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Sacred Heart of Jesus

“It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.”- Pope Pius XII, Encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart, Haurietis Aquas, 2

 

The expression “poured out” appears time and again in the Church’s liturgical texts during solemnities. For example, the Opening Prayer for Mass during the Day at Pentecost asks the Father to “pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth.” In the second reading for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, St. Paul tells us that the “love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). As St. Thomas Aquinas’ Lauda Sion, the sequence from the solemnity of Corpus Christi, teaches us, “Blood is poured and flesh is broken/ Yet in either wondrous token/ Christ entire we know to be.” The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus continues this current of thought, and it shows us the source of God’s gracious gifts– the opened heart of the Redeemer upon the Cross. 

 

Truly, the exact object of this solemnity is the very heart of Jesus, which is itself a symbol of God’s love for us. The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus brings us into the opened heart of the Redeemer and surrounds us with divine love. At Jesus’ Incarnation, the same love that gave us life and sustained our being, despite our rejection of it by sin, poured itself out so that we might enjoy eternal life and share in the being of God himself. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And this love of God, this love who is God, is the object of our devotion to the heart of Christ: As Pope Pius XII explains, the devotion to the “infinite love of God for the human race… demands of us a complete and unreserved determination to devote and consecrate ourselves to the love of the divine Redeemer, whose wounded heart is its living token and symbol” (Haurietis Aquas 20, 6).

 

How, then, do we respond? How do we love love? St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) was not the first Christian to respond with her heart to the love of God, but she did receive inspiration from Christ himself to honour him on each First Friday of every month. Others make holy hours in honour of his love. The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where an image or statue of Christ and his Sacred Heart is solemnly erected in the home, school, or office, becomes a true beating heart in the midst of the day. For others still, the Morning Offering lifts up our prayers, works, joys, and sufferings along with the Eucharist “for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart.”

 

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart celebrates the great gift of divine love in the form of Christ’s human heart. It also calls us to join our hearts with his and radiate divine love to all in our midst. Indeed, while the month of May was devoted to Mary, June is devoted particularly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If you didn’t know, our paschal candle, located beside the baptismal font, is decorated this year with an image of the Sacred Heart. You may wish to take a close look and say a prayer there.

 

O Sacred Heart of Jesus: have mercy on us!

Fr. Brian Trueman



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