These feasts are celebrated on the Friday and Saturday following Corpus Christi (when it is moved to the Sunday). Ever since Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque had a vision of the Sacred Heart, the Church has been eager in highlighting this aspect of God's revelation. Leo XIII reiterated the value of this devotion in his encyclical Annum Sacrum:
"When in the days near her origin, the Church was oppressed under the yoke of the Caesars the Cross shown on high to the youthful Emperor was at once an omen and a cause of the victory that speedily followed. And here today another most auspicious and most divine sign is offered to our sight, to wit the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a Cross set above it shining with most resplendent brightness in the midst of flames. Herein must all hopes be set, from hence must the salvation of men be sought and expected."
Devotion to Jesus' Sacred Heart brings us to the "heart" of Christianity and helps us to see how much love God has for us. We see the image of the Sacred Heart pierced and bloody, outside of Jesus' body. This shows to us how Jesus' love is so great that he can not contain it within himself!
Jesus wanted us to devote ourselves to his Sacred Heart so much that He gave us "promises" for those who spread the devotion in faith.
(1) I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
(2) I will establish peace in their homes.
(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
(6) Sinners will find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my heart is exposed and honored.
10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
The devotion is not meant to be a mundane checking-off of rules, but an invitation to a deeper relationship with Christ.
When Jesus shares his heart with us, He wants us to share our own heart in return.
The following day the Church celebrates the "Immaculate Heart of Mary" and Pope Benedict XVI explained the reason why these two feasts are celebrated together, saying,“The heart that resembles that of Christ more than any other is without a doubt the Heart of Mary, his Immaculate Mother, and for this very reason the liturgy holds them up together for our veneration.”
So when we celebrate these two feasts let us remember that God is inviting us to deepen our relationship with Him and His mother and to have a "heart-to-heart" with both of them, giving to them all the wounds and warts that are there, asking Jesus to wash our heart in the bath of His mercy.
Read the Entire Series
- How is it Possible that Jesus is Present in the Eucharist?
- I Will Not Leave You Orphans - The Gift of the Holy Eucharist
- Pentecost: The Birthday of the Church
- The Ascension: A Preview of Future Glory
- Don't Forget to Feast!
- The Liturgy that Lasts Three Days!
- Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus During Holy Week
- What is Almsgiving?
- Why Do We Abstain from Meat on Fridays?
- Entering into a Prayerful Lent: Stations of the Cross
- What is the Purpose of Lent?
- What is Ordinary Time All About?
- The Epiphany Blessing - A Beautiful Tradition During the Christmas Season
- The Prophecy is Fulfilled: The Joyous Christmas Season
- The Start of a New Year - Advent
- The Liturgical Year - Christ's Life Relived Each Year