Tag Archives: St Margaret Mary Alacoque

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

sacre-coeurTwo of my friends, one from France and another from the Swiss Cantons, hadn’t heard of the reasons for the devotion to Sacred Heart or of the persons of Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Claude. Even the image of the Sacred Heart was puzzling to them. Both of these people are young, and one is a convert. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that today’s feast is one of the most theologically profound of the year. The Preface for the Mass (Novus Ordo) reads:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give You thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. Lifted high on the cross, Christ gave His life for us, so much did He love us. From His wounded side flowed blood and water, the fountain of sacramental life in the Church. To His open heart the Saviour invites all men to draw water in joy from the springs of salvation.

The Preface for the 1962 Missal reads:

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should in all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, and everlasting God; who didst will that Thine only begotten Son should be pierced by the soldier’s lance as He hung upon the Cross: that from His opened heart, as from a sanctuary of divine bounty, might be poured out upon us streams of mercy and grace; and that in His heart always burning with love for us, the devout may find a haven of rest, and the penitent a refuge of salvation.

Our theology of the Heart of Jesus revealed in this one phrase: “Unus militum lancea latus eius aperuit, et continuo exivit sanguis at aqua.” And we know from St. Justin Martyr (d. 165) that “We the Christians are the true Israel which springs from Christ, for we are carved out of His heart as from a rock.”

Ultimately, what the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart teaches us that we have been given the grace that we should not let the enemies of true religion set the agenda of life. So often the image of the divine secularists point to is an abstract god who has no relation to humanity in any way. The Christian’s response is that we believe in a God who is love, revealed in the Incarnate Son, Jesus. For the French there is the reminder of  the Vendée and for the Mexicans there are the Cristeros…indeed, we have the Lord.

What follows is a anthology for the feast:

The Sacred Heart is shown wounded, encircled by a crown of thorns, surmounted by a Cross, and aflame with love for mankind. This symbol springs from the vision of the Sacred Heart had by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

“There is in the Sacred Heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return.” — Pope Leo XIII

The heart has always been seen as the “center” or essence a person (“the heart of the matter,” “you are my heart,” “take it to heart,” etc.) and the wellspring of our emotional lives and love (“you break my heart,” “my heart sings,” etc.) Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to Jesus Christ Himself, but in the particular ways of meditating on his interior life and on His threefold love — His divine love, His burning love that fed His human will, and His sensible love that affects His interior life. Pope Pius XII of blessed memory writes on this topic in his 1956 encyclical, Haurietis Aquas (On Devotion To The Sacred Heart).Below are a few excerpts which help explain the devotion:

54. …the Heart of the Incarnate Word is deservedly and rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that threefold love with which the divine Redeemer unceasingly loves His eternal Father and all mankind.

55. It is a symbol of that divine love which He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit but which He, the Word made flesh, alone manifests through a weak and perishable body, since “in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

56. It is, besides, the symbol of that burning love which, infused into His soul, enriches the human will of Christ and enlightens and governs its acts by the most perfect knowledge derived both from the beatific vision and that which is directly infused.

57. And finally — and this in a more natural and direct way — it is the symbol also of sensible love, since the body of Jesus Christ, formed by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, possesses full powers of feelings and perception, in fact, more so than any other human body.

58. Since, therefore, Sacred Scripture and the official teaching of the Catholic faith instruct us that all things find their complete harmony and order in the most holy soul of Jesus Christ, and that He has manifestly directed His threefold love for the securing of our redemption, it unquestionably follows that we can contemplate and honor the Heart of the divine Redeemer as a symbolic image of His love and a witness of our redemption and, at the same time, as a sort of mystical ladder by which we mount to the embrace of “God our Savior.”

59. Hence His words, actions, commands, miracles, and especially those works which manifest more clearly His love for us — such as the divine institution of the Eucharist, His most bitter sufferings and death, the loving gift of His holy Mother to us, the founding of the Church for us, and finally, the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and upon us — all these, We say, ought to be looked upon as proofs of His threefold love.

60. Likewise we ought to meditate most lovingly on the beating of His Sacred Heart by which He seemed, as it were, to measure the time of His sojourn on earth until that final moment when, as the Evangelists testify, “crying out with a loud voice ‘It is finished.’, and bowing His Head, He yielded up the ghost.”Then it was that His heart ceased to beat and His sensible love was interrupted until the time when, triumphing over death, He rose from the tomb.

61. But after His glorified body had been re-united to the soul of the divine Redeemer, conqueror of death, His most Sacred Heart never ceased, and never will cease, to beat with calm and imperturbable pulsations. Likewise, it will never cease to symbolize the threefold love with which He is bound to His heavenly Father and the entire human race, of which He has every claim to be the mystical Head.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart has two elements: consecration and reparation:

We consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart by acknowledging Him as Creator and Redeemer and as having full rights over us as King of Kings, by repenting, and by resolving to serve Him.

We make reparations for the indifference and ingratitude with which He is treated and for leaving Him abandoned by humanity.

To carry out these general goals of consecration and reparation, there are quite specific devotions authorized by the Church.

Specific Devotions

From the earliest days of the Church, “Christ’s open side and the mystery of blood and water were meditated upon, and the Church was beheld issuing from the side of Jesus, as Eve came forth from the side of Adam. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that we find the first unmistakable indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Through the wound in the side, the wounded Heart was gradually reached, and the wound in the Heart symbolized the wound of love.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

St. John Chrysostom (b. ca. 347) in his 85th Homily on the Gospel of St. John wrote:

For “there came forth water and blood.” Not without a purpose, or by chance, did those founts come forth, but because by means of these two together the Church consisteth. And the initiated know it, being by water indeed regenerate, and nourished by the Blood and the Flesh. Hence the Mysteries take their beginning; that when thou approachest to that awful cup, thou mayest so approach, as drinking from the very side.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s vision of the Sacred HeartThe waters of Baptism, and the Blood of the Eucharist, pouring forth from Christ’s side, brought the Church into existence just as Eve was formed from Adam’s side. And just as God took man and “breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul,” so at the Pentecost did the Holy Ghost come down over the Church and bring Her to life.

General devotion to the Sacred Heart, the birthplace of the Church and the font of Love, were popular in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries, especially in response to the devotion of the Benedictine St. Gertrude the Great (b. 1256), but specific devotions became even more popularized when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation nun, had a personal revelation involving a series of visions of Christ as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote, “He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart.” Christ emphasized to her His love — and His woundedness caused by Man’s indifference to this love.

He promised that, in response to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart:

He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

He will establish peace in their homes.

He will comfort them in all their afflictions.

He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.

He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.

Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and honored.

He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His Heart.

In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” — Matthew 11:29

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Today is the liturgical memorial of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. The Church proposes yet another fine example of love for our spiritual life. With the help of her confessor Saint Claude, Saint Margaret Mary sparked a renewal of dedicating Fridays to the Lord’s Crucifixion and a devotion to the Sacred Heart.

As we know, Jesus revealed to St Margaret Mary how deep and intense his love for the human race is. How shall we respond to his love?

A prayer of consecration to the Sacred Heart is found here.

This poetic text by J. Michael Thompson gives perspective to the relationship Saint Margaret Mary points to:

Both blood and water came flowing in streams
from the opened side of the Redeemer:
   blood, which bought back all creation;
   water, gushing forth to endless life!
Let the righteous hasten, let not the sinner be fearful;
the fountain of the Savior’s heart stands open endlessly:
   blood, which bought back all creation;
   water, gushing forth to endless life!
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
   blood, which bought back all creation;
   water, gushing forth to endless life!

Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Fridays are a great time to recommit oneself to the loving Heart of Jesus. It is our Catholic faith, and enduring tradition, to carry in our heart and mind that the reason for the Incarnation is the outpouring of Love by the Blessed Trinity for all humanity is real and beautiful. Several things to do: make an act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus once a month and pray the Daily Offering. The Apostleship of Prayer is a good Catholic work to follow  in this regard. Moreover, praying for the needs of the Church and the Holy Father is part-and-parcel of being united to the Heart of Christ (the intentions are posted here on the first day of the month) and consecrating the home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by enthroning the image of Christ in the home are fitting observances to build the Kingdom. You may also want to join the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I might add that reading Pope Benedict XVIs commemorative letter on the 50th anniversary of Haurietis Aquas is a good thing to do. The Servant of God Pope Pius XII wrote Haurietis Aquas, on the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Prayer of Consecration the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Sacred Heart contemporary icon.JPG

I, ….., give myself to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I consecrate to him my person and my life, my actions, pains, and sufferings, so that henceforth I shall be unwilling to make use of any part of my being except for the honor, love, and glory of the Sacred Heart.

My unchanging purpose is to be all his and to do all things for the love of him while renouncing with all my heart whatever is displeasing to him.

I take you, O Sacred Heart, as the only object of my love, the guardian of my life, the assurance of my salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for all my faults, and the sure refuge at my death. O Heart of goodness, be my justification before God the Father, and turn away from me the strokes of his righteous anger.

O Heart of love, I place all my trust In you, for I fear everything from my own wickedness and frailty, but I hope for all things from your goodness and bounty.

Consume in me all that can displease you or resist your holy Will. Let your pure love imprint you so deeply upon my heart that I shall nevermore be able to forget you or be separated from you. May I obtain from all your loving kindness the grace of having my name written in you, for I desire to place in you all my happiness and all my glory, living and dying in virtual bondage to you.

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of…… (here name your request)

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…….(here name your request)

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…..(here name your request)

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Pray the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

Memorare to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Remember, O Jesus meek and humble of Heart, that, in what need soever, no one, who had recourse to Thy most loving Heart, was ever rejected or sent away empty. Animated with such a confidence, O Jesus, I come to Thee: burdened with miseries, I fly to Thee, and, with my miseries, I throw myself on Thy Heart. Do not, O my God, my Father, cast off me, Thy all-unworthy child, but give me admittance, I beseech Thee, into Thy Heart; nor suffer me ever to be separated therefrom. Aid me, I entreat Thee, in all my wants, now and forever, but, above all, at the hour of my death, O most benign! O most compassionate! O most sweet Jesus!

Prayer to the Wounded Heart of Jesus Lanspergius, a Carthusian monk

O my Most Loving and Gentle Jesus, I desire with all the affections of my heart, that all beings should praise Thee, honor Thee and glorify Thee eternally for that sacred wound wherewith Thy divine side was rent. I deposit, enclose, conceal in that wound and in that opening in Thy Heart, my heart and all my feelings, thoughts, desires, intentions and all the faculties of my soul. I entreat Thee, by the precious Blood and Water that flowed from Thy Most Loving Heart, to take entire possession of me, that Thou may guide me in all things. Consume me in the burning fire of thy holy Love, so that I may be so absorbed and transformed into Thee that I may no longer be but one with Thee.  Amen.

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

The feast day of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque is a fitting reminder of our seeking the Heart of Jesus. What else is the Christian journey the seeking the Heart of Christ??? Or more precisely, allowing the Heart of Jesus to seek us. That He, the Lord, wants to be in a relationship with us personally and forever. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the famous nun of the Order of the Visitation of the 17th century, gives us a personal witness to the deep love Christ had for her, and she had for Him. I encourage you to spend a few moments in prayer with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is not a quaint devotion of a former time. Is it is as Mother Dolores Hart, OSB said, “love (faith) is an antagonism for life.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque3.jpg

Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains, and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart. This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all His, and to do all things for the love of Him, at the same time renouncing with all my heart whatever is displeasing to Him. I therefore take You, O Sacred heart, to be the only object of my love, the guardian of my life, my assurance of salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for all the faults of my life and my sure refuge at the hour of death.

Be then, O Heart of goodness, my justification before God the Father, and turn away from me the strokes of his righteous anger. O Heart of love, I put all my confidence in You, for I fear everything from my own wickedness and frailty, but I hope for all things from Your goodness and bounty.

Remove from me all that can displease You or resist Your holy will; let your pure love imprint Your image so deeply upon my heart, that I shall never be able to forget You or to be separated from You.

May I obtain from all Your loving kindness the grace of having my name written in Your Heart, for in You I desire to place all my happiness and glory, living and dying in bondage to You.

World Youth Day participants to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart

As Catholic grammar school student I was introduced to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the Nazareth sisters. Everyday we said a prayer to the Sacred Heart and we did the Litany to the Sacred Heart yearly in church. To me it was normal; the image of the heart outside the body was at first weird but in became indicative. Over time I realized that others had no idea of God’s unconditional love. My devotion to the Sacred Heart grew as time went on; my religious practice was helped by reading a bit of history and my friend Dom Ambrose who wrote his license thesis on St Gertrude’s teaching of the Sacred Heart.  Also, that first Friday devotion of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, like many, would relish in observing the First Friday with Mass, and hopefully confession if I could find a priest. The organizers of the World Youth Day captured part of Spanish religious and civil history by making a connection with proposing an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to all the participants. What a great idea!!! This is a yet another concrete way to be “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.” What follows is merely an interesting paragraph from the catechesis prepared for the WYD; you can read the preparatory Catechesis here. Today, and certainly during the WYD, make an offering of yourself to your Lord and Savior.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, King.jpgThis search of man’s heart ends when one discovers God’s Heart. On this topic, St. Augustine says: “You made us for yourself, Oh God, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”. The concern to which St. Augustine refers is the difficulty we all have in attaining true Love as a consequence of our condition of creatures; we are finite; moreover, we are sinners. Over and over again we run into the difficulty of our selfishness, the chaos of our passions, that throws away this true Love. Man’s heart “needs” a heart at his same level, a heart that can enter into his history, and, on the other hand, an “all-powerful” heart that can take him out of his limitations and sins. We can say that In Jesus Christ, God has met mankind and has loved us with a “human heart”. In the encounter of man’s heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the mystery of salvation becomes real. “In fact, from the infinite horizon of his love, God wished to enter into the limits of human history and the human condition. He took on a body and a heart. Thus, we can contemplate and encounter the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable Mystery in the human Heart of Jesus, the Nazarene” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 1/VI/2008)

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.
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