Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
// Megan Byers //
A little over a year ago, I was anxiously awaiting my summer assignment with the other Life Teen missionaries. Our leadership team had mostly disappeared, leaving one guy standing in front of us with a post-it easel pad and marker. We’ll call him Joe.
Joe starts his presentation. He was basically just killing time so the others could set up a scavenger hunt for us to find our roles hidden around the lake at camp.
I don’t remember most of what he said, only that he was offering us ways to grow as missionaries. The points he used were ridiculous and we laughed the entire time. He brought up a few incidents that had happened throughout the year, not seriously though, the whole thing was a joke, a distraction. But one of his points hit home. Our “devotion” to the Sacred Heart. He made a joke about how we can’t just paint an artsy watercolor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and claim to be devoted.
On the actual feast day last year our missionary groupme was filled with pictures of our Sacred Heart watercolors – so many watercolors – and jokes like “may your devotion be as strong as Joe’s stalling skills.” Joe’s message read, “don’t just paint a watercolor picture of the Sacred Heart today.” Then he sent the Church’s four requirements of an actual devotion to the Sacred Heart as well as a prayer of reparation.1
He invited us into something deeper.
While a missionary, I lived these requirements out almost perfectly. Since the end of my mission year, my life and time spent in prayer is different. It’s easy to fall into the belief that because I don’t quite meet the four requirements, I don’t have a devotion.
But ladies, I love the Sacred Heart of Jesus!! I would get a tattoo on my forearm of the Sacred Heart if I wasn’t afraid of needles and the permanence of a tattoo. I rely on the Sacred Heart! I have learned so much and found endless amounts of mercy and freedom and healing from Jesus and His Sacred Heart. My devotion isn’t perfect, but neither am I.
My devotion started when I asked Jesus to give me his heart. There was news about another shooting and my heart ached. Sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I could tell that His heart ached too. I wanted to alleviate his pain. I wanted to share in his sorrow. I wanted to console his heart, because if I’m grieving the deaths of people I didn’t know, his grief for his children must be severe.
I found this prayer profound and intimate and I got into the habit of asking for His Heart. I would ask so I could become virtuous and holy and know him more completely. I wanted to learn how to love like He loves.
I did learn how to love others well, but it didn’t happen overnight, like I expected. I didn’t see through the eyes of love right away, I didn’t become the perfect friend, I failed, a lot. More than anything, I felt a constant, interior sting. I felt what Christ felt during His life on earth: longing, rejection, loss. Yes, Jesus taught me how to love, but he invited me into something deeper.
I was acutely aware of the ways I was rejected, the ways I failed, my past sins and wounds. I was invited into something deeper than knowing how to be a virtuous person. I was invited to freedom and healing. I was invited into the fullness of love.
Jesus’s Sacred Heart showed me the fullness of love, how I had failed to love, and how others failed to love me. Once I could see my failures, I could ask for mercy with a contrite heart. Once I could see how the failure of others wounded me, I could allow myself to be healed and loved more fully by Jesus.
The fullness of love available through a devotion to the Sacred Heart is free! His mercy is free! Healing is free! All you need to do is ask. Ask for His Heart and He will freely give it to you.
Just know it might be painful. Know that the fullness of love doesn’t always feel good. Know that admitting to your failure is humbling. Know that when you ask for the Heart of Jesus, you get a heart that is pierced, bloody, and burning.
Sometimes my heart felt like it was burning. Sometimes I felt my heart being pricked by something sharp. Sometimes my heart felt heavy, like His Sacred Heart. His Sacred Heart is on fire for us. His Sacred Heart bleeds for us. His Sacred Heart carried the weight of the cross for us.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus “is not concerned with self-preservation but with self-surrender… [His] Heart calls out to our heart. It invites us to step forth out of the futile attempt of self-preservation and, by joining in the task of love, by handing ourselves over to him and with him, to discover the fullness of love which alone is eternity and which alone sustains the world.” – Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
1 The four requirements are: