A Pierced Heart

A Pierced Heart

Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us

Today, dear faithful, we are celebrating the External Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; we celebrated this feast in full last Friday (with the beautiful addition of First Friday adoration), and like the feast of Corpus Christi, Holy Mother Church allows us to continue this celebration by repeating the Mass of the feast on this day, so that more of the faithful may plunge themselves into the mystery of the Divine Love of Christ, so admirably represented in the image of His Sacred Heart.

Our Lord Jesus Christ loves us with a love which is personal, a love which is unique to each one of us. He loves us with His infinite Divine Love, but also with the love of His perfect human Heart. We are quite used to hearing this, that ‘God loves you’, but it bears a few moments of meditation to delve a little deeper into this mystery. Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is not some mere sentimental symbol of emotional affection held for us, no, it is much more. It is a Pierced Heart, a wounded Heart, wounded for our sake, for our salvation.

The Lord willed that the extent of His love be shown to us on the cross by this wound; not content to suffer a cruel death, He willed that His sweet Heart should be pierced and that it should drained of every last drop of His Precious Blood, until water flowed forth. This is a love without limit, a love which seeks us out to the fullest extent possible. The physical wound of His Heart is a kind of sacrament, a sign of the love He has for us. St Bonaventure remarks that this Heart “was wounded none the less of this account that, because of the visible wound, we may perceive the wound of love which is invisible”.[1]

The life-giving blood and water, is, to continue the words of St Bonaventure, “the price of our salvation, pouring forth from its mountain-source, from the secret places of His Heart, to give power to the Sacraments of the Church, to bestow the life of grace…”[2] The Sacred Heart, is the source of the living water of grace, which flows into the Church, and into each one of our souls when we receive the Sacraments. In Baptism, whose waters regenerate us unto a new life, a supernatural life lived in union with God is given to us; original sin, and all other sins if we have attained the use of reason, is washed away, and we are made sons of God. In the Sacrament of Penance, this grace is infused into our soul, pushing out and cleansing the stain of sin, making us whiter than snow. In the Holy Eucharist, we receive His very self into our beings, and filled with His Divine Grace, we are nourished and strengthened to live the Christian life. And so on for the other Sacraments. We should reflect upon this when we receive these great gifts; each one comes from the pierced Heart of the Lord so that we might become like Him, so that we may live His Divine Life in our souls.

But let us not forget, that this Heart, so tender, so loving, was pierced because of our sins. Our sins have crucified our Saviour; His Heart has become the victim for our sins [3], as we pray in the Litany of the Sacred Heart, so that we might be saved from eternal death. This should be a great motivation for the compunctio cordis, the compunction of heart of which the ancients speak. Once we have realised the gravity of our sins, the punishment they justly deserve, and the pain and suffering they have caused Our Beloved Saviour, we ought to be struck and pierced to the heart ourselves with sorrow for what we have done, what we have done to the One Who loves us so much. With our own hearts thus pierced, the rivers of Divine Love may gain access to our hardened hearts, flowing from the wound of our Sweet Jesus’ Heart into ours, healing it, transforming it into a heart of flesh, a repentant heart, ready to respond to the invitation of Divine Love without hesitation, and without looking back.

The Sacred Heart is not only source, but also sanctuary. To continue St Bonaventure’s beautiful reflection, he notes that Our Lord allow His Heart to be pierced so “that an entry might be open unto us… that in it we might be able to dwell secure from the strife from without”. Not only do the Sacraments flow out of the Heart of Christ, but His Sacred Heart becomes our place of refuge, our sanctuary from the trials of this life; spiritual trials – those moments of dryness and aridity, those moments of despair, discouragement and demoralisation, those moments of temptation and trial, those moments where we feel our woundedness from our past sins; physical trials – our aches and pains, our own illness or those of others we love, our aging, our own reduced capacity; motral trials – our worries and anxieties, our disappointments and sorrows. We can bring all of this to the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, to find our solace and comfort therein, with the One Who loves us above all others. There, our woes can be consumed in the burning furnace of charity and we can be made pure souls, ready for heavenly bliss with Our Most Sweet Jesus.

Dear brothers, dear faithful, as our Holy Father St Benedict reminds us in chapter 4 of his Holy Rule, we are never to despair of the mercy of God. The Sacred Heart is this symbol of Christ’s overwhelming love for us, and for His desire to pardon us, should we but ask. Let us confide ourselves to His loving Mercy, through the hands of His Immaculate Mother, whose own heart beats in unison with His, ever ready to help us be united with her Divine Son.



[1] St Bonaventure, Of the mystical vine, ch. 3.

[2] St Bonaventure, Book of the Tree of Life, #30

[3] Litany of the Sacred Heart