Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Millennia ago some ancients thought that the source of great emotion including love was the spleen. Thank God we have come to think otherwise. Can you imagine the bumper sticker, “I spleen N.Y.” St. Valentine’s Day cards would look significantly different. And in June we would sing about the “Sacred Spleen of Jesus.” Artistic representations of the Sacred Heart might look like the Chicago bean reported here Monday. Fortunately we have come to think otherwise.

Over the centuries we have come to venerate symbols of Christ’s body. His whole body is represented in our churches on crucifixes and in the Stations of the Cross. There have been artist depictions of His hands, His feet, His head, and His wounds. His heart has been a matter of particular devotion however because it so well symbolizes His great love for us both human and divine. As the source of all love He gave of everything He had to save us, even His body, which we see particularly in both His crucifixion and in the Eucharist in which He continues to give us His body.

A couple of days ago I was speaking with Dawn Eden (whom I spleen) and she suggested a post about devotion to the Sacred Heart for those who might not be quite familiar with it. Here is a quick rundown.

In the final blow to His body, the sword piercing Jesus’ side as He hung upon the cross is said to have entered the chambers of His heart and from there came the flow of water and blood, releasing to the world His pure and superabundant love. The water is the water of baptism which unites us to Himself as true brothers and sisters, allowing us to share not only in His death but also to be resurrected as new creatures in Christ, sons and daughters of the Father. In His blood we receive Christ Himself in the Eucharist, not a distant God to be imagined or seen from afar, but a God that so thoroughly gives Himself to us that He made it possible to hold Him and even take His body, blood, soul and divinity within us, transforming us into His likeness. This is how completely He has given Himself over to us.

Is it even possible to comprehend how much Jesus loves you? How much He was and is willing to sacrifice for love of you? It is a deep mystery worth contemplating. That is what devotion to the Sacred Heart is, it is trying to comprehend that great depth of love that God has for us fragile, wayward, difficult creatures that He created and redeemed.

Though devotion to the Sacred Heart dates back to around the year 1000, it was from St. Margaret Mary (1673-75 dates of apparitions) that the devotion really took off. There is now a universal feast in June which in turn is a month dedicated to the Sacred Heart. During this month in particular we remember His love and make reparations for the outrages committed against divine love especially in the Blessed Sacrament.

For those who are devoted to the Sacred Heart (which means devotion to His great love and attempting to make some return) or who make frequent communions in a spirit of reparation especially on the First Fridays of the month, who make holy hours or take on other devotions including the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in their homes, we were given these promises according to the apparitions of St. Margaret Mary. (Click HERE for more information on these devotions and their further requirments.)

1. To receive graces necessary to our state in life.
2. To have peace in our home.
3. Comfort in our affliction.
4. Strength especially when facing death.
5. A blessing upon our undertakings.
6. Pardon for sinners.
7. A strengthening for those weak of faith.
8. A strengthening for those more advanced in faith.
9. A blessing for places where a depiction of His Sacred Heart is honored.
10.Priests will be able to touch hardened hearts.
11.Those who promote this devotion will be written in the Heart of Jesus.
12.“I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in the last moment.”

These promises were implicitly approved by the Church upon the occasion of Saint Margaret Mary’s canonization in 1920. All apparitions are of a personal nature and bear no binding force of belief by the faithful. But it seems that the great fervor with which this devotion is carried out by the sensus fidelium seems to indicate a supernatural benefit gained by adhering to the plea of the visions of this saint.

Of course, it also calls one to a way of living. One would fall into superstition to perform the requisite nine First Fridays and then live a life of debauchery thinking that you were in like Flin. Devotion to the Sacred Heart means that one tries to be like Him, which means loving as He did. No easy feat. But our perfection on earth is not in the accomplishment, but in the unyeilding trying.

"O Heart of love, I put all my trust in Thee; for I fear all things from my own weakness, but I hope all things from Thy goodness." Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

1 comment:

Adoro said...

Thanks, Fr. V. I grew up with the Sacred Heart, although we didn't attend First Friday masses...maybe there were not available. Dunno. But that image was everywhere in our house.

I actually have a picture of the Sacred Heart/Divine Mercy combined in my livingroom and I do attend First Friday masses, ever since I learned of this devotion. Last year in teaching RCIA, though, I had a hard time articulating the devotion, partly because of limited time, partly because I didn't really have a complete understanding of it (in an explainable manner! lol). I will have to bookmark this post for next year's research if I have that topic again. I am SO going to plagiarize you!