The Church's Year
ON THE FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
OF THIS FESTIVAL
devout souls had venerated the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with sincere
devotion, in the solitude of quiet life, as is seen in the lives
of SS..Augustine, Bernard, Bonaventura, Thomas of Aquin, Francis
de Sales, Ignatius, Clara, Gertrude, Mechtild, Catharine of Sienna,
Theresa, and others, our divine Saviour willed that His heart's
infinite love should be recognized by all men, and be kindled in
cold hearts by a new fire of love. For this end He made use of a
feeble, obscure instrument, that all the world might know that the
devotion to His loving heart; previously almost entirely unknown,
was His own work. This instrument, disregarded by the world, was
one who shone before God in all 'the radiance of the most sublime
virtues; the nun Margaret Alacoque of the order of the Visitation
of Mary, at Paray, in Burgundy. In the year 1675, whilst she was
one day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament; our Lord appeared
to her, and pointing to His heart which He showed to her, surrounded
with flames, surmounted by the cross, encircled with a crown of
thorns, and pierced with a gaping wound, He said to her: "Behold
this heart, which has loved mankind so much, and which receives
only ingratitude and coldness in return for its love. My desire
is that you should make reparation to my heart for this ingratitude,
and induce others also to make reparation." Our Lord then designated
the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi as the special day
for this duty. In several subsequent apparitions our divine Lord
repeated this injunction, and made the most unbounded promises in
favor' of all who would apply themselves to this office of reparation
to His Sacred Heart. The following are some of His promises;
- 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 pains and trials.
- I will be
their assured refuge in life, and especially in death.
- I will shed
abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
shall find in my Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
souls will be rendered fervent.
souls shall rise rapidly to greater perfection.
- I will bless
those houses where the image of my heart shall be exposed and
- I will give
to priests the gift of moving the hardest hearts.
who propagate this devotion,. shall have their names inscribed
on my heart, never to be effaced from it.
but found everywhere the greatest opposition, actual sneers and
persecution, even from her Sisters in religion, until finally, with
the aid of her divine spouse, she succeeded as mistress of novices,
in bringing her young charges to the veneration of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus. But this did not content her zeal; although opposition
continued, she strove to fulfil the command of Jesus, who assisted
her by at last changing the hardened hearts of the nuns and inflaming
them with the same love of His Sacred Heart. This devotion soon
spread from the convent throughout the adjoining dioceses, where
confraternities in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus arose, and
Pope Clement, XIII., after causing the strictest investigation to
be made, commanded?the Festival of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to
be observed throughout the Catholic Church on the first Friday after
the octave of Corpus Christi.
TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
OBJECT OF THIS DEVOTION
By the Sacred
Heart of Jesus must be understood not the lifeless heart, separated
from the body of Christ, but the tender, loving heart of the God-Man,
the home of all His emotions, the fountain of all His virtues, and
the most touching embodiment of His infinite love for man. The Catholic
Church, in like manner, sets apart certain festivals with appropriate
Mass and office, in honor of the cross, of our Lord's sacred blood
and wounds that our devotion to the Redeemer may be rendered more
fervent by the contemplation of these objects, for Jesus has shed
His blood for us, has received wounds for us which He retained even
after His resurrection, as eternal signs of His immense love for
man, has taken them with Him to heaven, and will show them to us
on the judgment Day. How much more should our Saviour's Sacred Heart
be the object of our devotion, since all the thoughts, sentiments,
and emotions of this most loving heart aim only at our salvation,
and since it is always ready to receive truly penitent sinners to
forgive them, again to turn His love to them, and make them sharers
in eternal bliss.
saints have from the first encouraged a tender devotion to this
most Sacred Heart, as already mentioned. "Longinus," says
St. Augustine, "opened the side of Jesus with His spear; in
it I enter, and securely rest." "O how good," exclaims
St. Bernard, "how lovely to take up my abode in this Heart!
In this temple, in this sanctuary, before this ark of the covenant,
I will adore and praise the name of the Lord, and say with the prophet:
I have found in the heart of Jesus, my king, my brother, my friend."
"Believe me, O blinded men," says St. Bonaventura, "if
you knew how to enter by His sacred wounds into the interior of
Jesus, you would there find not, only a wonderful sweetness for
your soul, but even sweet repose for your body. And if even the
body there finds rest, how great, think you, must be the sweetness
which the spirit there enjoys, if through these wounds we become
united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus!" And St. Peter Damian
says: "In this adorable heart we find the weapons with which
to defend ourselves against our enemies, a cure for our ills, powerful
help against temptations, the sweetest consolation is suffering,
and the purest joy in this valley of tears."
and St. Gertrude found themselves transported in an especial manner
by the tenderness of this adorable heart, to adore it fervently,
and Gertrude, enlightened by the Spirit of God, spoke these prophetic
words: "The Lord retained until these late centuries the devotion
to His Sacred Heart, as a last effort of His divine love."
We have already seen how these words have been verified in the pious
Margaret. O would that Jesus' great desire that all men, might know
and love His Sacred Heart be accomplished!
EXCELLENCE OF THIS DEVOTION
It is, says
the venerable P. Simon Gourdan:
- The most
sacred devotion, for by it man venerates the holiest sentiments
and emotions of the Heart of Jesus, by which He has sanctified
the Church, glorified His Heavenly Father, and presented Himself
to us as the perfect model of the most exalted sanctity.
- The oldest
devotion of the holy Church, which, instructed by the great St.
Paul, has at all times recognized the munificence of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus.
- The most
approved devotion, for the holy Scriptures everywhere exhort us
to renew our heart by changing our lives, rendering them contrite
by true penance, inflaming them with the fire of divine love,
and adorning them by the exercise of all virtue. Therefore a new
heart is promised on which to remodel our Heart. That Heart can
be no other than the Heart of Jesus, which is given us as an example
of all virtue, and which we must imitate if we wish to be saved.
- The most
perfect devotion, for it is the: source of all other devotions;
the Heart of Jesus is that inexhaustible treasury from which the
Mother of God and all the saints have drawn their graces, their
life, their virtues, and all spiritual blessings. Filled from
this treasury, other servants of God have instituted different
- The most
useful devotion, for in it we have the Fountain of Life itself
before our eyes, from which we can draw directly, and increase
in all virtue by adoring this divine Heart, meditating on its
holy desires, and seeking to imitate it.
- The devotion
most pleasing to Christ, for by it we honor God, as Christ requires,
in spirit and in truth, because we adore the interior power of
God, seeking to please His heart.
the most necessary devotion, for its object is that we become
intimately connected as members with Jesus, our Head, that we
live by and according to His spirit, and have only one heart and
soul with Christ.
Because this devotion is of such importance, we cannot sufficiently
recommend it to all who are anxious for their soul's salvation.
Every person may cherish this devotion, and venerate the Heart of
Jesus by himself, but there is a greater blessing when pious souls
make the devotion in a confraternity. In the year 1726 there existed
more than three hundred such confraternities, and they are now spread
throughout all Catholic countries. Do not delay then, O Christian
soul, to practise this devotion, uniting with others . to honor
the divine Heart of Jesus, because in this most Blessed Heart all
men find their reconciliation, the pious their assurance, sinners
their hope, the oppressed their comfort, the sick their relief,
those who are fighting their strength, the dying their refuge and
the elect their joy and bliss.
of this day's Mass reads: He will have mercy according to the multitude
of his mercies: for he bath not willingly afflicted nor cast off
the children of men: the Lord is good to them that hope in him,
to the soul that seeketh him. Allel. allel. (Lament III. 32: 33.
25.) The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever: to generation
and generation. (Ps. LXXXVIII, 1.). Glory &c.
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who, glorying in the
most Sacred Heart of Thy beloved Son, celebrate the singular benefits
of His love toward us, may rejoice equally in their operation and
their fruit. Through the same &c.
(Isai. XII. 1?6.) I will give thanks to thee, O Lord, for thou wart
angry with me; thy wrath is turned away, and, thou hast comforted
me. Behold God is my Saviour, I will deal confidently, and will
not fear: because the Lord is my strength and my raise, and he is
become my salvation. You shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour's
fountains: and you shall say in that day: Praise ye the Lord, and
call upon his name: make his works known among tie people: remember
that his name is high. Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath done great
things: show this forth in all the earth. Rejoice, and praise, O
thou habitation of Sion: for great is he that is in the midst of
thee, the Holy One of Israel.
This lesson is a hymn of praise for the deliverance of the Jews
from the hands of their enemies, and at the same time a prophecy
of the coming redemption of mankind from sin and death through Christ.
Man will then draw waters with joy, says the prophet, from the Saviour's
fountains. These fountains are the graces which Jesus has gained
for us on the cross, but especially, as St: Augustine says, the
holy Sacraments of Baptism and Communion. We should rejoice on account
of these graces, particularly that the Holy One of Israel, Christ,
the Son of God, dwells in the midst of Sion, that is, in the Catholic
Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, to remain there to the end of
the world. - Oh! let us often approach this everflowing fountain
of all grace, the holy Eucharist, and let us draw with confidences
consolation, help, and strength from this fountain of love.
(John XIX. 31-35.) At that time, The Jews (because it was the parasceve),
that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath-day
(for that was a great. sabbath-day), besought Pilate that their
legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers,
therefore, came, and they broke the legs of the first, and of the
other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus,
when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately
there came out blood and water. And he that saw it hath given testimony:
and his testimony is true.
According to the Jewish law a criminal could not be put to death,
nor could the body of one who had been executed, remain in the place
of execution, on the Sabbath day; it was for this reason that the
Jews asked Pilate, the governor, to have the Body of Christ and
those of the two thieves buried. Before this could be done, the
bones of the crucified, according to the Roman law, had to be broken
with iron clubs. The soldiers did so to the two thieves, who were
yet alive; when they came to Jesus and found Him dead, they did
not break His bones, but one of them, Longinus, opened the Saviour's
side with a spear, as was foretold by the prophet.
His most Sacred Heart to be opened to atone for and efface those
sins of men which originate in the heart, as Christ Himself says:
(Matt. XV. 19.) From the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders,
adulteries, fornications, thefts; false testimonies, blasphemies;
also to show us the infinite love with which He has loved lts from
the beginning, so that lie even shed the last drop of His heart's
blood for our salvation; to make, as it were, a place of refuge
in His heart for us, as St. Augustine says: "The Evangelist
is very careful in his expression; he does not say, the soldiers
pierced or wounded His side, but he o p e n e d it, as if to open
for us the door of life, from which flow the Sacraments of the Church,
without which there can be no access to the true life." As
often, then, as a temptation arises, or trouble depresses us, let
us take refuge in that abode, and dwell there, until the tempest
is over; as says the prophet; (Is. II. 10.) Enter thou into the
rock, and hide thee in the pit. Who is the rock but Christ, and
what is the pit but His wound?
ACT OF RESIGNATION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
indulgence of one hundred Days is gained by saying this prayer with
true contrition, before a picture of the sacred heart of Jesus,
and a plenary indulgence by saying it every day for a month, and
receiving the Sacraments of Penance and Communion, and Praying for
Jesus, most worthy of love! I gratefully offer
Thee my heart in compensation for my great unfaithfulness,
and consecrate myself wholly and forever to
Thy service, purposing, with Thy grace, no more to
offend Thee. Amen