When we give ourselves to God in the sacraments and enter into the lesser consecrations that mirror and support the sacraments—consecration to the Sacred Heart or to the Blessed Mother—we enter into the Trinity’s self-giving.
Pope John Paul II explains what this looks like:
“Through the union of the Heart of Jesus to the Person of the Word of God we can say: in Jesus, God loves humanly, suffers humanly, rejoices humanly. And vice versa: in Jesus, human love, human suffering, human glory acquire divine intensity and power.”
Fourth, it is an icon of what sin looks like eternally.
It is easy to see sin and redemption as an event that happened in the past, something over and done with.
But “those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them),” says the Catechism (No. 598) quoting St. Francis.
The Sacred Heart picture shows how deeply the Second Person of the Trinity is wounded by sin – in his very heart – and how he carries the burden of sin with him eternally.
“Sins against chastity and charity are directly wounding the heart of Jesus,” said Mother Teresa. “So let our love and our fidelity be a relief to the Sacred Heart.”
Sacred Heart devotion reminds us that Jesus is God, and that he is man… it encourages our self-gift, and it provides reparation for the sins of the world.
Maybe that does sound old-fashioned after all. But in a good way.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.