The Sacred Heart of Jesus
(Feast Day - Friday after Corpus Christi)


Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus - by GIAQUINTO, Corrado - from Private Collection

 

Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus said: "Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, to You I offer Praise; for what You have hidden from the Learned and the Clever, You have revealed to the merest children. Father, it is true. You have Graciously Willed it so. Everything has been given over to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son -- and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am Gentle and Humble of Heart. Your souls will find rest, for My yoke is easy and My burden light".

 

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has an Ancient History. At the beginning of Devotion to the Sacred Heart we find References of the Fathers of the Church to the Sacred Wound of the Side of Jesus. In time, Devotion to this Sacred Wound led to Devotion to the Sacred Heart. From this Sacred Wound, with the Blood and Water, the Church and the Sacraments were Born. The Blood, Symbolized the Holy Eucharist and the Water, Symbolized Baptism. As Saint Ambrose (circa 397) stated: "The Water Cleanses us, the Blood Redeems us".

The Sacred Heart of Jesus as the Source of the Catholic Church - by Saint John Chrysostom

Birth of Eve,
the Bride of Adam,
from Adam's side

Birth of the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
from Christ's Side

"Water and Blood Symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these Two (2) Sacraments the Church is Born: from Baptism, the Cleansing Water that gives Rebirth and Renewal from the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the Symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ 'Fashioned' the Church, as He had 'Fashioned' Eve from the side of Adam".

Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church

 

Another Theme that the Fathers of the Church contemplated was that, at the Last Supper, Saint John leaned upon the Breast of Our Lord and thereby received Divine Wisdom. Saint Augustine (circa 430) explains that Saint John drank-in "Sublime Secrets from the Innermost Depths of Our Lord's Heart". Saint Paulinus (circa 431) taught that this was how Saint John received the Wisdom to write his Gospel and the Apocalypse. In a later age, another Theme that was considered was that we should Spiritually "Enter wholly into the Heart of Jesus, into the Holy of Holies". Saint Bernard (circa 1153) explained that the Piercing of Our Blessed Lord's Side reveals His Goodness and the Charity of His Heart for us. Another Writer taught that no Sweetness or Tenderness could be found that could be compared to that of the Heart of Jesus.

Saint Lutgarde (circa 1246), had Visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When once asked by Our Lord what Gift she wanted, she replied: "I want Your Heart". To which Jesus responded: "I want your heart". Then Our Blessed Lord granted the Saint a very special Grace. He Mystically exchanged Hearts with her. Saint Lutgarde is the First known Mystic to receive this Grace. Saint Bonaventure (circa 1274), the Franciscan and a Great Theologian, wrote:

"Since we have reached the most sweet Heart of Jesus, and it is good for us to abide in It, let us not readily turn away from It. How good, how sweet it is to dwell in Thy Heart, O good Jesus! Who is there who would not desire this Pearl? I would rather give all else, all my thoughts and all the Affections of my Soul in exchange for It, casting my Whole Mind into the Heart of my Good Jesus. Who is there who would not Love this Wounded Heart? Who would not Love, in return, Him Who Loves so much?"

So Great was Saint Gertrude's Love for the Sacred Heart, that once, when Saint John the Apostle appeared to her, she asked him why he did not write of the Sacred Heart. He replied, "Because I was charged with instructing the newly-formed Church concerning the Mysteries of the Uncreated Word". Saint John then told Saint Gertrude that the Grace of Learning of the Sacred Heart was reserved to her Century, to Rouse it from its Lethargy, so that it would be Inflamed with the Great Worth of Divine Love. Saint Gertrude Prayed:

"Through Thy Wounded Heart, Dearest Lord, pierce my Heart so deeply with the Dart of Thy Love that it may no longer be able to contain Earthly Things, but may be Governed by the Action of Thy Divinity alone".

Once, when Saint Gertrude's friend, Saint Mechtilde, was Praying for a woman who was Suffering, Our Blessed Lord said to Saint Mechtilde that the woman should, with Childlike Simplicity, bring each of her Troubles to Him, and that she should seek Consolation in His Compassionate Heart. Saint Mechtilde taught that Jesus has given us the Gift of His Sacred Heart so that, when Suffering, we can seek our Refuge and our Consolation there.

Two (2) of the Mystics from the Group known as the "Rhineland Mystics" in Germany referred to Our Lord's Heart. The Dominican, Johannes Tauler (circa 1361), encourages one to Take Refuge in this Sweet Heart, which is open to those who give their Hearts to Jesus. Blessed Henry Suso (circa 1366), also a Dominican, once had a vision of an Angel taking his Heart from him and Uniting it in Rapturous Love to the Heart of Jesus. The Carthusian Monks were among the earliest Religious Orders to be Devoted to the Sacred Heart. The Carthusian, Ludolph of Saxony (circa 1378), wrote:

"Our Lord's Heart was Wounded with the Wound of Love for our sake, so that, Loving Him in return, we might enter through that Open Wound into His Heart and there live Inflamed with His Love, just as iron cast into the fire becomes incandescent".

The great Dominican Mystic, Saint Catherine of Sienna (circa 1380), one day said to Our Lord: "Sweet, Spotless Lamb, You were Dead when Your Side was Opened. 'Why, then, did You allow that Your Heart should be thus Wounded and Opened by Force?" Our Lord answered:

"For several reasons, of which I will tell you the Principal. My desires regarding the Human Race were Infinite and the Actual Time of Suffering and Torture was at an end. Since My Love is Infinite, I could not therefore, by this Suffering, Manifest to you how much I Loved you. That is why I Willed to Reveal to you the Secret of My Heart by letting you see It open, that you might well understand that It Loved you far more than I could prove to you by a Suffering that was over".

Julian of Norwich (circa 1416), the English Anchoress and Mystic, tells us of the following Vision she had:

"Then Our Lord looked into His Side and Rejoiced. By this Sweet Look, He had me gaze within this Wound. He showed me a Fair, Delectable Place, and large enough for all Mankind that shall be Saved, to Rest in Peace and in Love. And therewith He had me recall His Dear-worthy Blood and Precious Water, which He let Pour-out for Love, and He showed His Blissful Heart".

A Carthusian, Dominic of Treves (circa 1461), wrote:

"In this most Sweet Heart of Jesus, is found all Virtue, the Source of Life, Perfect Consolation, the True Light that Enlightens every Man".

The Italian Poor Clare Nun Blessed Baptista Varani (circa 1527) Honored and also Shared-in the Sufferings of the Sorrow-filled Heart of Jesus. When she asked Jesus how Great was the Sorrow of His Heart, His answer was: "As great as the Love which I bear toward My Creatures". Our Blessed Lord told Blessed Baptista that the Sorrows of His Heart were so Great, because so many People are in Mortal Sin.

The Carthusian, called Lansperguis (circa 1539), recommended that People have a Picture of the Sacred Heart to Foster their Devotion. He encouraged that the picture be placed where it would be easily seen, so that by seeing it, Holy Love would be kindled in the Soul. He also encouraged that this Picture be Kissed with Affection. This is perhaps the First Reference to encouraging People to have a Picture of the Sacred Heart. Saint Teresa of Avila (circa 1582), the great Spanish Carmelite Mystic and "Doctor of Prayer", explained that we should make the Sacred Wound our Place of Refuge.

sacred_heart2.jpg (11955 bytes) Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the Year 1672. On repeated-occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation Nun, in France, and during these Apparitions, He explained to her the Devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted People to practice it. He asked to be Honored in the Symbol of His Heart of Flesh; He asked for Acts of Reparation, for Frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the Month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour. When the Catholic Church approved the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she did not base her Action only on the Visions of Saint Margaret Mary. The Church approved the Devotion on its own Merits.

There is only One (1) Person in Jesus, and that Person was at the same-time God and Man. His Heart too, is Divine - it is the Heart of God. There are Two (2) things that must always be found together in the Devotion to the Sacred Heart: Christ's Heart of Flesh and Christ's Love for us. True Devotion to the Sacred Heart means Devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart Represents and Recalls His Love for us. In Honoring the Heart of Christ, our Homage lingers on the Person of Jesus in the Fullness of His Love. This Love of Christ for us was the Moving Force of all He did and Suffered for us in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in His Teaching and Healing, in His Praying and Working. When we speak of the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us His Heart. Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of God's Infinite Love. The Human Nature which the Son of God took upon Himself, was filled with Love and Kindness, that has never found an equal. He is the Perfect Model of Love of God and Neighbor. Every day of His Life was filled with Repeated Proofs of "Christ's Love that surpasses all knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). Jesus handed-down, for all time, the Fundamental Feature of His Character: "Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am Meek and Humble of Heart" (Matthew 11:29). He invited all, refusing none, surprising Friends and Rivals by His Unconditional Generosity. The meaning of Love in the Life of Jesus was especially evident in His Sufferings. Out of Love for His Father, He Willed to Undergo the Death of the Cross. "The World must know that I Love the Father and do just as the Father has Commanded Me" (John 14:31). The Love that Jesus bore toward us, also urged Him to undergo the Death of the Cross. At the Last Supper, He said, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13). The Heart of Jesus never ceases to Love us in Heaven. He Sanctifies us through the Sacraments. These are Inexhaustible Fountains of Grace and Holiness which have their source in the Boundless Ocean of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

 

 

Papal Encyclicals on the Sacred Heart

sacheart_ani.gif (8256 bytes) Annum Sacrum (May 25, 1899) - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Consecration to the Sacred Heart
sacheart_ani.gif (8256 bytes) Miserentissimus Redemptor (May 8, 1928) - Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Reparation to the Sacred Heart
sacheart_ani.gif (8256 bytes) Haurietis Aquas (May 15, 1956) - Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on Devotion to the Sacred Heart

 

Return to Index Page