Friday, June 5, 2015

The Devotion To The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Painting of Jesus appearing to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Church of San Michele, Cortemilia, in Italy.

As today is the First Friday of the month, coupled with it being the month of June, one that is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, it seemed only fitting to publish a post on the Devotion To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus. This devotion holds a special place amongst all the devotions in the Church because it was Jesus who specifically requested it. Our Lord established this devotion due to His ardent desire to be known, loved, honoured and adored by all Catholics; to establish His reign in the hearts of all. This devotion is so pleasing to Jesus that He can refuse nothing to those who practice it. 

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus sets aside the First Friday of each month as a day to be consecrated to honouring His Sacred Heart, in the spirit of reparation. The object of this devotion is to make our Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, ardently and perfectly loved, and to make reparation for the the neglect, indifference and ingratitude of the majority that results in Jesus Christ being left alone, abandoned and forgotten on our altars, never visited to offer consolation for such neglect. 

During our "First Friday time" with Jesus we should adore Him, make a fervent act of love to Jesus in the tabernacle, thank Him for having instituted this mystery of love, express our sorrow at seeing Him so abandoned, and resolve to visit Him as soon as possible and love Him unceasingly. 

Attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is assuredly the best means of honouring and loving the adorable Heart of Jesus. In addition to Mass, the following is also very efficacious in honouring our Saviour: reciting a Prayer of Adoration and spending significant time (a minimum of one hour) in front of the Blessed Sacrament; reciting an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an Act of Reparation and the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and praying St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)’s Sacred Heart Novena

The Sacred Heart Devotion is for all Catholic men and women, young and old who are troubled by many of life's afflictions. It is through this devotion that all will discover the greatest source of spiritual and temporal help, graces and blessings available to those who truly love the Sacred Heart of Our Lord. It is a never failing source to remedy all our problems and needs as well as a sure method of attaining perfection and salvation.

The personal attitudes needed for the successful practice of this devotion are: a true love of Jesus Christ and His Sacred Heart, the source of His excessive mercy, help, graces and blessings; a special respect for and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament; and a desire to make reparation for the neglect, indifference and ingratitude of the majority that results in Jesus Christ being left alone, abandoned and forgotten on our altars, never visited to offer consolation for such neglect, though He has given us the miracle of His Divine Presence in the Blessed Sacrament as a supreme gift to us in His desire to be always with us.

First Friday and Nine Fridays Promises

Sacred Heart of Jesus
For those who practice and promote this devotion, Our Lord Jesus Christ has made twelve special promises:
  1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
  2. I will give peace in their families and will unite families that are divided.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. I will be their refuge during life and above all in death.
  5. I will bestow the blessings of Heaven on all their enterprises.
  6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall rise quickly to great perfection.
  9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Heart shall be exposed and honoured and will imprint My love on the hearts of those who would wear this image on their person. I will also destroy in them all disordered movements.
  10. I will give to priests who are animated by a tender devotion to my Divine Heart the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate (receive Holy Communion) on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence (the state of contrition and sorrow for sin at the end of one's life); they will not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
The Nine Fridays must be made in honour of His Sacred Heart, meaning, practicing the devotion and having a great love of His Sacred Heart. They must be on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months, and Communion must be received.

Background History

In the history of the Catholic Church, God has responded to the many crises that have existed over the centuries, a fulfillment of what Jesus told the Apostle Peter, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) To counter the crisis in France in the seventeenth century, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun from the Order of Visitation and established the Sacred Heart Devotion.

During St. Margaret Mary Alacoque's time, the faith of French people had waned and there was rebellion against the Church. Both Protestantism and the Jansenism heresy contributed to the weakening of the Church. Jesus' response was to establish a devotion that would bring souls back to him, the Sacred Heart Devotion. Here is what St. Margaret Mary Alacoque revealed about Jesus' message to her:
And He showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such crowds of them, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure for Him all the honor and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which this Heart is the source.He should be honored under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and its image should be exposed…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. 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 thus 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. (Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)
The revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque first began on December 27, 1673 when she was kneeling at the grille in the chapel, in which the Lord told her that the love of His heart must spread and manifest itself to men and He would reveal its graces through her. This was the beginning of a series of revelations that continued for eighteen months. 

These revelations were rejected by the Mother Superior, resulting in St. Margaret Mary Alacoque being reprimanded, in which she subsequently became very ill, so ill that her survival was in question. From this, the Mother Superior reflected that she might have erred in scorning the nun due to her stories of revelations and vowed that if her life was spared, she would take it as a sign that the visions and messages were truly from God. Upon her recovery the Mother Superior invited a Benedictine and Jesuit priest to listen to her stories, both of which concluded the young nun was delusional. It was not until another Jesuit, Father Claude de la Columbiere who talked with her, was convinced of the genuineness of the revelations. It was this Jesuit father that wrote about the nun and inaugurated this devotion in England. 

For many years, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque suffered from despair, self inflicted punishments and contempt from those around her. In 1681, Father Claude returned to the convent and died during the following year. Opposition ceased after an account of Margaret Mary’s visions were read aloud in the refectory from the writings left by Father Claude, who had taken it upon himself to make known to the world the nun’s remarkable experiences. When Margaret Mary turned forty three, she fell ill and deteriorated rapidly. She received the Last Sacraments and was quoted as saying, “I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.” The devotion became popular in France, Poland and spread to other countries. The Solemnity  of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the Friday following the Second Sunday after Pentecost, which this year is on June 12.


Enthronement and Consecration of The Sacred Heart as King of The Family

The Devotion To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus also offers an Enthronement and Consecration of the Family to His Sacred Heartwhereby entire families are consecrated to His Sacred Heart. The ceremony entails a formal prayer recitation with the head of the family leading the prayers that includes: the Apostles Creed, an Act of Consecration, a Prayer of Intercession, a Litany of Thanksgiving, a closing prayer and the signing of the Enthronement Pledge (certificate), by all members. 

What does all this mean for our families? Our families become the recipients of many graces and blessings if the installation of Christ’s image is accompanied by this formal ceremony. These two acts together will: stabilize and sanctify the family, create a Catholic atmosphere and spirit of piety in the home, bring back the wayward members and help console the members in times of trial and sorrow. 

The result of this enthronement and consecration is that it will make the home thoroughly Christian. With all the attacks on the family we are confronted with in today's society, this will bring devotion to the home, where it is vitally needed to not only remedy the waning of faith, but the deliberate and malicious attacks on the family, the primary cell of society. Seriously consider this devotion for your family's sake.

I would like to respectfully recommend the following daily prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, composed by St. Anselm of Canterbury:

Lord our God,
Grant us the grace to desire you with our whole heart,
that so desiring, we may seek and find you;
and so finding you, we may love you;
and loving you, we may hate those sins
from which you have redeemed us.


If you are looking for a book on this devotion, Fr. Jean Croiset's book, The Devotion To The Sacred Heart of Jesus: How To Practice the Sacred Heart Devotionwill provide you with the complete information and guidelines how to practice this devotion.



Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us.









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