On a hill overlooking the city of Paris is the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is a modern structure, whose construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. Because of the outbreak of the First World War, it was not consecrated until 1917. Probably the most remarkable thing about Sacre-Coeur is that there has been perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament there since 1885. For 135 years, people have been able to go to that place any time – day or night – and pray before the Eucharist exposed to public view in the sanctuary.
It is fitting that there has been perpetual adoration in that basilica named for the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotion in which we are invited to meditate on the fact that God loves us with a human heart. Because of the Incarnation, we can say that the infinite love of God is mediated through the fleshy Heart of Christ. The Eucharist is God in the flesh, hidden under the appearance of bread. In this way, we see that there is a powerful connection between the Sacred Heart and the Eucharist which helps us to love Our Savior more.
When we contemplate the image of the Sacred Heart, we see the dramatic wound from the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross. The Gospel of St. John tells us that from the pierced side of Christ flowed forth blood and water. The saints have associated the water with the sacrament of Baptism, which gives us new life in Christ, and the blood with the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is food for the faithful that nourishes us and strengthens us. The wound on the Sacred Heart of Jesus will never heal. It will be on the Heart of Christ for all eternity. We know this because the gospels tell us that the risen Christ still bears the wounds of His crucifixion on His hands, feet, and side. It is God’s will that these wounds remain available to us as the source of life and healing. From the pierced Heart of Jesus flows forth God’s love for us, and as we sit before Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament we bask in that love as He heals the wounds that we bear because of our sins and the sins of the world.
On this, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we should pray for greater awareness of this devotion. Our poor world suffers such turmoil because it is desperately seeking a solution to the problem of human unhappiness. There are so many hearts that are oppressed by sadness, anger, confusion, meaninglessness, and despair. There are so many that are burdened by wounds caused by the cruelty, selfishness, indifference, and violence of their neighbors and the societies in which they live. It is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, offered to us in the Most Blessed Sacrament, that we must turn to if we are to know peace and the healing that comes from His merciful love.