I’m Looking for a Heart Transplant


I’m Looking for a Heart Transplant
By Br. Titus Mary Sanchez, O.P.
This article originally appeared in Dominicana and is reprinted with permission.

I’m looking for a heart transplant and I’m not alone either. All kinds of people look for heart transplants. Some have high blood pressure, others have a congenital defect or another contributing disease. Sometimes people will wait years until they can finally receive a heart transplant.

But I’m not looking for that kind of heart. My physical health is fine. Maybe I could exercise a bit more, but otherwise I’m healthy as a horse.

No, I’m looking for another kind of heart. Saint Catherine of Siena was looking for a similar cardiac operation: she would fervently pray the words of the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Ps 51:10).

God responded to St. Catherine’s prayer through two visions of supernatural surgery, which she recounted to her spiritual director and the author of her Life, Blessed Raymond of Capua. In St. Catherine’s first vision, the Lord came to her and she watched him open her left side, remove her heart, and then depart. So vivid and powerful was this vision—which left her with a scar on her side—that Catherine insisted to others that she no longer had a heart!

Soon thereafter, as she was preparing to leave the Dominican church in Siena, Catherine was surrounded by a dazzling light. In this second vision, the Lord held in his hands a fleshy beating heart, gleaming red and aflame with light. Christ approached, opened her side once more, and nestled this new heart into her breast, saying, “See, dearest daughter, a few days ago, I took your heart from you; now, in the same way, I give you my own heart.” Through this gift of grace, St. Catherine had new and eternal life within her. She became so conformed to Christ that all his loves became hers, his will became hers, his heart became hers . . . such that, really and truly, Christ himself lived and loved in her.

In the tradition, this episode of Catherine’s life has been called the “exchange of hearts” with Jesus. Now that is the kind of heart transplant I’m looking for! My heart is failing unto death; sin is my fatal disease. But thanks be to God: in Jesus, I have found someone willing to give me a new heart—to save my life. The Divine Physician says to me and to you: “I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26).

Like other heart donors, Christ has died to offer life to someone else. However, unlike any other organ donor, Christ was raised from the dead and is alive still, reigning at the right hand of the Father in glory. Our heavenly heart donor is not only a man, but also truly God. The heart Jesus gives is not mere corruptible flesh, which only prolongs life for a few years, but the incorruptible heart of God Incarnate: the Sacred Heart, the furnace of Divine Love, the fount of Divine Mercy that bestows life without end.

I’m looking for a heart transplant and I’m not alone either. Every sinner needs one. Luckily, St. Catherine is offering referrals. You need only ask.

Image: Giovanni di Paolo, Saint Catherine of Siena Exchanging Her Heart with Christ

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