to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Infinite Love and Mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ for us poor sinners
Meaning of this Devotion
The centuries-old Catholic Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What is its
object? The particular object of this devotion is the immense love of the Son
of God, which induced Him to deliver Himself up to death for us and to give Himself
entirely to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. The thought of all the ingratitude
and all the outrages which He was to receive in this state of immolated Victim
until the end of time did not prevent Him from operating this prodigy; He preferred
to expose Himself each day to the insults and opprobrium of men rather than be
prevented from testifying, by working the greatest of all miracles, to what excess
He loved us.
This has excited the piety and zeal of many people, for when they consider how
little the world is moved by this excess of love, how little men love Jesus
Christ in return, and how little pains they take to be
loved by Him, His faithful friends have not been able to endure seeing Him treated
with such contempt day after day; they have endeavored to show their just sorrow
at such treatment, and by their ardent love, their profound respect and by special
acts of homage, to testify their great desire to make reparation to the utmost
of their capacity for this ingratitude and contempt.
With this end in view, they have chosen certain days of the year to recognize
in a more particular manner the extreme love which Jesus Christ has shown us
in the Blessed Sacrament, and at the same time to make some reparation of honor
to Him for all the indignities and all the contempt which our amiable Savior
has received and which He still receives every day in this mystery of love.
And certainly the regret which they show at the sight of the little love which
men have for Jesus Christ in this adorable Mystery, the sensible sorrow which
they feel at seeing Him so badly treated, these practices of devotion which
love alone suggests and which have as their sole object to make reparation as
far as possible for the outrages which He suffers there, are certain proofs
of the ardent love which they have for Jesus Christ and
visible marks of their just gratitude.
The object and the principal motive of the Sacred Heart devotion is, as has been
already said, the immense love which Jesus Christ has for men who, for the most
part, have nothing but contempt or at least indifference for Him. The end which
is proposed is, firstly, to recognize and honor as much as lies in our power by
our frequent adoration, by a return of love, by our acts of thanksgiving and by
every kind of homage, all the sentiments of tender love which Jesus Christ has
for us in the adorable Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist, where, however, He
is so little known by men, or at least so little loved even by these people who
know Him; secondly, to make reparation, by all possible means, for the indignities
and outrages to which His love has exposed Him during the course of His mortal
life, and to which this same love exposes Him every day in the Blessed Sacrament
of the altar.
This devotion consists, therefore, in ardently loving Jesus Christ, whom we
have always with us in the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, and in showing
this ardent love by our grief at seeing Him so little
honored by men, and by our acts of reparation for this contempt and this want
of love. But just as in the case of even the most spiritual devotions, we have
always need of material and sensible objects which
appeal to our human nature, act on the imagination and memory and facilitate
the practice, so in the case of this devotion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has
been chosen as the sensible object most worthy of our
veneration, and at the same time most proper for the end proposed by this devotion
In truth, even if we had no particular reasons to give to these exercises of
piety the title of "Devotion
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus;" it seems that we could not better express
the particular character of this devotion than by this title; for indeed this
devotion properly understood is nothing else than an exercise of love. Love
is its object, love is its motive and principle, and it is love that ought to
be its end. The heart of man is, says St. Thomas, in a certain manner, both
the source and the seat of love; its natural movements follow and continually
imitate the affections of the soul and serve to no small extent either by their
vehemence or their weakness to increase or diminish the passions. It is for
this reason that we commonly attribute to the heart the most tender sentiments
of the soul, and it is also that consideration which renders so precious the
hearts of the Saints.
From what has been said so far, it is easy to see what is meant by the devotion
to the Sacred Heart: by this devotion we mean the ardent love which we conceive
for Jesus Christ at the remembrance of all the
marvels which He has wrought to show His tender love for us, especially in the
Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the miracle of His love; we mean the keen
regret which we feel at the sight of the
outrages which men commit against Jesus Christ in this adorable Mystery; we
mean the ardent desire which presses us to leave nothing undone to make reparation
for these outrages by every possible means. That is what we mean by the devotion
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that is what it consists in. It cannot be reduced
as some people might think at seeing this title to merely loving
and honoring by
special worship this Heart of flesh like ours, which forms part of the adorable
Body of Jesus Christ.
It is not that the Sacred Heart is not worthy of our adoration; it suffices
to say that It is the Heart of Jesus Christ; and if His Sacred Body and His
Precious Blood deserve our respect and homage, who does
not see that His Sacred Heart has still more special claim to respect and homage?
And if we feel in ourselves such a strong attraction to the devotion to the
Sacred Wounds, should we not feel ourselves
still more penetrated with devotion to His Sacred Heart? What we wish to make
clear is that the word "heart" is taken here only in the figurative
sense, and that this Divine Heart considered as a part of
the adorable Body of Jesus Christ is, properly speaking, only the sensible object
of this devotion and that it is nothing less than the immense love which Jesus
Christ bears to us which is its principal motive.
Now as this love is altogether spiritual, it cannot be perceived by the senses.
It was necessary, therefore, to find a symbol, and what symbol could be more
proper and more natural for love than the heart?
For the same reason, the Church wishing to give us a sensible object for the
sufferings of the Son of God which are not less spiritual than His love, represents
to us the image of His Sacred Wounds; so that
the devotion to the Sacred Wounds is, properly speaking, only a particular devotion
to Jesus Christ suffering; in like manner the devotion to the Sacred Heart of
Jesus is a more warm-hearted and ardent
devotion towards Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, its principal motive
being the extreme love which He shows us in this Sacrament, and the principal
object, to make reparation for the contempt and the
outrages which He suffers in this same Sacrament.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus has, certainly, as much relation to His love, for
which we endeavor by this devotion to inspire sentiments of gratitude and love,
as the Sacred Wounds have to His sufferings, for
which the Church endeavors to inspire her children with sentiments of gratitude
and love by devotion to these Sacred Wounds. Now if people had at all times
such devotion to the Sacred Wounds of Jesus Christ, and if the Church, wishing
to inspire all her children with love for Jesus Christ, unceasingly puts before
their eyes these Sacred Wounds, what ought to be the effect of the remembrance
and of the image of the Sacred Heart?
We shall see later on that this devotion is not new; that several great Saints
confirmed the use of it by their example. We can claim that the Holy See authorized
the use of it under the same title, since
Clement X, by the bull of October 4, 1674, accorded great indulgences to an
association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the church of the Seminary of Coutance
consecrated in its honor, and our Holy Father, Pope Innocent XII, by a special
brief, has accorded a plenary indulgence in favor of the devotion to the Sacred
It is not necessary to give here the numerous reasons which show the solidity
of this devotion. It suffices to say that the immense love which Jesus has for
us, and of which He has given such a signal
proof in the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, is the principal motive; that
reparation for the contempt with which men have treated this love is the principal
end proposed; that the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, all inflamed with love for men, is the sensible object; and that a most
ardent and tender love for the adorable person of Jesus Christ ought to be the
Taken from Devotion
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by TAN
Books & Publishers, Inc.
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