By: Rick Hernandez
Walking towards my bedroom, there is a small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the door. I often touch this statue as I walk by, a subtle attempt on my part to firm up in my heart the connection of my daily life to His. It is a means of acknowledging His role in my life and that we are in this, together.
Why is it that “connection” is so often associated with the heart? When we feel compassion, we say that the situation “tugs at our heart,” asking for our attention. When we feel excitement at meeting someone, we say that our “heart flutters,” asking us to be present. When we accompany someone suffering, our “heart aches,” asking us to be aware of and share in their pain. When we encourage someone, we ask them to “take heart.” We literally are offering our hearts to them. So much connection to the heart…
Ever since ancient times, the heart has been the symbol of connection to others. But connecting to others is not always easy, and in fact, it is often difficult and even scary. Modern society is trying hard to separate us from our communal good and send us towards the individualism and selfishness that severs real connection. Why is it that while we are more connected than ever through technology, we are lonelier than ever? Why are we, as a society, more selfish? There is no real connection, not without heart, not without presence, not without compassion, not without courage.
Compassion is an old word derived from the Latin “com pati,” meaning “to suffer with.” Connection is implied here, our hearts united. Another word for compassion is mercy; the Latin word for mercy is misericordia, which comes from “miseri cordi,” meaning “heart in misery”… Once again, the connection to the heart. We are meant to unite our hearts to others, to achieve connection. But to do this can be scary.
To fight against fear, we need courage, fortitude. Courage is also an old word, derived from the Latin “cor age,” meaning “to bring forth your heart”… it’s all about the heart. So, the question then is: How do we transform our hearts so that we can be present, courageous, compassionate, and merciful? “COR UNUM ET ANIMA UNA,” which translates into English as “one heart, one mind,” to beat as one heart. And here is where we understand whose heart we need—the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“His Sacred Heart has given men everything: redemption, salvation, sanctification... Through the mystery of this wounded Heart, the restorative tide of God’s merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time. Here alone can those who long for true and lasting happiness find its secret.” (St. John Paul II)
St. Peter Julian Eymard instructs us, “Let us learn to honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate them.” The holy gift of the Eucharist can only be fully explained by His perfect love, fully present in His Sacred Heart. When we partake of our Lord’s banquet, when we are united through that most intimate moment in the consumption of the Eucharist, we are infinitely connected to Him, and through His Sacred Heart, connected to all whom He loves. At that moment, from our presence there, we can partake of His courage, of His compassion, of His mercy. May we be transformed; may our hearts be lit on fire…
The Sacred Heart is always depicted on fire, signifying the transformative power of His love for us. If we make an offering of our very selves, uniting it to the offering of the Paschal Lamb, the divine fire of His Sacred Heart can both consume and transform us. We are no longer just us, but He who loves us, a perfect connection. One heart, one mind…
“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32).
The Sacred Heart, the Holy Eucharist, and Love itself are one and the same thing: “Cor Unum.” One Heart.
We pray to you, our ever-loving Lord, let your Sacred Heart be our treasure, for where our treasure is, there also will our hearts be. Like Mother Mary’s Immaculate Heart, one heart with Yours. Amen.