What Do You Know about the Feast of the Sacred Heart?
“With Jesus I am enthroned on earth only for the day, to play, to live, to love, and to praise and adore Him. In my heart there will be no tomorrow. No more yesterdays and no more excuses from my heart in defense of self, regardless of circumstances or trials. These shall not be permitted to play upon the stage of His Sacred Heart. O Sacred Heart, unfold Thy Light, for in Thy Light we see the way, the peace, and joy to follow Thee.” —Gems by Cora Evans
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart
The great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is Friday June 23rd. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been a practice of holy men and women throughout the ages, however Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque is recognized as a particular apostle to the Sacred Heart. Christ appeared multiple times to St Margaret Mary in her convent in France in order to establish a greater and more explicit devotion to his Sacred Heart, offering special graces to those who carry out his requests and saying to the whole of mankind, “Behold this Heart, which has loved man to such excess, that it has exhausted and consumed itself to testify His Love to him.” The image shows Christ exposing his vulnerable human heart to us. It burns with the flames of divine love and bleeds the life he poured out in the work of redemption. His regard seems to say that he knows our hearts intimately, and in his great love for us He thirsts for communion with our souls.
Called to live in the present moment
“I am enthroned on earth only for the day” Cora states, yet she means, she is enthroned 'only for the present moment.' “The day” is not yesterday and it is not tomorrow––it is not the past or the future. It is now. To be “with Jesus” is only truly possible in the present. Saint Faustina considers this in her Diary, reflecting,
“Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power to change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that. And so what the
past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire. I desire
to use you as best I can.”
Saint Faustina's thoughts expand on the understanding we can gain from the words of Servant of God Cora Evans. Faustina expresses a reality about the present that our concept of time tends to overlook. That is, we possess only the present moment––right now–– “to play, to live, to love, and to praise and adore” Christ. The past cannot be changed, we may never reach the next minute in the future. We have only this moment to be with Him, to love Him. However how frequently do we think and act in terms of the present moment?
We are accustomed to looking at time as an interval in the assessment of our experiences, in trying to understand and make judgments about difficulties and blessings in our lives, in our dreams of an improved future. This practice makes for a continual temptation to dwell on the past or skip to the future. Even in an honest effort to understand and learn from our past it is easy to fall into living in it. We may regularly avoid the present as we blame or analyze our past. We must ask ourselves if past suffering, mistakes, interactions or events grip us in a way that is paralyzing to our ability to live fully in the present. Do we we retreat to the past in response to the difficulties of the present? Honest self reflection is essential to growth both emotionally and spiritually but in order to achieve growth without remaining even semi-fixed in the past requires vigilance and honesty. The future also can rob us of living “only for the day” as it often calls us away from our circumstances. Looking to the future in hope, for encouragement to persevere, in order to be prudent are good practices when they are done with particular reference to our course of action in the present. However, when we allow ourselves to live in the future as a form of escape, not only do we deny the present, we often postpone our happiness as it becomes contingent on 'if', 'when' a certain point is reached in the future. We recognize in this excess focus on the past and the future a loss of sight of the present. Our concept of the power of the present moment and its role in our gift of self and of love diminishes as we direct ourselves constantly to the past and the future.
The tendency of our hearts to refer to the past or the future can be a device resorted to in order to fend off the demands of the moment. Cora Evans resolves that in her heart there will be “no tomorrow” and “no more yesterdays” used to shift her responsibility. She will no longer allow for any “ excuses from [her] heart in defense of self regardless of circumstances or trials.” It seems sometimes we secretly push the present away, we distract ourselves, excuse ourselves—especially when circumstances and difficult trials arise. Our thoughts, fears, hopes, and desires with regards to the past and the future often sway our hearts and our ability to act lovingly, dutifully in the present. Sometimes we are swayed simply because we are inclined to defend ourselves against what is seemingly inconvenient. We are plagued by fears of what these trials and circumstances may demand of us and the impacts they may have on the vision of our life to which we are so attached. At times we may defend ourselves because we fear we are incapable of persevering through the trial. At times perhaps we fear the effects it may have on our livelihood. But frequently, it seems, we spare ourselves from the call of the present moment because we are exhausted, impatient, or even desperate. We are more aware of our own desires than the sacrifice the moment is asking of us. Sometimes the idea of living utterly in the present is intimidating. It demands a deep reliance and trust of God's goodness in His plan for you and a true detachment from self. Cora calls on the Sacred Heart for aid in her resolve to live in this way, saying “O Sacred Heart, unfold Thy Light, for in Thy Light we see the way, the peace, and joy to follow Thee.” It is striking how joyful her resolve is—in the moments that she may be called to give sacrificially rather than “to play” before the Sacred Heart, we see her trust that in the Light pouring forth from Christ's heart. May we all find peace and joy in Christ's call to participate in His divine love.