Devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Heart as Representing the Emotional and Moral Life of a Person
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a development of devotion to the Sacred Humanity of Jesus. The Church has always defended Jesus’ humanity as being adorable because the human nature of Our Lord forms one Person with His divine nature. And that Person is divine. We especially focus our attention on the Heart of Jesus because His Heart powerfully symbolizes His infinite love.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart began in the Middle Ages. But it was in the seventeenth century, through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Visitation nun, who had visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that the devotion became widely popular. Our Lord indicated to Margaret Mary that He greatly desires for us to respond to His love for us by honoring His Sacred Heart, especially by exposing images of it in our churches and homes. Through Margaret Mary He gave twelve promises to those who practice and promote devotion to His Sacred Heart. You should look them up for yourself some time, if you haven’t done so already.
Consoling the Heart of Jesus
Our Blessed Lord further told Margaret Mary that He desires for us to make reparation to Him for the many sins committed against Him.
It is a wonderful truth that we can actually console the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, which is wounded by the offenses of so many. We actually do mitigate the suffering of Christ and console Him in His Passion by our prayers, sacrifices, and acts of reparation. We can console a grieving or suffering friend by our words and acts of kindness. Likewise, Jesus in His Passion, who was able to see into the future, saw our prayers of consolation and our acts of reparation. These consoled His Sacred Heart. This is not just pious sentimentality or pious conjecture. It is the official teaching of the Church. It was enunciated in a great encyclical letter on reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Pius XI. The Latin name of the encyclical is Miserentisimus Redemptor; it was published in 1928. This teaching was affirmed by subsequent Popes. It follows then that it is a teaching of the ordinary magisterium of the Church that we can and should seek to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It is amazing to realize that Our Blessed Lord puts Himself in our power. It is within our power to hurt Him, disappoint Him, and make Him feel betrayed; and, on the other hand, to give Him joy and consolation. We can do that as much as those who lived with Him here on earth two thousand years ago because of His foreknowledge and the vulnerability and sensitivity of His Sacred Heart. We should call this to mind whenever we are tempted to sin.
Our Blessed Lord is divine and so has an infinite capacity for love. The sins of each one of us are to Him like the betrayal of a best friend. And the prayers of each one of us are to Him like the consoling words of a best friend.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was raised to the level of a liturgical feast by Pope Clement XIII in 1765. We celebrate it as a solemnity on the Friday of the second week after Pentecost. We also devote Fridays to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, especially First Fridays. And the whole month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. So we can see how important devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is in the life of the Church.
Enthronement of an Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Home
One of the twelve promises given by Our Blessed Lord to St. Margaret Mary is this: “I will bless the homes in which the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.” St. Margaret Mary said of this promise: “He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing it special honor, He would pour forth His blessings and graces.” She continues: “This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion.” This promise has inspired the practice of enthroning an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home. By enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their home a family publicly and solemnly acknowledges that Christ is the King and loving Master of their home. There is a beautiful ceremony that accompanies it. The ceremony is the beginning of a new life in the home; a life of love, of loving obedience to the commandments of God and the Church; a life of prayer, especially the family Rosary and family prayers before the image of the Sacred Heart; a life of reparation for the sins of the world. You can find details about enthronement at the web site of The Sacred Heart Apostolate. The web address is: www.sacredheartapostolate.com. The apostolate provides directions and materials for enthronement.
Relation of Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Eucharistic Adoration
Now a few words about the relationship of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Eucharistic adoration: The Eucharist is the greatest expression of Our Lord’s love for us because it is the complete gift of Himself, Body Blood, Soul and Divinity. That is why the Eucharist is called the Sacrament of Love. The Eucharist is Jesus and Jesus is God, and, St. John tells us, “God is love.” Therefore the Eucharist is Love, Love Himself, Love in Person. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love. It signifies love. It produces love.” Although we do not perceive it with our senses, the Eucharist is very much alive. Our Lord’s Sacred Heart beats there. So in worshipping the Blessed Sacrament we are acknowledging, in the very presence of His Beating Heart, our appreciation of His infinite love for us. A wonderful practice for families, a practice that will immune them from the destructive forces at work in today’s world, is to commit themselves as a family to a Eucharistic holy hour of adoration each week.
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Let us now move on to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Devotion to the Heart of Mary is founded in the Gospel. Two times in his Gospel St. Luke makes reference to the Loving Heart of Mary. After relating the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, He says: “Mary kept in mind all these things, pondering them in her heart.” And, after relating the story about Mary and Joseph finding the boy Jesus in the Temple with the teachers Luke says: “His mother kept all these things carefully in her heart.”
Devotion to the Heart of Mary goes back a long way in the history of the Church, at least to the Middle Ages if not further. Many saints showed a special devotion to the Heart of Mary. Among them were the medieval saints St. Anselm, St. Bernard, St. Gertrude the Great and St. Bridget of Sweden. The fifteenth century Franciscan priest, St. Bernadine of Siena most effectively promoted the devotion, earning the title “Doctor of the Heart of Mary.” He saw in Mary’s heart, as it were, seven burning furnaces that gave rise to seven flames which are the seven acts of love expressed in the seven “words” uttered by Our Lady in the Gospels. These seven “words” are seven utterances that allow us to see into the heart of Mary: The first is “How can this be since I do not know man.” These words affirmed her intention to be forever a virgin; they show us a chaste heart. The second is: “I am the servant of the Lord.” These words show us her commitment to serve God with a zealous heart. The third is: “Let it be done to me as you say.” This response to the Archangel Gabriel shows a heart totally open to God’s will. The fourth is: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” These words are rays of gladness from her joyful heart, a happy heart filled with love for the Lord. The fifth is: “Son, why have you done this to us? You see that your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow.” This utterance shows the tender love of her motherly heart. The sixth is: “They have no more wine.” This observation displays her care and concern for others, her charitable heart. The seventh is: “Do whatever he tells you.” This directive shows the unwavering faith in Jesus that filled her heart. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary continued to grow down through the centuries. In 1805 Pope Pius VII established a feast in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as an optional memorial, the Saturday immediately following the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
By celebrating both feasts back-to-back she shows the intimate connection between these two devotions. Devotion to the Two Hearts highlights the fact that Mary cooperated with Jesus in a unique way in His work of Redemption. When His parents presented the infant Jesus in the Temple, the pious old man Simeon prophesied that Mary would share in the salvific sufferings of her Son. Simeon said to Mary: “Your own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Notice again the use of the word heart. Simeon did not say that the thoughts of many minds may be revealed, but the thoughts of many hearts. For it is in the heart where one’s treasure lies. Because of the purity of her Immaculate Heart, God gave Mary the gift of being able to read our hearts and see what we treasure most. She reads our hearts in the light of the Sacred Heart of her Son.
Devotion to the Two Hearts again goes back to the Middle Ages. St. Bonaventure, a thirteenth–century Franciscan priest and a Doctor of the Church, refers both to the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary in a number of writings. But it was the seventeenth–century priest St. John Eudes who is the founder of the modern public devotion to the Two Hearts. He organized the scriptural, theological, patristic and liturgical sources relating to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary to make them available to the faithful. He thus popularized devotion to the Two Hearts, with the approval of the Church. During the French Revolution, a French priest and a French lay woman, knowing that they risked the guillotine for doing so, established the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary with the mission to spread the message of God’s love through devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and through adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Damien of Molokai was a member of that order.
The famous apparitions to the Virgin Mary to the children of Fatima in Portugal took place during the First World War, in the summer of 1917. They were preceded in the middle of 1916 by several apparitions of an angel. In an apparition during the spring of 1916 the angel said to the children: “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” In an apparition during the summer of 1916 the angel said: “The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you.” And in the autumn of 1916 the angel taught them a prayer to the Blessed Trinity that included offering the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in the Most Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference that offend His Sacred Heart. That prayer also included this petition: “By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.” Thus we see that the theme of the Hearts and Jesus and Mary is an important part of the Fatima message.
The popes of the twentieth century have followed up on this theme. They have publically encouraged joint devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In the 1956 encyclical Haurietis aquas, Pope Pius XII encouraged joint devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. And in his 1979 encyclical Redemptoris hominus, St. John Paul II explained the theme of the unity of Mary’s Immaculate Heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And at an Angelus address in 1985, St. John Paul II coined the term “Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.”
In summary then: Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are linked historically, theologically and spiritually. The object of devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are their physical hearts. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is viewed as the source of God’s boundless love and charity. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is viewed as the source of her burning love for God and compassion for men. Let us honor them together in celebration of God’s love.
APEA Activity in 2014
In 2014 the Apostolate for Perpetual
Eucharistic Adoration helped start or maintain perpetual or
daily Eucharistic adoration at the following parishes:
Blessed Sacrament, Scottsdale, AZ; St. Gabriel the Archangel / St. Joseph / St. John, Hopkins, MN; St. Cecilia, Solvay, NY; St. Agnes, Sellersville, PA; St. Cecilia, Hastings, NE; St. Mary, Kingston, NY; Our Lady of Peace, Lakeland, NY; Sacred Heart, Royersford, PA; Sacred Heart of Jesus, Winchester, VA; St. Lucy, Newark, NJ; St. Matthew, Virginia Beach, VA; St. John, Westminster, MD; Prince of Peace, Olathe, KS; St. Mary Mother of God, Middletown, NJ; St. Mark, St. Paul, MN; Corpus Christi, Chambersburg, PA; St. Anne, Gilbert, AZ.
Four Things to Say to Jesus
Be sure to say the following little prayers as you go about your daily duties. They help keep your heart and mind continually lifted up to God. They can also be used to help structure your Eucharistic Holy Hours.
I love you. Jesus never tires of hearing you tell Him that you love Him, just as a young man never tires of hearing his fiancé say that she loves him. The language of love is the language of repetition, as the British author Wilkie Collins wrote in one of his novels.
I'm sorry. By continually telling Jesus that you are sorry for your sins, you will help heal the wounds that they have afflicted on His Sacred Heart and help repair the bad effects they have caused on the world and on yourself.
Thank you. We tend to take our blessings for granted, We consider the good things we have as givens rather than gifts. Continually thanking Jesus helps overcome that tendency. It is also a good practice, especially during Eucharistic adoration, to count your blessings by composing a litany of things you have to be thankful for.
Please. God knows our needs even before we ask Him, yet He wants us to present them to Him with humble childlike confidence. Archbishop Fulton Sheen pointed out that when we pray we receive blessings that we would otherwise not receive. He said that there are millions and millions of favors hanging from heaven by silken cords. And prayer is the sword that cuts the cords and releases the favors. You should be persistent in prayer like the blind beggar Bartimeus. But your prayers should not be all “gimme this” and “gimme that.” That will make you a bore to Our Lord.
You probably recognize these as the four kinds of prayer you learned about in catechism class: Prayer of Adoration; Prayer of Contrition; Prayer of Thanksgiving; and Prayer of Supplication (ACTS). These four simple little sentences come from a teaching sister who used them to help her young pupils remember the four kinds of prayer. They were easier for them to remember than the big words represented by ACTS.
Missionary Priests of the Blessed Sacrament
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Tel: 215.244.9211 Fax: 215.244.9211