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Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Sacred Heart of Jesus

Devotion to the

Sacred Heart of Jesus 

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Introduction

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most widespread and treasured Catholic devotions. It has been incorporated into the liturgy and has been generously praised and recommended by both popes & saints. As some more recent popes have said...

"This devotion [to the Sacred Heart of Jesus], which We recommend to all, will be profitable to all." (Pope Leo XIII)

"The Church has always valued, and still does, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus so highly that she provides for the spread of it among Christian peoples everywhere and by every means." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

"It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956) 

"If this devotion is constantly practiced with this knowledge and understanding, the souls of the faithful cannot but attain to the sweet knowledge of the love of Christ which is the perfection of Christian life" (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

"We do not hesitate to declare that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the most effective school of the love of God; the love of God, We say, which must be the foundation on which to build up the kingdom of God in the hearts of individuals, families, and nations" (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956 A.D.)

"Is not a summary of all our religion and moreover, a guide to a more perfect life contained in this one devotion [to the Sacred Heart of Jesus]? Indeed, it more easily leads our minds to know Christ the Lord intimately and more effectively turns our heads to love Him more ardently and to imitate Him more perfectly." (Pope Pius XI)

"When so many evils meet Our gaze - such as cause sharp conflict among individuals, families, nations and the whole world, particularly today more than at any other time - where are We to seek a remedy, venerable brethren? Can a form of devotion surpassing that to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be found, which corresponds better to the essential character of the Catholic faith, which is more capable of assisting the present-day needs of the Church and the human race? What religious practice is more excellent, more attractive, more salutary than this, since the devotion in question is entirely directed towards the love of God itself?" (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956) 

"We therefore urge all Our children in Christ, both those who are already accustomed to drink the saving waters flowing from the Heart of the Redeemer and, more especially those who look on from a distance like hesitant spectators, to eagerly embrace this devotion. Let them carefully consider, as We have said, that it is a question of a devotion which has long been powerful in the Church and is solidly founded on the Gospel narrative. It received clear support from tradition and the sacred liturgy and has been frequently and generously praised by the Roman Pontiffs themselves. These were not satisfied with establishing a feast in honor of the most Sacred Heart of the Redeemer and extending it to the Universal Church; they were also responsible for the solemn acts of dedication which consecrated the whole human race to the same Sacred Heart. Moreover, there are to be reckoned the abundant and joyous fruits which have flowed therefrom to the Church: countless souls returned to the Christian religion, the faith of many roused to greater activity, a closer tie between the faithful and our most loving Redeemer. All these benefits particularly in the most recent decades, have passed before Our eyes in greater numbers and more dazzling significance." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

Although this devotion is usually associated with St. Margaret Mary, who is known for her propagation of the devotion and her private revelations concerning the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the devotion may be traced back to the Fathers & Doctors of the Church, and even to St. John's Gospel (in which the solider pierced Christ's Sacred Heart). As Pope Pius XII has indicated, the devotion did not "suddenly appear" in the Church... 

"It must not be said that this devotion has taken its origin from some private revelation of God and has suddenly appeared in the Church; rather, it has blossomed forth of its own accord as a result of that lively faith and burning devotion of men who were endowed with heavenly gifts, and who were drawn towards the adorable Redeemer and His glorious wounds which they saw as irresistible proofs of that unbounded love. Consequently, it is clear that the revelations made to St. Margaret Mary brought nothing new into Catholic doctrine. Their importance lay in this that Christ Our Lord, exposing His Sacred Heart, wished in a quite extraordinary way to invite the minds of men to a contemplation of, and a devotion to, the mystery of God's merciful love for the human race. In this special manifestation Christ pointed to His Heart, with definite and repeated words, as the symbol by which men should be attracted to a knowledge and recognition of His love; and at the same time He established it as a sign or pledge of mercy and grace for the needs of the Church of our times." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

Pope Pius XII also points out that various saints have contributed to the propagation of this devotion...

"To cite some examples in establishing this devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and continuously promoting it, great service was rendered by St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, St. Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed Henry Suso, St. Peter Canisius, St. Francis de Sales. St. John Eudes was responsible for the first liturgical office celebrated in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus whose solemn feast, with the approval of many Bishops in France, was observed for the first time on October 20th, 1672. But surely the most distinguished place among those who have fostered this most excellent type of devotion is held by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who, under the spiritual direction of Blessed Claude de la Colombiere who assisted her work, was on fire with an unusual zeal to see to it that the real meaning of the devotion which had had such extensive developments to the great edification of the faithful should be established and be distinguished from other forms of Christian piety by the special qualities of love and reparation." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

Also, there has been much papal approval for the devotion, including at least three encyclical letters regarding the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pope Leo XIII consecrated the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and called it "the greatest act of his pontificate" and even Pope Paul VI - who closed the Second Vatican council in the 1960's - praised the devotion and said that "this form of devotion seems to impose itself in a particular way." 

The Sacred Heart Devotion

The Sacred Heart devotion makes us aware of and reminds us of Christ's immense love for us. It also encourages us to love Him in return. We know that God created us and Christ shed all his blood for us, resides in our Tabernacles, and even allows the faithful to consume Him in the Holy Eucharist. We also know that Christ loves each of us personally and wants us to love Him in return - in fact, He made this His first commandment: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 22:37-38). Clearly, the Sacred Heart Devotion helps us fulfill our obligation. As Pope Pius XII has stated...

"[T]here is no doubt that Christians in paying homage to the Sacred Heart of the Redeemer are fulfilling a serious part of their obligations in their service of God and, at the same time, they are surrendering themselves to their Creator and Redeemer with regard to both the affections of the heart and the external activities of their life; in this way, they are obeying that divine commandment: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole Strength.' Besides, they have the firm conviction that they are moved to honor God not primarily for their own advantage in what concerns soul and body in this life and in the next, but for the sake of God's goodness they strive to render Him their homage, to give Him back love for love, to adore Him and offer Him due thanks." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956) 

In the devotion, Christ's love is symbolized by His Heart (the heart is a universal symbol of love). As Pope Pius XII states...

"[A] Christian in paying honor along with the Church to the Heart of Jesus is adoring the symbol and, as it were, the visible sign of the divine charity which went so far as to love intensely, through the Heart of the Word made Flesh, the human race stained with so many sins." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956) 

Our honoring of the Sacred Heart of Jesus helps us to remember His great love and to show love and gratitude in return. As a result, our deepening love for Christ helps us better live according to His laws and encourages us to make reparation for ourselves and others when we fail. And, in addition to the many benefits inherent in the devotion, many additional blessings and rewards are associated with this devotion (click here or scroll down).

There are also a number of specific practices associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart, some of which carry the promise of special blessings (see below). Some practices include:

  • Veneration of the Sacred Heart image

  • Consecration / enthronement of one's home / self to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (and the consequent obligation to live up to one's consecration)

  • Acts of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

  • Wearing / carrying of the Sacred Heart badge

  • Nine First Friday's Devotion

One may also perform special acts of veneration or reparation especially on feast days and during the month of June.

Although there are various practices associated with this devotion, it is important to note that external acts are not of primary importance. As stated by Pope Pius XII...

"Hence, let all be completely convinced that in showing devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus the external acts of piety have not the first or most important place; nor is its essence to be found primarily in the benefits to be obtained. For if Christ has solemnly promised them in private revelations it was for the purpose of encouraging men to perform with greater fervor the chief duties of the Catholic religion, namely, love and expiation, and thus take all possible measures for their own spiritual advantage." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

And finally, it is important to note that there is an inseparable link between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his Immaculate Mother, Mary. Therefore, one should join honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary to honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As stated by Pope Pius XII...

"In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined. For, by God's Will, in carrying out the work of human Redemption the Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably linked with Christ in such a manner that our salvation sprang from the love and the sufferings of Jesus Christ to which the love and sorrows of His Mother were intimately united. It is, then, entirely fitting that the Christian people - who received the divine life from Christ through Mary - after they have paid their debt of honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should also offer to the most loving Heart of their heavenly Mother the corresponding acts of piety, affection, gratitude and expiation. Entirely in keeping with this most sweet and wise disposition of divine Providence is the memorable act of consecration by which We Ourselves solemnly dedicated Holy Church and the whole world to the spotless Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

Sacred Heart Promises

The following promises are attributed to our Lord from the writings of St. Margaret Mary and are applicable to those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart. Note that the wording of the promises may vary.

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

  2. I will give them peace in their homes.

  3. I will console them in all their afflictions.

  4. I will be their secure refuge in life, and especially in death.

  5. I will give abundant blessings to all their undertakings.

  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

  8. Fervent souls shall advance rapidly towards high perfection.

  9. I will bless every place in which an image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.

  10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my heart.

  12. In the excess of the mercy of My Heart, I promise you that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance; they shall not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

Reminder: The above promises are not a license to sin, but rather presuppose that persons act in good faith. 

Also Try...

Prayers, Novenas & Hymns

Sacred Heart of Jesus (Reflections) 

Our Father's Love (Reflections)

More Reflections: Alphabetical | Categorized

Jesus Christ / The Sacred Heart of Jesus (Classic Encyclicals)

"In truth if the arguments brought forward which form the foundation for the devotion to the pierced Heart of Jesus are duly pondered, it is surely clear that there is no question here of some ordinary form of piety which anyone at his own whim may treat as of little consequence or set aside as inferior to others, but of a religious practice which helps very much towards the attaining of Christian perfection." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956 A.D.) 

"It is in the adorable heart of Jesus that we shall find every help for our necessities, every remedy for the cure of our ills, the most powerful assistance against the assaults of our enemies, the sweetest consolation to soothe our sufferings, the purest delight to fill our souls with joy. Are you in sorrow? Do your enemies persecute you? Does the recollection of your past sins disturb you? Is your heart troubled or full of fear? Throw yourself, so to speak, in the wounds of Jesus Christ, even into His Sacred Heart, it is a sanctuary, it is the retreat for holy souls, and a place of refuge wherein your soul is safe. It is to Him and through Him that we should ask for all we require; it is through Him and in Him that we should offer to the Eternal Father all we do, because this Sacred Heart is the treasury of every supernatural gift, the source of every grace. It is the channel through which we unite ourselves more intimately to God, and through which God communicates Himself more freely. It is, in fine, to this Sacred Heart we should continually strive to unite ours - no longer wishing to have other desires or sentiments than those of Jesus - and then we may be sure that His will and His Sacred Heart may, so to speak, merge into our heart, and that the two will be as one. Draw waters at leisure out of the Savior's fountains: you will never exhaust them." (St. Peter Damien, Doctor of the Church)

   


   

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