The call of the Heart of Jesus resonates throughout the Gospels and through the life of the Church down the ages. In the most perfect way, His Heart finds a mirror and a true companion and “helpmate” through the Immaculate Heart of His Mother Mary. Each one of us who are baptized are also called to a gentle and loving conformity with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This year the whole Church will honor the Sacred Heart on Friday, June 23rd. The invitation to draw close to the Sacred Heart is extended to everyone. The Lord calls us saying:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. (Mt 11:29-30)
Jesus identifies Himself and His desire for us to “learn from Him” with that wonderful phrase “meek and humble of heart.” We wish to share some ways that you might respond to this call in the days leading up to the Solemnity according to your state of life and possibilities.
- Plan to Make a Good Confession and to Attend Mass on June 23rd
“The entire devotion to the Heart of Jesus in its every manifestation is profoundly Eucharistic: it is expressed in religious practices which stir the faithful to live in harmony with Christ, “meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29), and it is intensified in adoration.” (Saint John Paul II, 1999)
- Reading the Scriptures of the Mass Ahead of Time
The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) always lists the Mass Readings for reference. June 23 readings for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus come from Deuteronomy 7:6-11, from Psalm 103, the First Letter of Saint John 4:7-16, and the Gospel of Saint Matthew 11:25-30. Old Testament and New Testament readings prepare us to know the depth of the Holy Trinity through the face of mercy: the Heart of Jesus Christ.
- Pray a Novena in Preparation for the Feast: Wednesday, June 14 – Thursday, June 22
There is a famous Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which many saints have recommended — including Padre Pio who prayed it daily for all those who asked him for prayers. It is not only known for being the “efficacious novena” (i.e. it works!), but also serves to instruct us in the confidence we can (and should!) have in God’s love and power. The text can be found on “Pray More Novenas” which also offers the feature of a daily digital reminder. (NB: novenas are scheduled so as to conclude on the day before the feast itself, like bringing a complete bouquet of flowers to present to someone on an important occasion…not still picking flowers on that day.)
- Read the Encyclical About the Scriptural Foundation and Theology of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Haurietis Aquas (1956)
In 1956 Pope Pius XII issued a beautiful encyclical about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Taking its name from the passage of Isaiah 12 “You shall draw waters with joy out of the Savior’s fountain” (Haurietis aquas in gaudio de fontibus Salvatoris), the text of Haurietis Aquas [PDF] begins by exploring the scriptural foundations of the devotion of the Sacred Heart (#20-39). The Holy Father then lists the Church Fathers and councils of the Church which have contributed to the understanding of the Heart of Jesus (#40-57). Next he offers insights into the theological depth of the devotion and the special place of the Virgin Mary and of priests (#58-93). He goes on to give the examples of saints who have especially been formed by this devotion and taught it to others (#94-100). Finally, the document addresses potenial errors and confusions in the devotion so as to defend the true nature and value of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (#101-120). Pius XII ends with reference to his papal predecessors and words of exhortation to the faithful of his day in promoting and trusting in the devotion to the Sacred Heart (#121-127).
Read more about the perennial value of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in #166-173 of the Vatican’s Directory On Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles And Guidelines (2001)
- Make or Renew the Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
In 1899 Pope Leo XIII made a “Consecration of the Human Race to the Divine Heart of Jesus” which he explains in the encyclical Annum Sacrum. Saint John Paul II celebrated the Centenary of this consecration with his own “Letter on the 100th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Divine Heart of Jesus” in 1999.
One of the most famous formulas for those who wish to make this consecration is the one from Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque:
Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying Thee. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to Thee, and to do all for Thy love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease Thee.
I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in Thee, O Heart of Love, I hope all from Thine infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist Thee. Imprint Thy pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget Thee or be separated from Thee.
I beseech Thee, through Thine infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Thy Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of Thy devoted servants.
As the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, we witnessed a beautiful consecration at the close of our General Chapter last summer as well as that of the IVE Priests.
Following the recent mass of the priestly and diaconal ordinations in Italy on June 10th, a procession was held through the city to an outdoor shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where the newly ordained priests consecrated themselves and their ministries to the Sacred Heart. They gave themselves to Him, so as to learn how to give Him to the people in imitation of His Heart which is “meek and gentle”.
- Get to Know Saints who were especially close to the Lord through the express devotion to His Sacred Heart
From the list given in Haurietis Aquas (#94-95) we can begin to consider this body of saints (though there are so many more!)…a project for summer reading and the whole year through!
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153)
- The Cistercian mystic St. Lutgarda (+1246)
- St Mathilda of Marburg (+ 1282),
- The sainted sisters Mathilda of Hackborn (+ 1299) and Gertrude the Great (+ 1302) of the Benedictine monastery of Helfta
- Ludolf of Saxony (+1380)
- St. Bonaventure (1217-1274), Franciscan and Doctor of the Church
- St. Albert the Great (Dominican)
- St. Catherine of Siena (Dominican)
- Blessed Henry Suso (1290-1365), Dominican
- St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), Jesuit
- 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, and charism he gave to the Visitation Nuns as their founder.
- St Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) Visitation Nun
- St Claude La Colombière (+ 1682), Jesuit spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary
- St John Eudes (1601-1680), founder of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary and the Order of Our Lady of Charity
- St. John Bosco (+ 1888), founder of the Society of St Francis de Sales
Iesu, mitis et humilis Corde, fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum.
“O Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make our heart like unto Thine.” (from the Litany of the Sacred Heart)