FOURTEENTH DAY: Learn from the School of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Sacred Heart is not a devotion, it is the very essence of God’s love. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save it. It is truly this mystery of love (E006).
Since his childhood, Pierre Goursat was deeply marked by the Sacred Heart: I loved the Heart of Jesus with great love (T6). Scandalized to see Jesus all covered with blood on the cross, Pierre was drawn to the Heart of Jesus when he went to pray at the church of Saint-Philippe du Roule :
In my youth, I had a terrible fear of the cross. In the church, there were two altars, one of the cross and one of the Sacred Heart; I always went to the side with the Sacred Heart! The Heart of Jesus is a radiant Heart. It was light, fire. Then I was in peace, in trust (E039).
Pierre detested the dolorous and bloody representations of the Sacred Heart. As a young convert, he was touched by the Mercy of God when he read Augustine’s Confessions: The doctrine of St. Augustine, his intuitive approach, went well with St. Bonaventure, and then [with] the Heart of Jesus (T6).
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, very much alive in the inter-war period, spread widely in the Church at the end of the nineteenth century after Pius IX had instituted the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1856, as Jesus had asked in the seventeenth century to Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, a young Visitation sister from Paray-le-Monial. At that time, Protestantism was taking root in Europe and Jansenist rigorism was permeating Catholicism.
While the heart of humanity had grown cold, Jesus had an ardent desire to communicate to the world the burning fire of divine charity that His Heart could not contain. He reminded His confidant how much “His Heart which so loved men” was wounded by their indifference and ingratitude. In “reparation”, Christ invited Marguerite-Marie to go to confession and receive Holy Communion every first Friday of the month, as well as to live the “Holy Hour” on Thursday evening, remaining united with Him in Gethsemane in prayer and penance.
It was in this spirit of “reparation” that Pierre Goursat sought to make “small sacrifices” every day. The immense thirst for love that Jesus feels for each one of us can only be quenched if we respond to Him “love for love”.
Worship of the Sacred Heart expresses the love that Jesus has shown us to the utmost on the cross. It is the compendium of the whole Christian faith which confesses Jesus Christ as “true God and true man”. Christ fully assumed His human condition; He loved, suffered and experienced in His heart of flesh the human feelings that are ours. The wound on His pierced side manifests the authenticity of His incarnation. From the open Heart of Jesus on the cross (cf. Jn 19:34), the outpouring of the Spirit promised to all who thirst (cf. Jn 7:37) springs forth.
This open wound is the symbol of God’s eternal, infinite love for humanity: “Your side has been pierced. Why still wounded? So that, through this visible wound, we may see the invisible wound of your love” (Bonaventure, The Mystical Vine). As Pius XII affirmed, the Eucharist is “a gift of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” (Encyclical Haurietis Aquas, n. 73). The humble mediation of the human Heart of Jesus allows us to access His divine Heart. The contemplation of His pierced Heart introduces us into the bosom of the Trinity, to the divine sentiments that the Son shares from all eternity with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The Heart of Jesus is the source of the apostolic dynamism that animated the life of Pierre Goursat. It also sums up the spiritual journey: I lived by adoration and prayed in Eucharistic adoration and the Sacred Heart (T6). From adoration is born compassion and zeal for the salvation of souls :
God wants to put His Heart burning with love in the place of our heart of stone, to communicate to us His ardent desire to save souls. To do this, He wants to touch our hearts with His Love, to pierce them, to break them (M 21).
On various occasions, Jesus showed His burning Heart to Marguerite-Marie. Pierre Goursat immersed himself in this “ardent furnace of charity” to let himself be set ablaze by the fire of love :
We must ask the Lord to put a fire in our hearts. We must put ourselves in His Heart because it is a fire of love that is communicated to us! Then we burn with love! (E031).
This love of charity leads to mission: It is truly a secret of His Heart that he gives us (E039). Just as the human heart contracts and expands constantly to ensure life, so adoration and evangelization constitute the two inseparable movements that allow divine life to spread in us and in the Body of the Church.
Pierre Goursat often quoted the passage from Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus speaks of His heart: “Come to me, all you who labor and bend down under the weight of your labors, for I am the Lord your God, and I will give you the grace of your lives. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:28-29). Pierre considered the Heart of Jesus as the antidote given by God to protect us from intellectual and spiritual pride. To put oneself at the school of the Heart of Jesus is the surest way to acquire humility; then our heart finds rest and opens itself to receive mercy:
Truly the way of the Lord is Jesus meek and humble of heart. It is an extraordinary way. If we are meek and humble of heart, He will pierce our hearts quietly. And we will receive streams of living water of compassion. And we will be transported to eternal life (E027).
Motivated by this desire to make the Heart of Jesus known to as many people as possible, Pierre Goursat launched the summer sessions at Paray-le-Monial in 1975, the year of the tercentenary of the “great apparition” of Jesus to Marguerite-Marie. The Pilgrimage, which was then largely deserted, gradually came back to life and Bishop Le Bourgeois, the Bishop of Autun, entrusted the animation of the Sanctuary to the Emmanuel Community in 1985.
Son of Poland, the first country to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart, in 1986 Pope John Paul II was the first pope to come to Paray-le-Monial.
Pierre Goursat had the joy of meeting him after mass in the “Chapel of the Apparitions” with the Visitation Sisters and several Emmanuel leaders. By coming to pray in the “City of the Sacred Heart”, John Paul II confirmed the correctness of Pierre’s intuitions, which contributed to the restoration of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus, making it current and accessible to all, especially to families and the younger generations. The Heart of Jesus is not an outdated or accessory “devotion”. It constitutes the heart of the Christian life:
If you are in Paray-le-Monial, it is not to resurrect your “devotion”. The Heart of Jesus is essential, it is the whole Gospel of John (E026).
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours!