Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Fourteenth Day of June

What the Heart of Jesus Asks of Man.

"The Heart of Jesus has given itself up wholly to us. His Heart is the source of all His gifts, the principle of all His favors. And what does He ask for in return? He asks but for one thing, our hearts. Our Lord asked of St. Ludegarde what she desired of Him. She replied, "All that I desire is Your Heart" Our amiable Lord replied, "I desire on my part rather to have your heart." It is truly marvelous that the Heart of Jesus, the source of every good, should follow unceasingly after man, and unceasingly solicit him, as if He could not be satisfied without him. And what does He beg of him? His heart: "My son, give me your heart. Jerusalem, cleanse your heart; wash away the stains which disfigure it. You shall love the Lord with all your heart." Is there anything, then, that the Heart of Jesus stands in need of? And even should this be so, can the heart of man satisfy it? What treasure, then, do we carry in this little portion of dust, that Jesus should be jealous of it? Ah! the reason is, that the heart is the first of all gifts, and itself gives a value to all besides. Jesus looks not so much to what we give Him, as to the heart with which we give it. He is jealous of our heart. A single look, a single elevation of the heart towards Him, is capable of ravishing Him with joy. The reason is, that there is nothing which is more truly the property of Jesus, than our heart; it is His own by conquest. Jesus is a warlike and generous monarch, who delights in giving battle and gaining victories. Now there is nothing that can resist Him but the heart. The heart once gained, all is gained. It is for this reason that He places His glory in conquering it; and, when He has once made Himself master of it, I am not astonished that He makes it His kingdom. His heaven, His paradise upon earth.

"The heaven of His glory has not cost Him nearly so dear as this. To gain this. He is not satisfied, says St. Bernard, with a word; He purchases it at the price of His blood and of His life. For what is it that He seeks in the crib, and the stable of Bethlehem? What does He ask by His tears and cries? A heart that will love Him. What does He seek, as He journeys through province after province of Palestine? What does He propose to Himself in undergoing so many toils and hardships? It is to gain the hearts of men and secure their love. What does He seek upon the cross? What in the Blessed Sacrament? What, in fine, in offering to mankind, in this our age, by a last effort of His love. His own most Sacred Heart? It is our hearts that He seeks, and yet He finds none to satisfy His desire. He looks over the earth. He considers all mankind. And amid this vast multitude of hearts, which give themselves each to what they love, there is hardly one that gives itself without reserve to Him" (Nouet).

One day, our divine Lord said to St. Angela of Foligno, "Were I to find any one who wished to receive me into his soul, so far from resisting, I should willingly comply with this desire; were I to find any one who wished to see me, I should disclose myself to him with joy. Should any one wish to converse with me, I should speak to him with gladness and affability. So dear to me are souls that love me, that were I to find one that loved me more tenderly than my saints in time past, of whom such marvels are recounted, I should enrich it with still more signal favors than I have lavished upon them."' Now, no one can allege any just excuse for his being destitute of this love. No, every one has it in his power to love God, for He requires nothing of the soul but that she seek Him, and, if she seek Him, she will be sure to find Him, for she is truly loved by Him, and He is Himself the love of souls. "The love which I bear towards a soul that loves me without disguise knows no bounds." continued our Blessed Savior. It seems to me, adds the Saint, that the wish of our divine Lord was, that the soul should bum, as far as she can, with the same love with which He was consumed for her, and which He would communicate to her, did she only on her part desire it.

"But alas! how few souls are there who aspire after this love! O my Lord! how poor, how abandoned, and neglected You are! How I am touched with compassion at the sight of Your indigence! Tender pity has moved Your servants to beg for alms in order to relieve the poor. I would fain beg for You. I would fain find a heart that will love You and joyfully subject itself to Your sovereign will. O man, Jesus would have your heart. The heart must give itself to some one for it cannot live without loving nor love without selling or giving itself away. If your heart, then, is for sale, who has better claim to buy it than He who alone is its happiness, its end, its everlasting reward? And if it is to be given away, who is so worthy to become its owner as He who made it? The world demands your heart in order to change it into a hell; the Heart of Jesus asks for your heart in order to make of it a heaven even in this life. Whose claim is to be preferred?" (Nouet). Ah I Lord, my heart is already Yours. I give You back what is Your own. Would that I were master of every other heart, that I might secure them all in Yours!

Practice: Set aside a week every year, and a day in each month, for the sole purpose of repairing the strength of your soul in holy retirement. This is one of the most infallible means of securing your salvation and perfection, and of entering into the interior of the Heart of Jesus, according to the words of Holy Scripture: "I will lead her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart" Ducam eam in solitudinem et loqiuiar ad cor ejus (Os. ii. 14). O sweet converse! What marvelous secrets it will teach you!

Ejaculatory Prayer: O Heart of Jesus! Thou soughtest me when I fled from Thee; wilt Thou flee from me now that I seek Thee?

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

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