By the Sacred Heart of Jesus must be understood not the lifeless heart, separated from the body of Christ, but the tender, loving heart of the God-Man, the home of all His emotions, the fountain of all His virtues, and the most touching embodiment of His infinite love for man. The Catholic Church, in like manner, sets apart certain festivals with appropriate Mass and office, in honor of the cross, of our Lord’s sacred blood and wounds that our devotion to the Redeemer may be rendered more fervent by the contemplation of these objects, for Jesus has shed His blood for us, has received wounds for us which He retained even after His resurrection, as eternal signs of His immense love for man, has taken them with Him to heaven, and will show them to us on the judgment Day. How much more should our Saviour’s Sacred Heart be the object of our devotion, since all the thoughts, sentiments, and emotions of this most loving heart aim only at our salvation, and since it is always ready to receive truly penitent sinners to forgive them, again to turn His love to them, and make them sharers in eternal bliss.
Therefore the saints have from the first encouraged a tender devotion to this most Sacred Heart, as already mentioned. “Longinus,” says St. Augustine, “opened the side of Jesus with His spear; in it I enter, and securely rest.” “O how good,” exclaims St. Bernard, “how lovely to take up my abode in this Heart! In this temple, in this sanctuary, before this ark of the covenant, I will adore and praise the name of the Lord, and say with the prophet: I have found in the heart of Jesus, my king, my brother, my friend.” “Believe me, O blinded men,” says St. Bonaventura, “if you knew how to enter by His sacred wounds into the interior of Jesus, you would there find not, only a wonderful sweetness for your soul, but even sweet repose for your body. And if even the body there finds rest, how great, think you, must be the sweetness which the spirit there enjoys, if through these wounds we become united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus!” And St. Peter Damian says: “In this adorable heart we find the weapons with which to defend ourselves against our enemies, a cure for our ills, powerful help against temptations, the sweetest consolation is suffering, and the purest joy in this valley of tears.”
St. Mechtild and St. Gertrude found themselves transported in an especial manner by the tenderness of this adorable heart, to adore it fervently, and Gertrude, enlightened by the Spirit of God, spoke these prophetic words: “The Lord retained until these late centuries the devotion to His Sacred Heart, as a last effort of His divine love.” We have already seen how these words have been verified in the pious Margaret. O would that Jesus’ great desire that all men, might know and love His Sacred Heart be accomplished!