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Can We Really Console the Heart of Jesus?
By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Feb 18, 2011)
This came in from one of our readers, a guy named Tim, several weeks ago:
Dr. Stackpole: I just finished reading a book you wrote called Jesus, Mercy Incarnate. Thank you so much for this beautiful book; it really helped me appreciate St. Faustina's devotion to the childhood, the Passion, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I am especially intrigued by what you wrote about "consoling" the Heart of Jesus, and how St. Faustina believed we could do that, too. I see from a footnote in the book that you actually wrote your doctoral thesis on this topic! I would love to read that thesis; can you send a copy to me?
Well, actually, no, I can't. Sorry, Tim, but I only have one copy of that thesis left, and it is almost 400 pages (too long to photocopy!). You would be bored by it anyway, I'm afraid, because it certainly doesn't read like a novel. However, I am glad you did get a hold of a copy of Jesus, Mercy Incarnate and that you found it helpful (every author has a favorite book that they wrote, and that one is my own favorite because it deals with things about our Savior closest to my own heart. By the way, it's still in print and available for purchase.).
I will try to say a bit more for you here about the comfort and solace we can bring to the Heart of Jesus, because I think it is a most wonderful, and often overlooked, aspect of our Catholic faith.
Saint Faustina mentions the "Heart" or "Merciful Heart" of Jesus more than 200 times in her Diary, including this important one: "O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate Heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it" (1242).
Within the context of St. Faustina's devotion to the merciful Heart of Jesus, we find the notion of giving solace to His Heart. This is one of the principal themes of her Diary, and often she discerned a special request from Jesus Himself about this. For example, on the day when St. Faustina offered herself, with all her sufferings and works of piety, as an oblation to God to make amends for souls that do not trust in His mercy, she heard Jesus ratify this offering with the words:
I am giving you a share in the redemption of mankind. You are solace in my dying hour (Diary, 309-310).
The idea seems to be that Jesus saw her in the depths of His soul even when He was dying on the cross, and this gave Him consolation at that hour. One time St. Faustina had a remarkably vivid vision of the scourging of the Lord Jesus, and when she responded to this with sorrow and compassion, Jesus said to her: "I see the sincere pain of Your heart, which brought solace to My Heart" (Diary, 445-446). On Good Friday in 1937, Jesus said to her, "My host, you are refreshment for my tormented Heart. ... Beloved daughter of My Heart, you are My solace amidst terrible torments" (see 1056-1058).
At other times, Jesus spoke of His Heart as it is now, in heaven, and how her works of mercy could console Him even there. For example, He told her how much comfort it brings to Him when souls visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and leave Him free to pour His graces out upon them:
My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls and especially for poor sinners.... I desire to bestow my graces upon souls [from the tabernacle] but they do not want to accept them. You, at least, come to Me as often as you can and take these graces they do not want to accept. In this way you will console my Heart (Diary, 367).
Saint Faustina also learned that nothing brings solace to the Heart of Jesus Christ more than souls who trust in Him and receive His mercy. That is why Jesus encouraged St. Faustina to devote her life to the spread of the message of Divine Mercy and the conversion of sinners. Jesus said to her:
My daughter, do not tire of proclaiming My mercy. In this way you will refresh this Heart of Mine, which burns with a flame of pity for sinners.... The loss of each soul plunges Me into mortal sadness. You always console Me when you pray for sinners (Diary, 1521 and 1397).
The theme of consolation stands out most prominently in the popular "Novena to the Divine Mercy" (Diary, 1209-1229). In the directions He gave to her for that Novena, our Lord asked her to bring into His Heart a different group of souls each day, to immerse them in His mercy. Jesus thereby showed that His Heart is given joy, consolation, and refreshment by every of act of faith and love that is marked by His grace, including intercession for the conversion of sinners (day one of the Novena), the devotion of all faithful Christians (days two and three), the conversion of unbelievers, heretics and schismatics (fourth and fifth days), the humility of souls (sixth day), those whom propagate and venerate His mercy, and perform works of mercy (seventh day), prayers and indulgences offered for the relief of the suffering souls in purgatory (eighth day), and by the rekindling of fervor in lukewarm souls (ninth day).
The notion of consoling the Heart of Jesus has sometimes been presented in a way that makes our Lord seem overly effeminate, as if He is emotionally fragile or filled with self-pity. What He revealed to St. Faustina, however, is that He sorrowed in the Garden and the Cross, and in a mysterious way sorrows from compassion even now, not out of unrequited love as such, but because He foresaw (and sees now) that by refusing to accept and return His love, souls were thereby harming themselves. In other words, the Lord Jesus has sorrow not for His own sake but for ours, for all the blessings that we are missing, and throwing away:
The flames of mercy are burning Me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them!... How painfully distrust of My goodness wounds Me!...
The graces of My mercy are drawn by the means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of my graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is My desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts (Diary, 1074, 1076, 1578).
In short, what St. Faustina's Diary shows us is that our Lord's desire for consolation for Himself is actually an expression of His selfless, self-giving love for us. What causes Him sorrow is simply our refusal to receive all the mercy and grace that he longs to shower upon us.
What an awesome Savior we have. Not only His teachings and His deeds, but even the affections of His Heart are manifestations of His pure and boundless love for His heavenly Father, and for each one of us!
Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. His latest book is Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press). Got a question? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.