Before my baptism in 2005, the Sacred Heart devotion was already important to my spiritual life.
April 17 marks my ninth year as a baptized Catholic. I found myself reflecting on the years since Mom decided we’d go back to church. I don’t remember the actual moment I was baptized; rather, emotions come to mind–such as the sensation of belonging. I was young, but still knew I’d come home.
My heart was already Catholic before I was baptized. My grandmother would come from Peru with her beautiful statues and holy cards. She taught me to pray, and before my baptism I was making the Sign of the Cross in times of unease. I was in love with the depth of a spiritual life—the thought of going to church, praying with the certainty that Someone was there, even if I didn’t officially belong to a religion.
I was baptized at the age of eleven, less than two weeks after JPII’s death. At that age it seems easier to believe without questioning: My soul was drawn to Catholicism, the beautiful faith to which I finally belonged.
One thing didn’t change: Every time someone spoke of Jesus, I thought of my grandma’s Sacred Heart holy card. It isn’t accurate to what He really looked like, but there is a certain passion in His eyes. I always felt safe when I focused on that image. Some will call this idolatry, but in my heart He always looks on me with those eyes.
Even when I didn’t know it was actually a devotion, I was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. No matter how many beautiful devotions I learn of, it always comes back to this. I have framed that holy card and placed it on my desk. I know Jesus looks different to everybody; however, I always see those eyes fixated like in the painting.
I don’t have family pictures framed–only this card.
Being Christian doesn’t make life easy, however it gives us strength to cope with trials. I’ve dealt with surgeries, periods of depression, loss and loneliness, Dark Nights of the Soul and more. The Church is one thing that never changed–much like His love for me, which keeps her going. I always wound up coming back when my hobbies became watered down.
I could not find wholeness anywhere else.
St. Augustine’s words ring true in my head: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” I used to think that quote overused until I realized how well it relates to me. When I open my heart, I realize it only rests with Him and His own Sacred Heart. That devotion in me, even when I didn’t know of it.
Isn’t it a beautiful thing to think about? His Heart belongs to all of us—and ours were made for Him.
We live in a world obsessed with relationships, and if you want to use traditional imagery, we want to give our hearts to someone. We want to be trusted with someone’s heart. In this devotion we know His heart belongs to us. It’s an actual relationship greater than romantic or familial: A relationship with the God of the Universe.
He can’t be contained in an image—indeed, His heart is too big for that—The point is, we easily forget that He loves us with all His Heart. No other relationship will make us whole, no other heart is worth having. I’ve felt His presence since before my baptism, felt it in a personal way which was His Heart. It’s always been around to comfort me, and still is now, though I’m older and find it harder to concentrate on prayer.
My own heart is always restless on her own. She’s never satisfied if He’s not in the picture, and even when she strays, He brings her back. I’m not perfect, and nine years later have a long way to go—Sainthood is a neverending process. Jesus is always going to be waiting patiently with a Heart greater than I can imagine, one that’s marvelous and fills me with wonder.