Sacred Heart: A Reflection of the Heart of God

Author: Fr. Paul Valentin, C.S.C.

Statue of the Holy Family

During the General Chapter in July 2022, we reflected on the appropriate way to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the entry into eternal life of our founder, Blessed Basile Moreau. We came to the idea of ​​a jubilee year, but to take into account its exceptional nature, we wanted it to continue until the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on June 7, 2024.

When Fr. Basile Moreau founded the Congregation of the Holy Cross, he received the inspiration to dedicate the sisters to Our Lady and the priests to the Sacred Heart, while the brothers were already dedicated to Saint Joseph. Thus, the religious family of Holy Cross was in the image of the Holy Family.

Fr. Moreau lived at a time when devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was widespread in the Church. Unlike some other devotions, this one has persisted in the Universal Church until now. The history of France is punctuated by saints who developed this devotion: St. Jean Eudes and St. Marguerite-Marie in the 17th century, and, shortly after the life of Fr. Moreau, St. Charles de Foucauld, are the best known.

This devotion is eminently rooted in the Gospel, and in particular in the Gospel of John, the “beloved disciple” who, after having rested on the chest of Jesus (and thus was closest to his heart), saw blood and water flow from his open side (19:34). Finally, Jesus himself declares himself “meek and humble of heart” in the Gospel of Matthew (11:28).

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The heart is a vital organ of our body; without it, blood cannot provide the muscles and other organs with the elements that allow them to function. Cardiac arrest almost always results in death. The heart is a fragile, vulnerable organ, located near the body’s center of gravity. Since antiquity, it has represented the center of our life, the seat of intelligence and emotions. Love is as vital to our life as the heart is to the body: Without love, says Saint Paul, we are nothing (1 Cor 13).

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Christ has a heart. As a human being, he has appropriated to himself our entire human condition, marked by our faculties, our feelings, our will. His heart is the pure reflection of the heart of God, which has taken on a passionate love for human beings, his creatures, to the point of giving himself up for them.

The beatitudes speak to us of the heart: “Blessed are the poor in heart … blessed are the pure of heart…” It is the very heart of our life that must be converted, transformed by the heart of the Lord. He made himself small, poor, and taught us to live with a pure heart, that is to say an unadulterated heart, which loves without compromise. His heart was opened by the spear at Calvary, to let flow the blood and water, the source of our life.

The prophet Ezekiel puts these words in the mouth of God: “I will give you a new heart … I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (36:26). Because the heart of the Lord brings forth upon us the source of life, our heart allows itself to be transformed little by little into a heart of flesh.

With Blessed Basile Moreau, “We owe it to Jesus Christ to honor his Heart in a special way. … Yes, whether we are rich or poor, big or small, young or old, righteous or sinners, let us all lose ourselves with love in this Heart which only knows excesses of tenderness” (Sermon 1872).

Fr. Paul Valentin, C.S.C.

Fr. Paul Valentin, C.S.C., is the Superior of the Congregation’s Mother Province in France. He wrote this reflection for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the patronal feast of the Priests of Holy Cross. This year the solemnity marks the end of the Congregation’s celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of Blessed Basile Moreau’s entry into eternal life.