In this Year of Mercy, announced by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, I am struck by how little reference is being made to the Sacred Heart of Our Blessed Lord.
Everywhere, our chapels and cathedrals are decorated with the image we all know so well now – a cartoon of Our Blessed Lord as the Good Shepherd.
Now, whilst it is extremely fruitful to pray to Our Lord as the Good Shepherd, as He searches for His lost sheep and tenderly carries them back to the fold, I must admit, the cartoon bothers me.
For cartoons in their very nature trivialise whatever they depict. There are, for example, many beautiful paintings of Our Lord as the Good Shepherd.
And as I write here, I call to mind the wonderful images of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, the fount of love and mercy itself.
When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the Seventeenth Century, disclosing to her His Most Sacred Heart, He asked that she pray a weekly Holy Hour -begging mercy for sinners.
He also asked for images of His Heart to be placed in private homes and public places of worship, for veneration. He promised that graces would flow upon all those who granted His requests.
How much more appropriate Our Lord’s own request would seem, compared to the present cartoon!
This practice to venerate images of the Sacred Heart has long been part of the tradition of devotion to Him. And each morning I pray a litany filled with such images – the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with its beautiful refrains:
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and abounding in mercy …
Heart of Jesus, the propitiation for our sins …
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation …
Thus I am reminded of how this prayer was composed in order that we turn to His Sacred Heart, imploring mercy for sinners, for ourselves.
Because the Sacred Heart of Jesus, full of love and mercy, is an offering of satisfaction or ransom to the Father, procuring His mercy.
As the concluding prayer of the litany reads:
Almighty and Eternal God, consider the Heart of Thy well beloved Son and the praises and satisfaction He offers Thee in the name of sinners; appeased by worthy homage, pardon those who implore Thy mercy, in the name of the same Jesus Christ Thy Son Who lives and reigns with Thee, world without end. Amen.
This beautiful litany gives us a comprehensive theology of the Heart of Jesus and the fruits of this devotion, procuring in our hearts, a deep desire to imitate the greatest example of love and mercy we are ever to know.
For the Sacred Heart of Jesus, patient and abounding in mercy, is the Vessel of justice and love. He is the Abyss of all virtues, the House of God and Gate of Heaven. He is King and Centre of all hearts.
In this Year of Mercy, I urge anyone who reads my words, to take up the practice of praying this beautiful Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It is only natural that in His profound mercy, Our Lord will welcome you ever deeper into the Burning Furnace of Charity, His Most Sacred Heart.
Cor Jesu, in quo habitat omnis plenitudo divinitatis, miserere nobis.
(Heart of Jesus, in which dwelleth all the fullness of the divinity, have mercy on us.)
Jesu, bone pastor, miserere nobis.
(Jesus, good shepherd, have mercy on us.)