We have said in a previous chapter that the sensible and material object of our devotion is the actual Heart of Jesus. There is also a spiritual object, which is the essential part of the worship paid to this divine Heart; this object is the love of Jesus for us. "Behold," said He, "this Heart which loves men so ardently!" Observe well these words: "loves men so ardently!" Jesus has loved all mankind since He died for all, and there is not one who cannot say: "He loved me, and delivered Himself for me" (Gal. ii. 20). But to what extent has He loved us? Who can understand the greatness of His love? Jesus Christ Himself appears unable to express it. Recall to your mind some of His many blessings. Remember the crib at Bethlehem, the cross on Calvary, the Eucharist, that sacrament of love, by means of which Jesus will remain with us till the end of time, hidden under the appearance of a little bread, shut up in the tabernacle as in a narrow prison, forgotten and abandoned by nearly all. Is not this a God who loves us with an infinite love? God, as He is, could He do more? Truly, He has loved us even to the end; He has loved us to excess, yes, to the utmost excess of love: Usque in finem dilexit eos. All these marks of love have emanated from the Heart of Jesus. "Yes, it was His heart," said St. Margaret Mary, "that made the crib, the cross, the altar; which formed the Church, and instituted the sacraments. It is from His adorable Heart that we receive life, intelligence, and grace." "O Sacred Heart of my Savior!" exclaimed St. Francis of Sales, "O source of supreme love! Who can sufficiently extol Thee? Who can return Thee love for love?"
Christians, let us correspond to this love of Jesus for us by a like love for Him, and according to the expression of St. Magdalen of Pazzi: "Let us love love." Can anything be more just, more reasonable, and more salutary. "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema" (1 Cor. xvi. 22)! It is the apostle St. Paul who utters these terrible words. Let us, then, love Him who has loved us without bounds; our love should be a consuming fire which devours all earthly affections, and enables us, like the same apostle, to set at defiance the united powers of the world and hell. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from tke love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. viii. 35, 39). Jesus! Jesus! I will love Thee forever—yes, for ever!
The following incident, which took place in Canada, in the year 1872, proves how good and merciful is the Heart of Jesus.
A man, advanced in years, had given up frequenting the sacraments for more than thirty years, and not only was he indifferent as to his religious duties, but he was also animated by a dislike and hatred to priests; on every occasion he sought to speak against them, and to turn into ridicule both themselves and their holy office. For many years his family prayed earnestly for his conversion, but in vain. At length a relative, known for her piety, was inspired with the idea of appealing, as a last resource, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to which she had a great devotion. She hastened to the church, obtained a blest medal of the Sacred Heart, and on her return hid it in the clothes of the poor sinner. Her next thought was to have several novenas made in different convents; and after a time, trusting that the united supplications had prevailed with the merciful Heart of her good Master, she sent for a priest, and contrived a meeting between him and the lost sheep she hoped to restore to the fold. The divine Heart of Jesus does not do things by halves: the triumph of grace was complete and miraculous. The sinner, who for so many years had hated the sight of a priest, eagerly welcomed this one; he made his confession with contrition and faith, and from that time it was almost necessary to restrain his zeal for prayer and works of piety. A few days after his conversion, a visitor ventured to speak ill of priests in his presence; but the unhappy guest soon perceived that he bad mistaken his company, and had to remain silent. The family were overjoyed, and the new convert knew not how to show sufficiently his gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, which had withdrawn him from the brink of hell.
Heart of Jesus! receive the homage of my heart, which is penetrated with admiration and gratitude at the thought of Thy immense love for man. Grant me the assistance of Thy grace, that loving Thee with the most tender and generous love on earth, I may obtain from Thine infinite goodness the favor of glorifying and loving Thee for ever with the angels and saints in heaven. Amen.
Each day perform some act of devotion in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.