January 15, 2002
volume 13, no. 7

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 Six

Meditation on the Third Promise:
"I Will Console Them in All Their Troubles"

1st Point - The Loving Heart of Christ, so full of pity for all forms of human sorrow, longs to console us. He knows what it is to suffer.


    Of all the promises of the Sacred Heart there is none so characteristic of the tender goodness of the Savior as this Third Promise: "I will console them in all their troubles." [1] It is but another rendering of His words of old: "Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you." [Matthew 11:28] The desire to comfort and console the sorrowful is, even among men, the mark of a noble and generous heart. Now, the Heart of Jesus is immeasurably the noblest and most generous of human hearts: Both human and Divine, It is generous and noble with the generosity of God, Himself. What striking proofs of His abounding generosity He gave throughout His public life! The days of that life were spent in "doing good and healing all." [Acts 10: 38]

    At Naim, He raised a widow's son to life and restored him to his weeping mother's arms in all the bloom and vigor of youth. Standing by the tomb of Lazarus, the tender-hearted Savior wept, so that the bystanders expressed in astonishment, "Behold how He loved him," [John 11: 36] and moved at the sorrow of the sisters, Martha and Mary, He raised the dead young man to life. It was the same way at Capharnaum and in the land of Tyre and Sidon. Sorrow, sickness, or affliction, no matter how deserved, was always and everywhere, a passport to His ever generous and loving sympathy. The leper and the plague-stricken, the blind, the lame, even the public sinner and the malefactor, with the word of sorrow on their lips - all were sure of comfort and assistance from the all-embracing sympathy of that great Heart of Love.

    And to this very day, it is the same. In the silence of the lonely tabernacle, in the Eucharistic Banquet, in the Holy Sacrifice, the great big sympathetic Heart of Christ is ever pouring forth Its wealth of comfort and of consolation upon sorrowing hearts. We find, each month, a record of some small portion of these favors in the Messenger - the strong cry of human anguish heard, the story of so many human needs and pains and sorrows listened to, while they are all softened and assuaged by the great loving Heart of the Redeemer.

    For He has known it all Himself. No form of human suffering, no depth of human anguish, bodily or mental, that He has not had experience of in His own Person. He has borne it all and sanctified it all and taught us how to follow in His footsteps-----in the footsteps of the Man of Sorrows. "Come to Me," He says, "all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you" [Matthew 11: 28].

2nd Point ----- the Heart of Jesus and the Peace of Our Souls


    "Learn of Me," says Our Divine Lord, "because I am meek and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls." [Matt. 11: 29]

    What is it, as a matter of fact, that troubles or destroys our peace? Is it not our passions: our pride and anger, in particular? If we would have "rest to our souls" we must learn from Him Who is "meek and humble of heart" to curb our passions. They are to the soul what the fever is to the body, which it burns and consumes, and which it often places on the bed of sickness, tossing in a ceaseless restlessness and agitation.

2nd Point - How does He console us? Not necessarily by freeing us from sorrow or affliction, but rather by teaching us to value and to love the cross.

    Yet He does not always free us from affliction. He knows the priceless value of the cross-----that we have sins to expiate, the world and its vicious attractions to overcome, Heaven to attain to by the path of sorrow. He knows that the passing pleasures and possessions of this world are often but the prelude to eternal misery. He would give us, in some small degree at least, the portion He bestows upon His greatest friends-----the portion of His Blessed Mother, His Apostles and His Saints. He would allow us, in due measure, to be chastened by the sorrow that detaches us from things of earth and raises up our hearts and minds to those of Heaven.

    In a word, He would make us even like unto Himself, by the humble patient carrying of the cross.

3rd Point - And by inspiring us with a desire to share His Cross.


    Likeness to Our Lord is our greatest happiness, our highest holiness. In no way do we become more like Him than by sharing in His Cross. Is there not consolation in this thought: "The more I suffer, the more do I resemble my Redeemer." Simon the Cyrenean and his sons were saved and sanctified by sharing in the Cross of Christ. The Good Thief won his immediate entrance into Paradise on the like condition. "If you partake of the suffering of Christ, rejoice, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy," says St. Peter; [1 Ephesians. 4: 13] and when the two Apostles asked Our Lord to grant them the first places in His Kingdom, His reply was: "Can you drink the chalice that I drink of?" [Mark 10: 38] Again He says, "Whosoever does not carry his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." [Luke 24: 27] In short, suffering is the absolutely necessary condition for resemblance to the Savior and for entrance into Heaven, and therefore, Saints and holy persons bore the cross not merely patiently but gladly, as when one asked "either to suffer or to die," and another prayed "yet more, O Lord, yet more" of sorrow and affliction. The greatest favor God can grant us, is not to take away the cross but to give us grace to bear it rightly.

3rd Point - And by inspiring us with a desire to share His Cross.


    By devotion to the Sacred Heart we enter into these dispositions, for one of its effects is to inspire us with the sentiments and thoughts of Christ, Himself. It exercises its peculiar power of assimilation in this way, for it inspires love, and love inspires imitation. Moreover, one of the chief exercises of devotion to the Sacred Heart is reparation, and reparation means self-sacrifice, self-immolation, which is the voluntary acceptation of the cross for love of God, and in atonement for our sins and those of others. Borne in this spirit, the cross loses all its bitterness and becomes a source of joy, of sweetness and of peace. The union of a supernatural gladness softens and assuages all the ills of life; and makes what is bitter, sweet; and what is painful, pleasant. It was in this disposition that St. Paul cried out: "I am filled with comfort, I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations;" [2 Corinthians 7: 4] and again he would have us be ''as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;" [2 Corinthians 6: 10] and St. Francis Xavier was so overwhelmed with consolation amid all his toils and trials that he cried aloud: "Enough, O Lord, enough!" Assuredly the Sacred Heart consoles us in all our troubles.

Next Issue: Part Seven

    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.


Your email:
Your name:
E-mail it  to:

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, January 15, 2002
volume 13, no. 7

Return to Current Issue