If you’re new here (welcome!) or weren’t aware since we didn’t write an intro post about it in 2021, our theme was “Be loved as Beloved.” A non-discreet hint may have been the 20+ beautiful beloved items in our shop, visual reminders for ourselves and others of who and Whose we truly are. A couple of blog highlights on last year’s beloved theme were:
- You and I Are God’s Beloved
- “Who Am I” – our 1st Annual Team Retreat Theme
- Finding Freedom in Overcoming the Lie I Am Not Enough
Being rooted in our identity as God’s beloved is foundational, and I hoped that we would build upon that theme this year. So in November 2021, I met with our three team leaders to discuss what we had received in prayer regarding our new theme for 2022. As only the Holy Spirit can do, our individual discernment was in total alignment, and we named the 2022 theme “His Heart, My Home.”
To live in our belovedness is to remain in Christ. And how has the Lord chosen to reveal Himself through apparitions to various saints over the centuries? By exposing His Sacred Heart. It is that burning, wounded Heart that continues to manifest the Trinity’s self-sacrificing, consuming love for us. There can be no greater source of love or peace than when our hearts rest in His.
Within that theme, the words of St. John the Baptist, “He Must Increase, I Must Decrease” (Jn 3:30), inspired our editor Caitlyn Pszonka for this year’s editorial focus. “This is an opportunity to return to littleness, to total dependence on Him in all things, for all things,” said Caitlyn.
To gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we look to those to whom Jesus has entrusted these revelations. Since I previously wrote on St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, inspiration now comes from St. Gertrude. The Lord not only allowed St. Gertrude the honor of seeing His Sacred Heart, but she also received the Five Wounds of Our Lord within her heart.
Gertrude preceded St. Margaret Mary by four centuries. She was born in 1256 in Germany, a time rife with heresies. Orphaned at just 5 years old, she entered the convent of the Benedictine Nuns in the village of Helfta, with the Mother Abbess placing the girl under the care of Mechtilde of Hackeborn. Not many children would have thrived in that cloistered, holy environment, but Gertrude did. She made her vows to religious life when she came of age, and at 26 years of age, God revealed Himself to her soul.
After a period of longing to be closer to Christ, growing disdain for things of this world, He appeared to her as a handsome, young man. “Thy salvation is at hand. Why are you so consumed by sorrow?” He asked.
Although in her dormitory, it felt like she was being transported to the corner of the choir. Jesus reassured her:
I will save and deliver you. Fear not.”
Then, with arms wide open, Our Lord welcomed her embrace. As she approached Him, a hedge of long, thick thorns created a barrier. Realizing the hedge and thorns resulted from the times she had fallen into sin, she wept. The Lord extended His Hand, emanating a force that lifted her until she was beside Him. He invited Gertrude to rest her head upon His chest. There, her eyes traveled from His pierced Heart to His hands and feet, and she beheld His five wounds, “the radiant jewels of His Sacred Wounds,” bleeding out of love for us. (Catholic365.com).
On the feast of St. John the Beloved Disciple, he and Jesus appeared to a shocked Gertrude. The Lord told her,
I wish to establish between him and you an intimate friendship; he shall be the Apostle, to instruct and to correct you.”
As he had done during the Last Supper, St. John encouraged Gertrude, “Come, Spouse of my Master, together let us lay our heads on the most tender bosom of the Lord, in which all the treasures of Heaven and earth are enclosed.” As they both rested their heads upon Jesus’ chest, she rejoiced while listening to His Sacred Heart beating with love for souls.
Gertrude asked, “How is it then that in your gospel you have spoken so little of the loving secrets of the Heart of Jesus Christ?”
St. John replied to Gertrude, “My ministry was confined to speaking of the Divine Word, the eternal Son of the Father, some words of deep meaning upon which human intelligence might meditate forever without ever exhausting their richness; but to these latter times was reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus. At this voice the world will renew its youth, be roused from its lethargy, and again be inflamed with the warmth of the Divine love.” (Emphasis added).
The Beloved directed us back to the Heart of Jesus, just like our themes!
Christ Himself revealed this about His Heart,
Behold, I manifest to the gaze of thy soul My deified Heart, the harmonious instrument whose sweet tones ravish the Most Adorable Trinity. I give It to thee, and like a faithful, zealous servant, this Heart will be ready, at any moment, to repair thy defects and negligence . . . Make use of It and thy works will charm the eye and ear of the Divinity.”Christ to St. Gertrude
The Lord of the Universe gave her His Heart, making it her servant! What?!
If this wasn’t enough, another time, Jesus allowed her to see the graces flowing from His Most Sacred Heart like a stream of the purest water. Those graces flowed into the hearts of those she prayed for and then out to the rest of the world.
All the graces we need are found in this Furnace of Love for us. And it is ever ready to pour everything out upon us. This is why Jesus wanted St. Gertrude to know His heart and to make it known: So that we might try to begin to comprehend the depths of His love for every single soul and His longing for each one to seek Him in prayer and enter into relationship with Him. Therefore, let us remain in Him by abiding in the most intimate place – His Most Sacred Heart.
My prayer for you, friend, is that you will not just learn about the Heart of Jesus this year with us, but that you will find a home in it – a place of refuge. And that when it is your time to return to Heaven as our home, you too will hear words like Christ spoke to St. Gertrude,
Behold you are united to Me and to become My own forever…I will present you to My Father by the close embrace of My Heart.”