My Passionist Reflections on the Sacred Heart

                                                                                          By Orlando Hernandez

     The other day I came across an article that said that the Traditional Passionist Mission Prayer was actually written by the beloved St. Gabriel Possenti.

I was glad to read that. This prayer alludes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His incredible mercy upon us sinners:

     “You (Jesus) have loved me with an infinite love, and I have taken advantage of that Love to sin the more against You. Yet my ingratitude has but pierced Your Sacred Heart, and upon me has flowed Your Precious Blood. Lord Jesus, let Your Blood be upon me, not for a curse, but for a blessing. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on me. Amen.”

     It always leaves me feeling somewhat guilty, and rightfully so, but I must not forget the incredible beauty, goodness, and absolute Life that is contained in that Saving Blood. 

     This Monday I was pruning some vines in my garden with a hand clipper and accidentally cut into my index finger. I went to the door of the house to stop the bleeding with some paper towels but the door was locked and I had to wait for my wife to open it for me. During those long seconds I marveled at the amount of the precious red stuff that I was shedding. It was running down my fingers and hand. There were blood stains all over the concrete floor, and running down the door. Wow! This was part of me flowing out of my body; it was alive, being pumped by my accelerated heart. Suddenly the memory of the Passionist Prayer came to me. Our Lord bled so much more for us. His Blood was alive, holy, powerful, healing and saving. And yet, His was also human blood (the plasma, the cells) like mine! I actually smiled, bemused, in gratitude to our Beloved Jesus, giver of life. All anxiety was gone. I went into the house and stopped the bleeding with some paper towels. My Lord never had that chance. This incident led me to pray upon and meditate on the devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

     It seems that my patron saint, St. Paul of the Cross, was well acquainted with the story of Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque and her devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He often referred to this in his writings as a way into deep prayer and mystical experience, which eventually leads to the practice of love of neighbor: 

     “ Never stop placing yourself in the Holy of Holies, which is the most pure Heart of Jesus. Love Him with the love of His own heart.” And, “Continually drink in the love of Jesus at the fountain of His most sweet Heart. You cannot pass on to the contemplation of the Infinite and Immense Divinity, without entering through the door of the Divine humanity of Jesus, especially by imitating His most sublime virtues.”

     These encouragements led me into different prayers throughout the week. But the devotion that most touched me was this: “Above all I recommend interior solitude, and I pray you to fly in spirit to the dear Heart of Jesus. Once there lock yourself inside with the Gold Key of God’s love, placing that precious key on the most pure Heart of Mary most holy, Mother of Sorrows.”

     Upon reading this I fell into a meditation where I stood next to the Blessed Mother before the Cross of Jesus, immediately after the spear had been thrust into His side. “In spirit”, as St. Paul had said, Mary takes me by the hand up the still living stream of blood and water flowing from the ghastly wound, towards the cut on His Heart. She hands me the flaming Key of the Spirit of Love so I may enter within. There’s no time to feel unworthy or afraid. Inside this vast “Holy of Holies” a multitude of images flow: the warm endless sea of Papa’s love surrounds me, the infinite life and mercy of the Divine, sheltering the whole planet Earth, every living and non-living thing, every atom, every particle, the planets, the galaxies, billions of them, all within the Heart of Love of the unfathomable God. Everything else is beyond words. All I know is that He loves me, and man, I love Him back! Thank You, thank You, Beloved! Grant me the will, the strength, and the wisdom to share Your Love with the world.

     More advice from St. Paul of the Cross: “Plunge yourself completely into the bottomless abyss of Divine Love and into the red sea of the Most Holy Passion of Jesus. This sea is born of the infinite Love of God. Walk always in greater simplicity, humility, hiddenness , leaving yourself in holy freedom to walk towards God as He draws you in prayer.”

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