Friday, June 14, 2013


German (Beuron)
Devotion to the Sacred Heart can be seen as early as the second century with St. Justin Martyr and in the 7th century with Pope Gregory the Great. Writers throughout these centuries emphasized the pierced side of Christ as the inexhaustible source from which all graces flow upon mankind and the blood and water as symbols of the sacraments of the Church. With the coming of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and  St. Anselm in the 12th century, there was a sudden increase in direct reference to the love of the Sacred Heart for every person redeemed by His Passion and Death.

The widespread influence of Franciscan and Dominican Friars enkindled this devotion in the hearts of the faithful who heard their preaching. The focus on the Sacred Heart moved from being a symbol of the sacraments, to the symbol of Divine Love.

In the Middle Ages Saints Gertrude and Mechtild further this devotion. The editor of St. Gertrude’s writings, Revelations, (Dom Boutrais of Soesmes) stated: “Never before…has anything been written on the effect of the divine Heart and its relation to men, to saints, to the souls in Purgatory, such as we find in the writings of St. Gertrude and St. Mechtild´.

Odilon Redon (d. 1916)

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90) was the cloistered nun  who we think of when we mention a saint devoted to the Heart of Christ. She entered the Daughters of the Visitation, founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, in 1671. Although devotion to the Heart of Jesus was already important to the order prior to St. Margaret Mary’s entrance, it would be through her that public devotion to the Sacred Heart would be practiced universally in the Catholic Church.

St. Margaret Mary- C. Giaquinto 1725

She had help to carry out the mission entrusted to her, with St. Claude la Columbiere, a Jesuit priest, who became  her Spiritual Director. He was the first to believe in the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. Thanks to his support, her superior also believed, and wide spread propagation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the Universal Church began. From then on, the Jesuits became the chief propagators of the devotion to the Sacred Heart which flourished throughout the subsequent centuries.

My own Jesuit academic and spiritual adviser in College (Creighton U.) had a great devotion to the Sacred and wrote a very scholarly book entitled The Sacred Heart: A Commentary on  Hauraitis Aquas.  Thus Father Alban  Dachauer, S.J. enocuraged me in this devotion and today it remains one of my favorite feasts of  the year.

"He showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such crowds of them, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure for Him all the honor and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which this Heart is the source".

Br. Mickey McGrath

"He should be honored under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and its image should be exposed…He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing it special honor, He would pour forth His blessings and graces. This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion.”…. “The devotion is so pleasing to Him that He can refuse nothing to those who practice it.”
 -Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. MM- Br. McGrath

The Devotion to the Divine Mercy, given to St. Faustina Kowalska in 1931, is a broadened devotion to the Sacred Heart. From this devotion our trust in God’s limitless love and mercy is rekindled. The incomprehensible treasures which we have in the sacraments are symbolized in the blood and water gushing forth from the Heart of Christ. The devotion to the Sacred Heart has flowered and has seemed to come full circle in the devotion to the Divine Mercy, particularly in its emphasis on the graces flowing from the Heart of Jesus, healing and forgiving souls, through the Sacraments of Mercy. 

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