He turned a chaotic morning into something beautiful, reminding me of the meaning behind the devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Just one verse each day.
We were late again. One child couldn’t find his left shoe, another one needed help finding socks, and a third complained that someone had hiddenhis jacket.
The newborn twins needed to be fed and one of them needed a diaper change. I glanced at the clock. First Friday Mass started at 9 a.m. and it was already 8:30 a.m.; it was going to be close.
Letting out a deep breath, I silently wondered whether my goal of attending just one daily Mass each month was even worth attempting. My husband was working two jobs while I homeschooled our five young boys with twins in my arms. The house was a wreck and so was I. But I had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I felt strongly about at least going to First Friday Mass.
Thanks to St. Anthony, the missing shoe and wayward socks were located and the jacket was recovered from a pile of clean laundry. I fed the babies, changed diapers, and loaded everyone in the van. But when I checked the clock, my heart sank. It was 8:58 and we live 10 minutes from the church.
In addition, the priest who offered Mass on Frist Fridays was known to finish a daily Mass in 25 minutes flat. But I figured we had already gotten ready and I did want God to know that we loved him enough to try, even if we only caught the last five minutes of Mass. I laughed ruefully, “Well Lord, we’re going to go, but in order for us to make it, you’re going to have to stop time.”
And off we went.
The Sacred Heart devotion
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is most commonly associated with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, but the history goes back much further. St. Justin Martyr, Pope Gregory the Great, and St. John Chrysostom wrote of the wounded side of Christ as the source from which graces flow to mankind.
In addition, a common theme the writings of the Church Fathers is the flowing of blood and water from the side of Christ as symbols of the two chief sacraments of the Church — baptism and the Eucharist.
While others, including St. Gertrude, St. Mechtilde, St. Bernard, and St. John Eudes encouraged a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it was through St. Margaret Mary that the devotion became a public and universal practice of the Church. Between the years 1673 and 1675, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary revealing the love of His Sacred Heart.
Our Lord requested the Communion of reparation on 9 First Fridays, a special liturgical feast for His Sacred Heart in the universal church, and a solemn act of reparation on that day for the offenses against the Blessed Sacrament. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque wrote of God’s burning love for all people and His desire that people would love Him in return. The love of Our Lord for us is not just a sentimental love, but a love that is willing to sacrifice everything for us, down to the very last drop of His Most Precious Blood.
I figured that if He could do so much for me, I could at least try to make First Friday Mass.
When we arrived at church after our morning scramble, I was shocked to see that Mass had barely begun. I checked my watch again … it was 9:15 a.m. by the time we filed into the chapel, but Father had only just started Mass. I was certainly surprised and greatly relieved. The twins slept. The boys were quiet. I even got to pray.
After Mass, I loaded the kids in the van and talked briefly with a friend. “I’m not complaining because clearly we were not on time, but I wonder why Mass started late today,” I said.
“It was the funniest thing,” she explained. “None of the doors to the daily Mass chapel would open. Father tried all of them but they wouldn’t budge.”
Her oldest son was eventually able to unlock the door after a few minutes, but no one could understand why the doors had stuck.
Stunned, I mumbled my thanks and a quick goodbye to my friend. Choking back tears, I climbed into the van, feeling God’s love wash over me.
Clearly, there are plenty of natural explanations for none of the doors opening. Maybe Father had the wrong key, or the humidity made the doors swell. However, I like to think that God actually did stop time on that First Friday so that we could get to Mass.
Our Lord gave 12 promises to St. Margaret Mary for souls devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. All of them are beautiful but one of them spoke to me on that day: “I will bestow abundant blessings on all of their undertakings.”
He took my meager attempt to attend daily Mass and filled in the gaps where I had failed. God ensured that on that day, despite my disorganization and ineptitude at getting out of the house on time, we were able to worship at Holy Mass and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.
I had never felt so loved. At a time in my life when just surviving was a daily accomplishment and so much of my time was spent alone with my children, I was profoundly grateful that Our Lord saw my struggle. God stopped time and turned that chaotic morning into something beautiful.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.