Tag Archives: Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Sacred Heart of Jesus: What does the Church teach?

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.

Sacred Heart8.jpg

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
following:

  • personal consecration, described by Pius XI as “undoubtedly the principal devotional practice used in relation to the Sacred Heart”;
  • family consecration to the Sacred Heart, in which the family, by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony already participating in the mystery of the unity and love of Christ for the Church, is dedicated to Christ so that he might
    reign in the hearts of all its members;
  • the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, approved for the whole Church in 1891, which is evidently biblical in
    character and to which many indulgences have been attached;
  • the act of reparation, a prayer with which the faithful, mindful of the infinite goodness of Christ, implore mercy for the offences committed in so many ways against his Sacred Heart;
  • the pious practice of the first Fridays of the month which derives from the “great promises” made by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.

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).

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart7.jpgFor 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.

Biblically and spiritually we understand the heart to symbolize the center of one’s being, love, mercy, faithfulness, tenderness, compassion and other affective emotions. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy tells us that “Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term “Sacred Heart of Jesus” denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and sanctification of mankind. The “Sacred Heart” is Christ, the Word Incarnate, Saviour, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his brothers” (166).
Those who are familiar with the practice of dedicating each day to the Lord, do so through the Sacred Heart title of Jesus in the prayer commonly known as the Morning Offering. You can also use this prayer, too:
All for Thee, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come!
Let me recommend something: enroll in the ministry of the Apostleship of Prayer, which is dedicated to prayer for the Church, particularly the Pope through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sacred Heart of Jesus signals love and mercy in the cross

Sacred Heart of Jesus icon.jpgThe 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.”

This devotion to the Lord’s Sacred Heart is guided the example of Saints Gertrude and Margaret Mary Alacoque (consider the 12 promises made to Saint Margaret Mary), and of course the example of the recently beatified Blessed Bernard de Hoyos.

Join me in praying the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus today for these intentions: conversion of souls, priests & seminarians, those to be ordained priests and the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for May.

Bernardo de Hoyos beatified

Today, in Valladolid, Spain, Father Bernardo de Hoyos (1711-1735) was beatified. I previously mentioned Father de Hoyos on this blog. Here is a précis of Father Adolfo Nicolás’ letter to the Jesuits. The full text of the letter can be read here Bernard de Hoyos letter.pdf

Bernardo de Hoyos beatification poster.jpg

“He is considered the first apostle of the Sacred Heart in Spain. To recapture who he was and what he contributed, I offer some biographical information that should be understood in the religious and cultural context of the 18th century.” Thus begins Nicolás’ for this occasion. More than a century ago, in 1895, the cause for Father De Hoyos was introduced; due to many ecclesiastical vicissitudes and the political history of Spain, it was repeatedly postponed. Father Nicolás, in his letter, traces the major events in the very short life of the newly beatified who died on the 29th of November 1735 at the age of 24. Near to the time of his death, de Hoyos was ordained a priest and in Tertianship.

“His reputation for holiness,” the letter continues. “spread immediately after his death.  However, because of the difficult situation in which the Society found itself opposed by the Jansenists, the cause for beatification was not introduced at that time.  Later the suppression of the Society would leave many projects unfinished. When the Society was restored in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart emerged in the whole Church. In accord with the religious sensibilities of the time, the reborn Society dedicated itself to the spread and propagation of this devotion with significant results.” The letter outlines the steps of this recovery of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, beginning with Jesuits’ General Congregation 31st  in 1965, through the generalate of Father Pedro Arrupe and then with generalate of Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach.

Then Father Nicolás goes on: “Bernardo de Hoyos’s passion for the Heart of Jesus faithfully corresponds to the devotion that Saint Ignatius felt for Jesus poor and humble, before whom he asks that our affections be moved in order to accompany Him in each step of His life: As companions with him on mission, his way is our way (GC35, D.2, nº 14), so that in what we do in the world there must always be a transparency to God (GC35, D. 2, nº 10). On the occasion of this beatification, I invite the whole Society, together with our collaborators, to renew our personal love of Jesus Christ and to open ourselves to the grace of identifying ourselves with Him, so that in Nadal’s words, we might understand with His understanding; will with His will; remember with His memory; and that our entire being, living, and doing be not centered in us, but in Christ (MHSI vol 90. p.122; GC35, D. 2, nº14), as the  cornerstone of the particular vocation to which each of us has been called.”

Father Nicolás concludes his letter: “May the Father who has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and has revealed them to the childlike (Mt 11, 25) through the intercession of Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos, grant the Society the grace of accomplishing its mission of being in the Church a loving response to Him who was pierced by the pain and the aggressive injustice of a world in need of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
May Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos show us the way to the Heart of Jesus!

Father Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos: a forthcoming beatification

Bl Bernardo de Hoyos.jpgA young Spanish Jesuit priest, Father Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos (1711-1735), will be beatified on April 18, 2010, in Valladolid, Spain. Why is he important to us? Well, he’ll be counted among the saints and blesseds who spread the devotion to the Sacred of Heart of Jesus and the Lord’s desire to give bountiful graces. De Hoyos’ heavenly companionship will be with the likes of Saints Gertrude and Mechtild, Saints Theresa of Jesus (Avila) and John Eudes, Saints Margaret Mary Alacoque and Claude La Colombiere, and Saint Faustina.

Father de Hoyos was commissioned by the Lord Himself to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart in Spain on May 4, 1733. He can infer that the Lord wants the devotion to His Sacred Heart spread throughout the world.

H2O news ran a video clip about some forthcoming projects regarding the young blessed and the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. See see this website.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory