18 June 2009

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

19 JUNE 2009. Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, in adoration of the heart of Christ who loved us so much, freely giving us His heart for our salvation.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be traced to the 11th century. However, devotion to the Sacred Heart remained a private devotion, usually tied to the devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ, until the 16th century. The first celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart was reportedly celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France. While the devotion to the Sacred Heart spread from Rennes, it took St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, of the Order of the Visitation, for the devotion to become public and universal.

Christ himself was St. Margaret Mary's director and, appearing to her frequently, conversed with her. In all of these visions of Christ, the Sacred Heart played a central role. The “great apparition,” which occurred on June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the source of the contemporary Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. In that vision, Christ asked St. Margaret Mary to request that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be celebrated on the Friday after the octave (or eighth day) of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice that Christ had made for them. On that day, showing her His Sacred Heart, Christ said to St. Margaret Mary: "Behold this Heart, which, notwithstanding the burning love for man with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from the generality of Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude."

Devotion to the Sacred Heart became popular after St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690, but, because the Church initially doubted the validity of St. Margaret Mary’s visions, it was not until 1765 that the feast was celebrated officially in France. In 1856, the Feast of the Sacred Heart was instituted as a solemnity by Pope Pius IX.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents not simply His physical heart, but His love for all mankind. That heart of love burns for us, and is injured and insulted by our failure to follow His commands and love Him as we should. It was His Sacred Heart that was filled with love for us on the cross while his body was racked with pain. And it was His Sacred Heart that, as the most perfect offering for our benefit, poured forth water and blood when pierced by the lance on Calvary. His Sacred Heart, loving all of humanity without limit, must then receive our unfailing praise and honor.

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI speaking of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 2005 told us: “In biblical language, 'heart' indicates the center of the person where his sentiments and intentions dwell. In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore God's love for humanity, his will for universal salvation, his infinite mercy. Practicing devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 5.VI. 2005).

In His visits with St. Margaret Mary, Christ told her of the specific ways that He wanted the devotion to His Sacred Heart manifested through acts of consecration, reparation, and adoration. Those include:
  • frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially on the First Friday of the month;
  • the observance of a Holy Hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, especially on Thursdays (remembering the hour of agony He spent in the Garden, while His Apostles slept);
  • consecration of oneself (and family) to the Sacred Heart; and
  • enthronement of an image of the Sacred Heart in the home.
If it has grown weary or routine, or if you are just now learning of the Devotion the Sacred Heart, take up the Devotion with a renewal spirit. Consider his Sacred Heart, the very center of Himself which he offered for all of us. Endeavor, through the assistance of God's grace, to love Christ, as He loved us.

Today also marks the beginning of the Year for Priests called by Pope Benedict XVI.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart
by Saint Francis De Sales

May Thy Heart dwell always in our hearts!
May Thy Blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!
O sun of our hearts, Thou givest life to all things by the rays of Thy goodness!
I will not go until Thy Heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!
May the Heart of Jesus be the King of my heart!
Blessed be God.


No comments:

Post a Comment