Saints and Servants of Consoling Reparation to the Heart of Jesus

“More Brilliant than the Sun," a weekly series by Robert Stackpole, STD, Director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy 

The series so far:
PART 1: The Plan of the Heart of Jesus to Drive Back the World's Darkness
PART 2:  What Do We Really Mean By “The Heart of Jesus”?
PART 3:  Devotion to the Heart of Jesus and its Roots in Holy Scripture
PART 4: The Heart of the Savior in the New Testament
PART 5: 
 The Heart of Jesus Manifest in His Tender Affections and Compassionate Love
PART 6: 
 The Heart of Jesus in the Garden and on the Cross
PART 7:  From Easter Onward: The Heart of Jesus Lives in His Church
PART 8:  The Flowering of Love for the Heart of Jesus in the Middle Ages
PART 9:  Saint Gertrude the Great on Bringing Comfort and Joy to the Heavenly Christ
PART 10:  Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Reparation to the Sacred Heart
PART 11:  On Consoling the Heart of Jesus

PART 12: Saints and Servants of Consoling Reparation to the Heart of Jesus

From the 18th century onward, as devotion to the Sacred Heart spread throughout Europe in the forms given to St. Margaret Mary, the notion and practice of consoling the Heart of Jesus “retroactively” also spread, catching fire in the hearts of great saints and holy souls of the Church.

The idea of reparative consolation appears quite often, for example, in the mystical life of the Ven. Bernard Francis de Hoyos, SJ (1711-1735), the great apostle of the Sacred Heart in Spain. From an early age, Bernard was deeply devoted to the Infant Jesus, from whom he received many spiritual consolations and favours. By the age of 17, he had already suffered through a terrible “dark night of the soul.” There followed a series of visions of the Lord Jesus, His Sacred Heart on fire with love, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and many other saints as well (including St. Margaret Mary, who had not yet been canonized. On all this, see Henri Bechard, SJ, The Visions of Bernard Francis De Hoyos, S.J.: Apostle of the Sacred Heart in Spain. Vantage Press, 1959). These visions, expressed in vivid imagery, and with a recurrent theme of spousal love, are highly reminiscent of the private revelations given to St. Gertrude the Great.

Much like St. Margaret Mary, reparation became a central aspect of Bernard’s devotional life. He offered his spiritual disciplines and mortifications, as well as every Mass that he ever celebrated as a priest, in reparation for offenses against the Heart of Jesus, inspired by his love for the Sacred Heart.

Extreme longing
In fact, Bernard dedicated his whole life to the carrying out of one simple intention: making the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved throughout Spain, and the whole world. He hoped thereby to satisfy the “extreme longing” of the Heart of Jesus to pour out the treasures of His love and grace upon all souls (quoted in Bechard, p. 113-114):

[Toward the end of Mass, on May 10, 1733] I remained fairly recollected until in an imaginative vision the Divine Heart of Jesus was disclosed to me so wrapped in flames of love that it seemed hidden in fire, though not of a material kind. He thanked me for the spirit with which I had offered to shed even the last drop of my blood for the glory of His Heart; and so that I would feel how much He appreciated this offering, and how much my simple desires to make widespread this devotion throughout the world pleased Him, He closed and enfolded my miserable heart within His own.

In a wonderful … vision, I then witnessed the treasures and riches the Father contained in this ciborium (the Divine Heart), the extreme longing which this Sacred Heart held of manifesting them to mankind, and the pleasure it would have at being esteemed as the major artery of the saving waters of grace.

One of Bernard’s intentions in devoting his life to the Heart of Jesus, and in making reparation to Him, was the desire to bring our Lord comfort and solace in the midst of all His sorrows during His sojourn on earth. After Holy Communion on Aug. 10, 1729, for example, our Savior appeared to Bernard with blood streaming down His face, and His five wounds freshly reopened. The sight moved Bernard to tears, and he exclaimed, “What is this, O my Love? My Master and my Love what do you wish of me?” With great tenderness and sadness, the Lord replied: “Rejected by humanity, I come to find consolation with my chosen souls” (p. 65-66).

Beloved Infant
On the Feast of Christmas, 1733, Bernard had a vision in which he learned that he could bring comfort to his beloved Infant Jesus (p. 135):

After communion, I saw my heart joined to that of the most sweet Jesus, as tiny, as delicate, beautiful and graceful as when He left His most holy Mother’s womb. Like someone suffering from cold, He reached out for my heart, taking it in His two small hands with the gesture of one who intends to place himself within. Then I saw His little Heart quite like a fire, enter mine, where it lingered as if shut in and sheltered. Afterwards, my soul heard His loving voice telling me that at first His Heart had been a refuge for mine; that now mine should be a haven for His, intimating by this that my heart must labor for Jesus’ Heart to find Him a place in those of all men, since He Himself had trained me for this work with His favors.

From St. Margaret Mary onward, this desire to console the Heart of Jesus retroactively, whether as an infant in His cradle or during His agony and Passion for us, has never been far from the hearts of those who truly love Him. For many — as for St. Margaret Mary herself — it focuses especially on bringing Him comfort and solace during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. In 1945, for example, the popular “Holy Hour of Reparation” printed and disseminated by the “Soul Assurance Prayer Plan” out of Chicago, Illinois, led those devoted to the Heart of Jesus into the following meditation on Christ’s sorrows in the hours before His arrest:

As Jesus spoke to His Apostles so He pleads with us to stay and watch and pray with Him. His Sacred Heart is filled with sadness, because so many doubt Him, despise Him, insult Him, ridicule Him, accuse Him, condemn Him. In the Sacrament of His Love, so many forget Him. Every mortal sin brings down the terrible scourges on His Sacred Body, presses the sharp thorns into His Sacred Head, and hammers the cruel nails into His Sacred Hands and Feet. The ingratitude of mankind continually pierces His Sacred Heart.

Repay by love
In line with the teachings of the papal encyclical of Pope Pius XI (discussed in the 11th article in this web series) and the revelations given to St. Margaret Mary, this Holy Hour meditation then directs the congregation to offer up the entire hour to console the Heart of Jesus retroactively in His agony in the Garden:

My sweet Jesus, I desire to spend this Hour with Thee, to console Thee, and to make some reparation by the love of my poor heart for the agony Thou didst suffer in Gethsemane. In that lone hour Thou wast forsaken, and the creatures whom Thou didst create to love Thee, loved Thee not. The weight of all our sins pressed on Thee, and mine as well; and for the sorrow which I caused Thee then by my sins, I will endeavour to repay Thee now by my love. Strengthen it, my Jesus, that it may in some small measure give Thee consolation.

The spiritual tradition of seeking to console the Heart of Jesus seems to reach a peak of intensity in the life of the Servant of God Sr. Josefa Menendez of the Society of the Sacred Heart (1890-1923). Sister Josefa seems to have been the first of the Church’s spiritual writers to make the desire to console the Heart of Jesus a central intention of her whole life (Josefa Menendez, The Way of Divine Love. Rockford, Ill: TAN, 1972 edition, p. 40 and 166):

During Mass, a little before the Gospel, I saw Our Lady. I begged her intercession; I told her ... that I had quite made up my mind to accept all to glorify the Heart of Jesus, to console Him, and to win souls for Him. …

As for me, I give myself up body and soul to Thee, and I have no other desire than the glory of Thy Heart which I so love. May the whole world know Thee ... May those consecrated to Thee love Thee ever more and more ... Nothing will ever separate us, neither life nor death. Enkindle me with Thy love, and give me no other consolation than that of consoling Thy Heart.

Desire for solace
Jesus spoke to her many times about His desire for solace, and about the many ways that faithful souls can comfort Him (p. 33, 63, 95, 208, 250):

Leave yourself in My hands, Josefa. I will use you as seems best to Me. What of your littleness and weakness ... no matter... All I ask of you is to love and console Me. I want you to know how dearly My Heart loves you, how great are the riches it contains, and you must be like soft wax that I may mould to my liking. …

Be on the look-out today for what costs and mortifies you most, and make as many acts of love as you can. How different souls would be if they knew this secret ... how dead to self they would become and how they would console My Heart. …

Yes, today is the feast of My love (the feast of the Sacred Heart). Souls that I love so much ... they delight My Heart, coming as they do to seek strength and remedy in My Heart, which so ardently desires to enrich them; that is what glorifies and consoles Me most. … If you could but understand My joy when souls leave Me free and by their deeds say: “Lord, Thou art the Master!” Do you realize how much this comforts Me? Do you think that I am not glorified by it?

Yes; my beloved, even your falls comfort Me. Do not be discouraged, for this act of humility which your fault drew from you has consoled Me more than if you had not fallen.

In these words, our Lord revealed to her that it is not only the keeping of Holy Hours which gives Him solace, but the whole range of acts of faith, hope, and love, including conversion and repentance, works of reparation and mortification, sharing Christ’s sorrows through meditation on His agony and Passion, trust and confidence in His love and mercy, and surrender to His providence. In short, it is a sincere return of love from souls whom Christ loves so much that brings Him consolation. In these ways, Sr. Josefa continues the stream of Heart-spirituality passed down in the Church from St. Gertrude the Great and St. Margaret Mary.

Consoled retroactively
Sister Josefa also believed that our Lord was consoled retroactively by our return of love to Him today. At the Last Supper, in the Garden, and on the Cross, our Saviour had a prevision of all the sins and outrages that would be committed against Him by thankless men and women, and also all the works of reparation and love of souls who would walk in the way of salvation. Quite remarkable in this regard is Sr. Josefa’s account of the words Christ spoke to her concerning His thoughts at the Last Supper:

Could I but make known to all souls the loving sentiments with which my Heart overflowed at My Last Supper, when I instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. ...

If it was bliss for Me to think of all those to whom I should be both Companion and heavenly Food, of all who would surround Me to the end of time with adoration, reparation and love ... this in no wise diminished My grief at the many who would leave Me deserted in my tabernacle and would not even believe in my real presence.

While it may be tempting to dismiss the witness of Sr. Josefa simply as the product of a pious imagination, we need to bear in mind that, in 1938, the first edition of the book containing these revelations was submitted to Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, Protector of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and the future Ven. Pope Pius XII, who gave it his blessing with these words:

I have no doubt whatever that the publication of these pages, filled as they are with the great love which His grace inspired in His very humble servant Maria Josefa Menendez, will be agreeable to His Sacred Heart.

May they efficaciously contribute to develop in many souls a confidence ever more complete and loving in the infinite mercy of this Divine Heart towards sinners such as we all are.

While not everyone devoted to the Heart of Jesus will be called to center their whole life on the explicit intention of consoling His Heart, it is surely part of His plan for driving back the world’s darkness that all the world come to know that He was in fact consoled — in the Cradle, in the Garden, and on the Cross — by the sight of all those who would one day return His love. The truth is that the Sacred Heart is so intimately bonded to the plight of the souls He came to save that the conversion, healing, and sanctification of human hearts is the greatest consolation we can possibly give to Him. It is “returning love for love” to the max!

This series continues next week with Part 13: "The Twelve Promises — and the Great Promise — of the Sacred Heart."
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