CHAPTER I. THE HEART OF JESUS, MASTERPIECE OF THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
AMONG all the works of the right hand of the Almighty, none more signally shows the infinite wisdom and goodness of the Creator than the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ. As this most holy and blessed Humanity was to be assumed by the Word in the unity of person that it might be the instrument of our Redemption, God, in forming it, brought to bear all the resources of His infinite art, enriching it with such gifts and privileges of nature and grace, as to make it the special object of His divine complacency. And so the Humanity of our divine Saviour became the epitome and, as it were, the center of all the marvels of the universe, shining like a brilliant sun throughout ages and illuminating not only the vast human race, but innumerable ranks of angels, who never weary of contemplating its divine beauty.
But what most attracts our gaze and captivates our affection in the Humanity of Jesus is His most Sacred Heart. From the moment when this Heart was pierced on the cross by the lance and there issued forth water and blood, even to this day, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has exercised such an irresistible influence over souls that none of those who seek the Kingdom of God in truth and justice can resist its potent attraction.
In these latter days, however, the faithful have taken refuge in greater numbers and more confidently than ever in this loving Heart, consecrating themselves entirely to its service and proclaiming it King of their own hearts. In fact, there is hardly a city or ham let where the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is unknown. The name alone, at once potent and sweet, acts as a trumpet-call to rally His soldiers to Our Lord, and as a word of command at which all souls press forward to fight in the warfare of Heaven. Now the marvelous spread of the devotion of the faithful to the Sacred Heart can certainly not have been brought about by chance. We must needs see in it the irresistible impulse of the Divine Spirit who wishes to open for us in this wholesome devotion an inexhaustible source of grace and salvation.
A Christian who wishes to draw from that pure fount, which is devotion to the Sacred Heart of Our Redeemer, the water of salvation, should, in the first place, penetrate the purpose of God in proposing this adorable Heart to our homage and affection, and next, endeavor to understand its high spiritual significance. Let us see what this significance is.
Jesus Christ, our beloved Lord, is presented to us in Holy Scripture under a threefold aspect: as Prophet, Priest and King.—As Prophet, because full, as He was, of the spirit and power of God, He revealed the future, knew the secrets of all hearts, commanded nature, healed the sick and cast out devils. As Priest, because being chosen by His Father for the office of Redeemer that He might ransom with His precious blood the human race from the bondage of the devil, He offered Himself on the tree of the cross, at once Priest and Victim, in expiation for our sins. As King and Sovereign, because we have been entrusted to Him, that He may guide us where He wills and command us as His subjects.
Now to this office of King and Sovereign which we recognize in Jesus Christ, is bound up the devotion to His most Sacred Heart. It is, therefore, our duty to try and understand that to be devout to the Sacred Heart means to submit ourselves entirely to His loving guidance and to fulfill in everything not only His commands but His desires as well. And in this way we shall, as far as in us lies, answer the love shown us, a love which urged Him to utter those moving words: Behold this Heart which has so loved men.
And thou, O blessed Mother of Jesus, Mother of fair love, lit up beyond all other intelligent creatures by the glittering rays and gentle heat of the loving Heart of thy Son, whom the Church invokes as "Our Lady of the Sacred Heart," inspire us with such feelings of devotion toward thy adorable Son, open our hearts so widely to the gracious influence of His beams, that we may be able "to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth" (Ephes. iii, 18.) of the charity that dwells in His Heart, who is King and Center of all hearts. Cor Jesu, Rex et Centrum omnium cordium.