SPECIAL DEVOTIONS

JESUS’ SACRED HEART

The month of June is dedicated in the Catholic calendar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose celebrated on the Friday of the third week after Pentecost (June 19, 2020) . The Sacred Heart image often depicted in art and sculpture as a wounded heart, sometimes encircled by a crown of thorns and radiating light to suggest the intense power of love that Christ holds for humanity.
The use of Jesus’ heart to symbolize his love for humanity is not found in the Bible but rather in the writings of some medieval mystics and later fostered by Jesuit priests and promoted by St. Francis de Sales.
Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a well-known Catholic devotion wherein the heart of Jesus is viewed as a symbol of God’s boundless, passionate and compassionate love for humanity.
The Sacred Heart also is sometimes depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light, or pierced by the lance-wound, or encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and sometimes bleeding. Sometimes, the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

Early devotion

Historically the devotion to the Sacred Heart is an outgrowth of what is believed to be Christ’s sacred humanity. During the first 10 centuries of Christianity, there is nothing to indicate that any worship was rendered to the wounded Heart of Jesus. The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Francis of Assisi in the 12 and 13 centuries, gave a rise to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ and particularly to practices in honor of his Sacred Wounds. (Note: Mount Carmel Church has stained glass windows of both of these St.s on its western side by the Sacred Heart altar where the tabernacle is found).
St. Bernard (d. 1153) said that the piercing of Christ’s side revealed his goodness and the charity of his heart for us. begins: “I hail Thee kingly Heart most high.”
From the 13 to the 16 centuries, the devotion was propagated but it did not seem to have been embellished. St Bonaventure championed devotion to the Sacred Heart writing: “Who is there who would not love this wounded heart? Who would not love in return Him, who loves so much?”

Christ Tenderly Holds Us — The Legend of St. Lutgarde

According to Thomas Merton, St. Lutgarde (d.1246), a Belgian Cistercian mystic, was one of the great precursors of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A contemporary of St. Francis, she “entered upon the mystical life with a vision of the pierced Heart of the Savior, and concluded her mystical espousals with the Incarnate Word by an exchange of hearts with Him.”
Sources say that Christ came in a visitation to Lutgarde, offering her whatever gift of grace she desired. She asked for a better grasp of Latin, so that she might better understand the word of God and sing God’s praise. Christ granted her request and Lutgarde’s mind was flooded with the riches of psalms, antiphons, readings, and responsories.
However, her painful emptiness persisted. She returned to Christ, asking to return his gift, and wondering if she might exchange it for another. “And for what would you exchange it?” Christ asked. “Lord,” said Lutgarde, “I would exchange it for your Heart.”
Christ then reached into Lutgarde and, removing her heart, replaced it with his own, at the same time hiding her heart within his breast.

Jesus’ Heart is Safety & Refuge — The Story of St. Mechtilde

St. Mechtilde of Helfta (d.1298) had many visions of Jesus’ heart. Mechtilde reported that Jesus appeared to her in a vision and gave her his heart as a pledge of his love, as a place of refuge during her life and as consolation at the hour of her death. From that moment, she had an extraordinary devotion for the Sacred Heart, and said that if she had to write down all the favors and all the blessings which she had received by means of this devotion, even a large book would not ever be able to contain them.

Jesus’ Beating Heart & St. Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude lived in the 13th century-a time when the Church was rich in scholars and mystics including St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, St. Clare, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis of Assisi among many others.
Born in Germany on the Feast of the Epiphany, as an orphan she was raised by Benedictine nuns and eventually became a professed nun. When she was 26 years old when she began to have visions of Jesus and his Sacred Heart. Through prayer, work, fasting and the revelations of Jesus, St. Gertrude became detached from everything that would hold her back from loving and being loved by Him. She died on Nov. 17, 1301 and left behind a great testament of love and devotion as well in several major writings about the great love of Jesus.
On the feast of St. John, St. Gertrude laid her head near the wound in the Savior’s side and heard the beating of the Divine Heart. She asked John if he had felt these pulsations on the night of the Last Supper and why he had never spoken of this experience. John replied that this “… revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages when the world, having grown cold, would have need of it to rekindle its love.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Sacred Heart Devotion

The most significant contributor to the devotion to the Sacred Heart as it is known today was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690), a nun of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who claimed to receive apparitions of Jesus Christ in small French village in Burgundy — the first on Dec. 27, 1673, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, and the final one 18 months later. This vision revealed to her the form of what we now understand as the traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – reception of Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration during a “Holy hour” on Thursdays, and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart in June. Sister Margaret Mary claimed that Jesus requested to be honored under the figure of his heart, also saying that, he had appeared to her radiant with love.

The World Consecrated to Jesus’ Sacred Heart — the Legacy of Sister Mary

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart (1863–1899), was the former countess of Droste zu Vischering before she became a nun. Her first vision of Jesus happened during her youth in the Castle of Darfeld, near Münster, Germany.
Her last vision was reported to her Mother Superior confessor at the Good Shepherd Monastery in Porto, Portugal. Sister Mary of the Divine Heart died in her monastery in Portugal when the Church was singing the first vespers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 8, 1899. The following day, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (He later called this “the great act” of his pontificate.
According to the writings of Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, Jesus made this promise: “Know this, My daughter, that by the charity of My Heart I desire to pour out floods of graces through your heart over the hearts of others.” The body of Blessed Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, entombed for public veneration in the Church-Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Ermesinde, was found incorrupt at its first exhumation.
Pope Pius X later decreed that the consecration of the human race performed by Leo XIII be renewed each year. Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Pius IX’s institution of the Feast, instructed the entire Latin Church at length on the devotion to the Sacred Heart in an encyclical letter dated May 15, 1956.
Fifty years later, on May 15, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) that reaffirmed the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our modern times.

Worship and devotion

Since 1850, many groups, congregations, and countries have consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart.
The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic ceremony in which a priest or head of a household consecrates the members of the household to the Sacred Heart. An image of the Sacred Heart is then placed in the home. The practice of the Enthronement is based upon Pius XII’s declaration that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is “the foundation on which to build the kingdom of God in the hearts of individuals, families, and nations.”
Sacred Heart is a name used for many Catholic institutions, including schools, colleges, and hospitals in many countries. It is also the name of many Catholic parishes, and religious orders.

Promises of the Sacred Heart

Margaret Mary Alacoque said that Jesus promised these blessings to those who practice devotion to his Sacred Heart:
  • To give all the graces necessary for their lives.
  • To have peace within their families.
  • To be consolation during times of trouble
  • To be refuge in life and in death.
  • To abundantly bless all undertakings.
  • To be a source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  • To bless places where the Sacred Heart image is exposed and venerated.
  • To empower priests to touch the most hardened hearts.
  • To have their names eternally written in his Heart.

Traditional Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Response: Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Spirit,
Heart of Jesus, united substantially to the Word of God.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts.
Heart of Jesus, in whom art all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.
Heart of Jesus, expiation for our offenses.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all St.s.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

(Catholic Online)

Franciscan Prayer to the Sacred Heart

O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing,
I adore you, I love you and will a lively sorrow for my sins.
I offer you this poor heart of mine.
Make me humble, patient, pure, and wholly obedient to your will.
Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you.
Protect me in the midst of danger; comfort me in my afflictions;
give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs,
your blessings on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death.
Within your heart I place my every care.
In every need let me come to you with humble trust saying,
Heart of Jesus, help me.
Amen.

Meditations on the Sacred Heart

Fire and Thorns: A Meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus
(Father John Bartunek)

Dr. Scott Hahn on the Sacred Heart & the Month of June

Father Bill Byrne speaks about the meaning of Jesus’ Sacred Heart

Music to accompany your prayer

“The Love of the Lord”
(Michael Joncas)

All that I counted as gain, now I consider as loss.
Empty and worthless to me, in the light of the love of the Lord.
Riches and honors will fade, earthly delight disappear.
Fade like the grass of the field, in the light of the love of the Lord.
What more could bring us hope than to know the power of his life?
What more could bring us peace than to share in his suffering and death?
What more could be our final wish than to live in the love of the Lord?
Silver and gold have I none, no land to count as my home.
Yet wealth beyond measure I own, in the light of the love of the Lord.
Faith is the wealth I possess, finding its source in my God.
Faith in the promise of Christ, is my life and my love of the Lord.
“The Love of the Lord”
(Instrumental piano w/ Jeanne Cotter)

“O Sacred Heart, O Love Divine”
(instrumental by Musician Friends of the Jesuits)

“To Jesus Heart All Burning”
(The Singing Nuns)

“O Cor Jesu”
Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart

“Cor Jesu Caritatis Victima”
(Gregorian Chant)

“Jesus My Lord My God My All”
(The Singing Nuns)

Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all!
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift,
So far surpassing hope or thought?
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.
Had I but Mary’s sinless heart
Had I but Mary’s sinless heart
To love thee with, my dearest King,
Oh, with what burst of fervent praise,
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!
Thy Body, Soul and Godhead, all!
O mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have,
For all Thou hast and art is mine!

Litany to the Sacred Heart during the time of pandemic

Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Spirit,
United substantially to the Word of God …
Inspire our care for each other.
Fill our children and youth with understanding,
Pregnant mothers with hope and vision,
Families with courage and gentleness.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Holy temple of God.
Tabernacle of the Most High.
House of God and gate of heaven …
Nourish our growth in faith
In this time of seclusion.
Dispel our discouragement and fear.
Strengthen our hope.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Vessel of justice and love.
Full of goodness and love.
Inspire all actions that further world peace
And that endeavor to end abuse, prejudice and judgment.
Make us seekers of truth
So that our world may be aglow with the fire of love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Most worthy of all praise.
King and center of all hearts …
In whom we find the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
In whom dwells all the fullness of God …
Inspire world leaders and decision makers
during this pandemic
To respect the common good,
To strengthen health and safety
To encourage understanding and trust.
Guide research, science and art to uncover healing
That will bring safety and freedom.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Of whose fullness we have all received.
Tenderly hold doctors, nurses and health care personnel.
Calm the fears of essential workers,
The worries of those burdened with job or business loss.
May we know the joy of your delight and faith in us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Patient and rich in mercy.
Rich to all who call upon Thee.
Bless our planet and every form of life.
Help us discover better ways to sustain all life,
To seek knowledge and unity in global concern
To bring balance to our needs
with those of all living creatures.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness,
Expiation for our offenses,
Overwhelmed with reproaches,
Bruised for our iniquities,
Obedient even unto death,
Pierced with a lance,
Source of all consolation …
Inspire our willingness to forgive.
Give us patience to endure suffering,
Optimism to see a new beginning,
Imagination to envision a better way.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
Our peace and reconciliation,
Victim for our sins,
Salvation of those who hope in You.
Hope of those who die in You
Delight of all …
Console our grieving.
Lovingly hold our beloved deceased in eternal peace.
Inflame our faith, our dreams and our living
With deep and abiding joy. Amen.