Lessons from Our Grandmothers: Uniting Our Hearts with Jesus


Each year in June, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus brings back special memories for me of my grandmother and her special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Image of “Nicho”

My grandparents were originally from Mexico and spoke only Spanish. I only spoke English when we moved in with them after the death of my father. As a six-year-old, I was fascinated by my grandmother’s strong Catholic faith that was communicated to me by the images and statues throughout her house. My favorite was a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She had a special wooden, carved “nicho” made for Jesus and he was dressed in a handmade red and white satin robe. A lit votive candle was always present as she prayed before Jesus and He raised his hand in blessing. Though no words were spoken, I understood that “heart” was speaking to “heart”.

In 2020, during a mid-day Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis shared a prayer that he had learned from his grandmother, when he spoke about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s a simple 7-word prayer:

“Jesus, make my heart more like yours.”

He encouraged the faithful to say this simple prayer often, as we strive to unite our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Francis went on to say,

“The human and divine Heart of Jesus is the wellspring where we can always draw upon God’s mercy, forgiveness, and tenderness.”

How can we unite our hearts with Jesus’ heart and tap into this wellspring of mercy, forgiveness, and tenderness?

Adoring the Eucharist

When we spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, we can feel the love of the Father who sent his Son and the love of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. We can bask in his love that is present in the sacrament. In that silent, prayerful time, our heart will become more patient, more generous, more merciful; our heart will learn how we are being called to imitate the heart of Jesus.

First Fridays

When our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary and revealed his Sacred Heart, he requested the practice of attending Mass, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and receiving him in the Eucharist on the first Friday of 9 consecutive months. This devotion is important, because we remember the passion and death of our Lord on Friday. It is essentially a novena that reminds us of the love of Jesus for us and reminds us how Jesus longs for us to unite our hearts with his, through sacrament and worship.


The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is meant to inspire imitation of Jesus’ self-giving, sacrificial love, not just saying the right prayers and adhering to faithful practices. It involves loving our brothers and sisters whom we encounter every day. It means loving and forgiving our enemies. It means loving as Jesus loved, loving with the heart of Jesus.

“As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34b).

Missionary Activity

Loving the Sacred Heart of Jesus means sharing our faith with those who may have fallen away from it. It means going out of our way to leave our bubble of like-minded friends and spreading the good news of Jesus’ loving heart to others.

I now have the “nicho” in my home, almost 60 years after I first saw it in my grandmother’s home. When I pray each morning, “Jesus, make my heart more like yours,” I unite my heart to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and ask for his help to love as he loves. I pray in loving memory of my grandmother and in gratitude to all those who have brought the love of Jesus to me in my life.

Debbie Garza is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Leon Springs, and is an experienced Pilgrimage Group Leader with Pilgrim Center of Hope. She has traveled with Pilgrim Center of Hope to the Holy Land, Italy, and Greece. She says, “On pilgrimage, I know the ears and eyes of my heart have been opened by God’s grace and I’ve experienced the Joy of the Gospel. I am committed to helping other pilgrims experience their personal journey of faith.” Debra is also a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

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