Devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus
By Karen Riobo
Have you ever asked yourself why some Catholic homes have an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their living room? I personally never asked myself, and recently, have seen even my millennial friends incorporate the devotion of the first Friday of the month, faithfully attending Mass and praying the novena to the Sacred heart every year in preparation for the feast in June.
Nowadays, not only the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is displayed in homes, but also people wear it on a pendant, a rosary, a key chain, or sticker. There are so many ways to live out the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The question is, why is it so popular?
You guessed it! Like in many catholic devotions, The Lord himself, in a series of apparitions, requested for this feast to be instituted. This time, the task was given to a young nun in France, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She started with The first Friday of each month with Mass and a vigil Holy Hour Thursday night in memory of his agony and isolation in Gethsemane. Later, Jesus asked that a feast of reparation be instituted. This was not an easy task, it took her a few years to convince her superior, but her spiritual director believed her and further helped her follow Jesus' desire.
The feast of the Sacred Heart was approved for specified dioceses by Clement XIII in 1765 and extended to the whole Church by Pius IX in 1856. In 1889 Pope Leo XIII elevated it to the rank of first-class, and through an encyclical letter in 1899, dedicated the whole Catholic world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. So, essentially, YOU and I are consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Below are excerpts from her diary, where he shared the wonders of His love for us and the specific ways we receive the graces.
"He promised to pour out into the hearts of all those who honor the image of His Heart all the gifts it contains in fullness, and for all those who would wear this image on their persons, He promised to imprint His love on their hearts and to destroy all unruly inclinations."
"Everywhere this holy image was exposed to be honored, He would pour forth His graces and blessings. This blessing was, as it were, a final effort of His love. He wanted to bestow upon men during these final centuries such loving redemption in order to snatch them from the control of Satan, whom He intended to destroy."
These promises are powerful and the reason why we all must grow in love with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Not only because we are granted all the graces but because we will be transformed. He will give us a heart of flesh, a heart that loves like He loves and is pure.
Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Jesus gives these twelve promises for those who are devoted to His 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.
What does this devotion invite us to?
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is precisely the image that expresses our mission to LOVE. It is the image of the vast and merciful love which God has shared with the world through his Son.
"In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbor." - St. John Paul II.
Jesus is perfect love, and we are invited to learn from love itself how to love God, ourselves, and our neighbor. We are called to encounter this love every time we visit the Eucharist, the ultimate act of love. Only this love, the love of the Heart of Christ, can transform the human heart and bring true peace to the world.
The more I read about it, the more it made sense in my heart; every Holy Hour we give Jesus is an opportunity to be transformed and receive His peace. Every first Friday, we make reparation for all the sins and offenses committed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, even our own.
O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pray for us!