Our first child was only a year old at the time. We were thinking of moving into a big — I mean really big — home. This was the nineties and we were "yuppies" caught up in the wave of "bigger is better." If having "some" things was good, then having "more" things was better. Our family of three was reflexively shopping for a bigger and better home — without stopping to even to think if we needed one or not.
We went from house to house until we stopped at the home of an older man who had somewhat recently lost his wife. He was clearly upset when we arrived. The house was bare. Whether it had always been that way, or whether it had been stripped bare recently because the sad man was planning to move, I do not know.
While walking through the home, I looked into one room and saw upon a dresser, a picture of God's love looking back at me. This picture caught more than my attention, it seized my mind, my heart and my soul — all in one swoop. This was a picture of the Sacred Heart of Christ — but more than that, it was Christ looking like He had something to say to me.
As we proceeded to look at more homes, with the image fresh in my mind, the same question arose and kept repeating itself over and over and in my head. That question was: "Who will clean all this?" Who indeed? We had a very active child, and I seemed to spend most of my life chasing after her — trying my best to keep her alive. My husband wasn't about to come home from work and start scrubbing floors, and hiring help was out of the question. The more the question "Who will clean all this?" ran through my mind, the better the small home we were living in began to look. My yearning for a bigger and better home began to dwindle. Ultimately, it subsided.
And it was good that it did. Shortly after that, the employees in my husband's field of work underwent massive layoffs. Salaries were slashed. Within a few years, half the people in his company would be let go. On several occasions, my husband was almost one of them. Stocks plummeted. We found ourselves on a financial roller coaster ride.
We had been financially secure at the time we were looking for a bigger home, so that the thought of things turning downward just didn't occur to us. We hadn't a clue of how bad things could get. But God did, and I believe that He spared us from making a bad housing decision at least in part by the grace granted through the image of His Sacred Heart. Five years later we would eventually move into another home that better met our needs, but it was nothing like the near-mansions that we had looked at prior.
That was the first time that I remember the image of the Sacred Heart touching me, but it was not the last. Since learning more about the image, we placed this picture at various spots in our home. My eyes turn to it at odd moments. Through this image, I have felt Christ offer me consolation, exhortation, inspiration and admonition. Through this image, and our devotion to the Sacred Heart, I believe grace comes to our home.
In the 1600's, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, wrote the following: "He disclosed to me the marvels of His Love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart." He also disclosed being wounded by the indifference of men to that love. Pope Leo XIII would say of this image "There is, in the Sacred Heart, the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ, which moves us to love in return."
Christ gave certain promises to St. Margaret Mary that would be granted to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart. These promises are:
1. We will be given all the graces necessary to our state in life.
2. Peace will be established in our homes.
3. We will be comforted in our afflictions.
4. He will be our secure refuge during life and in death.
5. He will bestow abundant blessings upon our undertakings.
6. Sinners will find an infinite ocean of mercy in His Heart.
7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
8. Fervent souls will quickly mount to high perfection.
9. Every place in which an image of His heart is exposed and honored will be blessed.
10. Priests will be given the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in His heart.
12. All those who receive Holy Communion on First Fridays for nine consecutive months will be granted the gift of final perseverance. They will not die without receiving the Sacraments, nor shall they die in His disgrace. In the final moments, His Divine Heart will be their refuge.
The devotion includes First Friday Confession, the receiving of Communion on First Fridays for nine Consecutive months, the offering of First Friday devotions (publicly — if offered by your own parish), prayers for the Holy Father, and a holy hour on Thursdays before the Blessed Sacrament.
I grew up in the post-Vatican II era. By then, many Catholic private devotions seemed to have gone out of style. Sadly, the devotion to the Sacred Heart was one of them. Some of us have been exposed to more "innovative" Catholic programs than we can shake a stick at. And some of these are very good. But after a while, too many "programs" can make one weary. One must wonder why so little is done to promote the "program" of the devotion to the Sacred Heart which was begun by Christ Himself. Surely, He knows better than we do ourselves what is best for us. In 1990 John Paul II himself asked that veneration to the Sacred Heart be restored.
People can change and be fickle. God is immutable. His promises don't change. The promises of Christ are as good today as they were hundreds of years ago. It is so easy to run to experts (as a church and as individuals) and pay them large sums of money to solve our problems. It doesn't seem to bother us that these experts can't make the promises that Christ makes for us. We seem not at all disturbed by the fact that most often these experts, so eager to take our money, do not even really care about us. God more than cares about us, He loves with a perfect love. We can run to Him! In the devotion to the Sacred Heart, He comes to bring us peace, blessings, refuge and comfort all for free! Is it really too much to ask that we cease our "indifference" toward His Sacred Heart and start to do the little things that He asks of us in this simple but powerful devotion?