Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus—Solemnity

Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost
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Quote:
Once, being before the Blessed Sacrament and having a little more leisure than usual, I felt wholly filled with this Divine Presence, and so powerfully moved by it that I forgot myself and the place in which I was. I abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, and yielded my heart to the power of His love, He made me rest for a long time on His divine breast, where He discovered to me the wonders of His love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart, which He had hitherto kept hidden from me. Now He opened it to me for the first time, but in a way so real, so sensible, that it left me no room to doubt, though I am always in dread of deceiving myself. ~Vision of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Reflection: It could be said that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was first written about in John’s Gospel when John records that during the Last Supper he leaned back and rested his head on Jesus’ heart. In the thirteenth century, on December 27, the Feast of Saint John the Apostle, the German religious sister and mystic Saint Gertrude the Great had a vision of Saint John with Jesus during which she discussed that moment at the Last Supper. In that vision, Saint John said to Saint Gertrude, “Come, Spouse of my Master, together let us lay our heads on the most tender bosom of the Lord, in which all the treasures of Heaven and earth are enclosed.” As she rested her head on Jesus’ Heart, her soul was deeply stirred with devotion, and she said to Saint John, “…did these harmonious beatings, which rejoice my soul, also rejoice yours when you reposed during the Last Supper on the bosom of the Saviour?” Saint John responded, “Yes, I heard them, and my soul was penetrated with their sweetness even to its very center.” Saint Gertrude inquired, “How come, then, in your Gospel you have spoken so little of the loving secrets of the Heart of Jesus Christ?” Saint John responded, “My ministry, in those early times of the Church, was confined to speaking of the Eternal Word…but to these latter times was reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus. At this voice the time-worn world will renew its youth, be roused from its lethargy, and again be inflamed with the warmth of Divine love” (Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great).

About 400 years later, on December 27, 1673, the Feast of Saint John the Apostle, a French cloistered Visitation Nun named Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque received the first of four visions that took place over the next eighteen months in which Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart and His desire that a feast be instituted in its honor. Though she had other visions and mystical experiences throughout her life, these visions were directly related to the Sacred Heart.

My Divine Heart is so passionately in love with men that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its ardent charity. It must pour them out by thy means, and manifest itself to them to enrich them with its precious treasures, which contain all the graces of which they have need to be saved from perdition. I have chosen thee as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance to accomplish so great a design, so that all may be done by Me (from the first vision).

He was brilliant with glory; His five wounds shone like five suns. Flames darted forth from all parts of His sacred humanity, but especially from His adorable breast, which resembled a furnace, and which, opening, displayed to me His loving and amiable Heart, the living source of these flames (from the second vision).

Behold, this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love. In return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this sacrament of love. And what is most painful to Me, is that they are hearts consecrated to Me. It is for this reason I ask thee that the first Friday after the octave of the Blessed Sacrament be appropriated to a special feast, to honor My Heart by communicating on that day, and making reparation for the indignity that it has received. And I promise that My Heart shall dilate to pour out abundantly the influences of its love on all that will render it this honor or procure its being rendered (from the third vision).

In her visions, Jesus also made twelve promises to those who would honor the Sacred Heart:

I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life. I will establish peace in their families. I will console them in all their troubles. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy. Tepid souls shall become fervent. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

When Sister Margaret Mary told her superior about her visions, her superior doubted their authenticity and had her meet with a spiritual director who also doubted them. Eventually, Jesuit Father and future saint Claude de la Colombiere became her confessor and spiritual director. He recognized the authenticity of the visions and devoted much energy to the spreading of this devotion.

Just five years before Saint Margaret Mary’s final vision, in another part of France, the future saint Father John Eudes, founder of the Society of Jesus and Mary, composed a Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart. Father Eudes had spent the previous forty-five years of his priesthood spreading an intimate devotion to the love of God and personal conversion. Twenty-two years earlier, he had written a Mass in honor of the Holy Heart of Mary, and in 1670, with the permission of the local bishop, he began celebrating his newly written Mass and Office of the Sacred Heart and continued to promote this devotion until his death ten years later. Though Father John Eudes and Sister Margaret Mary did not know each other, God knew them both and used them both to promote devotion to the burning love in His Sacred Heart.

Toward the end of Sister Margaret Mary’s life, her community began to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart. In 1756, seventy-five years after Margaret Mary’s death, Pope Clement XIII approved devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, paving the way for various ecclesiastical provinces throughout Europe to celebrate the feast. It wasn’t until 1856 that Pope Pius IX placed the Feast of the Sacred Heart on the universal Roman Calendar, to be celebrated on the Friday after Corpus Christi.

The central message of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the infinite and compassionate love exploding from the Heart of Jesus for all mankind. It emphasizes our Lord’s sacred Sacrifice for our salvation and invites us to respond to His love. The Sacred Heart also calls us to make reparation for sins, especially human indifference and ingratitude toward Him. The nature of our Lord’s love is that it cannot be contained within His Heart and necessarily bursts forth. When His love is received, He is consoled. When it is ignored, the love in His Heart expands and waits to gush forth in superabundance upon anyone who is willing to receive it.

As we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, ponder the fact that Jesus’ love must pour forth from His Heart. He needs willing recipients to receive that love. Console His heart by being one of those recipients and by loving Him in return. Doing so will win countless graces for you and for the whole world.

Prayer: Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I love You, adore You, and desire to lay my head upon Your Sacred Heart so that the outpouring of Your love will be received and You will be loved all the more. I beg pardon for every sacrilege, indifference, and rejection You encounter and pray that I can make reparation to You. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I especially beg pardon for my sins and pray that my sins all be consumed by the fire of Your love. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.

Reflection taken from:

Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
Volumes One–Four


Further Reading:

Saint Margaret Mary Reflection

Pope Leo XIII (1899)

Pope Pius IX (1928)

Pope Pius XII (1956)

Vatican News

Catholic Encyclopedia

Simply Catholic

Catholic News Agency

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Catholic Culture

Wikipedia


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Sacred Heart of Jesus—Solemnity

Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost

In St. John’s Gospel, the Apostle records that during the Last Supper he leaned back and rested his head on Jesus’ heart, which we might see as the beginning of devotion to the Sacred Heart. In the thirteenth century, on December 27, the Feast of Saint John the Apostle, the German religious sister and mystic Saint Gertrude the Great had a vision of Saint John with Jesus during which she discussed that moment at the Last Supper. In that vision, Saint John told Saint Gertrude that “the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus” had been reserved for “these latter times”  (Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great).

About 400 years later, on December 27, 1673, the Feast of Saint John the Apostle, a French cloistered Visitation Nun named Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque received the first of four visions that took place over the next eighteen months in which Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart and His desire that a feast be instituted in its honor. Though she had other visions and mystical experiences throughout her life, these visions were directly related to the Sacred Heart.

The central message of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the infinite and compassionate love exploding from the Heart of Jesus for all mankind. It emphasizes our Lord’s sacred Sacrifice for our salvation and invites us to respond to His love. The Sacred Heart also calls us to make reparation for sins, especially human indifference and ingratitude toward Him. The nature of our Lord’s love is that it cannot be contained within His Heart and necessarily bursts forth. When His love is received, He is consoled. When it is ignored, the love in His Heart expands and waits to gush forth in superabundance upon anyone who is willing to receive it.

In Margaret Mary’s visions, Jesus also made twelve promises to those who would honor the Sacred Heart, including peace in their families, consolation in all their troubles, and Jesus’ heart as their assured refuge in their last hour of life.

When Sister Margaret Mary told her superior about her visions, her superior doubted their authenticity and had her meet with a spiritual director who was also doubtful. Eventually, Jesuit Father and future saint Claude de la Colombiere became Margaret Mary’s confessor and spiritual director. He recognized the visions’ authenticity and devoted much energy to the spreading of this devotion.

Toward the end of Sister Margaret Mary’s life, her community began to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart. In 1756, seventy-five years after Margaret Mary’s death, Pope Clement XIII approved devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, paving the way for various ecclesiastical provinces throughout Europe to celebrate the feast. In 1856, Pope Pius IX placed the Feast of the Sacred Heart on the universal Roman Calendar, to be celebrated on the Friday after Corpus Christi.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I love You, adore You, and desire to lay my head upon Your Sacred Heart to receive the outpouring of Your love and love You all the more. I beg pardon for every sacrilege, indifference, and rejection You encounter and pray that I can make reparation to You. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I especially beg pardon for my sins and pray that they will be consumed by the fire of Your love. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.

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