The Sacred Heart and the Eucharist and the Passion
The Sacred Heart and the Passion:
It is easy to see the relation between devotion to the Sacred Heart and devotion to the Passion of Our Lord. The greatest proof of His love Jesus has given us is His death on the Cross. Therefore, devotion to the Passion of Our Lord is one of the principal practices of devotion to His divine Heart. When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary, sometimes He presented Himself covered with wounds and at other times wearing His crown of thorns; again, she would see Him carrying His cross. He also revealed to her many secrets of His Passion, especially concerning His terrible agony in the Garden of Olives. Finally, He Himself taught her certain practices in honor of His Passion, in particular the Holy Hour, by which she was to console Him for the suffering and sorrows of His agony. And also it was to remind us of the motive behind His suffering and death – His immense love for men – that He showed His Heart surrounded by the instruments of His Passion. The sight of these symbols should arouse feelings of compassion in us and lead us to make reparation, by practices of devotion in honor of His Passion. Some of these practices are: Stations of the Cross, the Holy Hour, Night Adoration, but especially striving to love the Sacred Heart generously, by fulfilling our duties and accepting sacrifices in a spirit of reparation.
The Sacred Heart and the Eucharist:
Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is essentially Eucharistic. Without devotion to the Eucharist there just isn’t any true devotion to the Sacred Heart. This Heart is the living symbol of the love that led Jesus t o institute the Eucharist.
In fact, we can truly say that the Eucharist “contains” the Heart of Jesus. His Heart is not a picture or a statue, but a living reality, beating out of love for us in the Blessed Sacrament. It is there we will find it; it is there we honor it. It is there, too, that His Heart receives so much coldness, indifference, and forgetfulness.
When Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary in the last part of the 17th Century, a terrible and dangerous heresy was doing untold harm to souls. This heresy, known as Jansenism, taught, among other errors, that God was to be feared rather than loved; that, out of respect for Him, Communion should not be received more than once a year, and then only after long and careful preparation. The results of this teaching among Catholics were disastrous: Love for the Eucharist grew cold.
As an answer to this attack on His love Jesus showed His Heart all on fire with love for men, complaining that He was not loved in the Blessed Sacrament, and encouraged all to honor His Heart by practicing more ardently devotion for the Eucharist. In one of the apparitions which occurred after St. Margaret Mary had received Holy Communion, Jesus said to her, “I thirst! I have a burning thirst to be honored by men in the Blessed Sacrament, and I find hardly anyone who endeavors, according to my desires, to quench that thirst by making some return to me...”
The Heart, the Crown, the Cross, the Flames;
The heart in common language is a sign or symbol of the whole person, as when we say, “I give you my heart,” meaning “I give you myself.” “Heart” is also a symbol of the kind of person you are, as when we say, “he is warm-hearted” or “hard-hearted.” When applied to Christ, “heart” refers to His physical heart as a symbol of His Person and His nature, which is love, as St. John tells us: “God is love.” “Sacred Heart” signifies that our Lord's Heart is that of a God, something sacred, in fact divine, because it is united to a divine Person.
We have all seen the symbols of our Lord’s Passion surrounding the image of the Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary tells us, “My divine Savior gave me to understand that these instruments of His Passion signified that His immense love for man had been the cause of all His suffering...”
Jesus explained to her the meaning of the cross and the flames. Many think it simply means that Jesus died on the cross out of love for us. It means this, but more, too. St. Margaret Mary tells us: “The cross signifies that from the first moment of His incarnation, that is to say, when His Heart first was formed, the cross was planted in it, and from that moment on, it was filled with all the bitterness caused by the humiliations, poverty, sorrows, and contempt which His Sacred Humanity had to suffer during the course of His life and in His Passion.” Therefore, it reminds us of the interior sufferings of Jesus which, He told St.-Margaret Mary, were greater than all the rest of His sufferings, for He had to undergo them from the first moment of His Incarnation.
The wound in His Heart was made by the lance of Longinus, and signifies that He is hurt by sin, especially mortal sin.
The flames indicate the intensity of Jesus’ love for all men.
All these symbols - the heart, the thorns, the wound, the flames - are reminders of His love: “See, O see how much I love you...”