Christians are consecrated, that is, set apart from other things or ways of life for God –the Father, Son and Holy Spirit– through the sacraments of Initiation. Our entire life as a Christian is based on our reception of and living out of our Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.
As with any act of consecration we make a personal commitment to be in relationship with the Lord; it is begging the Lord to reign in our heart; the act of consecration means putting the ego aside in order to enter into personal relationship with Christ. Coming to Christ is coming to our eternal destiny.
Making the consecration takes me to infinite love of Jesus.
At a sacramental level we concretely re-consecrate ourselves to the Lord each time we worthily receive Holy Communion and by making a good confession. One way of keeping this reality in front of us is by attending to making the first Friday devotions.
Before the image of the Sacred Heart, make the consecration to the Sacred Heart given by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to You I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying You. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to You, and to do all for Your love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease You.
I take You, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be You O merciful Heart, my justification before God Your Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice but placing my entire confidence in You, O Heart of Love. I hope from Your infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist You. Imprint Your pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget You or be separated from You.
I beseech You, through Your infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Your Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of Your devoted servants. Amen.
It bears reading and knowing what the Church advocates with regard to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Why? Because we are meant to be in relationship with God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We live in relation (communio) to Jesus –as Savior, brother, Redeemer, lover– through whom we see the face of God. In The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy tells us:
The Roman Pontiffs have frequently averted to the scriptural basis of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Jesus, who is one with the Father (cf. John 10, 30), invites his disciples to live in close communion with him, to model their lives
on him and on his teaching. He, in turn, reveals himself as “meek and
humble of heart” (Mt 11, 29). It can be said that, in a certain sense,
devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a cultic form of the prophetic and evangelic gaze of all Christians on him who was pierced (cf. John 19, 37; Zac 12, 10), the gaze of all Christians on the side of Christ, transfixed by a lance, and from which flowed blood and water (cf. John 19, 34), symbols of the “wondrous sacrament of the Church.”
The Gospel of St. John recounts the showing of the Lord’s hands and his side to the disciples (cf. John 20: 20), and of his invitation to Thomas to put his hand into his side (cf. John 20: 27). This event has also had a notable influence on the origin and development of the Church’s devotion to the Sacred Heart.
These and other texts present Christ as the paschal Lamb, victorious and slain (cf. Apoc 5,6). They were objects of much reflection by the Fathers who unveiled their doctrinal richness. They invited the faithful to penetrate the mysteries of Christ by contemplating the wound opened in his side. Augustine writes: “Access is possible: Christ is the door. It was opened for you when his side was opened by the lance. Remember what flowed out from his side: thus, choose where you want to enter Christ. From the side of Christ as he hung dying upon the Cross there flowed out blood and water, when it was pierced by a lance. Your purification
is in that water, your redemption is in that blood” (ed. emphasis).
Devotion to the Sacred Heart was particularly strong during the middle ages. Many renowned for the learning and holiness developed and encouraged the devotion, among them St. Bernard (+1153), St. Bonaventure (+ 1274), the mystic St. Lutgarda (+1246), St Mathilda of Marburg (+ 1282), the sainted sisters Mathilda (+ 1299) and Gertrude (+ 1302) of the monastery of Helfta, and Ludolf of Saxony (+1380). These perceived in the Sacred Heart a “refuge” in which to recover, the seat of mercy, the encounter with him who is the source of the Lord’s infinite love, the fount from which flows the Holy Spirit, the promised land, and true paradise.
In the modern period devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus underwent new developments. At a time when Jansenism proclaimed the rigours of divine justice, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus served as a useful antidote and aroused in the faithful a love for Our Lord and a trust in his infinite mercy symbolized by his Heart. St. Francis de Sales (+ 1622) adopted humility, gentleness (cf. Mt 11, 29) and tender loving mercy, all aspects of the Sacred Heart, as a model for his life and apostolate. The Lord frequently manifested the abundant mercy of his Heart to St. Margaret Mary (+ 1690); St. John Eudes (+ 1680) promoted the liturgical cult of the Sacred Heart, while St. Claude la Colombière (+ 1682) and St. John Bosco (+ 1888) and other saints
were avid promoters of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are numerous. Some have been explicitly approved and frequently recommended by the Apostolic See. Among these, mention should be made of the
At a time when sacramental communion was very rare among the faithful, the first Friday devotion contributed significantly to a renewed use of the Sacraments of Penance and of the Holy Eucharist. In our own times, the devotion to the first Fridays, even if practised correctly, may not always lead to the desired spiritual fruits. Hence, the faithful require constant instruction so
that any reduction of the practice to mere credulity, is avoided and an active faith encouraged so that the faithful may undertake their commitment to the Gospel correctly in their lives. They should also be reminded of the absolute preeminence of Sunday, the “primordial feast”, which should be marked by the full participation of the faithful at the celebration of the Holy Mass.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a wonderful historical expression of the Church’s piety for Christ, her Spouse and Lord: it calls for a fundamental attitude of conversion and reparation, of love and gratitude, apostolic commitment and dedication to Christ and his saving work. For these reasons, the devotion is recommended and its renewal encouraged by the Holy See and by the
Bishops. Such renewal touches on the devotion’s linguistic and iconographic expressions; on consciousness of its biblical origins and its connection with the great mysteries of the faith; on affirming the primacy of the love of God and neighbour as the essential content of the devotion itself.
Popular piety tends to associate a devotion with its iconographic expression. This is a normal and positive phenomenon. Inconveniences can sometimes arise: iconographic expressions that no longer respond to the artistic taste of the people can sometimes lead to a diminished appreciation of the devotion’s object, independently of its theological basis and its historico-salvific content.
This can sometimes arise with devotion to the Sacred Heart: perhaps certain over sentimental images which are incapable of giving expression to the devotion’s robust theological content or which do not encourage the faithful to approach the mystery of the Sacred Heart of our Saviour.
Recent time have seen the development of images representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the moment of crucifixion which is the highest expression of the love of Christ. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified, his side pierced by the lance, with blood and
water flowing from it (cf, John 19, 34). (167-173).
For a long time the Church has dedicated the month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The designation of the solemn feast of the Sacred Heart is on the Friday following the feast of Corpus Christi. This year the Sacred Heart feast is celebrated on June 11.
The first Friday devotion is prayed today. It is customary for Catholics to come closer to the heart of Jesus at all times, but they are particularly mindful of this need for intimacy with the Lord on the first Friday of each month. It is, I believe, as Pope Benedict said at Yankee Stadium in 2008, in the Lord we have “infinite love, infinite freedom and infinite life.”