About 8 months ago, while on a retreat, I glanced through the retreat house’s library to borrow a book for the weekend. Though I can’t even recall the title of the book, the spiritual nugget that the Lord gave me through it has stuck with me. And on today’s Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am reminded of this nugget.
The book was a sort of prayerful and guided walk through St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, and while I barely had time to skim the book, this specific principle stuck with me. The author encouraged the reader to prayerfully discover a personal representation of the place within her (or his) soul where she meets and dwells with God. I wish I could more accurately remember how the author guided this meditation, but the point is, it was an opportunity to create a visual “place” that resonates with you personally to help you enter into the presence of God in the innermost chambers of your heart and soul.
For me, as I took time to allow the Lord to show me this “place,” I began to visualize a flower. The flower petals opened gently, and there, safe within the beauty of the petals, I saw a tiny version of myself. I was “Honey I shrunk the Kids”–sized, peacefully dwelling in the center bed of this flower. A peace came over me as I received the gift of this image from the Lord. It was like He had given me a new way to enter in to His presence in prayer through the uniqueness of this image of my heart and soul.
Even though I began this prayerful meditation trying to visualize my own heart, as I sat with the image, I felt this security of being enfolded in the Lord’s Heart. It is difficult to describe the experience, but I think it represents the reality of the exchange of hearts we partake in when we are in covenant with the Lord. A Christian covenant is more than a contractual exchange of goods—it is an exchange of persons. And we are loved enough by Him to be in a covenant relationship, a dynamic exchange of love, with our Lord Jesus Christ. Our heart, the place where He dwells, is swept up in His own precious and Sacred Heart. I believe it is this mutual abiding of hearts, mine and His, that I was experiencing in prayer.
I invite you to spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord to help you see your own heart in which He dwells, and so come into contact with His Heart. Today’s readings illustrating Jesus’ role as our Good Shepherd remind us of His overwhelming love for each of us. He will go out in search of you, His single lost and beloved sheep, to bring you back into His Sacred Heart. He loves you personally, deeply, and unashamedly.
Allow yourself to sit and receive this immeasurable love of His Sacred Heart today. Dwell in the joy of your covenantal relationship with Him. May this remind us that Jesus’ love is this genuinely personal for each and every person. I pray that we can receive this great love of our Savior each and every day, so we can in turn reflect this love to every soul who has yet to experience this love. Right now, I hope you will take a few moments to dwell in the reception of His love for you.
“Why should I love God? …if one seeks for God’s claim upon our love here is the chiefest: Because He first loved us.”Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God