Comment & Analysis

The power of the Sacred Heart to lead us home

Recently my brother and his wife renovated our family home where we all grew up. I was very happy that along with the many wonderful changes they have made they retained the Sacred Heart lamp and picture which had been there since my late father and mother moved in almost 60 years ago. 

The practice of placing a picture of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in the home with a little red lamp burning in front is a uniquely Irish tradition. It dates from 1873 when the Irish bishops consecrated the country to the Sacred Heart. Irish households were encouraged to consecrate their families to the Sacred Heart. 

The Sacred Heart speaks to all people who are hurting and there was a real sense that homes and families were ‘protected’ by Jesus particularly in times of sorrow and trouble.

Experience

A few weeks ago I came across a very moving and very powerful experience of how the Sacred Heart can protect a family and also bring healing. I was asked by a friend of mine to come and pray with him and his siblings as they buried the ashes of their brother Joe in the family grave. Joe was the eldest boy of a large family and like many young Irish men he ended up going to live in England, not necessarily by choice. 

He had a very poor relationship with many of his family and over the years he lost contact with all of them. A man with a brilliant brain who achieved great success in his chosen career but sadly because of an addiction to alcohol his life became very troubled and very lonely. He ended up living in a dreary flat in the London area completely invisible to most of those who lived around him.

Impression

In 2016 Joe was diagnosed with cancer and for the last few months of the year he was a patient at a hospice. The staff in the hospice were extremely kind to Joe but they were under the impression that he was all alone in the world. As Joe was coming closer to death he did reveal something of his story to the hospice chaplain and among other things told him that he had a family in Ireland. 

He mentioned the names of two of his siblings and the staff at the hospice decided they would try to make contact with Joe’s family. They got access to Joe’s flat and tried to find some contact details but were not successful. 

Then one of them noticed the rather faded Sacred Heart picture on the wall. 

At the bottom of the picture were written the names of Joe’s parents, their address in Ireland and the names of his siblings. After a few unsuccessful attempts they managed to contact Joe’s brother, my friend, and told him that Joe was close to death. 

His brother got a flight that day and arrived at Joe’s bedside just hours before he died. Some other siblings based in England were also there. Joe knew they were with him as he passed from this world. 

The Sacred Heart whose picture was the only thing Joe had taken from the family home in Ireland many years earlier was there with him to the end and allowed his estranged family to be there too. They brought his ashes back home to be buried with their parents and for Joe and for them, there was healing, there was closure, there was mercy. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, grant eternal rest to Joe and comfort and peace to his family.

 

The Prayer to the Sacred Heart 

Oh Lord Jesus Christ, to Your most Sacred Heart I confide this intention {name petition}. Only look upon me, then do what Your love inspires. Let Your Sacred Heart decide. I count on You. I trust in You. I throw myself on Your mercy. Lord Jesus, You will not fail me. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Your love for me. Sacred Heart of Jesus, Your kingdom come. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have asked You for many favours, but I earnestly implore this one. Take it, place it in Your open Heart. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, He will see it covered with Your Precious Blood. It will be no longer my prayer, but Yours, Jesus. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You. Let me not be disappointed. Amen.

 

Epitaph on a tombstone

Pause as you pass by,

As you are now, so once was I

As I am now so shall you be.

So prepare yourself to follow me.

A local wag added in chalk:

To follow you I’m quite content

 

…but how do I know which way YOU went!