The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on June 19 this year we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. This feast day is an invitation to honor his Most Sacred Heart and to be renewed in our love for God. In the midst of so much pain and suffering in our world, we are called to come to the heart of Jesus and allow his perfect love to transform us from the inside out. In the Gospel of Matthew 28:11, Jesus tells us to “come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. ... Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The true hope is that each Catholic develops an ongoing devotion to the Sacred Heart and learns what it means to live and love as Christ does.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart has its roots in St. John’s Gospel, where he describes the pierced side of Jesus and the blood and water which gushed forth. There are many saints and faithful Catholics throughout history have practiced devotion to the Sacred Heart as a means for growing in holiness.
In the late 17th century, devotion to the Sacred Heart became more widespread based on the private revelations given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. During these revelations, Jesus revealed the overall form of this devotion, consisting of the feast of the Sacred Heart, the importance of going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month, and doing acts of reparation on behalf of the love of Jesus. Jesus made it clear that this is a devotion of love, rooted in love.
St. Margaret Mary once said, as outlined in her letters, “He has given me to understand that His Sacred Heart is the Holy of Holies, the very sanctuary of love. He wishes that it be now recognized as the Mediator between God and man. He is the all-powerful to bring them peace, turning aside the just punishments our sins have drawn upon us and obtaining mercy for us.”
During these private revelations to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus gave 12 promises to those who honor his Sacred Heart, and they include blessings such as:
· “ I will establish peace in their families”;
· “I will comfort them in their trials”;
· “I will bless every place where an image of My Heart is exposed and honored.”
In 1856 Pope Pius IX declared the feast of the Sacred Heart to be a universal celebration, even though many local diocese and countries were celebrating it for many years before, as Enthronement of the Sacred Heart details. This feast is an opportunity for the laity and the religious to unite in prayer and seek to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Pius IX stated in the decree approving this liturgical feast that it was done “without taking account of any private revelation from God, but rather graciously acceding to the petitions of the faithful.” He goes on to state that “he extended the Feast to the whole Church because he wished to give fresh incitement to the faithful to love … His wounded Heart, Who loves us and washed us from our sins in His Blood.” This statement highlights that this devotion is from the heart of the Church’s teachings, and the private visions emphasize what was always part of Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
As Pope Leo XIII led the consecration of the whole world to the Sacred Heart in 1899, he said, “There is in the Sacred Heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ, which moves us to love in return.”
When all is said and done, growing in holiness is simply fulfilling the two great commandments to love God and our neighbor. Growing in holiness means putting our past behind us, as St. Teresa of Calcutta says: “Do not let the past disturb you. Just leave everything in the Sacred Heart and begin again with joy.” The feast of the Sacred Heart is a reminder that God is calling us to begin our eternity in the Kingdom of Love today.
One way to fulfill the promise “I will bless every place where an image of My Heart is exposed an honored” is to enthrone your home to the Sacred Heart.
To learn more about the Sacred Heart Enthronement, please visit the website Welcome His Heart (WelcomeHisHeart.com). Here you will learn about an approach, which is self-guided, to welcome Jesus into your home as King, Savior and Friend.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.