Feast of the Sacred Heart
"What would it mean to love like Jesus did? What would it mean for me to have a heart like his? How can my heart become more "sacred"? For, in the end, the Sacred Heart is about understanding Jesus' love for us and inviting us to love others as Jesus did." Fr Jim Martin SJ
St Margaret Mary was a mystic who had visions, which in the late seventeenth century began a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She is known as the Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St Margaret Mary's insights were taken up by the missionaries of the nineteenth century and that is how the name found its way to Aotearoa, New Zealand.
This heart hangs in our chapel. Past Principal, Lisl Prendergast, bought it in Paray le Monial (where St Margaret had her visions of Jesus). "I like the grains of wheat it has on it. It reminds me of St Margaret Mary's extraordinary visions of divine love but it also adds little details to the story. The wheat reminds us of the Eucharist. It also was used as a symbol for the word of God. Wheat is milled and becomes flour just as the Word of God is heard by the faithful, processed and acted upon."
The heart symbol which we use regularly without thinking scientifically, we use to refer to the deepest love. In the tradition of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, it’s like pulling the curtains and letting the morning sun blast you with warmth and light – it’s a real, tangible welcoming of the immense love of God. Sometimes we find it in friendship, in retreat, in nature.
The following story told by Sadhu Sundar Singh, illustrates what we are celebrating when we remember God’s great agape love, seen in the mystical Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Once when I was travelling about in the Himalayas I saw something which made the love of God very real to me. In a Tibetan village I noticed a crowd of people standing under a burning tree and looking up into the branches. I came near and discovered in the branches a bird which was anxiously flying round a nest full of young ones. The mother-bird wanted to save her little ones, but she could not. When the fire reached the nest the people waited breathlessly to see what she would do. No one could climb the tree, no one could help her. Now she could easily have saved her own life by flight, but instead of fleeing she sat down on the nest, covering the little ones carefully with her wings. The fire seized her and burnt her to ashes. She showed her love to her little ones by giving her life for them. If, then, this little insignificant creature had such love, how much more must our Heavenly Father love His children, the Creator love His creatures!