FRIDAY, JUNE 11: A gathering of priests in Rome join with millions of Christians around the world honoring Jesus’ love for humanity today as they observe the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s a fairly new official day of observation for Catholics—a part of the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar only since 1856. The day also is observed by many Anglicans and Lutherans as Christians focus on Jesus’ physical heart as a symbol of God’s love. More information is at Wikipedia.
The modern form of the devotion to Sacred Heart originated with a French Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who claimed to have had visions concerning the devotion. Today, hymns are sung and, in some homes, devotees “enthrone” a Sacred Heart to ensure that household members remember how to love Jesus. (Click here for one devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or try one from the Global Catholic Network.) Many Catholics may choose to wear a small picture of the Sacred Heart on a necklace, known as a scapular, as a reminder of Jesus’ love. Most often, the Sacred Heart is shown aflame and surrounded by the crown of thorns that Jesus wore—as a representation of the victory of Jesus’ love over his physical death.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also often paired with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and some Christians honor these two hearts together. According to devotees, Mary’s love is for the human race, too, as well as for her son, Jesus. Some believe that these two hearts are eternally bound.
This year, June 11 also marks the official end of Pope Benedict’s “Year of the Priest.” In Rome, priests from around the world will gather to observe the Sacred Heart and to mark the official end of the Year because, as was said by St. Paul, “The love of Christ impels” priests to perform their holy works. (Read a priest’s reflection in the Catholic Sentinel.) Pope Benedict calls upon the faithful to take a day to commend all priests, both living and deceased, as ministers of God’s Word.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)