Christian faith teaches that there are three Persons in the adorable mystery of the Holy Trinity; three Persons who have but one and the same divinity, one and the same power, wisdom, goodness, one and the same mind, will, and even one and the same heart. Thence it is that our Savior, as God, has but one and the same Heart with the Father and the Holy Spirit; and as man, His humanly divine and divinely human Heart is but one also with the Heart of the Father and the Holy Spirit, by a unity of mind, love and will. Therefore to adore the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to adore the Heart of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; to adore a Heart that is a burning furnace of love towards us. Into that furnace we must plunge so as to burn there forever. Unhappy they who shall be cast into the terrible furnace of eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels, but blessed are they who shall be thrown into the eternal fire of divine love which enkindles the adorable Heart of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for our sake. That we may stir ourselves to plunge in wholeheartedly, let us picture what that fire and that love are.
If you desire to learn the exact nature of the love of the paternal Heart of the divine Father of Jesus, listen to St. Paul: “He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Rom 8:32). The Father sent His Only-begotten Son into this world to testify to us His love in a wondrous way. Before sending the Redeemer He knew full well how we would treat Him. He knew that, as Jesus must be born on earth to raise men up to heaven, His divine Mother would seek shelter for His birth and would find no place to lay His infant head. Non erat locus in diversorio? (Lk 2:7). He knew that, as soon as He was born, men would seek to slay Him, and that He would be compelled to flee and hide away in a foreign country. He knew that when He began to teach and preach the word of His Father they would regard Him as a madman, they would repeatedly take up rocks to stone Him, and would lead Him into a high mountain to attempt to dash Him to destruction. He foresaw that they would bind and shackle Him like a thief, drag Him through the streets of Jerusalem like a criminal, subject Him to endless insults and torments and condemn Him to die the cruelest and most infamous death. After He had risen, they would endeavor to stifle any growing belief in His Resurrection. After He had established the Church and Sacraments to apply to souls the fruits of His Passion and death, even the majority of Christians would misuse these Sacraments, profane them and make them serve to their greater condemnation. Finally, He knew that in spite of His labor, sufferings, and death, too many souls would contemn His Precious Blood, making void and useless all that He accomplished for their salvation, because they would perish miserably….
Would you now behold the incomprehensible love of the divine Heart of the Son of God? Hear Him speak: Sicut dilexit me Pater, et ego dilexi vos. “As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you” (Jn 15:9). O my Savior, well may I say to Thee, with Thy faithful servant, St. Bonaventure, that Thou so lovest me that seemingly Thou dost hate Thyself for me: Domine, in tantum dilexisti me, ut te pro me odisse videaris. (1)
Let us come now to the love of the Holy Spirit, who is the Heart of the Father and the Son. When this divine Spirit formed the God-Man in the sacred womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary to give Him to us, did He know what we were to do? Did He know all the outrages and cruel deeds that men were to perpetrate against Him? Did He know that men would bend all their energies to destroy His wonderful masterpiece, the God-Man? Yes, He knew it well. Yet He did not hesitate to form Him in Mary’s womb, to let Him be born for us, to appear in the form of a dove above His head during His Baptism in the waters of the Jordan, to make us recognize Him. He did not hesitate to lead His Son into the desert to do penance for our sins, to urge Him to preach the Holy Gospel and to proclaim to us the truths of heaven: Spiritus Domini super me; propter quod unxit me, evangelizare pauperibus misit me (Lk 4:18). He did not hesitate to sacrifice Him on the Cross for our redemption: Per Spiritum sanctum semetipsum obtulit. O love that hath no equal! O spirit of love and charity, bear with me when I say that seemingly Thou hast more love for man as sinner and culprit than for the God-Man who is the Holy of holies; for a slave of Satan than for the Only-begotten Son of God; for a firebrand of hell than for the King of heaven. O wonder without parallel! Who has thus bound Thee in a spell? Pardon me, O adorable Spirit, if I speak thus, but is it not true that the exceeding great love Thou hast for us seems to have cast a spell over Thee as well as over the Divine Father and His Only Son? How true is the saying, Amare et sapere vix Deo conceditur!
Even so do the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love us: Sic Deus dilexit mundum; (Jn 3:16) even thus their divine Heart is a burning furnace of love for us….
One of the fathers of the Society of Jesus, in his history of the Crusades for the deliverance of the Holy Land, reports the following incident. In the year 1098, Geoffrey de la Tour, a nobleman from Limoges and one of the most valiant of the Christian knights, one day heard the roar of a lion, which sounded like a cry of pain.
Immediately he entered a near-by wood and ran to the spot from which the roaring came. There he saw a horrible sight. A huge serpent had wound its coils around the lion’s body and legs, so that it was powerless to defend itself. The serpent was darting its venomous tongue, trying to strike the lion in a vital spot.
Geoffrey rushed forward with his sword and killed the snake without wounding the lion. The poor beast, finding itself freed and recognizing his deliverer, came to thank the knight, by fawning and licking his feet. From then on, the lion attached itself to the man who had saved its life. It followed him everywhere like a faithful dog, never harming anyone, but ready to turn on a man who might attack its master. But what is more wonderful is the sequel. When Geoffrey sailed to return to France after the Crusade, the captain of the ship would not allow the lion to come aboard, so the faithful beast, plunging into the sea, kept on swimming in the wake of the ship until its strength failed and it sank, thus showing that it preferred to drown rather than to be parted from its benefactor.
It should make us ashamed to have to learn the lesson of true gratitude from a wild animal. Must we Christians be taught by dumb beasts what we owe to God, our Sovereign Benefactor? O my Savior, Thou has freed me from the coils of the infernal serpent. Thou hast given Thy life to deliver me from the eternal death of hell, and enable me to enjoy everlasting happiness in heaven. Let me be all Thine; let me live only for Thee; let me follow Thee everywhere. May all the faculties of my soul be linked inviolably to Thy divine will. Let me have no thoughts but Thine; let me have no hate except for sin, no love but for Thee. Let me die many deaths rather than ever be separated from Thee.
The preceding excerpt is taken from St. John Eudes, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 1946, Chapter 9, and edited by the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at www.heartsofjesusandmary.org. The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary is a contemplative community of lay and religious dedicated to serving the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through Eucharistic Adoration, contemplation, and corporal works of mercy.
(1) In stimulo amoris, part 1.