ALL life, natural as well as supernatural, has its source in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, because it is the Heart substantially united to the Word of God, of Whom St. John says, "All things were made through Him, and without Him has been made nothing that has been made" (Jn. 1:3). Now we will consider only supernatural life, which is the life of sanctifying grace. This life, inasmuch as it is a participation in the Divine life, is also holiness. That is why, in early times, the faithful who had been sanctified through Baptism were called saints. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the source of all supernatural life and of every degree of holiness.
In the Easter Preface, holy Church states that Jesus by His death has overcome death and by His Resurrection has restored life. The death which He has overcome is the death of sin; the life which He has restored is the life of grace and heavenly glory. At the Last Judgment the body shall rise and share in this life of the soul. The manner in which this life is communicated to us has been wonderfully illustrated by our Lord Himself in the parable of the vine and the branches. He says, "As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it remain on the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he shall be cast out as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire and they shall burn" (Jn. 15:4 ff.). It is the same sap that flows in the vine and in the branches, the same life that is active in both. Thus Christ, the Divine vine, with His roots in the divinity, has grafted us on Himself as branches and now sends forth His Own life and fruit-bearing power into us. But we remain living branches only as long as we remain united to Him. Separated from Him, we are dead spiritually and our lot is to be burned in the fire of Hell. It is for this reason that holy Church prays with such tender solicitude in her preparation for Holy Communion, "Deliver me through this Thy most sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities and from all evil, make me always cleave to Thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from Thee."
Supernatural life is given to the soul in an incipient stage and now it must develop and grow. To keep alive, the human body must be active, the lungs must breathe, the heart must beat, the blood must circulate, food must be assimilated. The same holds for the supernatural life; according to the vigor and intensity of its operations, we are holy in a lesser or higher degree. Holiness consists in hating what is evil and loving what is good. What these things are in particular God has made known to us in His commandments and counsels, and we share in His holiness to the extent that we avoid what offends Him and do what is pleasing to Him. Holiness is indeed nothing else but the practical conformity of our will with the will of God. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me" (Jn. 14:21).
To hate evil we must know its malice, and to love the good we must be aware of its beauty and blessings, but before we can do these things the weakness of our nature must be strengthened by the power of grace. That strength comes to us through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In His Passion, Jesus demonstrated the malice of sin. His humiliations were punishment and atonement for the pride of sin. The cruel tortures inflicted upon Him were punishment and atonement for sinful pleasure. Prayerful meditation on the Passion will arouse a deep and lasting hatred of sin. On the other hand, love for what is good will be enkindled by reflection on the beauty and grandeur of His holy life as He places it before us in His teaching and example. Jesus always does the things most pleasing to the Father, and that is the highest degree of holiness. He is the holiest of the holy but He calls on us to learn of Him, to do as He has done, to love as He has loved. And even though human weakness may be great, His grace is all-powerful; strengthened by His grace, we can do all things.
At the Source
The loving Heart of the Saviour offered us the help we need. "Come to me," He said, "all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Mt. 11:28 f.). Prayer keeps us close to Jesus; it illuminates the mind and warms the heart, lifts thoughts and desires heavenward and thus lightens the burdens of the Christian life. In holy Mass we share in the atoning power of His Passion and learn the lessons of a holy life: profound reverence for the majesty of the Father, humility, obedience, and patience. In Holy Communion our whole being is more strongly and deeply penetrated with His Divine life. "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood, abides in Me and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he shall also live because of Me" (Jn. 6: 57 f.).
Jesus has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Through His death He has merited it, through His words and example He has made it known to us, through incorporation into Him He conducts it into our souls and makes us live in Him and by Him. Thus all grace and holiness has its source in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If then we are eager to possess Divine life and increase it in our souls, we know where to find it, "Abide in Me and I in you. . . . Abide in My love" (Jn. 5:4, 10). All the Saints without exception give testimony with St. Paul that, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).
TAKEN FROM THE LITANY OF THE SACRED HEART, Bruce Publishing