While other sacraments point to Jesus and bring his blessings, only the Eucharist is Christ…
Let your heart be pierced like Christ’s
On the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I was blessed to attend the wedding of a dear college friend.
One of the most memorable parts of the day took place during the Mass. As people were receiving Communion, four women — two of them also friends from college and in the bridal party — sang the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Not only was the music beautiful, but it was the same litany sung by the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus, the order my friend had discerned with for a number of years before God called her away from religious life. Realizing the significance for my friend, I was moved by how the Lord had called her to her vocation — first to him and then to her husband; first to his heart, and then to her husband’s.
The devotion and solemnity of the Sacred Heart has held a bit more importance in my life since the beginning of 2019. In January of that year, my young adult community came together and started a weekly night of Mass, Eucharistic adoration and fellowship. Imitating a similar group in the Milwaukee area, we adopted its name of Cor Jesu — the heart of Jesus.
It’s not that I’ve never thought about the devotion to the Sacred Heart. For the entirety of my life, my parents have hung two framed images in our living room — one of Jesus pointing to his Sacred Heart, the other of Mary and her Immaculate Heart. But for many years, that was the extent of my devotion.
Now, as an adult, I’m seeing the richness of the Faith through these devotions, both on their specific feast days and the months during which we ponder them. Because over the past year, I’ve really felt called to root myself in Christ first — to give my heart to him first and let him show me where he wants to share it.
I later realized that July is devoted to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. How appropriate! Because once Jesus gave his heart for us, it was pierced and bled. And once we give our heart to others, it gets wounded for love. This happens in marriage. This happens in family relationships and friendships. This happens when we see human dignity ignored and people facing unfair situations. We mourn. Our hearts bleed for others.
Compassion means to suffer with another. And often we find it’s easier to let our heart be pierced for another than to endure our own pain, as St. Thérèse knew well: “For what joy can be greater than to suffer for thy love?” she wrote in her autobiography.
Devotion has three prongs: veneration, invocation and imitation. And possibly now, more than ever in our lifetimes, we need to take these elements to heart.
First, we must venerate the Precious Blood of Our Lord in the Mass. True, most of us currently are unable to receive from the chalice at Mass, but this can lead to greater reverence and devotion. It’s been almost a year since the Pew Research Center released their survey showing that nearly 70% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence, and while I’ve witnessed and written about experiences of hope, there is still a long way to go in sharing this beautiful truth of the Catholic faith. Just as the pandemic has been an opportunity to renew our devotion to the Real Presence, so, too, can we focus especially on renewing veneration of the Precious Blood.
Second, we must invoke the power of Christ’s blood over the world. It poured out for all sinners and to wash away all of the effects of sin — disease, racism, division, letting rage consume our actions instead of love, etc. — so we must call on the power of the blood of Jesus to bring healing in our time.
And, lastly, we must imitate Christ by letting our hearts be pierced for others, to atone for the sins of ourselves and others. We must grieve, yes. But we cannot forget to pray and fast for our world.
So this month, let’s venerate, invoke and imitate the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened, solace in sorrow, consolation of the dying, most worthy of all glory and honor, save us. Amen.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.