Meditation for the Eve of the First Friday of the Month of the Sacred Heart

detail of a stained glass rose window of the Sacred Heart, date and artist unknown; Chapel of the Sacred Heart, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming; photographed by Nheyob; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsOn the Confidence which we should Repose in the Heart of Jesus.

Of those who make profession of piety but few know Jesus Christ and the treasures of his mercy; thus they give themselves up but imperfectly to his love.

Nothing can be more pleasing to the loving heart of Jesus than the child-like and unlimited confidence which we testify in him. It is related in the life of Saint Gertrude, that one day, as she reflected on the extraordinary graces which she had received, she asked herself, How the revelations with which she had been favoured could be made known to mankind with the greatest profit to their souls? Our Lord vouchsafed her this reply:

It would be good, he said, for man to know, and never to forget, that I, their God and Saviour, am always present in their behalf before my heavenly Father. This should never be forgotten, that when through human frailty their hearts incline to sin, I offer for them my merciful heart; and when they offend God by their works, I present to him my pierced hands and feet, in order to appease the anger of divine justice.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, says the great apostle, is the mediator between God and man. He is now ascended into heaven, in order to aid our prayers by his powerful mediation. “Fail not,” says the devout Blosius, “to offer your good works and pious exercises to the most sweet heart of Jesus, in order that he may purify and perfect them, for his heart, so full of tenderness, takes delight in so divine a work. He is always ready to perfect in you whatever he sees imperfect or defective. Confidence is a key to the heart of Jesus. What may we not obtain from our fellow-creatures by the confidence we place in them? How much more, then, will it not obtain from God? How marvellous will be its effects if united with an absolute dependence on him!

Thus, when animated by faith, Peter walked on the waters as on dry land; but from the moment that fear entered his mind, the waters lost their sustaining power, and his compassionate Master, extending his hand, said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

On another occasion also, the tempest threatened to engulf the apostles, but Jesus said to them, having commanded the winds and the sea, “Where is your faith? why art you timid, have you then no faith?” In order to inspire us with a more lively confidence, our Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafed himself to teach us the prayer which we address to God, so that our heavenly Father, touched by the words of his own Son, might refuse us nothing which we ask in his name; for this he would have us call him by the sweet name of Father. But still not enough, in order to dispel all our diffidence, he carries his condescension even so far as to promise by a solemn oath to be always ready to listen to us. Amen, amen, dico vobis, si quid petientis, hoc faciam. “Timid souls,” he says, “I swear to you by myself, who am the way and the eternal truth; by myself, who hate falsehood, and who will punish perjury with eternal damnation; by myself, who can no more lie nor deceive than I can cease to be that which I am, I swear to you that I will grant what you ask of me.” These are thy promises, O my God, says Saint Augustine, and who can fear being deceived when he relies on the promises made by un-created Truth? When an upright man pledges you his word, you would believe that you erred if you showed after this any doubt or fear. “But if we receive the testimony of man,” says Saint John, ” His testimony of God, is it not greater?” Our divine Saviour holds himself so honoured by this confidence, that in a thousand passages in the gospel he attributes more to the miraculous efficacy of prayer than to his own mercy. Not saying to those who have recourse to him, “It is my goodness and my power,” but, “It is thy faith, thy confidence, which has saved thee.” Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to Saint Gertrude that he who prayed to him with confidence was sure to obtain his request, that he could not do otherwise than listen to his prayers. “Whatever may be the grace you request,” says our Lord, “be sure of obtaining it, and it will be granted you.” This it is which Saint John Climacus expresses in a like manner, when he says, ” Every prayer offered up with confidence exercises over the heart of God a kind of violence, but a violence which is sweet and pleasing to him.” Saint Bernard compares the divine mercy to an abundant spring, and our confidence to the vessel which we make use of in order to draw these saving waters. The larger the vessel, the greater the abundance of the grace we shall bring away. Moreover, this is conformable to the prayer of the Psalmist, who sues for a mercy in proportion to his confidence. “Fiat misericordia tua Domine super nos, quemadmodum, speravimus in te.” = “Let thy mercy be upon us, O Lord, according to the hopes we have placed in thee.”

God has declared that he will protect and save all those who put their trust in him. “Let them be glad, then,” exclaims David; “let all those rejoice who hope in thee, O my God, for they shall be happy for all eternity, and thou wilt never cease to dwell in them.” He elsewhere says, “He who places his trust in the Lord shall dwell under the protection of the God of heaven.” “Yes, Lord,” says Saint Bernard, “it is hope alone which opens to us the treasure of thy mercies.” “The efficacy of prayer,” says Saint Thomas, “is drawn from faith, which believes in the promises of God, and confidence in the holy promises which he has made to us.”

We see, in short, in the sacred writings that the Son of God seems to take the faith of those who address themselves to him, as the rule for the help and the graces which he grants them, not only doing what they wish, but in the manner in which they ask it.

Grace is attached to confidence; it is a kind of axiom that he who puts his trust in God shall never be confounded. And the wise man defies a contrary example to be cited amongst all the nations of the world. “But our souls should be filled with consolations,” says Saint Ambrose, “when we remember that the graces which God grants us are always more abundant than those which we ask,” also “that the fulfilment of his promises always exceeds our hopes,” as says Ecclesiastes. “Let us have then a firm confidence” as Saint Paul recommends us, since the Lord has promised to protect whosoever hopes in him; and when obstacles present themselves which seem very difficult to overcome, let us say with the apostle, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me?

Who indeed was ever lost after having placed his trust in God?

But we need not always seek a sensible confidence, it will suffice if we earnestly desire it; for true, confidence is an utter dependence on God, because he is good, and wishes to help us; because he is powerful, and able to help us; because he is faithful, and has promised to help us.

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The venerable Mary of the Incarnation relates that it was revealed to her on a certain occasion that the Eternal Father was. insensible to her prayer. She sought to know the cause, and an interior voice said to her, “Petition me through the heart of my Son, through which I will hear thee.” Address yourselves to the heart of Jesus, the ocean of love and mercy, and he will obtain for you, pious soul, and also for all poor sinners, the most signal graces.

Some time before her death, Saint Mechtilda earnestly asked of our Lord an important grace in behalf of a person who had asked her to pray for her. Seized with fear at the sight of the terrible judgements with which the justice of God would visit this soul, she was weeping bitterly, when our Lord addressed to her these consoling words, “My daughter, teach the person for whom you pray that she must seek all she desires through my heart.”

There is no heart so hard as not to be softened by the heart of Jesus, nor any soul so disfigured by the leprosy of sin that his love cannot purify, console, and heal.

– from The Manual of the Sacred Heart, 1866; it has the Nihil obstat of Gul A. Johnson, S.T.D.