(from “Meditations on the Sacred Heart” by Father Joseph McDonnell)
1st Prelude—Imagine Jesus saying to you, as He said to [Saint] Margaret Mary: “Behold this Heart, which has loved men so much.”
2nd Prelude—Ask for grace to understand and sympathize with the emotions of the Sacred Heart.
There are three classes of emotions in the Sacred Heart:
1st Point—Sorrows of the Sacred Heart.
2nd Point—Its Joys.
3rd Point—Its Desires.
1st Point—The Sorrows of the Sacred Heart
Consideration—Jesus Christ finds, in a greater or less degree, in my soul, six things which cause sorrow to His Sacred Heart:
(1) My tepidity and want of earnestness and energy in His service.
(2) My indifference to His loving invitations.
(3) My inconstancy and unfaithfulness to my good resolutions.
(4) My pusillanimity, which prevents me from embarking on any great enterprise in His service, makes me diffident and distrustful in spite of all His promises, and causes me to give up at the slightest breath of opposition or adversity.
(5) My sins, which tend to raise a barrier between me and His Sacred Heart.
(6) My want of zeal in promoting His interests in the hearts of others, especially of children and those entrusted to my care.
Application—Examine yourself on each of these six things, and see how far they exist in you, and how far in consequence you have had a share in adding to the sorrows of the Sacred Heart.
Affections and Resolutions—Dearest Jesus, if hitherto I have done little else than grieve Thy Sacred Heart, I will now, at length, consecrate myself entirely to Thee, and, wholly relying on Thy all-powerful assistance, I will strive to become both a true disciple and a zealous apostle of devotion to Thy Sacred Heart.
2nd Point—The Joys of the Sacred Heart
Consideration—There are, in like manner, six things which Jesus finds in the hearts of His true and faithful friends, which bring joy and consolation to His Sacred Heart:
(1) Fervour and earnestness in His service. This is the practical expression of my love, which, as St. Ignatius says, consists rather in works, in willingness to labour and make sacrifices, than in words.
(2) Conformity of will, especially in times of sorrow and adversity, and a loving solicitude in all things to second His desires.
(3) Fidelity to my good resolutions, even when it costs me something to be faithful to them.
(4) Unbounded and unswerving trust and confidence in the boundless love and goodness of the Sacred Heart. Animated with this disposition, I shall undertake, and successfully accomplish, great things for the honour of the Heart of Jesus. I shall never stop at anything that I know to be His Will.
(5) Patience in adversity, humble submission to the Will of God in sorrow, disappointment, or bereavement.
(6) Ardent, practical, and prudent zeal, which never tires of working for the Master, and is ever striving, “in season and out of season,” to promote His interests.
Application—How far is this a picture of my dispositions? When Jesus lay in mortal agony, beneath the pale green olives of Gethsemane, it is believed that the consoling angel placed before Him visions of the holy souls that would hereafter strive to make amends for all the wickedness and indifference of men. Was I among the number? Do I wish to be so?
Affections and Resolutions—O Lord! to Thee I offer up and consecrate my heart. Banish from it all that is offensive to Thee; fill it with the disposition that will make it pleasing to Thy Sacred Heart.
3rd Point—The Desires of the Heart of Jesus
Consideration—Among the many desires that fill the breast of Jesus, there are three in particular that regard me in my relations to His Sacred Heart:
(1) Christ ardently longs for my sanctification, that thus my devotion to His Sacred Heart may be more acceptable and pleasing to His sight, and that I may become a fitter instrument to propagate this devotion in the hearts of others.
(2) He desires that I cultivate within my soul a very true and solid devotion to His Sacred Heart, seeing that unless I myself am animated in a high degree with this devotion, I cannot hope to kindle it in others.
(3) Hence He wishes me to be not merely ardently devoted to His Sacred Heart myself, but to be, moreover, its apostle in the hearts of all with whom I come in contact.
Application—I have sins to atone for, graces and favours innumerable to be thankful for, a threefold battle—against the world, the flesh, and the devil—to fight here, and an eternal inheritance to secure hereafter. All these ends may be powerfully promoted by devotion to the Sacred Heart: it expiates sin, for its exercises are all exercises of Divine love, which, as theologians teach, possesses the power of expiation; it is a means of thanksgiving, for this, with reparation, are the two chief ends of the devotion; it helps me to fight the battle here and to win the crown hereafter, since its effect is to elevate the soul from a state of tepidity to one of fervour, and to infuse spiritual energy and vigour into languid souls.
Affections and Resolutions—Teach me, O Lord, to understand the sorrows, joys, and desires of Thy Sacred Heart, that I may strive to lessen the one and to increase the others.