The Lord God has made us for himself, St. Augustine tells us in his “Confessions,” and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.
What is our nation facing today but an eruption of restless hearts? For months, millions of Americans have remained close to home as we face unprecedented pandemic and its ramifications. We have socially distanced ourselves from loved ones, co-workers and a normal way of living. As the weeks passed, businesses shuttered and people — including many with Church-related jobs — were left unemployed and without a paycheck or a safety net. Hearts were anxious. Hearts were fearful.
Then came the senseless, tragic killing of George Floyd, a black citizen, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis — and the video of the altercation that led to his death traveled with the speed of light around the world. Hearts were broken. Hearts were enraged.
Then came the violence, the rioting, the looters. Using peaceful protests against the death of Floyd as cover, agitators roamed the streets, setting fires and breaking into and stealing from businesses. Hearts were eclipsed, and darkness reigned.
As we enter into June, our restless hearts are exhausted. We are fearful for our communities, struggling with mental health, trying to work our way through a new way of life, thirsting for healing, and racked with uncertainty about what to do next. And we’re just getting started. The summer of 2020 already is one for the books, and it hasn’t even officially begun.
It’s nothing less than providential, then, that as our hearts struggle to absorb all that has happened in recent months, we find ourselves within the month traditionally dedicated by the Church to devotion of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. (This year’s feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which always falls on the Friday 19 days after Pentecost, is celebrated June 19.) This devotion came about when Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the latter part of the 17th century and implored her to spread the message of his passionate love for all to the world.
“My divine heart is so passionately fond of the human race and of you, in particular, that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning charity any longer,” Jesus told her. “They must burst out through you and reveal my heart to the world, so as to enrich mankind with my treasures.”
In a column on our sister website SimplyCatholic.com, Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, writes that “Jesus revealed to the saint his heart, burning with love for humanity. Pierced and crucified — offering salvation and mercy — Jesus’ heart longs for us to offer our love and devotion in return.”
Simply put, Jesus loves us completely, totally, passionately. Each one of us. And he longs to envelop our restless hearts in this love and remind us that he created our hearts for so much more than division, violence, fear, pain, anger and anxiety. He created our hearts to receive his love, and to love one another and himself in return.
In these days of uncertainty and distress, let us pray for a deeper contemplation of and devotion to Jesus’ most sacred heart, who longs only to fuse our hearts with his.
Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest within thee. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like yours.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.