Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – 19 June
May we all be abundantly Blessed today by the Sacred and Loving Heart of Jesus
May we all grow closer and closer to the Sacred Heart, the source of all Love!
A little (actually, a lot! – please take the time to read it) of the History of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart
In the 13th century, the Franciscan Doctor of the Church (1217-1274) – “The Seraphic Doctor,” St Bonaventure’s work “With You is the Source of Life” (which is the reading for the Divine Office on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart) began to point to the heart as the fountain from which God’s love poured into our lives:
“Take thought now, redeemed man and consider how great and worthy is He who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life but at His passing, heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder. It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open His sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death on the cross and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced.’ The blood and water, which poured out at that moment, were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s Heart as from a fountain, this stream, gave the Sacraments of the Church, the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ, it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.”
The Devotion Spreads Slowly
At the end of the 13th century, St Gertrude the Great, on the feast of St John the Evangelist, had a vision in which she was allowed to rest her head near the wound in the Saviour’s side. She heard the beating of the Divine Heart and asked John if, on the night of the Last Supper, he too had felt this beating heart, why then had he never spoken of the fact. John replied that this revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages when the world, having grown cold, would have need to rekindle its love.
From that time until the time of St John Eudes Orat. (1501-1680), the devotion continued to spread, primarily as a private devotion but one that was increasingly wide-spread. Many religious orders prayed the devotion – the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Carmelites of Spain and the Benedictines.
Let us now consider the key ideas which motivated St John Eudes in his great love for the Sacred Heart, so that by understanding them “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that being rooted and grounded in love, you may have the power with all the saints to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God “(Eph 3, 17-19). Two interrelated thoughts overwhelmed St John Eudes, first:
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus, whether considered in His Divinity or in His humanity, is more ardently enkindled with love for His Father, loving Him infinitely more at any given moment, than all the hearts of angels and saints can love Him throughout all eternity.”
The second thought which rejoiced the heart of St John Eudes expands on the first:
[Jesus, the Son of God] “willed to be our Head and chose us as His members. He has associated us with Himself in His ineffable love [for the Father]. He has given us, as a result, the power to love the Father with the [very] same love with which He loves [the Father], with a love eternal, boundless and infinite.”
St John Eudes discerned eight different flames of love, which issue from our Lord’s Heart in the Tabernacle, which are freely adapted here to our present needs (definitely a post soon). St Pope Pius X declared him, the Father, Doctor and Apostle of Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Devotion Renewed: St Marguerite Marie Alacoque VHM (1647-1690)
In the late 17th century the devotion was renewed and adopted elsewhere, especially following the revelations to St Marguerite Marie Alacoque. The saint, a cloistered nun of the Visitation Order, received several private revelations of the Sacred Heart, the first on 27 December 1673 and the final one 18 months later. The visions revealed to her the form of the devotion, the chief features being reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration during a “Holy hour” on Thursdays and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Initially discouraged in her efforts to follow the instruction she had received in her visions, Alacoque was eventually able to convince her superior of the authenticity of her visions. She was unable, however, to convince a group of theologians of the validity of her apparitions, nor was she any more successful with many of the members of her own community. She eventually received the support of St Claude de la Colombière SJ (1641-1682), the community’s confessor, who declared that the visions were genuine. Alacoque’s short devotional writing, La Devotion au Sacré-Coeur de Jesus (Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus), was published posthumously in 1698. Here is an excerpt:
“And He [Christ] showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure Him, all the honour and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which His heart is the source.”
The devotion was fostered by the Jesuits and Franciscans but it was not until the 1928 encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor by Pope Pius XI that the Church validated the credibility of Alacoque’s visions of Jesus Christ in having “promised her [Alacoque] that all those who rendered this honour to His Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces.”
The World Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Maria Droste zu Vischering, was a German noble women, who at the age of 25 joined the congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, in Munster. She was given the name, Bl Sr Mary of the Divine Heart. In 1894, at the age of 31, she was transferred to Portugal and appointed superior of Oporto, Portugal. While there, she reported some messages from Jesus Christ in which she was asked to contact the Holy Father, requesting the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
On 10 June 1898, her Confessor at the Good Shepherd monastery wrote to Pope Leo XIII stating that Sister Mary of the Divine Heart had received a message from Christ, requesting the Holy Father to consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart. The Pope initially did not believe her and took no action. However, on 6 January 1899 she wrote another letter, asking that in addition to the consecration, the first Fridays of the month be observed in honour of the Sacred Heart. In the letter she also referred to the recent illness of the Pope and stated that Christ, had assured her, that Pope Leo XIII would live until he had performed the consecration to the Sacred Heart.
Pope Leo XIII commissioned an inquiry on the basis of her revelation and Church tradition. In his 1899 encyclical letter Annum Sacrum, Leo XIII decreed that the Consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on 11 June 1899. Here is the consecration Pope Leo composed for the consecration:
“Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine and Thine we wish to be but to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us, freely consecrates himself today, to Thy most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known Thee, many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only, of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee but also, of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee, grant that they may quickly return to Thy Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof and call them back to the harbour of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Saviour, may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.
Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm, give peace and order to all nations and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: ‘Praise be to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation, to it be glory and honour forever.’” Amen
The 100th Anniversary of the Feast of the Sacred Heart
In a landmark encyclical, Haurietis aquas (“You will draw waters”– written 15 May 1956) Venerable Pope Pius XII began his reflection by drawing from Isaiah 12:3, a verse which alludes to the abundance of the supernatural graces which flow from the heart of Christ. Haurietis aquas called the whole Church, to recognise the Sacred Heart as an important dimension of Christian spirituality. Pope Pius XII gave two reasons why the Church gives the highest form of worship to the Heart of Jesus. The first rests on the principle whereby the believers recognise that Jesus’ Heart is hypostatically united to the “Person of the Incarnate Son of God Himself.” The second reason is derived from the fact, that the Heart, is the natural sign and symbol of Jesus’ boundless love for humans . The encyclical recalls that for human souls the wound in Christ’s side and the marks left by the nails have been “the chief sign and symbol of that love” that ever more incisively shaped their life from within.
In a letter on 15 May 2006 Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Encyclical Haurietis aquas exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of His love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it. After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way, as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome Him ever better into their lives.”
As the encyclical states, from this source, the heart of Jesus, originates the true knowledge of Jesus Christ and a deeper experience of His love. Thus, according to Pope Benedict XVI, we will be able to understand better what it means to know God’s love in Jesus Christ, to experience Him, keeping our gaze fixed on Him to the point that we live entirely on the experience of His love, so that we can subsequently witness to it to others.
Sadly, today, The League of the Sacred Heart founded in Ireland in the year of grace 1873, has fallen into obscurity, though, I know that in certain countries across the world, it is being revived. Below is a 14 minute video explaining the resuscitation of the League and the institution in America. The League however, still exists in a few isolated countries and we NEED, in these awful times, to revive it, wherever we are.
A great usurpation has taken place in the Church by the Divine Mercy Devotion – I know there are devotees of this latter Devotion on the site but if you would wish to educate yourself further in this regard, please go to the Youtube Channel – Ascent of Mount Carmel, where you will find lots of research on this subject. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcOObC8wjuxJjx6rBSiKo2A/videos
The Sacred Heart is knocking at the door of our heart. Will we open the door for Him? Will we make a commitment in devotion to serve Him with greater zeal and fidelity? Will we let Him in? The choice is now ours. Those who want to grow, know where the Sacred Heart is waiting for the response of their love and they know how to imitate His love in their daily life. Let us resume all that has been said with a final thought from St John Eudes: “The Son of God gives us His Heart not only to be the model and rule of our life but also to be our heart, so that by the gift of this Heart, immense, infinite and eternal, we may fulfil all our duties to God in a manner worthy of His infinite perfections. [Thus] we have received from our Divine Saviour, the gift of His adorable Heart, which is the perfect means of fulfilling all our duties. We should employ the Sacred Heart as if it were our own heart, to adore God fittingly, to love Him perfectly, and to satisfy all our obligations adequately so that our homage and love may be worthy of His supreme majesty. Eternal and infinite thanks be rendered to Thee, O Good Jesus, for the infinitely precious gift of Thy divine Heart. May all the angels, saints and all creatures bless Thee forever!
Let us Pray:
Daily Consecration to the Sacred Heart
Daily Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Prayers to the Sacred Heart – The League of the Sacred Heart
1936 – 15th Edition, Dublin
O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
filled with infinite love,
broken by our ingratitude
and pierced by our sins,
yet loving us still,
accept the Consecration
we make to Thee,
of all that we are
and all that we have.
Take every faculty
of our souls and bodies,
only day by day
draw us, nearer and nearer
to Thy Sacred Heart,
and there, as we shall hear the lesson,
teach us Thy Holy Way.