In the Gospel of Mark, it is rare for a disciple or one of Jesus'…
Praying with the heart of Jesus
I love everything about the Sacred Heart. And so, just about every June, I want to plunge deeper into its depths. As Independence Day rolls around, I find myself sad and disappointed about opportunities passed over the course of the month dedicated to this beautiful devotion, saddened at the missed opportunity to learn everything there is to know about the Savior’s heart — poured out and pierced for love of us. Of course, that’s no way to live. Every day is a new day for renewed encounter with God, joining his heart in prayer and in loving human encounters. Thanks be to God!
If you are looking for summer reading, you might want to consider a book on the Sacred Heart. I’d recommend one that has been reprinted and reissued, “Heart of the Redeemer,” (Ignatius, $19.95) by Timothy O’Donnell, president of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.
He writes: “Coldness and hatred can be melted and overcome only by the fire of love. Certainly, in an age characterized by an increasingly hostile secularization, a spirituality that centers on love and aims at setting the world on fire is precisely what is needed to instaurare omnia in Christo.”
That’s “restore all things in Christ,” and it was the motto of Pope Pius X during his papacy.
O’Donnell’s book is a song of the Christian heart. It’s a nourishment to the soul, and it’s a treasure trove of all things Sacred Heart. He examines the devotion and how it makes theological sense. But above all, he shows the love of the Trinity, which the magisterium has been consistently calling us to be drawn into.
“[A]uthentic devotion to the Sacred Heart is not merely an optional set of pious practices (which may be very helpful) but is an essential element of the Christian way of life,” O’Donnell writes. “All Christians are called to the comprehension of certain truths concerning God and to a response in love to them. In living a life in imitation of Christ, as found in the Gospels and taught by the Church, the Christian should use all the spiritual aids offered to him by God. He should fill his life with an ever-growing and deepening love for God and his fellow man. Every Christian will build his own unique spirituality upon this common foundation, which should include a response to the heart of Christ that gives honor to the divine love and is offered for the sake of that love.”
O’Donnell quotes Pope Pius XII: “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature, is a worship of love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men.”
I realized, as I was watching one of the recent Democratic presidential primary debates, how my sadness over the ending of the month of June was so unnecessary. Just about every news story of late seems to be an invitation to take a plunge deeper into despair. To experience all the sometimes-overwhelming pain and misery in the world as an opportunity to be an instrument of the love of his heart all the more. Abortion. Immigration. All the pain that we and our fellow human beings, near and far, suffer.
Consecrate humanity in his heart. Keep us in prayer there. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you forth from that heart for loving service in the world. “Service” means everything from volunteering and changing our life-plans to accompanying people in more radical ways of love, as well as changing how we pray and how we communicate — even on social media platforms and even about politics.
Yes, pick up Timothy O’Donnell’s “Heart of the Redeemer.” It’s one you want to delve into, dip in and out of, and keep on your bookshelf, accessible for reading and sharing. It will help with your journey into the heart of the Redeemer. And you will see — and be — more love in the world if you pray more with his heart.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.