Posted by Anne Costa on 6/7/17 7:00 AM
There are a number of activities that bring devotion to the Sacred Heart alive in our hearts and lives. The Lord’s healing promises flow through our embrace of these aspects of the devotion. Love, of course, is at the center of all these actions—love for Jesus and a desire to have that love grow in our hearts as we receive more and more of his love for us.
Certainly prayer is the place to start with any devotion but especially with devotion to the Sacred Heart. That is because it is a devotion that centers exclusively on our love relationship with our Lord. And just like any relationship, our relationship with Jesus requires communication to keep it strong and vibrant. Prayer is our ongoing conversation with Jesus.
Fr. Croiset wrote: “There is nothing to which Jesus Christ has so often solemnly pledged Himself as to hear our prayers; but of all prayers there is none so agreeable to Him as that by which we ask for his love.” Father goes on to say that we are sometimes afraid to ask for God’s love because of the demands that his love might place on us. But the more we ask for his love, the more grace he gives us to receive it and act upon it.
It could be said that most of the world’s problems, large and small, could be solved if we only knew how much we are truly loved by God. That love covers all manner of sin. Knowing God’s love convinces us that we are enough, that we do not need to compete with others, because God’s love is an unlimited resource for all.
Fear, often defined as “False Evidence Appearing Real,” leads us to believe that we are unlovable, that there is some fundamental flaw in us that makes us unacceptable. Thinking we are unworthy of God’s love, we seek false substitutes. The truth is that we are unworthy, but that doesn’t make God love us any less!
There is a very healthy balance that we can find in devotion to the Sacred Heart, a balance between awareness of our sins and the humility to accept them. We run into trouble when we travel in the extremes: that is, acting as though our sins are not sins at all or at least are of no matter to God; or the opposite, focusing entirely on our wretchedness and unworthiness, which is a form of vanity and hidden pride.
Through prayer, we experience closeness with God and the true love of his heart. This love sets us straight, conquers our fears, and completes us. And in turn, as we come to know the greatness of God’s love, we begin to look for ways to help others know it too. Our hope to know and receive God’s love in all of its fullness and promise of restoration comes through our prayerful dialogue with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In prayer, we can never ask too much of God. In fact, Fr. Croiset says, “The reason why we obtain so little from God is that we do not ask enough, and do not ask it with enough vigor and constancy.”
Saint Margaret Mary explains:
“We can tell him all the secrets of our hearts, disclosing our want and misery to Him who alone can remedy them, and saying, “O Friend of my heart, she whom you love is sick. Visit and heal me, for I know well that you cannot love me and yet leave me alone in my distress.”
Short prayers, known as aspirations, have always been a part of devotion to the Sacred Heart. They are “sweet sayings” that we whisper to Jesus out of love for him. Some of the most well-known are “Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours,” and “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.” Other aspirations that can be quite effective and bring great comfort in times of stress are “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me,” “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, grant that I may love you more and more,” and “Sacred Heart of Jesus, protect my family and have mercy on us.”
Take some time to talk with Jesus and share your heart with him in prayer. Tell him your fears and the ways in which you feel unlovable. Ask him for healing. Ask him to show you how much he loves you. Jesus loves to answer these kinds of prayers!