Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

This morning, as I was working on my Lenten devotional book, we were asked to reflect on Joel 2:13: "Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord our God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents of evil."

As I sat and reflected, the iconic image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus popped in my head.

I have to admit, I have always been fascinated by Sacred Heart images because, frankly, they are an iconic rendition of anatomic hearts, as opposed to Valentine's Day hearts. (not quite anatomically correct, but "correct enough.") Anatomic hearts placed outside the chests of Jesus and Mary. As I reflected on the passage, I came to realize what we are asked to do when we try to emulate the love of Jesus is literally, to wear our spiritual hearts outside of our chests, where they can be pierced, torn, and crushed, without the protection of a bony rib cage. We are asked to do, what, at first glance, appears blatantly fatal.

But when we think about the icon that has developed over the years, ever since Margaret Mary Alacoque had her first vision of the Sacred Heart in 1673, perhaps it is not as fatal as it seems. Yes, the traditional Sacred Heart icon has a wound from the lance used at the Crucifixion, and is often shown bound by a crown of thorns. But what always strikes me is that it is often surrounded by fire or radiance that emanates from one of the great vessels of the heart, and the heart is not consumed by it. It reminds me that yes, our own most secret heart--our own sliver of the Sacred Heart of Jesus--can be pierced, squeezed, and bound, but cannot be consumed or destroyed.

I am in a unique position to think about the Sacred heart, because I have literally held (and removed) hearts from autopsies in my own hands, and sliced them into pieces to examine them. I have held still lifeless hearts scarred from myocardial infarctions, crushed from cardiac tamponade, and literally torn open from ventricular blowouts. I have touched the gray stony hearts affected by amyloidosis and hearts rendered flabby and useless from cardiomyopathy. I have cradled hearts in my hands repaired by bypass, and dissected malformed hearts from infants who died of congenital heart defects. I've run probes through hearts with patent foramen ovale and atrial or ventricular septal defects. I have had an intimacy with the anatomic heart that few are allowed to experience.

Yet I so often find myself incredibly unwilling to allow others to touch my beating, radiant secret heart impregnated with the love of Christ's own sacred heart--even barely allow it to be seen. But the longer I ponder it, I come to realize it is exactly what separates me from Jesus, and it is what I must learn to do to love more fully.

There's no doubt--the times I have exposed the love of my own sacred heart has been a mixed bag. Sometimes there are incredible joys associated with it. But other times have been excruciatingly painful and have caused me to withdraw, to shrink back, to say "never again." Yet it always seems that the more I become enmeshed in my prayer life, "never again," turns to "Ok, I'll give this one more shot." When I look back, I realize the end result is a more firmly "muscled love" and a glint to the radiance I didn't see before.

It made me realize that I need to think more often about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and how to bind it to my own a little more often. The traditional prayers for this, however, seem long and a tad ponderous--so I decided to craft a slightly more contemporary (and shorter) version.

A 21st Century Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
by Kirkepiscatoid

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy;

Heart of Christ, hear our prayer,
Heart of Christ, graciously hear us.

Heart of Heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of the World, have mercy on us.
Heart of All that is Holy, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, wellspring of all goodness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, radiant with holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, transplanted in all of us, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of Mary, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, who lived and walked and ministered, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, who lifted up the lowly and poor in spirit, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, who forgave your tormentors, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, who died on the cross, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, who transcended death and lives among us, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, heart of our common life, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, heart of our own capacity to love, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, heart of the Eucharist, grant us peace.

Almighty and ever-living God, look upon our secret hearts and show us the heart of your beloved Son within them, and help us see the mirror of His incarnation within us. Grant us courage to show our hearts to those who live and walk among us, and the vision to see His incarnation in others. Free us from the slavery of the fear of exposing the heart of our holiness in our daily walk through the world. Let the radiance of our own sacred hearts be a beacon to guide others to you. We ask this in the name of your beloved Son, who lives and reigns forever and ever; Amen.




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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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