Sacred Heart of Jesus: Catholics pay devotion to divine love

Stained glass window of Jesus opening cloak to reveal Sacred Heart

The Sacred Heart depiction includes a crown of thorns—representing the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death—and fire, representing the transformative power of divine love. Photo courtesy of Fotopedia

FRIDAY, JUNE 7: From the renowned basilica in Paris to several religious orders bearing its name, Catholics today honor divine love on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A relatively recent development in Christian history, devotion to the Sacred Heart—as it is known today—began in the late 17th century; the official feast didn’t appear on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar until 1856. Christians believe that the human Jesus embodied God’s infinite love, and therefore, it is with passion that devotionals are held, 19 days after Pentecost. (Global Catholic Network suggests a Meditation, Novena Prayer and Offering.)

The first indications of modern devotion to the Sacred Heart began in the Middle Ages, although it was French Nun Marguerite Marie Alacoque who pressed for a greater commemoration. In the late 17th century, Margaret Mary began witnessing several apparitions of Jesus that allegedly told her how the faithful should practice devotion to the Sacred Heart. With the help of a nearby priest, news of Margaret Mary’s apparitions began to spread. (Wikipedia has details.) In 1873, Ecuador became the first country to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart.

Today, Roman Catholics enthrone the Sacred Heart with an elaborate ceremony. (A Catholic perspective is at Fish Eaters and Catholic Culture.org.) According to Mary Margaret, devotion to the Sacred Heart promised a series of blessings, but specific instructions had to be obeyed: for example, the first Friday of each month had to be set aside for consecration. If performed with sincerity, devotees are promised peace in the home, a blessing in undertakings and a refuge in life and in death.

SACRED HEART MEETS
60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE KOREAN WAR

Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung will lead 600 priests on a pilgrimage through Seoul today, in hopes that prayers recited at cathedrals and shrines along the way will bring peace to the Korean peninsula. (Catholic Culture has the story.) The purpose of the pilgrimage is threefold: to allow priests to reflect on their duties (the Sacred Heart promises devoted priests the ability to touch “the most hardened of hearts”); to spread awareness of Korean martyrs; and to pray for peace on this, the 60th anniversary year, of the Korean War.

Note: The Sacred Heart of Jesus is primarily a Catholic devotion, although it is observed in some high-church Anglican and Lutheran congregations.

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