Sacred Heart of Jesus: Catholic Christians reflect on prayerful devotions

Sacred Heart of Jesus stained glass

A stained glass depiction from the church of the Sacred Heart in Maryland. Photo by Lawrence OP, courtesy of Flickr

FRIDAY, JUNE 7: Catholics ponder the depth of divine love in today’s feast, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Many Catholics began preparation for today’s feast by starting a Novena to the Sacred Heart on Corpus Christi (this year, May 30). Though general devotion to the Sacred Heart has been popular since the 11th century, specific devotions came into being after the revelation of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun of the 17th century whose visions of Christ revealed the depths of his love and the promises made to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to his Sacred Heart.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was responding to critics of the church in her era, appealing to the faithful to focus their devotions on the overwhelming love of Christ. Since St. Margaret Mary’s revelation, devotion to the Sacred Heart has expanded around the world. Pope Pius IX instituted an obligatory feast for the Sacred Heart for the entire Catholic Church in 1856. Since 2002, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus has also been the Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

SACRED HEART: FROM ST. MARGARET MARY TO POPE PIUS IX

Since St. Margaret Mary’s revelation, devotion to the Sacred Heart has expanded around the world. Pope Pius IX instituted an obligatory feast for the Sacred Heart for the entire Catholic Church in 1856. The Catechism, quoting Pope Pius XII’s encyclical on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1956), states, “[Jesus] has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, ‘is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that … love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings’ without exception” (#478).

 

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