Posts Tagged Sacred Heart of Jesus

Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

by Reverend Irenaeus Schoenherr, O.F.M.

Most Sacred Heart of Christ the King

God has always dealt with men in a way consonant with their nature – by drawing them to His Holy Will by promises of reward. It was so with His dealings with the chosen people under the Old Dispensation. It was the way of Christ in the New, promising even a hundredfold return for compliance with His desires. And so it is in the history of the revelation and propagation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

‘That men might more readily respond to that wonderful and overflowing desire of love,’ wrote Leo XIII in his Encyclical Annum Sacrum (1899) on the devotion, ‘Jesus, by the promise of rich rewards, called and drew all men to Him.’ Saint Margaret Mary in her writings insists again and again on the ardent desire of Christ to pour out blessings with a royal generosity on those who would honour His Divine Heart and return Him love for love.

These Promises of the Sacred Heart, in the form in which they are now popularly known and approved by the Church, far surpass in variety, universality and importance those attached to any other exercises of devotion in the Church.

They are addressed to all sorts of persons: to the fervent, the tepid, and the sinful. They embrace every condition of life: priests, religious, and seculars. They promise relief to the afflicted, strength to the tempted, consolation to the sorrowful, peace to the family, blessings in the home, success in our enterprises, mercy to the sinner, high sanctity to fervent souls, courage to the cold of heart. They promise power to the priest to soften the hardest hearts. They promise strength and courage on our deathbed, and tell us of the priceless gift of final perseverance and of a refuge in the Heart of Christ at the last moment.

What greater or more valuable favours than these could even the omnipotent and boundless love and goodness of the Sacred Heart bestow on us? These Promises help us to an understanding of the truth of Saint Margaret Mary’s glowing words: ‘Jesus showed me how this devotion is, as it were, the final effort of His love, the last invention of His boundless Charity.’

First Promise: ‘I will give to My faithful all the graces necessary in their state of life.’

The duties of our daily life are numerous and often difficult. God grants us in response to prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments all the necessary graces for our state of life. There are also extraordinary graces which lie outside the usual action of God’s Providence, graces that He gives to His special friends. These are more efficacious graces, more plentifully given to the clients of the Sacred Heart.

Second Promise: ‘I will establish peace in their homes.’

‘Gloria in excelsis Deo! Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.’

‘Peace is the tranquillity of order, the serenity of mind, simplicity of heart, the bond of charity.’ (Saint Augustine) It was the first thing the Angels wished to men at the birth of Jesus. Our Lord Himself bade His disciples to invoke it: ‘Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!”‘ (Luke 10:5) In the Heart of Jesus will be found the true peace, that makes the home the reflex and anticipation of our heavenly Home.

Third Promise: ‘I will comfort them in all their afflictions.’

The desire to comfort the sorrowful is the mark of a noble and kind heart. The Sacred Heart is the most noble and generous of hearts, both human and divine. How does He console us? Not necessarily by freeing us from sorrow and affliction. He knows the priceless value of the cross – that we have sins to expiate. By His grace, He makes what is painful tolerable. ‘I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all our troubles.’ (2 Corinthians 7:4)

Fourth Promise: ‘I will be their secure refuge in life, and above all in death.’

Saint Longinus pierced the side of Jesus with a lance.

‘One of the soldiers opened His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.’ (John 19:34) Christ’s side was opened to show that Divine Providence wished all men to find in His Divine Heart an assured refuge against the enemies of our salvation. In His Heart we can find protection, strength in our frailty, perseverance in our inconstancy, assured refuge in the dangers and toils of life, and at the hour of death.

Fifth Promise: ‘I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.’

‘God is love.’ He is ready to give His children abundant temporal blessings as long as they do not imperil our eternal interests. His ‘special’ Providence protects and watches over those devoted to the Sacred Heart with peculiar love and tenderness. However, we should not be discouraged if our prayers for temporal favours are not always answered, for God always puts our eternal good before our temporal good.

Sixth Promise: ‘Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.’

The Redemption is the immortal drama of God’s mercy; and our Divine Redeemer is, as it were, God’s Mercy Incarnate. ‘With the Lord is kindness and with Him plenteous Redemption.’ (Psalms 129:7) On earth the Heart of Christ was full of mercy toward all. Now in His glorified humanity in Heaven Jesus continues to show forth His boundless mercy, ‘always living to make intercession for us’. (Hebrews 7:25)

Seventh Promise: ‘Tepid souls shall become fervent.’

Lukewarmness is a languid dying state of the soul that has lost its interest in religion. The Holy Spirit expresses deep disgust for such a soul: ‘You are neither cold nor hot … I am about to vomit you out of My mouth.’ (Apocalypse 3:15) The only remedy for it is devotion to the Sacred Heart, Who came ‘to cast fire on earth’, that is., to inspire the cold and tepid heart with new fear and love of God.

Eighth Promise: ‘Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.’

High perfection is the reward that Christ bestows on the fervent clients of His Divine Heart; for this devotion has, as its special fruit, to transform us into a close resemblance to our Blessed Lord. This is done by kindling in our hearts the fire of divine love, which, as Saint Paul says, ‘is the bond of perfection’. (Colossians 3:14) Through devotion to the Sacred Heart self-love will give way to an ardent zeal for His interests.

Ninth Promise: ‘I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honoured.’

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Furnace of Charity

Religious pictures are a powerful appeal and inspiration. The Sacred Heart is an open book wherein we may read the infinite love of Jesus for us in His Passion and Death. He shows us His Heart, cut open by the lance, all aglow like a fiery furnace of love, whose flames appear bursting forth from the top. It is encircled with thorns, the anguishing smarts of unheeded love. May it ever impel us to acts of love and generosity.

Tenth Promise: ‘I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.’

The conversion of a sinner calls sometimes for extraordinary graces. God never forces the free will of a human being. But He can give actual graces with which He foresees the sinner will overcome the resisting attitude of the most obstinate sinful soul. This, then, is what occurs in the case of priests who are animated with great devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Eleventh Promise: ‘Those who promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.’

This Promise holds out to promoters of devotion to the Sacred Heart a wonderful reward; they ‘shall have their names written in My Heart’. These words imply a strong and faithful friendship of Christ Himself, and present to us the ‘Book of Life’ of Saint John: ‘I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life.’ (Apocalypse 3:5)

Twelfth Promise: ‘To those who shall communicate on the First Friday, for nine consecutive months, I will grant the grace of final penitence.’

This Promise contains a great reward, which is nothing less than heaven. ‘Final perseverance is a gratuitous gift of God’s goodness, and cannot be merited as an acquired right by any individual act of ours.’ (Council of Trent) It is given as the reward for a series of acts continued to the end: ‘He who has persevered to the end will be saved.’ (Matthew 10:22)

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Relevance of the Sacred Heart Today

taken from Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of Saint Louis de Monfort

Sacred Heart of Jesus the King

Although some of our contemporaries show a certain lack of enthusiasm for devotion to the Sacred Heart (and some of its iconography is admittedly in poor taste), this devotion is bound up with the very foundation of our faith, which acknowledges that Christ is one person – the Eternal and most adorable Wisdom – in two natures: human and divine. We are therefore justified in worshipping his Heart as an appropriate object of the adoration given to him and as the most profound expression of what humanity of all ages has recognized as the symbol of their noblest sentiments. Adoration of the Heart of Christ is strong testimony that this man Jesus is personally our God. The Heart of Jesus is the Heart of our Incarnate God.

Devotion to the Heart of Jesus gives a new, ‘intelligent’ (‘intus legere’, ‘to read deep within’), and penetrating insight into the Word of God, Who has kept on saying to humanity from the beginning of its history, ‘I will take you for my wife … in steadfast love and in mercy.’ (Osee 2:21–22) Jesus carried this love to extremes during his earthly life by lavishing blessings on those suffering physically and mentally: ‘They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well: he even makes the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.”’ (Mark 7:37)

Saint Louis de Montfort and Bl. Marie Louise Trichet

How have humans repaid him? Their fickle hearts have repeatedly broken ‘the everlasting covenant’ (Isaias 24:5) that God made with them and have repaid Him only with ingratitude. [Saint Louis de] Montfort said in his time,

‘It was that blood-stained mouth
That spoke seventeen hundred years ago;
In a dying and living voice –
Words that I can hardly understand.’

These words are no less relevant at the threshold of the third millennium:

‘As the world nears its end I open,
My Heart burning with love for sinners.
But to My advances they respond
Only with cold indifference.’

In 1990, on the occasion of the three-hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Margaret Mary, Pope John Paul II wrote to Bishop Raymond Séguy of Autun that Saint Margaret Mary ‘was conveying to us an ever-relevant message’, and he urged that it be made ‘more widely known’. At a time when humankind worldwide fills the air with groans of misery and loneliness and rushes headlong after false and elusive happiness, the Sacred Heart repeats with more aptness than ever: ‘Come to me, all you that are … carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28)

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

All the writings of Montfort are pervaded with these sentiments of the Heart of Jesus. Like his writings, his social and missionary activity was steeped in the compassionate understanding of human beings that characterises the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In this connection, reading his writings again with a different approach may be necessary for some who have only a superficial knowledge of him. The new evangelisation is a much talked about topic nowadays, but the implication is that the world has lost the sense of the Good News that Christ brought two thousand years ago, and, in its bewilderment, looks to a host of self-styled saviours, as shown by the vast number of new religions. We live in a time of great confusion; the sheep are scattered, and the number of ‘lost sheep’ keeps growing.

‘Oh, I have lost a precious soul;
My sheep has gone astray.
My Sacred Heart is deeply grieved
Because my sheep has surrendered to my worst enemies.’

It takes missionaries of Montfort’s stamp to care for the lost sheep.

‘Shall I stand by and see, indeed,
My brother die in sin
With heart unmoved?
Great Lord, not I!’

In the spiritual economy, in the eyes of the Heart of Jesus, there is neither inflation nor recession. In Year 2000, as in Year 1 of the Christian era, the value of a human soul is the same.

‘God alone knows its invaluable price …
The price of the blood of Jesus Christ.’

Montfort’s writings make it clear that once devotion to the Sacred Heart has been renewed in the light of Scripture and with the help of reliable human sciences, it can be a radical remedy for the evils of our day, especially in the struggle against the tendency to regard each human being as a mere interchangeable number. ‘In this context, the Heart of Jesus reminds men and women that their immortal destiny transcends their economic power and their social role within societies of mortals; they are the object of a personal love as individuals on the part of the One Who, for the sake of all human beings, agreed to take a human body of flesh and bone and assume the human sufferings of all human hearts of all times (cf. Matthew 8:17, Isaias 53:4) through His Incarnation, which was not only ontological and physical but also psychological and universal in Its effects …

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Devotion to the Sacred Heart

taken from Chapter IV of The Prophets and Our Times by Reverend R. Gerald Culleton

There is evidence that it was the will of Our Divine Lord that devotion to the Sacred Heart be reserved for the last ages of the world, so that, in the last great struggle between Himself and Satan, the souls that He loves so dearly may be drawn to Him with renewed warmth, and thus strengthened against the final desperate attacks of the enemy.

Demons tempted Saint Anthony the Hermit unceasingly.

In the times preceding the end of the world, Satan and his cohorts were to be loosed upon the earth in a mighty effort to draw as many souls as possible away from God, before the power of Hell would be remarkably restricted, if not completely broken. Satan’s mission is one of hate. God wins souls through love. Our Blessed Saviour knew that the hatred which would be rampant in those evil days could be best conquered by a devotion which would inspire love and charity in the hearts of men. It was to serve, as it were, as a magnet and a bulwark of strength by giving men a clearer knowledge of God’s deep and abiding love and mercy. It would provide a harbour of peace and security in those days of confusion and anguish, when men’s souls would be tried almost beyond endurance.

In all times of great distress or danger, God has provided men with the means of conquering evil, as evidenced by the history of the world, both before the time of Christ, but especially since the Redemption. To mention just one of the instances of divine intervention when a special devotion was given to the world at a crucial period, let us consider the Rosary. In the thirteenth century, when the Albigenses were preaching their vicious doctrines against marriage, and the spread of this heresy seriously endangered the morals of the people, Saint Dominic began preaching against them. He had but little success until Our Blessed Lady appeared to him and told him to encourage devotion to the Rosary. This was done and the heresy quickly disappeared.

Saint Gertrude, in the fourteenth century, who often conversed with the Beloved Disciple Saint John, on one occasion asked him why he, who loved our Blessed Lord so fervently, had never written anything about the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He explained to her his mission was to expound the Doctrine of the Incarnation and that as for the Love of the Incarnate Word as exemplified by His Divine Heart, it was reserved for the last ages to make it known, ‘so that the world, carried away by follies, may regain a little of the warmth of early Christian charity by learning of the love of the Sacred Heart’.

‘Behold this Heart Which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return.’

It was on the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, three centuries later in 1647, that Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and made certain promises to those who had a special devotion to His Sacred Heart, which promises were destined to become the means of salvation to so many countless Christians. Regarding this vision, the Saint explained, ‘I understand that this devotion to the Sacred Heart was a last effort of His love towards Christians of these latter times, by proposing to them an object and a means so calculated to persuade them to love Him.’

In 1815, Mother Maria Rafols wrote concerning her own visions at the urgent insistence of Our Blessed Lord, in the hope that many, after reading what He told her, would turn from their evil ways, and have recourse to His Merciful Heart.

Much of what she has written is prophetic, and concerns itself – in part –  with the destiny of Spain. Referring to her own Mother House at Saragoza, Spain, Mother Rafols wrote that the Sacred Heart would perform such wonders there as to win many sinners away from their corrupted lives. It is worthy of note that although the Communists laid siege to the city of Saragoza, it was never captured – as foretold by Mother Rafols.

Our Lord promised her that no matter what means men might invent to destroy the faith in Spain, they would be unsuccessful and that He would reign there until the end of time, because of the love of the just and chaste souls who would always live in Spain. This prophecy, only recently unearthed, must have been of great comfort to the good Christians during the trying days of the Civil War.

So forgotten would be the Word of God in the days to come, that men would even scandalise and pervert innocent children, and endeavour to obliterate His Blessed Name from their memory. This was true in Spain, and is true in many other countries today.

There would be such moral corruption, not only in Spain, but in the entire world, that God would be forced to destroy entire cities – should they fail to reform – after His call. This is already being fulfilled and no doubt vastly greater destruction will befall the world before God is appeased.

The Divine Love of the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist

It was written that these things would be taking place when the documents would be found. They were found in 1931. Our Lord further told Mother Rafols that there is one thing that hurts His Sacred Heart still more, and that is to be forgotten, offended and despised by souls consecrated to Him. They sometimes forget how dearly He loves His chosen ones, how eagerly He waits in the tabernacle for them to come to Him for inspiration and assistance in the great mission of saving souls. He wants them to be humble and chaste, and to practice true charity towards one another, and thus, avoid giving scandal. He desires that His priests be living models of Himself and that they propagate devotion to His Sacred Heart.

He wishes that all men have greater love for one another so that there can be peace on earth, and greater love for Him. The Sacred Heart was very sad because of the sacrileges men would commit on account of their coldness toward Him. He said that many would not only not heed the commands of Holy Mother Church, but would actually persecute her and seek to destroy her. Priests and religious would be treated with great disrespect.

He desires that men perform acts of satisfaction to forestall the wrath of Divine Justice, and that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be made a Holy Day of Obligation and that all the faithful receive Holy Communion on that day. (It is a Holy Day of Obligation in Spain.)

To those who devoutly wear the image of His Sacred Heart (that is, a Sacred Heart Badge), He promised great graces and special protection at the hour of their death. He said that in times to come, many souls would propagate the devotion to His Sacred Heart.

Pope Leo XIII

Since these three holy women connect this devotion with the latter days it seems significant that its spread is quite modern. It was not extended to the entire world until 1856 by Blessed Pope Pius IX; the whole human race was commended to the Sacred Heart by Leo XIII only in 1899; and a special act of consecration was prescribed by Pope Pius XI in 1929 to be recited throughout the entire world on the Feast of Christ the King.

In conclusion we may note that the prayers ordered by Pope Leo XIII to be said after Low Mass to ‘restrain’ Satan are followed by the threefold repetition of the ejaculation invoking the aid of the Sacred Heart for this purpose: ‘Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!’

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