The French people have a proverb: "The heart is the man." We say people are: big-hearted, small-hearted, light-hearted, heavy-hearted, warm-hearted, cold-hearted, soft-hearted, hard-hearted, and chicken-hearted. Some are heartless. They seem to have no heart. The Iroquois Indians understood this thought and gave it their own interpretation. After they had killed St. Isaac Jogues and his companions, they cut out the hearts of these missionaries, cut them up, and divided them among the braves of the tribe, thinking that if they would eat the hearts of these Godly men, they would inherit their courage; for they were indeed stout-hearted men.
If there is one necessary devotion in the Catholic Church, it is Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus because Devotion to the Sacred Heart is nothing other than an extra warm-hearted Devotion to the Eucharistic Heart. This is the exclusively Catholic devotion. "Behold! This is the Heart that so loved men!" From its first beat under the heart of the Virgin Mother of God until its last flutter upon the Cross that heart beat out of love for us. Love is the only motivation the Heart of God is capable of. There is only one word in the vocabulary of God. Our God speaks only one word: Love.
But, do we really love with our hearts? Remember: the heart is the only muscle that pumps the blood to our extremities. Our emotional life is recorded in our heart and our heart's beat. We really love with our wills, that faculty of the soul where we make our choices. But like the soul, the will is invisible. We attribute the choices that we make to our hearts, one of the noblest organs in our frame. How comforting to see the manly heart in Christian art instead of the heart of a bearded lady! Every cell in Jesus Christ's body identifies him as a man.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is pictured: exposed, pierced, bleeding, circled with thorns, topped with a cross and on fire. All signs of the Lord's suffering for us! "Greater love that this no one has than that a man lay down his life for his friends." But look in the face of the Sacred Heart; the suffering is gone. This is the face of the Resurrected Christ. We call the resurrection of Jesus united to His suffering: The Paschal Mystery - - His death and resurrection. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is all about, because Jesus came into this world to die and to rise, to give His life as a ransom for many. Not even Almighty God Himself could have given us any more. Not even God!
In the early 1960's I had a retreat for the Sacred Heart Prep Club (those young ladies interested in the Sisters' vocation) at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pennsylvania. I was asked to visit the Sisters' Infirmary where St. Joseph Angela, in her 30's, was dying of cancer. Before I left Sister, I asked her if she had any message for the young women making the retreat; and she said very simply and directly: "Tell them to love God more!" That's what the Sacred Heart Himself tells each of us today; and He would add: "I loved you first.'