Each year in the springtime, following the Solemnities of Pentecost, the Most Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of the most important and beloved of Catholic devotions.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart has historic roots, grounded even in the writings of the Fathers of the Church. In more recent times, though, the devotion grew in popularity with the divine revelations received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who lived in the 17th century, revelations that centered on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After St. Margaret Mary died, the veneration of the Sacred Heart spread throughout the Church and was fixed in the liturgical calendar by Pope Pius IX in 1856.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus calls us to repent of our sins that caused the Heart of Jesus to be pierced on the Cross, while also revealing for us the depths of God’s forgiveness, mercy and love. The Opening Prayer for the Mass of the Sacred Heart says: “Grant that we, who glory in the Heart of your beloved Son and recall the wonders of his love for us, may be made worthy to receive an overflowing measure of grace from that fount of heavenly gifts.”
“The wonders of God’s love for us.” Pope Francis, in a homily on the Sacred Heart, draws upon that theme and urges us: “Do not be afraid to present to him all the intentions of our suffering humanity, its fears, its miseries. May this Heart, full of love for man, give everyone hope and trust.”
The wonderful Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has petitions that emphasize the consolation and love of Jesus. We pray: “Heart of Jesus, aflame with love for us . . . full of goodness and love . . . patient and full of mercy . . . fountain of life and holiness . . . source of all consolation . . . our peace and reconciliation.” The petitions of the Litany of the Sacred Heart are themselves a treasure of prayer and reflection.
What does all of this mean for us? It means that if we’re burdened by the problems of the world, or by personal suffering, or by the guilt of past failures, or by insidious temptations to sin – we should turn with confidence to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, finding there the fount of mercy and love, the sure remedy of all our ills.
Something to think about: If you pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, you will be comforted and lifted up.