Lindsey Weishar — Post-Roe: Allowing Jesus’ Sacred Heart to transform ours

A Sacred Heart of Jesus stained-glass window is pictured at Mount Melleray Abbey in Waterford, Ireland. (CNS/Cillian Kelly)

My Vocation is Love / By Lindsey Weishar

At the time of this writing, Roe v. Wade has just been overturned. It is also the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. By the time you’re reading this, you’ll have lived through a week filled with various commentary about the decision. It’s clear that for some June 24, 2022, was a day to celebrate; for others, it was a day of mourning.

The fact that some in our nation are mourning or raising their voices in protest against the decision to return abortion decisions to the state level should reveal the work still to be done.

Now that one legal hurdle has been cleared, the incredibly important work of engaging with individual hearts must be continued, if not doubled down upon. Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wisely locates this point of engagement as the place that matters most: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart.”

As we navigate these days to come, may we be unafraid to pour out upon others the mercy, gentleness, and compassion our Lord unceasingly shows us.

This means that the work we do for life in the larger society must be a work we also engage within ourselves. Are our hearts attuned to the concerns of those who seem to completely disagree with us, or do we turn away from them in disgust or indifference? Engaging the line that runs through our hearts, then, means responding with compassion when it’s so tempting to join in the fever pitch of voices fighting it out on the Internet.

THE HEART AS THE CORE OF THE PERSON

And who better to show us the way to compassion than our Lord, who offers his most Sacred Heart as a place of refreshment and rest.

A few days ago, perhaps for the first time, I really heard the line in the Divine Praises, “Blessed be his Most Sacred Heart.” Why his heart instead of his body? Why is it that we say we want to win hearts instead of win intellects?

According to Father Thomas Dailey in his lovely book, “Behold This Heart,” the heart was classically understood to be more than just one organ among many in the human body; it also was more than the seat of the emotions — it was the core of the person, the place which guided emotion and reason, the location of the essence of the person.

So when people talked about your heart they meant you yourself, and according to St. Francis de Sales, you “integrally, body and soul.” I think of the literary term metonymy, where something associated with the person or object you’re speaking about is used in place of that person or object — like a crown to speak of a king, or a staff to speak of a shepherd. To speak of Jesus’ most Sacred Heart is to speak of Jesus.

Further, Father Dailey shares, the early church fathers saw the moments of John resting on Jesus’ heart and of blood and water flowing from the pierced heart of Christ as revelatory: Father Dailey says, “John’s Gospel reveals the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the fons vitae,” the fountain of life.

POURING LOVE ONTO THE WORLD

If Christ’s heart is a fountain of life, our hearts are made to be fountains, too. I am reminded of the woman at the well who through engaging with Jesus finds within herself a fountain suddenly uncapped, a “spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) And I think this is what we are called to be in the world: a city of fountains, to pour out onto the world the love we are all so thirsting for.

As I reflect on the goodness and abundance of Jesus’ heart, I am ever more convinced it is in drawing close to this font of mercy and tender love that we will most assuredly find in the hearts of others reflections of him. I am reminded of the beautiful prayer that is sometimes prayed at the end of adoration: “May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time.” This includes not only the tabernacles of our own hearts, but also the hearts of others. Let us seek for him in all we meet, especially in those whose personalities, values, or views bother us.

As we navigate these days to come, may we be unafraid to pour out upon others the mercy, gentleness, and compassion our Lord unceasingly shows us. May we be ever more aware of those women and families who believe abortion is their only option, who are feeling afraid at this time — may our pregnancy resource centers grow ever more robust in their ability to shelter those who have no place to go or people to support them. And may we continue to fearlessly engage the various life issues that we face in our times. My prayer for all of us is that our hearts may be ever more conformed to his, ever more lavish in giving of ourselves for the good of the world.

Lindsey Weishar

LINDSEY WEISHAR is a poet, freelance writer, and native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is executive assistant to the president at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. Write to her at lweisharwriting@gmail.com .

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