“Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”–Matthew 6:21
The Divine Valentine
Thanks mostly to it containing the feast day of the mysterious St. Valentine, February is known in the West for being a month associated heavily with lovers for at least the past few centuries. Valentine’s day, for many, conjures up images of pink and red heart shaped cards, chocolate filled boxes–also heart shaped, or perhaps those chalky, vaguely heart shaped nuggets that you would receive in a goodie bag as a kid, but never eat because they are gross. The list goes on.
When you see the heart, specifically the symbolic version used in Valentines gifts, you likely see it as a sign of affection, friendship, or romantic love. In the Catholic faith, we understand the heart as both symbol and spiritual reality. In fact, we carry in our lexicon of imagery the most powerful representation of it:
The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
There are not many symbols in our faith that do not point to some kind of spiritual reality, but The Sacred Heart in particular points us to something not just in the realm of the spiritual, but in fact a very real physical truth. As a devotion repeatedly blessed by the Church and recommended by the Saints, the devotion to the Sacred Heart points Catholics to two deeply intertwined realities: the Incarnation and the Eucharist. Through it, we are called to remember that Jesus had a real, fully human heart which was like ours in every way, in both a physical and spiritual sense. This was a Heart He loved each of us with completely, from the moment of His conception, to the completion of His mission on the cross. This is a truly human, truly divine Heart that now beats inside the Risen Lord and is glorified in Heaven. The image of the Sacred Heart is in a sense the greatest Valentine: a sign of the promise of Christ’s Love, who has given Himself completely to His “Valentine”, His Bride: the Church.
We are especially blessed in our Catholic faith to have a foretaste of this promise. We have been given the most wonderful of Valentine’s Day (and everyday) gifts: the Eucharist. His Heart waits for us in Heaven, but through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we have access to it every day at Mass. Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, “the whole Christ” as the Council of Trent defined it, are received by us in every communion. What an awesome blessing! In adoration too, we are able to place ourselves before the Lord, His Sacred Heart beating with love for us, just hidden from our eyes in the sacramental form. Without a doubt, the Sacred Heart is the best heart one can receive, from the best possible Valentine.
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”–St Augustine