Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Happy feast day! The beginnings of a devotion of the love of God symbolized by the heart of Jesus are found in the Fathers of the Church in the earliest centuries of Christianity. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart was then first celebrated in France in 1670. In 1856, Pope Pius IX established the Feast of the Sacred Heart as obligatory for the whole Church. Today, Michael Andrews, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lansing, explains why he has a great love and devotion to the the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He writes:
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus has great significance for me. The church where my parents were married was dedicated to the Sacred Heart. This was also the church where, just over forty years later, my father’s funeral was held, and over the generations, many other liturgies with my extended family. So, today’s solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds me of a common thread: the constant love and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ through every joy and every challenge of life.”
“The essence of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be summed up in two points: love and reparation. The entire plan of salvation – the incarnation, the Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection, the sending of the Holy Spirit and the institution of the sacraments – all of it is motivated by God’s unbounded love for us. So, if the Lord has shown us such overwhelmingly generous love, the most fitting response on our part is to love him in return with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This love too allows us to recognize the image of God in our neighbor, whom we are called to love as ourselves.”
“Of course, sin disfigures everything. On our own part, and in society, we don’t need to look very far to recognize that instead of love and gratitude, the gifts of God are too often treated with indifference, negligence, and even contempt. We could easily become discouraged, or, on the other hand, be strengthened by the fact that the love of God, and our call to participate in it, is always greater than any sin. In place of sin, we can find in Christ the healing remedy. On the spiritual level, we can make acts of expiation for the wounds of sin, joining with Christ crucified to repair relationships with God and neighbor. In her visions of Christ which began the modern expression of devotion to the Sacred Heart, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque stated that the Lord specifically asks for such acts of reparation, including receiving Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month, Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament, and prayer. The solemnity of the Sacred Heart is an opportunity to intensify these efforts, to return our love for God’s perfect love, and to ask for the grace of an ever-deeper conversion for ourselves and the world. In the words of the Psalmist: “Good indeed is the Lord, whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness lasts through every age.” (Psalm 100:5).”
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on Us.