Invitation of the Heart of Jesus
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart is the Last Effort in These Latter Ages of the Love of Our Lord for Men
One day when St. John, the well-beloved Apostle of the Heart of Jesus, appeared to St. Gertrude in the splendor of an incomparable glory, “My most amiable Lord,” said she to Jesus Christ, “whence cometh it that Thou dost present Thy most dear disciple to me—me, an unworthy creature?” “I wish,” replied Jesus, “to establish between him and thee an intimate friendship; he shall be thy Apostle, to instruct and to correct thee.”
Then St. John, addressing himself to Gertrude, said: “Come, Spouse of my Master, together let us lay our heads on the most tender bosom of the Lord, in which all the treasures of Heaven and earth are enclosed.” As the head of Gertrude inclined to the right, and the head of John to the left of the breast of Jesus, the well-beloved disciple continued: “Here is the Saint of Saints; all good things of earth and Heaven are drawn hither as to their center.”
Meanwhile the beatings of the Heart of Jesus ravished the soul of Gertrude: “Well beloved of the Lord,” she asked of St. John, “did these harmonious beatings, which rejoice my soul, also rejoice yours when you reposed during the Last Supper on the bosom of the Saviour?” “Yes, I heard them, and my soul was penetrated with their sweetness even to its very center.” “How comes it, then, that in your gospel you have spoken so little of the loving secrets of the Heart of Jesus Christ?”
“’My ministry,’ answered the beloved Apostle, ‘in those early times of the Church was confined to speaking of the Divine Word, the eternal Son of the Father, some words of deep meaning upon which human intelligence might meditate forever, without ever exhausting their riches; but to these latter times was reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus. At this voice the time-worn world will renew its youth, be roused from its lethargy, and again be inflamed with the warmth of Divine love'” (From Revelations of St. Gertrude).
St. Gertrude has been, in a certain sense, the Evangelist of the Sacred Heart. Her book reveals to us the human Heart of Jesus, as the Gospel of St. John reveals to us the Divine Word. This loving revelation was a secret reserved for these latter ages of the world, when, after so much ruin and desolation, weak and disheartened souls are everywhere on the look out for a final triumph of the Church—an age of consolation, when faith will be renewed, piety will flourish, and charity again be re-kindled. This is what the Apostle St. John seems to predict in his Apocalypse when he says, in a remarkable passage which has been quoted as applicable to our times: “I have given before thee a door opened, which no man can shut, because thou hast a little strength.” (Apoc. 3:8).
We are weak, but by the Heart of Jesus we shall become strong; by the charity of the Heart of Jesus we shall triumph over death and hell, and in the Heart of Jesus, which is open, we shall find love, which is the source of all virtues.
The Heart of Jesus is a furnace of love; devotion to that Sacred Heart is a devotion which springs from love, takes love for its end, and makes use of love as its means. Love is, as it were, brought home to us by the human Heart of Jesus, who communicates to us His own sentiments in permitting us, as His members, to feel the vibration of His own hidden pulsations, according to the great principle which regulates Christian life: “Hoc sentite in vobis quod et in Christo Jesu”— “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5).
It is love which draws us to love by its own irresistible charms, according to Our Lord’s own prophecy: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth” (and My Heart has been opened by love) will draw all things (all hearts) to Myself. (John 12:32). In the end, it is love which would consume us in its flames in order to sanctify our sacrifices and atone for the faults of this sinful world, to the end that pardon may become the measure of love, even as love has been the measure of pardon. “Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much”—Remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum. (Luke 7:47).
1. Confidence in the midst of our trials and the evils of the present time, because Jesus, having pity on our weakness, has opened to us His Heart, where we shall find strength in all our needs.
2. Love! Love! Let us give ourselves to love! Devotion to the Sacred Heart is the devotion of love, which alone can banish the coldness of our times. The renewal which we seek is a work of love, and can be accomplished by love alone.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Book of St. Gertrude
St. Gertrude hesitated in her humility to publish the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but He overcame her difficulty by saying to her:
“I wish your writings to be for later times a proof of the tenderness of My Heart, and I will make them a source of grace to many souls, While you write, I will keep your heart near to My Heart, and will instill into it, drop by drop, what you are to say.”
She heard Jesus Himself say the following prayer: “O Holy Father, I wish, for Your eternal glory, that the heart of Gertrude may pour forth upon men the treasures which are contained in My human Heart.”
When the book was finished, Jesus appeared to St. Gertrude, saying:
“This book is Mine; I have imprinted it in the depths of My Heart; there each of its letters has imbibed the sweetness of My love, and from every word exhales the perfume of My mercy.”
St. Gertrude is the Messenger, the Herald of Divine love, charged to make love known in its most touching manifestation, which is the Heart of Jesus, and to lead to that Divine Heart the hearts of all men. This is the mission which St. John announced to her, the mission which the Heart of Jesus has given her, the mission for which she has written her book.
She already sees this task partially accomplished in an exterior and official manner by the Blessed Margaret Mary, daughter of St. Francis of Sales, who was himself the spiritual son of St. Gertrude, and imbibed much of his own spirituality from her works; but now she seems called upon to fulfill her mission still more completely by means of her new spiritual sons, who everywhere propagate her doctrine.
It is, above all, in the school of St. Gertrude and in all her teachings that devotion to the Sacred Heart shows itself easy and suitable to all, full of sweetness in its form, touching and irresistible in its attractions, because she everywhere points to love, with the joy and peace which are its fruits.
1. Let us listen with confidence and docility to the “Messenger” of Divine love, and we shall draw from her words the grace which the Heart of Jesus has deigned to attach to them—viz., the grace of love.
2. Let us resolve faithfully to imitate St. Gertrude in what she has done for the Heart of Jesus, for she frequently repeats that by this means we shall obtain as recompense the same favors that she herself received.
This article is taken from a chapter in Love, Peace, and Joy by Fr. André Prévot which is available from TAN Books.