Church Celebrates The Most Sacred Heart Of Jesus

No feast in the Church’s calendar, except Christmas, has ever come close in popularity to that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

For the last two centuries, devotion to the Sacred Heart was one of the cornerstones of Catholic piety, whether in the universal church or in our homes.

Consider the various symbols and devotions we grew up with — the act of consecration of individuals and families, the litany of the Sacred Heart, the practice of reparation, the Holy Hour, the nine First Fridays, the League of the Sacred Heart, the Messenger of the Sacred Heart, the radio programmes… All these were a part of a complex system of meaning and value which shaped Catholics for generations.

What was the appeal of this devotion and what did it say to us?

In the words of the opening prayer of the Mass of today: “the thoughts of his heart reach out to every generation, to rescue them from death and feed them in time of famine.” The symbol of the Sacred Heart symbolizes the undying love of God in Jesus for each one of us, a love which reaches across generations. It’s a love which ‘feeds us in famine’, and ‘rescues us from death.’ In other words, it’s a love which nourishes and saves.

This love is exemplified in the many ways in which the Gospels depict Jesus. He is the good shepherd seeking out the lost sheep. He is the healer, who never turns away anyone who asks for healing of body or of spirit. He is the servant, who washes the feet of his disciples, and says that he ‘came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ He is Jesus on the cross, whose pierced side poured out blood and water.

When we consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we remember all this and more. We celebrate the eternal love of the Father for us, given concrete expression in the human heart of his Son.

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