Reflections on the exceeding desire of Jesus Christ to unite Himself to us from ch. 8 of 'Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus'
By Fr. John Croiset – last Spiritual Director to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
IntroductionLet us consider, that, the union of hearts is the final effect of love; it is also that which Jesus Christ willed when He instituted this august Mystery, wherein He treats us as being the Spouse of our sous. In this Sacrament, love impels Him, as it were, to go out from Himself, to live henceforth only in those whom He loves. “In this Banquet, He hath consecrated the Mystery of our union,” says St. Augustine (this TOB back in the 5th century here!!). It is true that by the Incarnation God united Himself perfectly to our nature, but this Hypostatic Union was not the end of Incarnation, whilst the sacramental union was the end attained by the institution of the Holy Sacrament. He united Himself to our nature in order to have a body capable of suffering the pains He willed to endure for us; but He only gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist in order to unite Himself intimately to us. By His promises He invites us to this Banquet: Come to Me, all you… and I will refresh you (Mt 11:28). He impels us to it by His threatenings: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you shall not have life in you (Jn 6:54). He commands that we shall be compelled to go in: Compel them to come in (Lk 14:23). Indeed He leaves nothing undone to excite in us a great desire to go to Him, so that He may satisfy His loving desire to come to us and unite us with Himself. Could any proof of greater love be possible? Hast Though then, O my Lord, forgotten the ill-usage Thou didst receive amongst us? Hast Thou not foreseen that to which the excess of Thy love for us exposes Thee? The heart of one who is pure and fervent is an abode well pleasing to Thee, but how many such wilt Though find? Canst Thou endure the coldness of this crowd of lukewarm Christians who will receive Thee – their disdain, their feeble faith, and, above all, the terrible corruption of their hearts? Surely these obstacles seem insurmountable for a Heart that can suffer no spot nor stain, but the might of Thy love overcomes them all.
The greatest Mystery of LoveLet us endeavour, as far as we can, to imagine God’s hatred of sin. It is infinite. And yet it seems, in some sort, outdone by His desire to come to us, since He chooses rather to expose Himself to the sacrileges of the most infamous sinners, than deprive Himself of the delight He takes in uniting Himself closely to those who love Him. So exceedingly does our Saviour show His love for us in this adorable Mystery, that He, God Himself, wills therein to be our recompense: I am Thy reward (Gen 15:1). How great a marvel! But that Jesus Christ Himself should be our Food – My Flesh is meat indeed, and MY Blood is drink indeed (Jn 5:56) – is a miracle of love which passes all bounds, a generosity in which, as it were, our Lord Jesus Christ empties His reassure-house upon us. Such are the effects of the tender and immeasurable love of Jesus.
Reflections1. We believe all this, and yet remain cold before this excess of love.
2. It is astonishing that our Divine Saviour wills to love mankind to this degree; and, oh, how strange that men should not love this Divine Saviour, and that no motive, no benefit, no excess of love can inspire in us any feeling of gratitude!
3. Ungrateful and unfeeling man! What is there in Him that can repel you? Has He not done enough to win your love? Alas! He has done more than we could have dared to wish, more than we know how to realise, more in a certain sense, than seemed fitting for His Divine Majesty. And we still deliberate as to whether we will respond to such gracious advances, or whether we will continue to despise them.
4. A token of friendship, an act of kindness, wins a man’s heart: it is only to Jesus, after having done for us, in this Mystery of love, all that can be done, and giving us all that He has to give, even Himself, that men’s hearts remain closed.
5. Everybody owns that Jesus Christ infinitely loves us, that He is infinitely worthy of our love, that He has done more than anything we could have imagined to make us love Him, and yet how few persons truly love Jesus Christ!
6. How comes that He so eagerly desires to enter into us, and that we must be urged and constrained to go to Him? It is because His love for us is infinite, and ours for Him is nothing at all.
7. How is it that we return from Communion as cold as ice, in spite of having been nourished by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is a living fire? It is because we go to It with a heart wholly taken up with the love of creatures, with a heart shut up and impenetrable to the darts of His love. It is because, however ready His Heart be to enter into ours, our heart remains aloof from entering into His: we should even, so to speak, be displeased to enter therein.
8. Men would rather give up Communion than their vices. They would be obliged to love Jesus more, to lead a more regular life, were they oftener to partake of the Bread of Angels. The love of Jesus Christ would inconvenience them: they prefer to abstain longer from this Bread of Life, and even condemn frequent Communion, because their heart, in a certain way, revolts against the Blessed Body, and even the Sacred Heart, of Jesus Christ.
9. With a great desire, our Lord Jesus might say to us, now, I would seek to unite Myself closely to you: With desire I have desired (Lk 22:15). Whence comes it, then that nothing is left undone to render MY desires of no effect? And how am I straitened? (Lk 12:50)
10. Jesus desires to come often to us, knowing that by this means only an we be rendered less unworthy: and there are Christians, who, under the pretext that they are not worthy, make themselves still more unworthy than before, by withdrawing themselves from Jesus Christ.
11. If this feeling arose from true humility, it would prove that they possessed the first virtue requisite for the reception of Holy Communion; but it arises merely from the distaste they have for the Sacred Body of Jesus Christ. This it is which makes them hold aloof themselves, and condemn those who approach the altar more frequently.
12. The mistaken humility of St. Peter, which led him to refuse that our Lord should wash his feet, was so strongly condemned, that it would have been his perdition, had he persisted in it. If I wash thee not, thou shalt not have part with Me (Jn 13:8). How many persons, from pretended reverence and false humility, depart from the path of life, and lose themselves hopelessly, by absenting themselves from Holy Communion.
13. When Pagans of Eastern lands heard of this Mystery, they exclaimed, in wonder, “Oh, how good a God is this God of the Christians! How beneficent! How gracious!” But what would they have thought had they been told that Christians have so little love for this so gracious God? That, not only have they no inclination for this Heavenly Banquet, but they have an aversion to It, and that there are those who avail themselves of the lowly and hidden state to which His exceeding love impelled Him, to commit the greatest sacrileges and the most hateful profanations?
14. What must be the feelings of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Source of purity, when buried, as it were, in a heart full of uncleanness – in a heart breathing vengeance, in a heart that is an imprecation against the Saviour Whom it receives? But what must be ours? We know with what malice this innocent Lamb is treated, while He keeps silence under insult and contempt, and suffers Himself to be offered a Victim on the altar for our salvation.
15. Will not such exceeding goodness and so great gentleness speak to our heart? They softened the heart of His judge, they changed the rage and insolence of His executioners into respect and love, they have softened the hearts of the most barbarous peoples. Are our hearts alone to remain untouched?
16. We shudder with horror at the story of the betrayal by Judas, and of the fury of the Jews. We are, it may be, witnesses, and even accomplices, of insults against Jesus in this adorable Mystery, and it does not affect us.
17. In Thy sight are all they that afflict me (Ps 68:21). Thou hast before thine eyes those who treat Me such contumely in this Sacrament of love, He says to us by His Prophet, Thou art a witness of their acts of irreverence. My Heart, exposed to so much indignity, patiently suffers their outrages. And I had thought to find at least one who would grieve with Me. But there was no man. And one who, but his love, adoration, and homage, would try to make amends for the insults against My Heart, and the contempt shown for My love. And I found him not.
No, no, my Lord and Saviour! It shall not be said that Thou art forsaken this! I, for one, will hasten to render void these just complaints. Is it thus, O my loving Redeemer, that men repay Thy love? Why hast Thou so loved us? But why do we love Thee so little, and even not at all? What then? Not content to be callous to Thy tenderness and love, indifferent to the outrages against Thee, I myself have chosen to be one of those who committed them! My loving Saviour, Whose Heart is ever burning with love for me, ever open to receive me, ever ready to show me mercy, pardon my forgetfulness of Thee until this moment; pardon my lukewarmness, my feeble faith, my acts of irreverence, and accept the reparation which here I make Thee for them, humbly prostrate before Thy face. In this august Sacrament Thou dost ever remember me, dost ever love me; and then, that I should forget Thee, that I should treat Thee with indifference, that I should be cold and loveless towards Thee there! An, my God! Let me rather cease to live than go on loving Thee so little! Rather reduce my heart to nothingness than let it continue in its deadness to the greatest of all benefactors, even to Thee, O Lord, Who in giving us Thyself has given us all things.
Hear, Israel, what the Lord requires of thee (Deut 10:12). Listen, O Christian soul, to that which the Lord asks of thee: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart (Deut 6:5). He asks that thou shouldst love Him. He only asks thy heart. What? And hast Thou need, then, my Lord God, to ask for my heart, when Thou hast so long ago given me Thine own? Yes, it has come to this, that, not only I make Thee wait to ask for it, but I even refuse it to Thee, whilst I daily lavish and waste it upon creatures! Ah, my most loving Jesus, if now I offer it to Thee, wilt Thou indeed deign to accept it? A contrite and humble heart Thou wilt not despise (Ps 50:19). Lord, it is contrite, it is humbled. I may trust therefore that it cannot fail of being pleasing unto Thee. Receive it then; this heart which, with all the movements of which it is capable, I offer Thee, to honour Thee and love Thee for the remainder of my days. Most of the years of my life are passed away and wasted, because I have not loved Thee; but my happiest years are still to come, for I will love Thee from henceforth. I will love Thee, O adorable Heart of my most loving Jesus: I will love Thee, O Sacred Heart, pierced upon the Cross by my sins, wounded with love of me in the Holy Eucharist, diligam te. For the rest of my life I will honour Thee, and to Thee do I consecrate the residue of my days, Thee will I take as my rest, my dwelling-place, and my refuge (Ps131:14)). Let none seek me elsewhere, for, from this time forth I will only be found in the Heart of my loving Lord and Saviour Jesus. His Heart is my chosen abode; it is the Food of my soul; it is my rest in all my weariness; and, burning with one flame with His, the fire which He has kindled, it will be with Him and in Him that I will love Him, my Redeemer and my God.
Concluding PrayersSoul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Heart of Christ, inflame me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the Side of Christ, cleanse me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesu, hear me.
Within Thy Wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come unto Thee;
That with Thy saints, I may praise Thee, for all eternity.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by an ineffable miracle of Thy love, hast been pleased to give Thy most Sacred Body as the Food of our souls, to compel men to love Thee, hear our humble prayers, and pardon our transgressions. Graciously look upon us with the eyes of Thy mercy; guard us with Thy love, so that we may detest with all our souls the opprobrium, contempt, and sacrilege committed against Thee in all the world, in order that we may render Thee, in this holy Mystery, the worship due to Thee, may be inflamed with Thy love, and may, with heartfelt and acceptable thanksgivings, acknowledge the unspeakable loving-kindness of Thy Divine Heart towards us; Thou Who lives and reignest with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for evermore. Amen.