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Precursor Saints of the Sacred Heart

4 min • Digitized on June 26, 2021

From The Sacred Heart, Anecdotes and Examples to Assist in Devotion, page 17
By Rev. Dr. Joseph Keller

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has always existed since the very foundation of the Church. It began on Calvary when the Heart of our dear Redeemer was pierced through for our sakes. Truly it can be said that in the silent solitude of Ephesus, Mary and the beloved disciple were the first clients of that adorable Heart, and no other creature, not even the angels or the greatest saints ever understood, as they did, all the anguish that Mary’s heart suffered when the cruel lance pierced the side of Jesus.

The records of the Church prove in the lives of the greatest saints how dear this devotion was to them. St. Bernard, in an ecstasy of love, exclaims: “How delightful it is to shut one’s self up and make one’s dwelling-place in the Heart of Jesus! Oh, what a treasure, what a priceless pearl is that Heart! Gladly would I sacrifice all to possess it. I will cry out with the prophets, I will pray in this temple and sanctuary, and praise the name of the Lord. I have found in the Heart of my Jesus, my King, my Brother, my Friend.”

The seraphic Father St. Bonaventure, speaking of the wounds of Our Lord, bursts forth into glowing strains of love: “Oh, loving wounds! through you have I entered into the innermost centre of the love of my Jesus; here will I take up my abode. … Oh, how great is the sweetness the soul enjoys when united to Thy Heart through these wounds! See, the gates of paradise are opened! The sword which barred them has been broken by the soldier’s lance, and the treasury of eternal wisdom and love laid open; let us enter this Heart through these sacred wounds.”

St. Thomas of Villanova continues in the same way: “The cooing turtle dove is the Church deprived of her Bride groom. The nest of the sorrowful dove is the Heart of her Beloved, into which she enters by the wound in His side and finds rest and safety therein.”

St. Francis de Sales also calls on Our Lady in his writings: “I implore thee to strengthen my soul, and all who read my writings, through the Heart of Jesus.”

St. Gertrude, St. Mechtilde, St. Catharine of Sienna experienced the greatest consolations when meditating on the devotion to the Sacred Heart. One day St. Catharine of Sienna asked Our Lord why He wished His side to be opened after His death, and He replied: “I wanted to reveal to men the secret of My Sacred Heart, to let them know that My love for them is greater than even the exterior signs of it, for while there was a limit to My sufferings, there is no limit to My love for them,” and He added: “The pains of the senses are nothing in comparison to those of the soul.”

This Divine Heart especially favored St. Gertrude, and enkindled in her whole being a burning love for this adorable Heart. The following, which is one of the most beautiful passages of her writings, clearly explains the meaning of this devotion: “Added to the manifold graces Thou so lavishly bestowest on me in many different ways, Thou givest me that priceless token of Thy love and friendship, Thy adorable Heart, that glorious ark of the Godhead, that overflowing fountain of every delight, sometimes for naught, sometimes in exchange for my heart. Through this Divine Heart, Thou hast made manifest to me the most hidden secrets, imparted to me the purest pleasures, and hast honored me with the most marvellous caresses. My Lord and my God, I return to Thee what is Thine, and offer unto Thee my adorations and hymns of praise through this Divine Heart.”

But God did not destine this beloved spouse, so burning with love for the Sacred Heart, to be the promoter of this devotion, which she herself declared was a last effort of love, reserved for the later ages of the world.

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