Traditional Feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
October 17, 2002
volume 13, no. 118

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 Seventeen

The Tenth Promise:

"I Will Give to Priests the Power to Touch the Most Hardened Hearts." *

First Point: Hardened Hearts


    God longs for the salvation of the sinner. He gives him in abundance all the ordinary graces of conversion. Only too often these graces are rejected. God then gives, perhaps, still greater graces. Yet the sinner still resists. Nevertheless, greater graces still are granted, only to be rejected with still greater obstinacy. For years, it may be, God continues knocking at that heart. The sinner remains deaf. Again and again fresh graces are rejected. The wretched sinner only plunges deeper into sin, until at length, wearied out as it were by such persistent and determined obstinacy, unwilling, perhaps, to add to the already terrible responsibility for so much grace rejected, God lessens the urgency of His Divine appeals, allows the sinner to drift on unhindered in his course; the poor, sin-polluted heart grows daily harder and more obdurate; sin multiplied begets an utter callousness; "remorse has ceased to make its influence felt; the heart gets frozen hard and grows impervious to the ordinary means for its conversion. Nothing now can rescue it except a very exceptional grace, which it has done nothing to deserve, and which even God's overwhelming mercy is not called upon, in the ordinary course of His Providence, to grant.

    Affections and Petitions

    O Heart of Jesus, that didst bleed for sinners, by the awful pangs that rent Thee in the Garden of Gethsemane; by the drops of Thy most precious Blood that slowly filtered from Thy gaping Wound upon the Cross; look down, we beg of Thee, on those poor hardened hearts that will this day be stilled for ever in death, and by Thy boundless love for them and by Thy mercy which is over all Thy works, oh! save them, ere it is too late; grant them on their bed of death this day, the all-powerful, the efficacious grace that, even at the very end, will save them from Hell fire for eternity. For this most urgent end we offer to Thee every Mass that has been said or will be said, the wide world over, within the four-and-twenty hours of this present day.

2nd Point - Power to Touch the Hardened Heart


    There have been Saints whose power to touch the hardest hearts was marvelous. They seemed to carry with them something whose power to touch the hardest hearts was marvelous. They seemed to carry with them something-----may I say it-----of the omnipotence of God Himself. As His accredited ambassadors they seemed to speak and act with His Divine authority. Their zeal was boundless, for they knew the greatness of God's infinite love for sinners, they seemed to have at their command those efficacious graces that can win even the most hardened sinners to repentance. They were the Francis Xaviers, the Vincent de Pauls, the Curés d'Ars of history. But even in our own times there are the hidden Saints, the fervent clients of the Sacred Heart, whose words and acts are animated by the tender mercy of that Heart of boundless love and mercy, and who even to this day are powerful to call the hardened sinners from the ways of sin and touch the hardest and most obdurate hearts. O priest of God, O you that labor in the cause of Christ, you brave Promoters of the Sacred Heart, who fain would win to God the hardened sinners trembling on the brink of Hell, or some poor souls around you, slowly but too surely drifting to destruction, would you have this mighty power to draw at will from the saving fountains of the Savior's Heart the graces that are sure tb save?-----then foster in your inmost souls a deep and tender love for and devotion to the Sacred Heart.

    Affections and Petitions

    O Heart of Jesus, most loving and most merciful of hearts, grant me grace to seek in Thee the power and strength that will enable me to rescue hardened hearts from Hell. Be with me in my labor for Thy service. Let the right hand of Thy Omnipotence support me in this glorious and most arduous task. The Sacred Heart and the Conquest of Hardened Hearts


    Among the longings of the Sacred Heart there is one that, together with His ardent longing for His Father's glory, and intimately connected with it, stands forth in special prominence. It is His longing for the conversion of the sinner. This was the one great object of the Savior's Life and Passion and Death, for this His Divine Heart offers Its unending prayer within the tabernacle. "I have come, not," He tells us, "to call the just but sinners to repentance".

    Now the Sacred Heart inspires Its clients with Its own peculiar sentiments, and most of all with Its own unbounded yearning for the salvation of abandoned sinners. Not merely that, but Jesus chooses out these special clients of His Sacred Heart to be the chosen instruments of His omnipotent love, and in this capacity bestows on them the special helps and dispositions, and places, in a manner, at their disposal the peculiar and efficacious graces that alone can overcome the hardness and the obduracy of certain greater and more hardened sinners.

    In a word, the Savior gives to the loving clients of His Sacred Heart those ampler and more efficacious powers that are not granted to the ordinary toilers in His service. They are as special instruments marked out for work that is peculiarly difficult and, under ordinary circumstances, even impossible of accomplishment.

    Affections and Petitions

    O Heart of my Redeemer! to Thee I consecrate myself forever, to become Thy instrument. in bringing souls to Thee. Fill me with Thy spirit: Let me be partaker, in some small degree, of Thine unbounded love and zeal for sinners. Even as of old, by a single look, Thou didst convert and win for ever to Thyself the heart of Peter, so enable me, as the utterly weak and worthless instrument of Thine omnipotent love, to draw poor obstinate sinners to repentance, and gift me as Thy client with the power to touch the hardest hearts. "I will give to priests the power to touch the hardest hearts," and not to priests alone, but "to all who labor for the salvation of immortal souls."

    "My Divine Savior gave me to understand that those who work for the salvation of souls will have the art of touching the most hardened hearts, and will labor with marvelous success, if they are themselves penetrated with a tender devotion to His Divine Heart,"-----Letters of Blessed Margaret Mary to her Director, vol. II, p. 286.

    The same Promise is repeated in still more energetic terms in favor of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus. -----Letters, vol. I, p. 200, and vol. II, p. 289. Thus: "It is a duty of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus," writes Blessed Margaret Mary, "to make known the utility and value of devotion to the Sacred Heart, in order that. all may profit by it; receiving it with the respect and gratitude due to so great a benefit. And in proportion as they shall do this, the Divine Heart will shed Its blessings and graces in such abundance on the functions of their ministry that they will produce fruit beyond their labors and their hopes, and at the same time in particular for their own salvation and perfection." -----Letter 85.

    "He promises that He will shed His blessings in abundance and profusion on their labors of holy charity in which they are engaged for the salvation of souls. But to this end, they must endeavor to draw all their lights from this inexhaustible source of the science and charity of the Saints." -----Letter 95.

    "Jesus Christ has shown me in a manner that admits of no doubt, that it was specially by means of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus that He wished to establish everywhere this solid devotion, and by means of it to make to Himself an infinite number of faithful servants, perfect friends, and truly grateful children." -----Ibid.

    * For the List of Promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, see Twelve Promises

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 May and June 2002 issues of Catholic Family News.

For installments to date, see Archives.

First Week of Advent
December 1-7, 2002
volume 13, no. 145