The Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on June 28, at the end of the month. Let's spend the month of June revisiting devotion to the Sacred Heart, and learning more about how the heart in general is portrayed in the Bible. The quote from the Gospel of John below shows that this devotion began on Calvary, from the very heart of Christ.
31Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,34 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believe. 36For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled:
“Not a bone of it will be broken.”
And again another passage says:
“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”
Devotion to the Sacred Heart was inspired straight from the words of Scripture. When the soldier pierced the side of Christ, his lance cut into the heart, drawing the blood out and onto the earth. This is why more realistic depictions of the Sacred Heart show a gash in the flesh.
Over the years, many saints have venerated the Sacred Heart of Christ. However, the most well know was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun who lived in the 1670s. She was called by Jesus himself "the beloved disciple of the Sacred Heart." Jesus made 12 promises to her for those who would venerate his heart.
12 Promises of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
2. I will establish peace in their families.
3. I will comfort them in their trials.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
5. I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners will find in my heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
8. Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.
9. I will bless everyplace where an image of my Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in my Heart, never to be blotted out.
12. I promise, in the excessive mercy of my Heart, that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of 9 consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without their sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
These are quite powerful and specific promises. Who wouldn't want "abundant blessings" on all our undertakings? Or peace in our families? Esentially, the devotion to the Sacred Heart is about overcoming sloth and apathy, both in our responsibilities in this life and in matters concerning the next life. Just on the basis of this alone, devotion to the Sacred Heart is an important element to cultivate in our lives.
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