(Excerpts from the Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart, May 15, 1956)
The adorable Heart of Jesus Christ began to beat with a love at once human and divine after the Virgin Mary generously pronounced Her “Fiat”; He was moved by love, when in the house of Nazareth He conversed with His most sweet Mother and His foster father, St. Joseph, in obedience to whom He performed laborious tasks in the trade of a carpenter.
He was influenced by love during His public life: in long apostolic journeys; in the working of innumerable miracles, by which He summoned back the dead from the grave or granted health to all manner of sick persons; in enduring labors; in bearing fatigue, hunger and thirst; in the nightly watchings during which He prayed most lovingly to His Father; and finally, in His preaching and in setting forth and explaining His parables, in those particularly which deal with mercy – the lost drachma, the lost sheep, the prodigal son.
But His Heart was moved by a particularly intense love mingled with fear as He perceived the hour of His bitter torments drawing near and, expressing a natural repugnance for the approaching pains and death, He cried out: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.” And when He was greeted by the traitor with a kiss, in love triumphant united to deepest grief, He addressed to him those words which seem to be the final invitation of His most merciful Heart to the friend who, obdurate in his wicked treachery, was about to hand Him over to His executioners: “Friend, whereto art thou come? Dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” It was out of pity and the depths of His love that He spoke to the devout women as they wept for Him on His way to the unmerited penalty of the Cross: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children… For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?”
And when the divine Redeemer was hanging on the Cross, He showed that His Heart was strongly moved by different emotions - burning love, desolation, pity, longing desire, unruffled peace. The words spoken plainly indicate these emotions: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do!” “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” “Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” “I thirst.” “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”
Even before He ate the Last Supper with His disciples Christ Our Lord felt His heart roused by strong emotions, which He revealed to the Apostles in these words: “With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.” And these emotions were doubtless even stronger when “taking bread, He gave thanks, and broke, and gave to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you, this do in commemoration of Me.’ Likewise the chalice also, after He had supped, saying, ‘This chalice is the new testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you.’”
It can therefore be declared that the divine Eucharist, both the sacrament which He gives to men and the sacrifice in which He unceasingly offers Himself from the rising of the sun till the going down thereof,” and likewise the priesthood, are indeed gifts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
To the unbloody gift of Himself under the appearance of bread and wine our
Savior Jesus Christ wished to join, as the chief proof of His deep and infinite love, the bloody
sacrifice of the Cross. By this manner of acting He gave an example of His supreme charity, which He
had proposed to His disciples as the highest point of love in these words: “Greater love than this
no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Nicholas Fisher, LC studies for the priesthood in Rome.
Question or comment? Please, write to Fr. Nathan Miller, LC at [email protected]
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