving Holy Communion and for some time after Mass. If the athletes who win the championship can spread thanks to the Lord for an earthly crown on television, how much more should we thank Jesus for his eternal gift? Likewise, grateful for his presence, we must come to him in prayer, especially in Eucharistic adoration, where the eternal Son of God awaits us.
Second, reverence. We live in a casual and irreverent time, which manifests itself in our gestures, clothes, advertisements, political speeches, vocabulary and widespread secularization. This irreverence had an impact on the liturgy, seen, for example, in the trivialization of worship, art, music, posture, dress and attitudes.
The Lord deserves and desires respect, which is the fruit of fervent faith and love. We can show this reverence by the way we prepare for Mass, how we genuflect and kneel, how we dress, how we talk about him and him, especially in the Eucharist, how we prioritize and desire him. stay in his presence. We must behave like those who realize they are in the presence of God.
Third, holiness. There are so many sacrileges against the Blessed Sacrament: Satan worshipers stealing hosts to desecrate them, tabernacles vandalized, Eucharistic adoration derided as “cookie worship” or the tabernacle derided as a “bread box”. But the most common form of sacrilege is to receive Jesus into Holy Communion unworthily. This is a problem for more than a large number of Catholic politicians who persist in manifest grave sins – like supporting the destruction of innocent human life in the womb or false notions of family – who dare nevertheless draw near to the Lord. We see it in the many Catholics who, without sacramental absolution, routinely receive Communion after willfully missing Sunday Mass, or who harbor hatred, or engage in conduct or relationships manifestly contrary to the Gospel.
The Eucharist is not only food for saints but medicine for sinners, but sinners who have committed serious sins must first come to Jesus in the sacrament he has established to receive his purification and be restored in grace before coming to receive him in Holy Communion. God forbid that we ever receive Jesus in the Eucharist unworthily!
Fourth, ardent love. Some members of the Church have been called, for good reason, the “frozen chosen.” They celebrate or attend Mass as a dry duty, without enthusiasm, without joy, without passion. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is on fire with love for us and, as he did with Saint Margaret Mary, he wants to plunge our heart into the furnace of his and restore it to us, so that we can truly love him. him and the others with fire.
The Eucharist is meant to be a sacrament of love not only because of Christ’s divine and human love for us, but our mutual love for him. If we love him, we will want to be with him, to please him, to spread his knowledge and his love. Eucharistic renewal should therefore include many acts of love.
Fifth, praise. Some ridicule the Catholic faith in the Eucharist, but the most common form of contempt is indifference. How important it is for us to praise the Lord for what he is and what he has done for us, to make him in the Eucharist the greatest difference in our lives, to bless him, as the Church in the “Divine Praises” at Blessing. Praise is the highest form of prayer because it expresses love for God for who he is, even before we consider all that he has given. Revival is a time for each of us and for the whole Church to cry out, “Praise the Lord, my soul, may my whole being bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1)
As the Church celebrates a special Solemnity of the Sacred Heart at the beginning of this Eucharistic revival, let us strive to do so in a way that Jesus suggested will please Him most and continue to do so throughout the awakening and beyond. In response to his Eucharistic love, let us spare nothing in return, exhausting ourselves and consuming ourselves to show our gratitude, piety, purity, passion and praise.