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A friend of mine had a great idea: We should all post pictures of the Sacred Heart online this June.
After all, “I will bless every place in which an image of my heart is exposed and honored,” Jesus promised St. Margaret Mary Aloqoque.
Might the internet itself be blessed if we share more images of his heart, exposed and honored?
Recent popes (and Mother Teresa) called the Sacred Heart the expression of faith for precisely our times.
The same year Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World was published, Pope Pius XI called the Sacred heart “the extraordinary remedy for the extraordinary needs of our times.”
The year after Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Kris Jenner were born, Pius XII said, “Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is so important” that it should not be “set aside as inferior to others.”
Pope Paul VI called the Sacred Heart devotion “the most efficacious means to contribute to that spiritual and moral renewal of the world called for by the Second Vatican Council.”
A broken, hungry, lost world needs the Sacred Heart more than ever.
“Do not let the past disturb you, just leave everything in the Sacred Heart and begin again with joy,” said Mother Teresa.
Pope Francis stressed, “The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the greatest human expression of divine love … the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy.”
After all, a picture is worth a 1,000 words.
I have heard many stories from people who either disliked or were perplexed by the Sacred Heart for years but who ended up being changed, moved, and improved, by the image — precisely because it is so odd, perhaps.
One of my personal favorite things I ever wrote for Aleteia is “Four Things the Sacred Heart Says Without Words.”
We are often evangelized without words. The crucifix shows us God’s love for humanity better than a great homily. The Madonna and child tell us more than books on Christology and Mariology.
The Sacred Heart tells a story, too.
First, it tells us, in this technological age, that God is not just cosmic intelligence but that, in Jesus, he has a heart.
Second, the burning, wounded heart of the God man tells us that holiness only comes through suffering.
Third, when God offers his heart, he is inviting us to offer ours, as well.
Fourth, by showing us a vision of what sin looks like in eternity — the wounded heart of God — it invites us to make reparation.
The internet needs the Sacred Heart because it needs much better images of love.
Too often, the images of love we see online are either sexually suggestive on the one hand, or sentimental and silly on the other. They unconsciously teach us that love is about us, delivering either sexual or emotional titillation.
Think of the Sacred Heart as God’s own corrective. It is as naked as it can be, but it goes deep underneath the surface, to show who Jesus is. And it improves two popular emojis: Think of the wounded heart as a “real love” emoji and its flaming cross a “true passion” emoji.
The Sacred Heart is also the ultimate display of an unabashed Catholic identity.
Human beings need to wear uniforms and fly flags.
It isn’t enough for us to like a sports team, we need the T-shirt. We love being Americans, but we thrill to the idea when we see stars and stripes. And more of us go to Mass on Ash Wednesday, which isn’t a holy day of obligation, than on the Immaculate Conception, which is.
We can overdo displays of our identity, obviously. We can substitute the external sign for the internal reality, or we can make our faith showy and off-putting.
Some of us do that. But I think more of us do the opposite: We downplay who we are because either we fear offending people (which might just mean we are personally a little ashamed) or because we consider our religion to be merely private.
Celebrating the Sacred Heart online is a good balance between the two, I think. On the one hand, it is the most generic of Christian messages imaginable: “Jesus loves you.” On the other hand, it is the most radical Catholic image we have: A human heart circled with thorns.
It’s hard to embrace it unless you mean it, and your identity is unmistakable if you show it.
So, let’s bless the internet by spreading the image of the Sacred Heart far and wide.
This June, be proud of your faith and celebrate God’s love, which always wins the day.
This appeared at Aleteia.