Sweet Heart

Here’s your Valentine’s card.

The devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus is pretty hard for a convert to understand. I once visited the Monastery at Conyers in Georgia, and a nice Catholic lady was showing me around. She told me a story about the time she was showing one of her Southern Baptist friends around the monastery and church. The Southern Baptist was very friendly and open minded. Then they got to the image of the Sacred Heart. “I’m sorry.” said the Baptist lady, “But what is that? Why does Jesus have his heart on the outside, and why is it on fire?”

In the best apologetic manner the Catholic lady said, “Well, you know how you Baptists accept Jesus into your heart? We Catholics ask Jesus to accept us into his heart.”

I first came into contact with devotion to the sacred heart when I was eighteen and visited Europe for the first time. We went to Paris, and one night we went wandering around the streets of Montmarte. I wandered into the great basilica of Sacre Coeur. All was darkness except for the pools of light where candles had been lit in the vast space. I didn’t know what was going on, but I now realize it was Eucharistic adoration. I knew I need to kneel, and as an eighteen year old Baptist boy, just out of high school and on my way to Bob Jones University, knelt there in the vast silence. Looking back, I can see that even then God was drawing me home.

Some years later I had the chance to visit Paray le Monial and learn about St Margaret Mary. Once I understood the where and why of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, it has found a place in my own prayers.

Here is a poem by Sir Philip Sidney. It’s not by a Catholic or about the Sacred Heart, but it works (and it echoes nicely the conversation between the Baptist and the Catholic ladies.)

My true love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for another given;
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot mis,
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true love has my heart and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his, because in me it bides.
My true love has my heart and I have his.

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  • Anonymous

    Father, Are you SURE he wasn’t Catholic? See: “Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare” by Claire Asquith. P. 21: “. .. he [Sidney]calls them ‘wanton shows of better hidden matters.'” There are a lot of references to Sidney in the index. The poem sure sounds like the Sacred Heart to me. Marjorie

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  • Joseph Pearce, who is writing a book on Shakespeare at the moment (and who happens to live here in Greenville) says there’s no evidence that Sidney was a Catholic, but he may have had Catholic sensibilities. The poem cannot be an explicit or conscious reference to the Sacred Heart since that devotion developed long after Sidney’s death.

  • I have a Sacred Heart prayer card taped to the side of my computer screen at work. Many see it, the only person who has commented turned out be a Catholic who said, “Hey, I like your Sacred Heart!”Eventually a non-Cat will ask what it is, and that will be an evangelization opportunity.

  • jeron

    i have mini icons of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart in my cube at work. freaks the protestants out a bit, but they’re all respectful of it & a few have been even curious enough to ask questions. i also have Our Lady of Perpetual Help on a file cabinet.

  • About ten years before I converted and still a “high church” Episcopalian I found a beautiful carved wooden statue of the Sacred Heart–like something you would expect to find in an old California mission–in an antique shop. For days afterward it called to me. I purchased it and brought it home. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I had enthroned the Sacred Heart in my home. I am convinced that was the beginning of my conversion to the Catholic Church. My motto since then: “All for thee most Sacred Heart of Jesus”

  • (You don’t need to allow this post, but you’ll probably enjoy it)From a Spectator competition in the 1990s: “put a new second line to a famous first line””My true love hath my heart and I have hisHow wonderful this transplant business is!”

  • Great blog, Father. I’m adding you to my roster of Allies for Victory.

  • Thank you for the poem Father. It reminds me of this passage:http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/john/john15.htm

  • “Well, you know how you Baptists accept Jesus into your heart? We Catholics ask Jesus to accept us into his heart.” I love that quote. How very true!Fr. D, we have a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart in my home as well.In fact there’s altar dedicated to the Sacred Heart in my room.This used to be a very popular devotion and the Sacred Heart of Jesus was enthroned in many Catholic homes. It’s too bad that this beautiful tradition is becoming somewhat rarer now.

  • Anonymous

    Andrew, The Sacred Heart is still enthroned in families. Jesus wants to be King of the home. The enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home was founded 100 years ago this August by Father Mateo Crawley Boevey ss.cc. There will be centenary celebrations in Paray le Monial, France at the end of June and in Syracuse, New York in August. The address of national center of the Enthronement is Box 111 Fairhaven, Massachusetts 02719I have to confess, I’m “partial” as Fr. Mateo was a member of my religious community, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Blessed Damien of Molokai, “the leper priest” was one of us too! Happy feast of the Sacred Heart. Father Richard McNally ss.cc. P.S. Always a great blog, Fr. Dwight