The Five Images Of The Sacred Heart

The Five Images Of The Sacred Heart

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

As we continue to bask in the light of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us ponder some of the images that the sacred writers have used to evoke the mystery of this Heart. We were told in one of the lessons of the feast that the Heart of Our Lord can be considered in five ways: as a treasure containing all the gifts brought to the earth by our Saviour; as a fountain from which flow all the graces of which we find ourselves in need; as a thurible, from which rises the sweetest fragrance of constant prayer and virtue; as a harp which emits the most exquisite melodies under the sweet touch of the Holy Spirit; and finally, as an altar on which is offered the most perfect sacrifice of praise that gives glory to the Most Holy Trinity and brings salvation to the world.

All five of these images should enthral the mind and heart of anyone who has come to know our blessed Lord. At the same time, they should incite us with the growing desire to imitate Him. Indeed, if the Christian is nothing less than an alter Christus, we too should become in some way like unto Our Blessed Saviour in such a way that our heart realises in itself these five images.

First of all, our heart should be a treasure. God Himself is the one who has gifted our heart with so many precious jewels: the theological and moral virtues, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the specific gifts and talents He has given each of us for the common good. People should be able to find in us a storehouse of all the divine attitudes that Our Lord brought to the earth. No one who meets us should go away without being enriched. As Pope Benedict said once: If I do not give God to others, I do not give enough. Indeed, if we truly love our neighbour, we should want to give them the best. Especially as we grow older and see that we are fast approaching end of our earthly road and we want to leave something precious to those we love, we should be intent on bequeathing to them the very best, and that very best can only be God Himself in our heart and the immense treasures of grace and good examples that He gives us so that we may share. When we pass on from this life, we want other people to be able to say that in us they saw God Himself and were enriched by the treasure.

Secondly, our heart should be a fountain from which flows life and love. Just as a fountain revives the thirsty traveller and gives him the courage to go forward, so our hearts should never cease to pour out the best of ourselves, of our true selves, that true self which is found only in God and in communion with the Sacred Heart. If we stay at the level of our superficial selves and give only ourselves, we give little or nothing. If we have come to find our true selves in the Heart of Our Lord, then we can give ourselves to others and from our hearts will flow untold acts of all the virtues that will be like soft rain on parched land.

Thirdly, our hearts should be a thurible. What do you put in a thurible? Incense. But before the incense goes in, there have to be hot coals on fire. If there are no coals or if they are not hot, the incense will not burn and will be unable to give forth the sweet smell of the virtues. So it is that our hearts must be on fire with love for God. Like the Heart of Jesus, the “burning furnace of charity” as we say in the Litany, our heart must be aflame with love. How does that happen? It’s quite simple. It’s a fire that is started like any other fire, in contact with flames. If we stay close to the Heart of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we gradually get warm ourselves, and if we persevere we might very well become red hot with zeal for His glory and for the salvation of our neighbour. Let’s not lose patience if we feel so cold. Stay close to the fire. Some logs take a very long time to dry out and catch fire. Some souls need longer than others. Persevere and the fire will come, and then the Lord will be able to pour His most exquisite incense on our hearts, and we will give forth an inebriating scent of virtue that will inspire all those who meet us. What’s more, from our heart will rise continual prayer that will be like the evening sacrifice that so pleases God Almighty.

Fourthly, if our hearts are tuned into the Heart of Christ, then they will be like the golden harp that emits exquisite melodies to ravish the heart of God Himself and of everyone else who hears them. What are those melodies if not the hymns of praise and thanksgiving that we sing throughout the day and the words of grace that the Holy Spirit Himself places upon our lips for the edification of others? St Elisabeth of the Trinity tells of another tune which is among the most perfect of all, namely, that of the heart which accompanies Our Lord in His pain and anguish: if we imitate His passion, we come to understand that it is in suffering that the heart reaches its full potential, for it is only in suffering that it becomes divested of self and can make the total gift of self to others without running the risk of any form of egotism.

Finally, on the altar of our heart, as on the Heart of Christ, we will learn to sacrifice all that is dear to us and ourselves with it as a holocaust to the Divine Majesty. Let us not forget that the holocaust is a victim that is entirely consumed: nothing of it is left for the offerer; it is totally given over to God to bear witness to His sovereign and absolute domain over all creation. If we reach the stage where it is given to us to make that ultimate sacrifice, then we will know that our heart has truly become an altar on which God is glorified, and the fruits of that sacrifice will reach many souls.

If this program seems daunting, let us turn to Mary, invoked as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She it is who will foster the treasure in our hearts, who will give us to be a life-giving fountain, who will keep the coals hot and pour in the incense; finally, she will teach us to ravish the Heart of God and men by the sweet music that she herself will inspire, and thus our whole life will be consumed on the altar for the glory of God and the salvation of many souls. Fiat.

Sacred Heart Sacre Coeur Heart Jesus