“St. Francis de Sales, during his life, made his abode in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in which his repose was never interrupted by the most distracting occupations.
Although many pious souls had been accustomed, in the silence of their secluded lives, to venerate the sacred Heart of Jesus with great devotion, still our divine Saviour desired that the boundless love of His Heart might be known by all men, and that a new fire of love should thereby be kindled in the cold hearts of Christians. For this purpose He made use of a frail and little-known instrument in the person of Sr. Margaret-Mary Alacoque V.H.M., a nun of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, at Paray-le-Monial, France.
“Moses, by conversing familiarly with God, became the meekest of men, and our amiable Saint, by his intimate union with the divine Heart of Jesus, acquired in the most eminent degree, the two virtues of this Adorable Heart, by the practice of these two virtues, which are the foundation of the rules of the Daughter if the Visitation; and as the different orders, which are in the Church, are designed to honour some particular virtue of the Son of God, so that of the Visitation is established to render continual homage to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in His hidden and annihilated life. God was pleased to make this manifest by choosing St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (a religious of the Visitation), who died in 1690, to make known His will about the establishment of a feast in honour of His Adorable Heart, and to extend this devotion.
“‘Behold,’ said our Divine Saviour to her, ‘this Heart which has loved man to such excess, that it has exhausted and consumed itself to testify His Love to him.’ At another time, our Lord assured her that He took a singular complacency in seeing the interior sentiments of His Heart and His Love honoured under the figure of a heart, and that He wished it to be exposed in public, in order that it might touch the insensible hearts of men. He promised, at the same time, that He would abundantly shed the treasures of grace, with which His Heart was filled, into the hearts of those who would honour it; and that wherever this image should be exposed to be particularly honoured, there would He bestow every kind of blessing. Saint Margaret Mary asserts that she knows of no exercise of piety in the spiritual life better calculated to raise, in a short time, a soul to the highest state of sanctity, or to make it relish the true delight which is found in the service of God, than the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
THE DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS.
I. Object of this Devotion.
In the divine Heart of Our Saviour we must not imagine an inanimate heart, separated from the person of Christ, but the living heart of the God-Man, the centre of all His affections, the fountain of all His virtues, the most touching emblem of His infinite love to man. The Church venerates the cross, the blood, and the wounds of the divine Saviour, by feasts which have their proper masses and lessons, in order, by meditation upon these objects, to awaken in us a more fervent devotion to the Redeemer. How much more worthy, then, of our devotion is the sacred Heart of Our Saviour, since all its thoughts, movements, and affections aim at our salvation, and it is always ready to receive truly penitent sinners, to pardon them, to restore them again to God’s favour, and make them partakers of eternal happiness!
II. The Excellence of this Devotion.
It is, writes the Venerable Fr. Simon Gourdan:
1. A holy devotion, for therein men venerate in Christ those affections and motions of His Heart by which He sanctified the Church, glorified His Heavenly Father, and showed Himself to men as a perfect example of the most sublime holiness.
2. An ancient devotion of the Catholic Church, which, instructed by St. Paul, the great apostle, has at all times acknowledged the great beneficence of the divine and sacred Heart of Jesus.
3. An approved devotion, for the Holy Scriptures every where admonish us to renew the heart, by changing our lives; to penetrate it with true sorrow, to inflame it with divine love, and to adorn it by the practice of all virtues. When, therefore, a new heart is promised us, by which to direct our lives, that can be no other than the Heart of Jesus, which is to us the pattern of all excellence, and which we must follow if we would be saved.
4. A perfect devotion, as being the origin of all other devotions. For the Heart of Jesus is the inexhaustible treasury from which the blessed Mother of God, and all other saints have derived their graces, their virtues, their life, their spiritual goods. Filled first with treasures from this source, different servants of God have instituted and established other devotions.
5. A profitable devotion, for thereby we have brought be fore our eyes the very fountain of life and grace, and can draw directly from it, increasing in ourselves all virtues, by adoring this divine Heart, meditating on its holy affections, and endeavouring to imitate them.
6. A devotion pleasing to God, for thus we adore God, as Christ requires, in spirit and in truth, serving Him inwardly in our hearts, and endeavouring to please Him. Finally it is:
7. A useful devotion, since its whole object is to unite us most intimately with Christ as members of Him, her head, to make us live by and according to His spirit, to have one heart and soul with Him, and through grace finally to become one with Him, which is and must be the object of all devotions.
As this devotion is, then, so excellent, we cannot sufficiently recommend it to all who are anxious for their salvation. While every one can practise this devotion, and adore the sacred Heart of Jesus, by himself, there is a greater blessing when pious souls unite and form a confraternity for practising the devotion. Of such confraternities there were in the year 1726 more than three hundred, and they are now established throughout all Catholic countries. Hesitate not, Christian soul, to engage in this devotion, and to join in the adoration of that sacred Heart of Jesus in which all men find propitiation, — the pious, confidence; sinners, hope; the afflicted, consolation; the sick, support; the dying, refuge; the elect, joy and delight.
The Introit of the Mass for this feast is: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”, alleluia, alleluia”. (Lamentations 3:22-25) “I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1). Glory be to the Father, etc.
Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy sacred Heart.
Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to Thy Father’s house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbour of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.
Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: “Praise be to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honour for ever.” Amen.
EPISTLE. Isaiah 12:1-6.
Thanksgiving and Praise:
You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
This epistle is a song of gratitude for the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of their enemies, and at the same time a prophecy of the coming redemption of mankind from sin and death, through Jesus Christ. “You shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour’s fountains.” These fountains are the graces which Christ has obtained for us on the cross, but particularly, says St. Augustine, the holy sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. We should rejoice over these graces, particularly that the Holy One of Israel, Jesus, the Son of God, is in the midst of Sion, that is, the Catholic Church, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, remaining therein until the end of time.
Oh, let us often approach the ever-flowing fountain of all graces, the Most Holy Eucharist, and with confidence draw consolation, assistance, strength, and power from this fountain of love!
GOSPEL. John 19:31-35.
Jesus’ Side Is Pierced
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.)
According to the Jewish law, a criminal could not be put to death, nor could the body of one who had been executed remain on the place of execution, on the Sabbath-day. The Jews, therefore, asked Pilate that the bodies of Jesus and the two thieves should be buried; but before this could be done, according to the Roman law, the legs of the crucified had to be broken with an iron mace: this the soldiers did to the two thieves, who were still alive; but when they found that Jesus was dead, one of the soldiers, whose name was Longinus, opened His side with a spear as had been predicted by the prophets. Jesus permitted his most sacred Heart to be opened —
- To atone for those sins which come forth from the hearts of men, as Christ Himself says, “For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19).
- To show the infinite love with which He first loved us, and to which the spear should point us.
- To show that there was nothing so dear to Him that He would not give it to us, since, for our salvation, He shed the last drop of His heart’s blood.
- To provide, as it were, an abode in His opened side, according to the words of St. Augustine: “The Evangelist is very cautious in his language; for he said, not the soldier pierced or wounded His side, but he opened it, that thereby there might be opened to us the door from which flow into the Church those holy sacraments without which we cannot enter into true life.”
When temptation assails us, or sorrow depresses us, let us flee to this abode, and dwell therein until the storm has passed away; according to the words of the Prophet,“Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust.” (Isaiah 2:10). For what is the rock but Christ, and the pit, but His wound?
An Offering to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Whoever says the following prayer before the image of the most sacred Heart of Jesus, with sincere sorrow for his sins, gains each time an indulgence of one hundred days; and by saying it daily for a month, he can on any one day gain a plenary indulgence, if he makes his confession, receives communion, and prays according to the intention of the Church:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I give and consecrate to Thee, my actions and pains, my sufferings and my life, in order that my entire being may be devoted to honour, love and glorify Thy Sacred Heart. It is my sincere determination to be and to do all for Thy love.
I renounce with all my heart, all that may be displeasing to Thee. I choose Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the only object of my love, the protector of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the repairer of my past defects, and my safe asylum at the hour of death.
Be then, O Heart of Goodness, my advocate near God the Father and save me from His just anger. O Heart of Love, in Thee I place all my confidence, I fear much from my own malice and weakness but I hope all from Thy goodness. Destroy in me all that displeases or resists Thee.
Let Thy pure love be so deeply impressed on my heart that I may never forget, or be separated from Thee. O Jesus, I implore Thee, by Thy goodness, to let my name be written in Thy Sacred Heart, that living and dying in quality of Thy slave, I may find all my glory and happiness in Thee. Amen.