It is related in the life of St. Francis of Assisi, that, urged by zeal for the glory of God, he passed weeping through the towns and villages of Umbria, exclaiming: "Love is not loved, love is not loved." If this was the cause of so lively a grief in the thirteenth century, in that age of faith when St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Bonaventure, St. Louis and St. Elizabeth effected, by their examples, so much good, what words would now be required, and how many tears would have to be shed, to deplore the ingratitude of the present age towards the loving Heart of Jesus? Listen to the complaint He uttered: "Behold this Heart which loves men so much and which is so little loved in return." Sad as the thought is. it is, unfortunately, true, for how many souls are there who do not know the tender and generous love of the Heart of Jesus for them; their number cannot be enumerated. How many others are there who have some knowledge of it and yet are not faithful in making a return for so much love, Alas! there is nothing more common in the world than ingratitude; and how this fresh and painful thorn must cause the Heart of Jesus to bleed. We have the assurance of it conveyed in the words He addressed to His servant St. Margaret Mary: "That which grieves me more than all I have suffered in my passion is the ingratitude of men. They receive with coldness and indifference every sign I vouchsafe them of my willingness to confer benefits on them." Who would not deplore, from the bottom of their hearts, such deep ingratitude; who would not shed tears of blood over the thought, that all the proofs given to us of the tenderness of Jesus Christ become, in consequence of our indifference and wickedness, the cause of the great sorrows of His adorable Heart!
Christians, since gratitude is one of the distinctive marks of devotion to the Sacred Heart, you should endeavor never to pass a day without recalling to your mind the blessings you have received from God; the blessings of creation, of preservation, of the call to the true faith, of the sacraments, of the Heart of Jesus, and many other particular graces. Do yet more; thank God for all the favors He would have bestowed on you if you had been more faithful, and for all those that, in the future, will be granted to you. Thank Him for all those who, receiving His favors, return Him no thanks, or use them only to offend Him. Gratitude is the special virtue of noble and generous souls, and is a most sure means for obtaining fresh blessings, whilst, on the contrary, ingratitude dries up their source. O Jesus! give us Thy loving Heart, we will offer It to Thy Father, and this offering will fully discharge our debt of gratitude.
During the reign of terror in 1871, the prisoners of the Commune, in Paris, in the dungeons of Mazas, were preparing to make the sacrifice of their lives to God. They ceased not to repeat again and again: "Veni, Domini Jesu! Come, Lord Jesus." And the answer was: "Yes, behold I come quickly: Etiam venio cito" (Apoc. xxii. 20). Suddenly the doors opened, the captives did not leave, but Jesus entered. A courageous woman, whose twofold character of American and Protestant enabled her to visit the prisoners without exciting suspicion, brought to the confessors of Jesus Christ a little box, containing several consecrated hosts, which a priest had secretly given her, begging her not to fail in placing it in the hands of the captives. The prisoners were filled with joy and consolation. "I am no longer alone," wrote one of them; "I have our Lord as my guest in my little cell; I feel as I did on the day of my first communion, and I shed tears of joy. O my God! how good Thou art! how true it is that the mercy of Thy Heart will never fail! What thanks do we not owe to the benevolent woman who has procured us so much happiness; we cease not to pray for her, and we hope that the gift she made to us may be rewarded, more especially in the time of trial." On the 24th of May, the hour sounded for leaving earth for heaven; fortified with the holy Viaticum and Jesus in their hearts, the saintly prisoners went forth to yield up their lives into the hands of God. A volley was heard, then one or two single shots; all was over, the victims were no longer victims but martyrs. Their grateful prayers were not offered in vain; the Protestant lady who had brought them the Sacred Hosts, received in return, from the Heart of Jesus, the gift of the true faith. She is now a Catholic. Happy woman! who found thus a heavenly treasure in the midst of the horrors of a siege, which destroyed so much earthly wealth. On her return to America, she was able to proclaim the gratitude of the French martyrs and the generosity of the Heart of Jesus.
Divine Heart of Jesus, I bless and thank Thee for all the favors that Thou hast bestowed on me, notwithstanding my unfaithfulness to grace. I thank Thee also for all that Thou hast granted to my relatives, friends and benefactors. I offer Thee in return the thanksgivings of all fervent souls, those of the Blessed Virgin and the saints, and with Thy prophet I will never cease to say: "Give praise to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever." Amen.
Do not fail at the end of every day to thank the Sacred Heart for all He has done for you.