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Returning Love for Love: Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Returning Love for Love

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Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Presence of God – O Jesus, You have loved me so much; enable me to repay Your love.


In the Encyclical Annum Sacrum, Leo XIII declares, “The Sacred Heart is the symbol and image of the infinite charity of Jesus Christ, the charity which urges us to give Him love in return.” Indeed, nothing is more able to arouse love than love itself. “Love is repaid by love alone,” the saints have repeatedly said. St. Teresa of Jesus wrote: “Whenever we think of Christ, we should remember with what love He has bestowed all these favors upon us … for love begets love. And though we may be only beginners … let us strive ever to bear this in mind and awaken our own love” (Book of Her Life, 22).

The Church offers us the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in order to stir up our love. After reminding us, in the Divine Office proper to this feast, of the measureless proofs of Christ’s love, this good Mother asks us anxiously, “Who would not love Him who has loved us so much? Who among His redeemed would not love Him dearly?” (Roman Breviary). And in order to urge us more and more to repay love with love, she puts on the lips of Jesus the beautiful words of Holy Scripture: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee”; and again, “Fili, praebe mihi cor tuum,” Son, give Me thy heart (Roman Breviary). This, then, is the substance of true devotion to the Sacred Heart: to return love for love, “to repay love with love,” as St. Margaret Mary, the great disciple of the Sacred Heart, expresses it; “to return love unceasingly to Him who has so loved us,” in the words of St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus, the hidden but no less ardent disciple of the divine Heart.


“Awake, O my soul. How long will you remain asleep? Beyond the sky there is a King who wishes to possess you; He loves you immeasurably, with all His Heart. He loves you with so much kindness and faithfulness that He left His kingdom and humbled Himself for you, permitting Himself to be bound like a malefactor in order to find you. He loves you so strongly and tenderly, He is so jealous of you and has given you so many proofs of this, that He willingly gave up His Body to death. He bathed you in His Blood and redeemed you by His death. How long will you wait to love Him in return? Make haste, then, to answer Him.

“Behold, O loving Jesus, I come to You. I come, drawn by Your meekness, Your mercy, Your charity; I come with my whole heart and soul, and all my strength. Who will give me to be entirely conformed to Your Heart, in order that You may find in me everything You desire?

“O Jesus, my King and my God, take me into the sweet shelter of Your divine Heart and there unite me to Yourself in such a way that I shall live totally for You. Permit me to submerge myself henceforth in that vast sea of Your mercy, abandoning myself entirely to Your goodness, plunging into the burning furnace of Your love, and remaining there forever ….

“But what am I, O my God, I, so unlike You, the outcast of all creatures? But You are my supreme confidence because in You can be found the supplement or rather, the abundance of all the favors I have lost. Enclose me, O Lord, in the sanctuary of Your Heart opened by the spear, establish me there, guarded by Your gentle glance, so that I may be confided to Your care forever: under the shadow of Your paternal love I shall find rest in the everlasting remembrance of Your most precious love” (St. Gertrude).


Note from Dan: This post on returning love for love is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on returning love for love: modified detail of Herz Jesu Bild (Heart of Jesus Image), Leonhard Thoma, 1906, scanned by Joachim Specht 4.8.2010 own work, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Anneli Sinkko

    It is particularly in John’s Gospel that Jesus shows what his love is like. After Jesus had risen from the death and had met with his followers John’s Gospel brings us to a beach where Peter ad others have returned to their old occupations as fishermen – instead of ‘fishers of men’. And then they meet Jesus on that beach and after a miraculous harvest of fish they sit down to eat. Peter must have felt a bit uneasy having denied Jesus 3 times before the crucifixion.
    And here Jesus is and now he started to question Peter:
    Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love [agape] me more than these?”
    “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love [phileo] you.”
    Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
    16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love [agape] me?”
    He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love [phileo] you.”
    Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
    17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love [phileo] me?”
    Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love [phileo] me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love [phileo] you. Jesus said: “Feed my sheep” [John 21: 15-17]
    Let me explain something here: Agape is the divine love but phileo is human love that shows affection and warmth towards another person.
    Peter in this discourse cannot express the divine love and what does Jesus do? He uses the word phileo – in other words he comes down to Peter’s level simply because Peter, in this state of his life, cannot use the word agape.
    That is an example what agape, perfect love is.
    Therefore we can say that ‘Love [agape] never fails’ because divine love always takes into consideration the object of its love.
    That is the kind of love [agape] Jesus shows to us.

  • Ethel Grimes

    What a beautiful prayer! Happy Feast Day. <3

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  • Valerie Saldanha

    Indeed a beautiful prayer and succinct reflection too. It’s my parish feast and we are celebrating in community today with the feast Mass tomorrow, Sunday.

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