MONDAY-SUNDAY
December 24-January 6, 2002
volume 12, no. 162

The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart

by Father Joseph McDonnell, S.J.

    Reprinted with permission of Catholic Family News, see Editor's Notes below.
Part Four

The Second Promise:
"I Will Give Peace in Their Families."

The Blessing of Peace

    After God's grace there is no greater blessing than true peace. So great a blessing is it that the Psalmist urges us to use our best endeavors to procure it: "Seek, after peace and pursue it." [Ps. 33: 15] So great a blessing is it that it is the first thing the Angels wished to men at the birth of the Redeemer: "Peace on earth to men of good will." [Luke 2: 14] It is so great a blessing that Our Lord Himself bade His Disciples invoke it, the first thing on all to whom they preached: "Into whatsoever house ye shall enter, first say: Peace be to this household." [Luke 10:5] It is so great a blessing that the first words Christ addressed to His Apostles after His Resurrection were, "Pax vobis-----Peace be to you." [John 24:36] It is so great a blessing that, over and over again, the Church places it on the lips of its ministers: thus, in the Mass, the priest says, after the consecration, when signing the chalice with the Host, "May the peace of the Lord be always with you," and again, at the Agnus Dei, "Give us peace." In Confirmation, the Bishop wishes it to the person confirmed: "Pax tecum-----Peace be with you." St. Augustine says of it: "So great a blessing is peace that even in earthly matters nothing more pleasing can be heard of, nothing more desirable be sought, nothing better, in fine, can be found." "Peace," he says again, "is serenity of mind, tranquillity of soul, simplicity of heart, the bond of charity."

What is Peace? In the Material World? In the Moral World?

    What is peace? St. Augustine tells us it is "the tranquillity of order," and order exists when everything is kept in its own place. Thus, in the material world the fierce tempests that spread destruction broadcast have their origin in the displacement of the equilibrium of the atmosphere. At the end of the world, the destruction of our globe will probably be due to its displacement among the other heavenly bodies. In the moral world a similar law prevails. Let the component portions of the State or the members of the family or of the religious community remain, each in their own allotted sphere, and there is peace. Let them abandon their peculiar sphere-----let superiors, whether civil, parental or religious, transgress the duties of their office, let their subjects become insubordinate or disobedient, and at once the peace of the State, the family, or the community, is overthrown. It is, above all, by due subordination of the creature to the Creator that peace is preserved. In the faithful service of God alone is found the secret of true peace.

The Sweets of Genuine Peace

    There are two kinds of peace: the peace of the world, and the peace of God-----the one hollow, false, deceitful; the other genuine and solid. The peace of the world is found in sensual enjoyment, generally illicit, in the gratification of the passions, in riches, honors, pride; it dissipates, it blinds, it maddens; its end is disappointment, death, and everlasting misery. [It is the ominous calm, the sulphurous electric silence, that precedes the earthquake or the eruption of the volcano; the Babylonian revelry of old, where Baltassar, in the midst of his banquet, beheld the fatal writing on the wall, whilst overthrow and ruin lurked without.] On the other hand the peace of God is that true interior peace which the "world cannot give," [John 14:27] that "joy in the Holy Ghost" [Rom. 14:17] that is "everlasting," [2 Thessalonians 3:16] that nothing can deprive us of, and that is sweeter, far, than all pleasures of this world.

How to Procure Peace in the Family Circle

    Peace in the family circle! How great a blessing for families that have it; how great a loss for those that have it not! And there are families throughout the land-----let us trust that they are few-----where discord reigns, where bitterness and unkind words, mutual recriminations and reproaches, [constant bickerings and endless strife] exist from morning till night. Mutual love and reverence are banished from such homes. There is constant war between the wife and husband, entire absence of obedience and respect towards their parents on the part of the children, who copy only too faithfully the evil example set them by their father and mother. The home-life is unhappy, often miserable. Home duties are neglected. The bonds of love, of conjugal, parental, filial affection, that should bind the members of the family circle into one sweet happy whole, are conspicuously absent. It is but a home in name [the juxtaposition of so many warring units, that have been forced by ties of blood to dwell beneath the same sad roof. And of it all the cause is often-----drink.]

    But there are other homes, so numerous, thank God-----the happy, holy homes that are the glory of so many Catholic lands, that shed the fragrance of their virtues round them like a perfume of surpassing sweetness. No strife, no bitterness, no insubordination in these homes, but rather tender love and mutual affection and esteem, the fond solicitude of loving parents, and the grateful obedience and respect of loving children, all welding into one harmonious whole the happy members of the family circle. Forgetfulness of self, self-sacrifice, and self-restraint are there. And over all, there is the religious atmosphere of solid piety and goodness, that exalts, pervades, and sweetens every detail of their daily lives, and makes their mutual discourse a source of strength and comfort in the trials of life.

Read the Twelve Promises

    Which of these homes would you have? Would you make of your home-----and we may say the same of the religious community, God's own exalted home of sanctity-----a veritable home of peace, a home where charity, obedience, and subordination, unselfishness and mutual esteem abound? If so, this Second Promise tells us that the secret lies in true devotion to the Sacred Heart. "I will give peace in their families" is the promise of our Blessed Lord to those who cultivate devotion to His Sacred Heart. "Peace," says St. Francis de Sales, "is a most precious possession; it must be purchased at a high price," the price, namely, of devoted love and service of the Sacred Heart. To such as these "I will give peace in their families" is His consoling promise.

    If you ask me what is the ultimate source and foundation of this peace, I answer it is founded in the love of God kindled in the family circle by devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Next Issue: Part Five.

    EDITOR'S NOTES: Since this site is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we are presenting the Meditations and Commentary first written by Father Joseph McDonnell, S.J. during the pontificate of Pope Saint Pius X. We have received the gracious permission of John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News to reprint the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart in The DAILY CATHOLIC. We urge you to subscribe to John's excellent monthly publication for only $20 a year by calling 1-905-871-6292 or e-mail them at CFN.

       The book by Fr. McDonnell has been a favorite of countless Catholics over the decades, and CFN gives it the highest praise, "especially because of the author's erudition in weaving solid doctrinal considerations into his spiritual commentaries. The work is as much a catechism as it is a book of meditations. It continually instructs and uplifts. We pray this series serves as an incentive for more people to practice the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus." We echo our 'Amen' to that and thank John and his publication for allowing us to publish this outstanding work in installments each issue. The one in this issue is reprinted from the January 2001 issue of Catholic Family News.

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December 24-January 6, 2002
volume 12, no. 162
THE TWELVE PROMISES OF THE SACRED HEART

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