According to the Popes of the last 100 years, there is no devotion more important to the life of the church than devotion to the Heart of Jesus.
The Heart is the symbol of human love. This Catholic devotion honors the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, through which was manifested to us God’s eternal love for everyone. “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), and so in honoring the human expression of that Love, especially on the Cross, we honor Its Divine Source.
St. John Paul II said, “The Sacred Heart has given us everything — redemption, salvation, sanctification.”
The Sacred Heart is the actual heart of Christ and also indicates His love for humanity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins.” (CCC 2669)
In other words, Jesus’ Heart needs consolation because he loves us so much, that He suffers when that love is ignored, rejected or forgotten. So, He came to us through a simple nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a member of the French Visitation sisters, and He asked for devotion to His Sacred Heart. This devotion would console His Sacred heart because it would mean Catholics are saying, ‘I love You, Jesus, and I know You are merciful, a God of love and mercy, not a God of fury and strict merciless justice. Let me have mercy on You too!”
The foundation for the Sacred Heart devotion began in early Christianity. Sacred Scripture, particularly the New Testament, mentions the love of God many times, and the Church Fathers discuss God’s love as well.
In the eleventh century, Christians often meditated on the Five Wounds of Jesus, and the specific devotion to the Sacred Heart came from this meditation.
In 1675, Jesus told St. Margaret that He wanted an annual feast in honor of His Sacred Heart. Jesus especially asked that all people go to Confession and receive Holy Communion often, especially on the First Friday of each month, and that reparation be made for sins committed against His Sacred Heart and the Holy Eucharist. He requested that the Church observe the feast day specifically for the purpose of this reparation. In 1856, Blessed Pope Pius IX designated that the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be celebrated universally on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave each year.
St. John Paul II, a great devotee of the Sacred Heart, said, “This feast reminds us of the mystery of the love of God for the people of all times.”
In 2022, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 24.
This great feast in the Church is always celebrated on the octave day of Corpus Christi, the feast which celebrates the Body and Blood of Christ. Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (which itself falls on the Sunday after Pentecost), which means the feast of the Sacred Heart falls nineteen days after Pentecost Sunday. The following day is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so these two devotions to the hearts of Jesus and Mary are side-by-side on the liturgical calendar.
You can have a devotion to the Sacred Heart by doing as Our Lord asked, by receiving Holy Communion frequently (especially on the first Friday of each month), monthly confession, veneration of an image of His Sacred Heart, and prayers and sacrifices offered out of love for Him and for the conversion of sinners.
Jesus also gave us, through St. Margaret Mary, special promises for those who keep a loving devotion to the attribute of His infinite love for mankind as represented in His Most Sacred Heart.
Novena Prayer to the Sacred Heart-To be prayed on 9 consecutive days
Divine Jesus, You have said, “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” Behold me kneeling at Your feet, filled with a lively faith and confidence in the promises dictated by Your Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary. I come to ask this favor: (Mention your request).
To whom can I turn if not to You, Whose Heart is the source of all graces and merits? Where should I seek if not in the treasure which contains all the riches of Your kindness and mercy? Where should I knock if not at the door through which God gives Himself to us and through which we go to God? I have recourse to You, Heart of Jesus. In You I find consolation when afflicted, protection when persecuted, strength when burdened with trials, and light in doubt and darkness.
Dear Jesus, I firmly believe that You can grant me the grace I implore, even though it should require a miracle. You have only to will it and my prayer will be granted. I admit that I am most unworthy of Your favors, but this is not a reason for me to be discouraged. You are the God of mercy, and You will not refuse a contrite heart. Cast upon me a look of mercy, I beg of You, and Your kind Heart will find in my miseries and weakness a reason for granting my prayer.
Sacred Heart, whatever may be Your decision with regard to my request, I will never stop adoring, loving, praising, and serving You. My Jesus, be pleased to accept this my act of perfect resignation to the decrees of Your adorable Heart, which I sincerely desire may be fulfilled in and by me and all Your creatures forever.
Grant me the grace for which I humbly implore You through the Immaculate Heart of Your most sorrowful Mother. You entrusted me to her as her child, and her prayers are all-powerful with You.
“In the Sacred Heart every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In that Divine Heart beats God’s infinite love for everyone, for each one of us individually.” – St. John Paul II