My dear people of St. Mary’s:
This week we celebrate Father’s Day. You will notice that our Father’s Day envelopes have been placed on either side of the tabernacle. These contain the names of all our fathers, living and deceased, who are remembered in our Father’s Day Novena of Masses. As we do each year for Mother’s day, these envelopes will remain on the altar for the balance of the month as a prayerful reminder of what we owe our fathers.
June is also the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated this year on Friday, June 7. Devotion to the Sacred Heart has its roots in Sacred Scripture:
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.[Jn 19: 33-4]
It was at this moment, in a sense, that the Church was born from the Sacred Heart of our Lord: the water representing the water of baptism, and the blood representing the Holy Eucharist. Devotion to the pierced, Sacred Heart of Jesus seems to begin specifically with St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). It would then develop further in the Thirteenth Century, especially among the Franciscans who would promote devotion to Our Lord’s Passion, and His Sacred Wounds, which includes the wound to His Heart. The great Franciscan, Saint Bonaventure wrote: “Who is there who would not love this wounded heart? Who would not love in return, Him, who loves so much?” The earliest known hymn to the Sacred Heart, Summi Regis Cor Aveto, is thought to have been written by Bl. Herman Joseph (d. 1241) of Cologne, Germany. The hymn begins: “I hail Thee kingly Heart most high.”
However, when most people think of this devotion, they think of the visionary of the Sacred Heart, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690). A Visitation nun in the convent of Paray-le-Monial in Burgundy, France, she received visions of our Lord for eighteen months between 1673 and 1675. On one occasion, Jesus, pointing to His Sacred Heart, said to her:
Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus. Therefore, I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor My Heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart would be celebrated first privately by the sisters, and then throughout France. Later, spreading here and there throughout Europe, it was in 1856 that Pope Pius IX extended the feast to the universal Church.
Let us remember this important devotion in this month, and take our Lord’s words to our hearts: Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!