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.
Meditation on the Fifth Promise:
"I will pour abundant blessings on all their enterprises." *
1. Two extremes to be avoided in our manner of viewing this matter.
Christ's Promise appears to refer mainly, if not exclusively, to our temporal affairs. There are two extremes to be avoided in our manner of viewing the action of God's Providence with regard to our merely temporal and material interests: one is to look on God as a far-off Being, Who takes no interest in mere human affairs------a Being in Whose eyes our temporal concerns are of little or no importance. This is a pagan idea of God. It was the idea of even so great a philosopher as the pagan Aristotle. The other extreme is that of some Catholics------even good and pious Catholics------of our own times. In practice, if not in theory, looking as they seem to do on temporal good fortune and success as the summum bonum of existence in this world, and the absence of these temporal gifts as an unqualified misfortune, their prayers are all for these material blessings. Day and night they importune God and the Saints for the good things of this world, and finding that these petitions remain, at times, unanswered, as they imagine, they fall to complaining of God's Providence, and will tell you that "they've prayed and prayed and never get an answer to their prayer."
Now God, like a true Father, often refuses us what we so earnestly ask for, but what He knows is not for our real good, and often gives us what we by no means ask for, but what He knows is most conducive to our highest welfare. That our prayers are answered, if offered with even fairly good dispositions, is quite certain, but it sometimes happens that the answer comes in a form and at a time in which we do not expect it: it may be even on our bed of death. We must never lose sight of the fact that the interests of eternity are, beyond all measure, more important than the merely passing interests of this world, that at times these interests clash, and that when this happens, temporal interests must yield place to those that are eternal. God deals kindly with us, most assuredly, in refusing us such temporal favors as, in His infinite wisdom, He foresees are linked with our eternal ruin, or would militate against our attaining to
2. God, in His loving Providence, watches over and helps us, even in our merely temporal and material interests. Proofs of this both from the Old and from the New Testament, and from the Church's liturgy.
Yet God is wonderfully sweet and loving in His ways. He is ready to give His children, in abundance, temporal blessings and rewards, the good things even of this life, so long as these things do not imperil our eternal interests, still more so if they help us on our way to Heaven. Of this we have abundant evidence in the Old and in the New Testament; so too we learn from the Church's Liturgy.
(a) Turning to the Old Testament we find how God made promise of this world's good things to the Jews of old. "If you walk in My precepts," He tells them in the inspired pages of Leviticus, ". . . I will give you rain in due seasons. And the ground shall bring forth its increase, and the trees shall be filled with fruit. The threshing of your harvest shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land without fear. I will give peace in your coasts: you shall sleep, and there shall be none to make you afraid . . . and the sword shall not pass through your quarters . . . Your enemies shall fall before you . . . I will look on you and make you increase . . . I will establish My covenant with you." [Lev. 26: 3-9]
(b) In the New Testament we find the same loving provision of God's Providence for the temporal necessities of those who serve Him. Almost every page of the four Gospels teems with instances of the Redeemer's tender solicitude for our material wants: He heals all
manner of diseases, He works great miracles to feed the hungry, He succors the afflicted, He has balm for every human sorrow. His Apostles are worn out and discouraged after a weary night of fruitless fishing on the lake, He suddenly appears at hand and bids them cast upon the right, and, lo! their nets are full to breaking. In His very excess of thoughtful tenderness and love, He even goes so far as to prepare a meal to feed His hungry children on the lake shore.
(c) Lastly, in its sacred liturgy, the Church, at every turn, invokes God's blessing on our temporal affairs, and asks for peace, prosperity, and health, not merely for our souls but also for our bodies. In a word, God is ever lovingly solicitous for our welfare and happiness in this life, as well as for our securing of the eternal, and therefore infinitely more important, blessings of the life to come.
3. This is peculiarly the case with regard to those who are friends of God, and notably those who cultivate a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus takes peculiar care of those who are zealous for His interests.
To all alike God's Providence is good: He makes the sun to rise, and the rain to fall upon the good and the bad alike. But, naturally, His choicest gifts are for His friends, His special Providence protects and watches over them with a peculiar love and tenderness. Now, holding foremost place among His friends are those who cultivate devotion to the Sacred Heart in their own souls, and try to spread it on the souls of others.
Of such as these He said to Saint Margaret Mary: "Souls devoted to My Heart will never want for help save when I cease to have the power to help them." And, speaking of these words addressed to her by Jesus Christ, she says: " It is certain we should experience every kind of help if only we had a true and genuine love for the Divine Heart. My loving Savior once assured me that He kept in eternal remembrance whatever a soul has done for the glory of His Sacred Heart, and that not only would He recompense that person Himself, but also all his relatives and friends and those in whom he was in any way interested."
If we are zealous for and take to heart the interests of the Sacred Heart, He in turn will look after all our interests, both temporal and spiritual. We cannot better promote our own best interests than by, as it were, forgetting ourselves, to seek alone the interests of the Sacred Heart. "Take care of My honor and My interests and I will take care of thee and thine," are the words this loving Savior once addressed, it is said, to a faithful friend of His Sacred Heart in Spain, Father Bernard de Hoyo.
* "My Divine Savior gave me to understand that through means of this admirable devotion [to the Sacred Heart] souls will experience the blessing of Heaven in all their enterprises." ------Letter of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque to her Director.
In two weeks: Part Ten
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.
For past installments , see Archives of The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart
For the List of Promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, see Twelve Promises
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
volume 13, no. 27
THE TWELVE PROMISES OF THE SACRED HEART