In part one of our Sacred Heart blog post discussed the very rich and interesting history of the Sacred Heart devotion. This second installment will discuss its relationship to other Catholic devotions closely connected with it, namely the Divine Mercy, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Connection with the Divine Mercy
On the cross after Jesus died, the centurion thrust his spear through Jesus' side and into his heart. We know this because blood and water (probably pericardial fluid) flowed out of this wound. In the Divine Mercy image revealed to St. Faustina, the red and white rays signify the blood and water which flowed from the side of Jesus at the point of the centurion's spear, that is, out of his heart.
In The Diary of Faustina Kowalska, Jesus explained the meaning of the revealed image to St. Faustina, "The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.... These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross."
The Divine Mercy devotion focuses on the infinite and generous mercy of Jesus as he willingly gave himself up to reconcile us to God the Father. And in the quote above we see that this Divine Mercy is closely connected with his Sacred Heart, because it is from his great love that his infinite mercy pours out, just as it was due to the piercing of his heart on the cross that his blood and water poured out.
In addition to this physical wound, devotion to the Sacred Heart is also about the wound of love Christ endures in giving himself up completely and being often rejected or ignored by the ungratefulness of men.
Connection with the Holy Eucharist
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is also closely connected with devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Gertrude and St. Margaret Mary, Jesus shows that the Sacred Heart is more than a symbol used to represent his love; his Sacred Heart is also his real heart of flesh. The object of the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion thus became connected with a devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; that is, his soul and divinity, and his body and blood. The real, physical Sacred Heart of Jesus is made present to us in the Eucharist!
Many Eucharistic miracles attest to this fact. On several occasions a consecrated host that has been the subject of a Eucharist miracle (that is, appearing as blood and human tissue to the naked eye) has been scientifically analyzed. You can read stories of the many Eucharistic Miracles here. In one instance, the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, the flesh is cardiac tissue with an AB blood type! When we are adoring the Real Presence of Jesus during Eucharistic Adoration, and receiving Holy Communion at Mass, we are adoring and consuming the real flesh and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus' Sacred Heart, given up in love for our salvation. This is simply profound!
Connection with the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Sacred Heart is also tied to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is no coincidence that the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the day following the Sacred Heart feast day. Because Mary is Jesus' mother, Jesus received his human nature from her. That is, Jesus received his flesh and blood, including the organ of his heart, from Mary. Even more profoundly is the connection of Mary's heart with the heart of Jesus during the Passion. When Mary presented Jesus in the temple after his birth, Simeon revealed to her that because of Jesus' sufferings, “a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35). Her suffering would be intimately connected to the suffering of Jesus on the cross. It is for this reason that the image of the Miraculous Medal revealed by Mary to St. Catherine Laboure has the letter “M” at the foot of the cross and entwined with it, below which is the image of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart side by side. From the moment of the Annunciation through the Passion and into eternity, Mary is a special creature intimately connected to Jesus with a unique role to play in the salvation of mankind. Read more about the connection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Eucharist here.
Saints Who Had a Devotion to the Sacred Heart
St. Gertrude, St. Mechtilde, St. Clare, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and Pope John Paul II, to name a few, are saints who had a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These saints wanted to have a heart like His. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus includes prayer, frequent Holy Communion, visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle or monstrance, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Blessed Virgin Mary. In addition there are the particular devotions revealed specifically to St. Margarent Mary for widespread devotion in the universal Church: The Sacred Heart Feast Day, The First Friday Devotion, and the veneration of an image of the Sacred Heart. With these devotions Jesus eagerly awaits to shower us with special graces.
The Sacred Heart Feast Day
Jesus asked St. Margaret Mary for a special feast day in honor of His Sacred Heart. He specifically asked for this feast day to fall on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, which is the feast dedicated to the body and blood of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. His words were, "I demand that the First Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honor My Heart; that, on this day, reparation be made to It with special solemnity, that the faithful receive Holy Communion in reparation for the indignities which It has received on the altars; and I promise that My Heart will expand to pour out in abundance the treasures of Divine love on those who render It this honor.”
The first feast of the Sacred Heart took place in 1670 in France, and at the request of the French bishops the Sacred Heart feast day was extended to the universal Church in 1856 by Pope Pius IX. It is celebrated on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, as requested by Jesus.
In addition to the annual Sacred Heart feast day, the First Friday devotion is also reserved for special devotion the Sacred Heart of Jesus in reparation for the sins of mankind towards Jesus' loving heart. Jesus promised special graces to those who attend Mass on the first Friday of every month for nine consecutive months. His words to St. Margaret Mary were, "I promise you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments, My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
All of these special promises of Jesus for those with a special devotion to His Sacred Heart can be found in the book penned by St. Margaret Mary called The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
The Sacred Heart Enthronement
After revealing to St. Margaret Mary the image of his Sacred Heart (which is a heart surrounded by the crown of thorns, with flames of love and a cross just above it), Jesus promised even more graces to those who would keep and venerate the image in their home. Jesus promised St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that, "I will bless the home in which the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored." Buy an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus here and be sure to have it blessed and give it a place of honor in your home with a special “enthronement” ceremony. The Sacred Heart heart enthronement is a wonderful way to bring the love of Jesus into your heart, your marriage, and your family.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Additionally, with the request for devotion to His Sacred Heart, Jesus gave 12 promises to those who faithfully do so. You can read about those promises here.
After all of this information in this article, hopefully you will have a new and deeper appreciation for the depth and richness of Jesus' love for us, and the great graces he bestows on us through our simple and humble devotion to Him. Hopefully when you received Holy Communion, your love for the heart of Jesus will grow as you appreciate in a deeper way this great gift of Himself he gives to us in the Blessed Sacrament. He does not want our hearts for God, for others, and for heaven to grow cold, so he provides a way for our hearts to burn just like His!
Special prayers to the Sacred Heart: Sacred Heart Novena Prayers and Act of Consecration & Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart.
Do you have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? If show, please share with our readers below how you have been blessed by the promises Jesus gave to those who have a special devotion to His Sacred Heart.