On a recent trip that I had to make, I was—during this particular time of year—made very conscious of the decorations a lot of people chose to surround their houses and yards. Living in a monastery and accustomed to the liturgical seasons, I have grown used to our Catholic traditions and the ambience that we create to enhance each feast day of the Church. Seeing the displays for the secular days of Halloween and the upcoming solstice made me aware that many, many people are more concerned about ghosts and goblins, spiders and monsters than they are about Godly symbols that remind us of heaven, God, the angels and the saints. Would that all those houses I passed with so-called “Halloween” decorations spent as much time, effort and money displaying their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the saints. Wouldn’t our world be quite a different place if that really happened!
This may seem like a far-fetched dream but, actually, it is something that the Heart of Jesus wants from all of us. Yes, the Lord is yearning that we change our indifference toward Him and His holy ones, often revealed by the things we surround ourselves with, and instead put Him and all that points to Him first in our lives. This is very clearly manifested in the revelation that the Sacred Heart of Jesus gave to Saint Margaret Mary. I would like you to listen carefully to the words of this saint as she described what happened to her one day while she knelt before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. She writes:
“One day while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, I was experiencing an unusually complete state of recollection. My senses and faculties were utterly withdrawn from their surroundings when Jesus Christ, my kind Master, appeared to me. He was a blaze of glory, his five wounds shining like five suns. Flames issued from all parts of his human form, especially from his divine breast which was like a furnace, and which he opened to disclose his utterly affectionate and lovable heart, the living source of all those flames. It was at this moment that he revealed to me the indescribable wonders of his pure love for all of us, the extravagance to which he’d been led for those who had nothing for him but ingratitude and indifference. ‘This hurts me more,’ he told me, ‘than everything I suffered in my passion. Even a little love from them in return and I should regard all that I have done for them as next to nothing, and look for a way of doing still more. But no, all my eager efforts for their welfare meet with nothing but coldness and dislike.’”
How many people there are living in our vast world who are totally indifferent toward God and God’s love for them. So, so many of us—even those in rectories and in religious houses—are overwhelmingly preoccupied with our own concerns and interests that we sometimes go through the motions of giving homage to God when deep down inside we are really absorbed with our own plans and desires.
If you think that this indifference toward God, toward the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is just a minor thing that really shouldn’t bother us, I’d like to recommend to you a new book that recently came out entitled, In Sinu Jesu (translated: In the Bosom of Jesus). Its author—simply identified as “A Benedictine Monk”—subtitles this work: “When Heart Speaks to Heart / The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.” With an imprimatur dated October 11, 2016, this book relates the conversations of Our Lord and Our Lady who began to speak to the heart of a priest (in 2007) who was very much in need of their intervention. Impelled to write down what he heard, initially for his own spiritual welfare, it became evident that others (that is, priests, consecrated souls and lay people) would also benefit from these words and receive light and strength from them. Its monk-author explains that the style is his own, but the substance of what he wrote came during prayer, without any effort or prior reflection of his own. He says that “there would be an inner movement to write, and I would write until the inspiration stopped. After writing, there would be a grace of quiet union with Our Lord or with Our Lady. On a few occasions, there were words from saints or from holy people.”
With the onset of these interior messages from Jesus and Mary, this priest has been given a strong attraction to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and to making reparation for priests in particular. As the unnamed Benedictine Oblate writer of the book’s Introduction wisely observes:
“We know from the history of approved private revelations that Our Lord and Our Lady intervene in special ways in times of ecclesial crisis, worldliness, lukewarmness, infidelity, intellectual confusion, or spiritual anguish. They speak to us of truths that have become obscured, neglected, or contradicted; they instruct us in attitudes, virtues, and practices that are forgotten, despised, misunderstood, or poorly cultivated.”
To get an idea of how the Lord is still very much lamenting our present-day indifference to Him, listen to these excerpts drawn from the book. These are the words Jesus spoke to the heart of this priest while he was at adoration:
“It is enough for Me that you are here. I do not ask anything else of you. It is your adoring loving presence that My Heart wants from you. In this way, you will console Me and make reparation for so much coldness, ingratitude, and indifference. I am here for you. Be here for Me. Seek My Eucharistic Face. Know that My Eucharistic Heart is open to receive you, to comfort you, to strengthen you, and to purify you in the Blood and Water that ever flow from My pierced side.”
“When My love is spurned, when the gift of My Body and Blood is not discerned, when it is not received worthily and adored by loving and grateful hearts, I suffer a divine affliction. That is to say, I am wounded in love, wounded in My Heart. I look to My beloved priests to console Me and to make up for the coldness, the cruel indifference, the ingratitude, and the irreverence that I suffer, hidden in the Sacrament of My love.”
These words from Our Lady express similar sentiments:
“Know that my maternal Heart suffers and grieves over the irreverence, the coldness, and the ingratitude of so many souls towards the Sacrament of my Son’s undying love. It is in this Sacrament that He loves His own, loving them to the end… His Eucharistic love surpasses all the laws of perishable nature: there is no greater miracle on the face of the earth than the real presence of my Son in the Sacrament of the Altar. Even so, He is forsaken, neglected, and handed over to sinners to be betrayed, again and again… How is He betrayed? His priests, my own sons, betray Him when they fail to make Him known, when, by not teaching the mystery of His real presence, they leave souls in the darkness of ignorance, without fire or light. They betray my Son when, by their example, they discourage reverence, and adoration, and a loving attention to His presence. They betray Him when they offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass unworthily, and when they hand Him over to sinners who have no intention of giving Him their hearts and seeking His mercy and His pardon for their sins. They betray Him when they leave Him alone in locked churches and when they make it difficult or impossible for souls to approach His tabernacles and rest in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face. They betray Him when they allow His churches to become places of noise and worldly chatter, and when they do nothing to recall souls to the living mystery of His love, that is, His presence in the tabernacle.”
A continued reading of St. Margaret Mary’s revelation that was referred to earlier enlightens us further as to the Lord’s response to the indifference to His love shown by many. He tells St. Margaret Mary (and through her to us), “Do me the kindness, then, of making up for their ingratitude, as far as you can.”
Do we care about our family members who have wandered from the faith? Or how about our parish members who espouse a worldly morality and mentality? Or how about other Catholics who want to convince us that we should adjust the perennial teachings of Christ to the trends of the times? To effect a change in these errant patterns, we are called to make up for these deficiencies by our own acts of love and reparation. Small and insignificant though they may seem, the Sacred Heart of Jesus can use them to bring straying souls back to His Heart. The Lord reminds us in the messages of In Sinu Jesu,: “Love Me, for those who do not love Me; adore Me, in reparation for those who have set up false gods; hope in Me alone, in reparation for those who trust in their own strength.” The Sacred Heart of Jesus assures us that He hears our every prayer and uses them and our sacrifices for His mysterious work in redirecting souls to His heavenly kingdom.
Lately, I have read an interesting article detailing the ministry of Fr. Jeremy Davies. This London priest, former physician and leading exorcist for many years emphasizes that combating the forces of evil is an on-going struggle in which every soul is engaged. He specifically states that “all society is subject to demonic deception in so far as it accepts an unbelieving point of view.” He says we need to wake up to the reality of evil, especially in its more subtle forms, because hidden in the ordinariness of our existence are serious threats to the life of the soul. One of the most telling characteristics of those who fall prey to Satan’s antics, he has observed, are those who seek self-centered happiness which leads them to make unenlightened decisions that gradually move them away from Christ. In so doing, he says, they subtly change from being a child of God to living a lie.
There is an old saying that goes, “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” We have all heard the Gospel admonition of Christ: “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Lk 11:23). Indifference toward the One to whom we owe all our love, adoration and thanksgiving is neither honest nor reasonable. It can easily degenerate into confused thinking and contempt. For those around us who have deviated from God’s love and truth, let us turn to the Sacred Heart and earnestly entrust to Him these souls, begging for them the light and help they need. †