For the past few days, I have been thinking of some adverse things in life that I would like resolved. Some of these are small difficulties and some of them are bigger and their solution and outcome sometimes generates within me pangs of anxiety and concern. (Just think of the recent news coming out of North Korea and its new development of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could even reach the eastern shores of the U.S.) So I have been turning over in my mind a phrase I read not too long ago in a spiritual book and simply saying throughout the day, “Jesus, take care of things.” Do you think the Lord heard me? Well, I was somewhat taken aback as I was looking for an article relevant to this talk. One of the comments at the end of this particular article made an impression on me and I copied it down. The person wrote: “I had a dream—I think it was a dream—but I thought I had woken up… I saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by thorns. Just beside it I saw an image of Jesus’ face. I had started praying the Novena of Surrender to Jesus a few days before and have a great sense of peace.” I said to myself, “What is the Novena of Surrender to Jesus?”
When I looked it up, I was amazed. Now this novena was compiled by Father Don Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest who died in 1970, and whose cause for beatification has been introduced. This holy priest used to go around constantly commending his concerns and the concerns of his people to the Lord by saying, “Jesus, you take care of this.”
Do we really believe that the Sacred Heart of Jesus can help us with our own concerns and dilemmas? Do we believe in his love, his power and his special care for us? Will we trust him enough to help us resolve our own problems and those of our world as well?
To appreciate the infinite capacity of the love and goodness of Christ’s Heart, just listen to St. Margaret Mary as she tries to describe her visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
“Once, when I happened to have a little more time to myself than usual, and I was spending it in front of the Blessed Sacrament, God’s presence seemed to envelop me completely. I forgot all about myself, and where I was, it was so intense; I simply gave myself up to the Spirit of God—my heart, a willing prey to the violence of his love. For a long time he kept me leaning on his breast, while he revealed the wonders of his love and the mysterious secrets of his Sacred Heart.”
She goes on to use descriptions like—“this divine breast was like a furnace which he opened to disclose his utterly affectionate and lovable heart; he revealed to me the indescribable wonders of his pure love for us; I felt saturated with God; Our Lord still kept bestowing graces on me… it seemed the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity appeared to me and filled me with indescribable happiness.”
These brief excerpts from St. Margaret Mary give us an idea of the tremendous love of the Sacred Heart for each of us. He knows our deepest concerns and hears our prayers. As the Lord tells us, “I receive your petitions and your prayers and take them into my Sacred Heart, the burning furnace of charity and the wellspring of every grace and blessing” (see In Sinu Jesu, p. 167). But being weak humans who have an innate propensity to do our own thing, it is often hard to let go—even of our problems—to the Lord. We may be tempted to think we know better than Almighty God and frequently phrase our prayers in ways that tell God what to do. The following poignant thoughts (from In Sinu Jesu) are quite enlightening. Here is what the Lord has to say to us:
So much time and energy is wasted in futile worrying and in endless discussions about what is needed and how to go about getting it. Simply present your needs to Me with a trusting heart and I will show you that I am a lavish provider for those who let Me take charge of their needs. The obstinate desire to control all things and to obtain by purely human means the things necessary to My work is an affront both to My merciful love and to My infinite generosity. Has this not been My message all through sacred history: “Trust Me, and you shall see wonders.” (p. 101)
Then the Lord asks: “How does one come to that degree of trust? By entrusting to Me very little things, day by day, as they arise, and by leaving them to Me. This was also the wisdom of My priest Don Dolindo. ‘Jesus,’ he used to say to Me, ‘you take care of this.’ And then he went his way lighthearted and confident that I would honor the confidence he placed in Me” (see In Sinu Jesu p. 101). Ostensibly, viewing this advice seems so genuine and simple. Yet, it requires on our part a deliberate, profound act of trust in God’s wisdom and providence over us. Can we do this? Will we do this?
Here is another pertinent passage from In Sinu Jesu in which the Lord exhorts us to give him all our heartfelt concerns:
I am here—really present—available to you at any hour of the day or night. I wait for you. I want to listen to the cares and preoccupations that you carry like a heavy burden. Give them all to Me. Trust in Me and I will act. I have told you this before: for me nothing is insignificant. No detail of your life is too small and no sin of yours too shameful to be brought to Me and to be abandoned at My feet. Yes, this is how My saints acted. They were certain that any difficulty entrusted to My Heart would find there the best of all possible solutions. Tell Me that you trust in My merciful love by letting go of the things that burden and oppress you. I am the Lord of all things in heaven and on earth, and to Me nothing is impossible. (p. 100).
To understand how this works in real life, consider what happened in Juarez a city located in northern Mexico with a population of 1.4 million. From 2008-2010 Juarez was considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels. In 2010, the number of homicides in the city was nearly 3,766; in 2015 it had dropped dramatically to 256. What had happened? Although there was an improvement in the work of local authorities, there was another “behind the scenes development” at work. At the peak of its criminal drug activity, forty people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the U.S. Houses were being burned down and there were hostile clashes all over the city. Out of desperation, one of the local parishes asked that a perpetual adoration chapel be opened because they declared “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.” Within two months after the chapel was opened, there had not been one gang-related death in Juarez. Beside that, at this same time the seminary was scheduled to close because only eight seminarians remained. After the adoration chapel opened, the number of seminarians shot up to 88—many of whom had participated in the Holy Hours at the chapel. Father Patrico Hileman, the priest responsible for establishing the perpetual adoration chapels, declares that the real reason for the changes is Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” he says. And emphasizes, “If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you.”
This very real and practical example illustrates so well the efficacy of prayer over mere human solutions. These powerful words (taken from the Lord’s messages in In Sinu Jesu) clearly delineate how God likes to work:
Chapels of adoration are not mere refuges for the devout. They are the radiant, pulsating centers of an intense divine activity that goes beyond the walls of the place where I am adored to penetrate homes and schools, and hospitals; to reach even those dark and cold places wherein souls are enslaved to Satan; to penetrate hearts, heal the infirm, and call home those who have wandered far from me. (p. 169)
My presence in the Blessed Sacrament preached, and confessed, and surrounded by adoration, love, and heartfelt reparation is the single greatest remedy for the evils that afflict my Church… My ways are not your ways, nor do I act according to the principles of worldly success. I act in the silent, humble, hidden reality of My Eucharistic presence. Adore Me, and the radiance of My Eucharistic Face will begin to change the face of the earth, even as it heals My priests, calls sinners home to My Heart, and enlivens the hearts of those grown weary and sad… (p. 170)
We may feel it is a waste of time to sit before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer or to pray quietly in our own rooms, but this so-called waste is the fuel that propels all active undertakings for the Lord. The modern trend toward pastoral efficiency has made deep inroads into the priority of prayer and contemplation over works of the active life. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (i.e., Pope Benedict XVI) frequently wrote about this problem of activism which he considered symptomatic of a loss of confidence in the reality of Jesus Christ and the primacy of His kingdom. He says, “Activism—the will to be productive and relevant, come what may—is the constant temptation of modern man… It is the product of a Church in which there is no longer any room for mystical experience… All methods are empty without the foundation of prayer.”
During this very busy time of year, let us keep in mind that the Heart of Christ wants to be part of all we do and are. He is not suggesting that we fall into a sort of quietism by ceasing to perform the necessary duties of our state in life or to lessen our good works. But He is saying that we must make Him the principle and fountainhead of all we do and say and that everything we do should be referred back to Him. Taking time out for prayer, even in small doses during the day, is absolutely essential for our spiritual health. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is always there to help us and is patiently waiting for us to invite Him into our lives where He will take care of everything, if we let Him. †
*After Sister’s Talk, she read the following article: “Today, Jesus Scolded me while I celebrated Mass”
This talk on Sacred Heart Spirituality was given onDecember 3rd, 2017 by one of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary at the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, Massachusetts. The next talk will be held on Sunday, February 4th, 2018 at 4:00 pm. All are invited to attend.