Religious statues usually don’t move me beyond deep, aesthetic stirrings of appreciation for art. Statues of Jesus don’t move me at all. I find them to either be overly saccharine or grossly misrepresenting Him as blond-haired and blue-eyed. (Why, oh why, make Jesus a Swede?)
But this one…
I told my dad that I needed to capture this image of the Sacred Heart, and he, as usual, complied. My encounter with the statue occurred when my parents and I visited Ste. Anne de Beaupré in Québec, Canada in 2014:
I was surprisingly moved by its surreal warmth, which drew me toward open embrace. Driving my wheelchair forward, I stopped with a gasp at a certain spot where the warm brown eyes appeared to be looking right at me — right into me. This gave me the good kind of chills as I felt myself being pulled in, pulled into the Heart of love, keenly sensing the infinite and intimate presence of God all around me. It was the most loving, gentle, strong, and beautiful experience that I’ve ever had before a man-made representation of Our Lord. Only a year after making a personal act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this momentary encounter gave me the palpable connection that I needed with the all-encompassing reality of God’s love for me.
More Than Words
“God loves you.” How many times have you been told that or heard that? These words never meant much to me, they seemed trite and, yes, overly saccharine. When I was grappling with whether or not to choose Christianity in my mid-20s, I remember a priest telling me those words and I thought, “Yeah, yeah, God loves me. Everybody loves me.” As conceited as that sounds (I admit that I have suffered from overly high self-esteem throughout my life), I meant it in all innocence. I’ve always known that I am loved, in particular by my self-giving family, but also by strangers. Through my growing up years, I was usually the recipient of loving kindness, of the gentle mercy and generous praise of others.
To always know that I am loved … how many people can say that? This knowledge is a rare blessing for which I am endlessly grateful. The knowledge of being loved by family, friends, and even strangers, however, is not enough. The real, eternal, priceless treasure that I hold in every cell of my being is the knowledge of divine love. Coming to know Christ, entering into His Pierced Heart, I have come to know the truly profound depths of love, of eternal, divine, ego-shattering love.
How many people know that they are truly, deeply loved, that they are particularly and divinely loved into being? The hope that I have for my book, It’s Good to Be Here, is that everyone who reads it will know that they are so loved, and they will come to embrace this truth, living it out with true joy throughout their terribly beautiful lives, now and forever.
For if you and I truly knew and accepted the reality of God’s love for us, then any self-centered pride in us would turn to grateful humility, irritation and scorn would turn to patient mercy, greed would melt into generosity, fear would be transformed into bravery, and despair would turn to hope.
How different would social media be if we all truly knew that we are intimately loved by our Infinite Superior and willingly accepted that love? As I conclude these summer reflections praying to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that all Christians may witness to God’s love with respect for the inherent dignity and divinely beloved goodness of every human being in every stage of development, level of ability, appearance, and walk of life, I rest upon the goodness of love.
Lord, have mercy on me for forgetting the depths of Your love whenever I choose to act in glib unkindness, ranting criticism, or self-righteousness. Forgive me for forgetting that everyone I encounter is profoundly loved by You — everyone.
Yes, God loves you, and there’s nothing saccharine about it. God humbly became one of His own lowly creatures, limited by the confines of time and space like you, suffering in the circumstances of mockery, fear, and hate. Why? Because God loves us. Because God loves you and every human being. God loves those who tore the flesh from His back, those who had Him nailed to a cross to die — as well as those who tear down His beloved humans with condemnation or destroy them with guns in the streets and surgical steel in “healthcare” clinics. Whether you are beaten and bullied or beating and bullying, the Creator of all life loves you and longs for you to be healed by the transformative power of His all-embracing love.
Let’s pray that all of us who call ourselves Christians bear physical and verbal witness to this love.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
© 2020 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.