Consolation in Prayer and Activation through Mercy

God gives us the gifts of faith, hope, and love in Baptism. To be rooted in faith and hope and to live out love, we need prayer. Prayer brings us consolation and, by allowing God into our lives, brings Him consolation. Moreover, prayer makes us new, as the prophet Haggai illustrates in the following parable:

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests for a ruling: If one carries consecrated meat in the fold of one’s garment, and with the fold touches bread, or stew, or wine, or oil, or any kind of food, does it become holy? The priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered, “Yes, it becomes unclean.” Haggai then said, So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, says the Lord; and so with every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. (2:11–14, emphasis mine)

I will use a modern analogy to explain Haggai’s oracle. If Haggai has a clean pen and puts it on a dusty podium, does the pen make the podium clean? No. Now, if he puts a muddy pen on a clean podium, does the pen make the podium dirty? Yes. This is the same with the things of God. Empty worship is not pleasing to God. The dirty hearts of Judah and their priests in Haggai’s time will not make their sacrifices “clean” or pleasing to God. Nor will the dirty or empty hearts of modernity make us clean. This was Cain’s problem; he tried to offer a saving covenantal sacrifice despite his impure heart. It would be like our saying, “We’re Catholic” without living the Faith. This was what God was trying to awaken in the mind of humanity through devotion to the Sacred Heart.

But, says the prophet Haggai, look at what mankind can do and at what God can do:

But now, consider what will come to pass from this day on. Before a stone was placed upon a stone in the Lord’s temple, how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and mildew and hail; yet you did not return to me, says the Lord. Consider from this day on, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider: Is there any seed left in the barn? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still yield nothing? From this day on I will bless you. (2:15–19, emphasis mine)

God says that, naturally, our stained sacrifices will continue to stain our people. We need to be fully united with God because He makes things new. He tells us this throughout Scripture. “Though your sins are like scarlet,” God says, “they shall be like snow” (Isa. 1:18). Remember the woman who was unclean and hemorrhaging. She touched the Lord’s garment and was made new (Mark 5:25–34). St. Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her by coming into contact with the living God (Luke 8:2). And Jesus states in Revelation 21:3–6:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Let us allow God to make us new, to wipe away all our tears, and to restore us. We do this by the great blessing of prayer!

Prayer leads to sacrificial love: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). We saw five ways to live out each devotion in honor of the five wounds of Christ. Now those ideas take on flesh in five groups of active works. In this way, the Mystical Body of Christ participates in carrying on the Incarnation of Christ in the world. Three of these groups of works console the heart of Christ (the Sacred Heart devotion), and two console the heart of man (the Divine Mercy devotion).

The first set of active works that console Jesus’ heart are works of conversion. Heaven rejoices when a sinner returns to the Mystical Body of Christ: “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Works of conversion include visiting the homes of fallen-away Catholics, talking to people about God in a deep way, distributing Christian literature to those who have false ideas about God and religion, and seeking out the forsaken. The Lord told St. Faustina that even the gravest sinner would be embraced by His mercy if only they would come to the living waters.

The Legion of Mary handbook beautifully emphasizes this point:

Therefore, the work must proceed upon the principle of values reversed, that is, it shall concern itself especially with those whom even the optimist would term utterly hopeless cases, and whose warped minds and initial insensibility to appeal would seem to justify this description. The vile, the malevolent, the naturally hateful, the rejects and black-listed of other societies and people, the refuse of cities, shall all be determinedly persevered with in spite of rebuffs, utter ingratitude, and apparent failure. Of these a considerable proportion will form a life-long task. Obviously such a work, carried on according to such ideas, calls for heroic qualities and a purely supernatural vision. The compensation for toil so great will lie in the seeing of the objects of that toil eventually die in the friendship of God. Then what joy to have cooperated with “Him who from the mire, in patient length of days, Elaborated into life a people to His praise!” (Bl. John Henry Newman: Dream of Gerontius). . . . In addition, it holds, amongst services done to the Church, a key position. For it constitutes a special assertion of the Catholic principle that even the lowest of human beings hold in relation to us a position which is independent of their value or agreeableness to us: that in them Christ is to be seen, reverenced, loved. (emphasis mine)

We must be bold in approaching people that society deems “weird” or “not worth our time.” Since Jesus died for all men, such people are worthy of hearing His gospel. After all, to say that someone is not worthy to hear the gospel is to take on the Jansenist mentality. We are not Jansenists; we are Christians! Thus, the Sacred Heart compels us to offer the gospel to all, especially the lost, the forsaken, and the greatest of sinners.

We also have a sacred duty to spread the Catholic Faith. St. Paul reminds us of this reality:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:13–17, emphasis mine)

Again, the Legion of Mary handbook offers a powerful perspective: The Church teaches them one world and they live in another. The voice of the secularized world speaks louder than that of the Church. The imbalance must be corrected. The Christian’s mandate is to win the secularized world for Christ. This demands that we have the right values and attitudes — the Christian ones. (emphasis mine)

So let us put our prayer into action by bringing to Christ’s Sacred Heart those who do not know Him or who have strayed from Him. This could be the answer to someone’s prayers.

The second way to activate prayer is through works of conservation. These are works that help people to maintain and grow their faith as well as their relationship with God. There are two ways we can do this to console the Sacred Heart. The first is to teach children the Faith. We know that Jesus loves children and says, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). It hurts Jesus’ heart that some children do not love Him or even know about Him. Thus, we need to help children to learn what it means to be a Christian. It is not just a title we have or something we do; it is who we are. Regardless of our vocations, we must teach the four pillars of our Faith, found in the Catechism: the Creed, morality, the sacraments, and prayer. Jesus also says to everyone: “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). So we adults, too, need to take time to study what we believe (the Creed), how to live it out (morality), how to get the power to live it out (through the sacraments), and how to nourish the hesed covenantal relationship we are all called to have with God (through prayer).

Another work of conservation is enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our homes. Fr. Patrick Peyton, the great promoter of the Rosary, would always say, “A family that prays together stays together.” So too, a family that makes Jesus Christ the King of their household (and Mary the Queen) will console the heart of Jesus, strengthen their family bond, and obtain numerous graces in an abundant way. It delights God’s heart when we remember Him and allow our houses to become little churches for His kingdom. Enthroning our homes also brings abundant blessings to our families, as Our Lord promised in His words to St. Margaret Mary, “I will bring peace to their homes” and “all who promote this devotion will have their names written on my heart.” It consoles Jesus to have our names written, or signed, in His heart, just as He put His signature on the Divine Mercy image. In this, our trust in Jesus is written on our hearts.

The third group of works are to console Jesus’ heart, and these include promoting Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and activities and organizations that atone for sins against the Sacred Heart. Promoting Mass is essential as it calls to mind Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary re-presented (notice not represented) under sacramental signs. Presence shows appreciation, and appreciation brings consolation. This is the motivation for promoting Eucharistic Adoration. There is no greater honor than to be with the One who loves you, as we are in Adoration. As a devout peasant at St. John Vianney’s parish described his time in front of the tabernacle, “I look at God and He looks at me” (see CCC 2715). Eucharistic Adoration is a pledge of love! This brings us to organizations that atone for sins against the Sacred Heart.

The living waters that flow from the heart of Christ are His Divine Mercy and love. He sends us out as apostles to bring people to the Sacred Heart, so they can be consoled by His Divine Mercy and so that He can be consoled by His Mystical Body fulfilling His mission and doing the Father’s will to redeem the World. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16–17).


This article on The Insular City is adapted from the book Peaceful Hearts, Zealous Hearts by Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony which is available from Sophia Institute Press.

Art for this post on a reflection from “Peaceful Hearts, Zealous Hearts” by Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony: cover used with permission; Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

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