Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
by St. Alphonsus Liguori
The Loving Heart of Jesus.
Oh, if we could but understand the love that burns in the heart of Jesus for us! He has loved us so much, that if all men, all the Angels, and all the Saints were to unite, with all their energies, they could not arrive at the thousandth part of the love that Jesus bears to us. He loves us infinitely more than we love ourselves, He has loved us even to excess: They spoke of His decease (excess) which He was to accomplish in Jerusalem. [Luke ix. 31]And what greater excess of love could there be than for God to die for His creatures? He has loved us to the greatest degree: Having loved His own . . . He loved them unto the end; [John, xiii. 1] since, after having loved us from eternity, -----for there never was a moment from eternity when God did not think of us and did not love each one-of us: I have loved thee with an everlasting love, [Jer. xxxi, 3]-----for the love of us He made Himself Man, and chose a life of sufferings and the death of the Cross for our sake. Therefore He has loved us more than His honor, more than His repose, and more than His life; for He sacrificed everything to show us the love that He bears us. And is not this an excess of love sufficient to stupefy with astonishment the Angels of Paradise for all eternity?
This love has induced Him also to remain with us in the Holy Sacrament as on a throne of love; for He remains there under the appearance of a small piece of bread, shut up in a ciborium, where He seems to remain in a perfect annihilation of His majesty, without movement, and without the use of His senses; so that it seems that He performs no other office there than that of loving men. Love makes us desire the constant presence of the object of our love. It is this love and this desire that makes Jesus Christ reside with us in the Most Holy Sacrament. It seemed too short a time to this loving Saviour to have been only thirty-three years with men on earth; therefore, in order to show His desire of being constantly with us, He thought right to perform the greatest of all miracles, in the institution of the Holy Eucharist. But the work of redemption was already completed, men had already become reconciled to God; for what purpose, then, did Jesus remain on earth in this Sacrament? Ah, He remains there because He cannot bear to separate Himself from us, as He has said that He takes a delight in us.
Again, this love has induced Him even to become the food of our souls, so as to unite Himself to us, and to make His heart and ours as one: He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me and I in him. [John, vi. 57] O
wonder! O excess of Divine love! It was said by a servant of God, if anything could shake my faith in the Eucharist, it would not be the doubt as to how the bread could become flesh, or how Jesus could be in several places and confined into so small a space, because I should answer that God can do everything; but if I were asked how He could love men so much as to make Himself their food, I have nothing else to answer but that this is a mystery of faith above my comprehension, and that the love of Jesus cannot be understood. O love of Jesus, do Thou make Thyself known to men and do Thou make Thyself loved!
Affections and Prayers
O adorable heart of my Jesus, heart inflamed with the love of men, heart created on purpose to love them, how is it possible that Thou canst be despised, and Thy love so ill corresponded to by men? Oh, miserable that I am, I also have been one of those ungrateful ones that have not loved Thee. Forgive me, my Jesus, this great sin of not having loved Thee, Who art so amiable, and Who hast loved me so much that Thou canst do nothing more to oblige me to love Thee. I feel that I deserve to be condemned not to be able to love Thee, for having renounced Thy love, as I have hitherto done. But no, my dearest Saviour, give me any chastisement, but do not inflict this one upon me. Grant me the grace to love Thee, and then give me any affliction Thou pleasest. But how can I fear such a chastisement, whilst I feel that Thou continuest to give me the sweet, the pleasing precept of loving Thee, my Lord and my God? Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart. [Matt. xxii. 37] Yes, O my God, Thou wouldst be loved by me, and I will love Thee; indeed I will love none but Thee, Who hast loved me so much. O Love of my Jesus; Thou art my Love. O burning heart of my Jesus, do thou inflame my heart also. Do not permit me in future, even for a single moment, to live without Thy love; rather kill me, destroy me; do not let the world behold the spectacle of such horrid ingratitude as that I, who have been so beloved by Thee, and received so many favors and lights from Thee, should begin again to despise Thy love, No, my Jesus, do not permit this. I trust in the Blood that Thou hast shed for me, that I shall always love Thee, and that Thou wilt always love me, and that this love between Thee and me will not be broken off for eternity.
O Mary, Mother of fair love, thou who desirest so much to see Jesus loved, bind me, unite me to thy Son; but bind me to Him, so that we may never again be separated.