The Sacred Heart represents Christ's love for all mankind, and our devotion to it is an expression of our faith in His mercy.The devotion especially emphasizes the unmitigated love, compassion, and long-suffering of the heart of Christ towards humanity.
The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Roman Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a mystical experience. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism (read more here).
On June 1, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics everywhere to renew their devotion to the Sacred Heart during the month of June.
Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term "Sacred Heart of Jesus" denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and sanctification of mankind. The "Sacred Heart" is Christ, the Word Incarnate, Saviour, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his brothers.
The origin of the idea of praying for a special intention for nine days is very attractive and worth thinking about - it comes from the alleged length of time that Mary and the eleven remaining disciples spent praying together in the upper room, waiting for the Spirit to come upon them at Pentecost. In our imitation of them in these nine days we'll surely be in good company, especially with Mary, the one who shows us what our attitude in prayer should be: she always trusted, despite confusion; she continued to hope, despite the seeming darkness. The disciples were a small community of fragile yet hopeful trust, of confusion yet deep desire within their hearts. In short, they were probably very much like ourselves at the beginning of this novena. On each day of the novena, try to have a few quiet moments with yourself or with others to reflect on the scripture passage. Then, in your own time, move on to the reflection and think about what it might say to you today. Then pass on to the short prayer and make it your own. Always end with the Novena Prayer and include in it any intention you would like to make.
Brendan Comerford, SJ
|SACRED HEART OF JESUS—|
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is depicted in a modern painting
by Stephen B. Whatley,
an expressionist artist based in London
Novena Prayer (to be said each day)
Lord Jesus, the needs of your people open your heart in love to each of us. You care for us when we are lost, sympathise with us in loneliness and comfort us in mourning; you are closest to us when we are weakest. You love us most when we love ourselves least; you forgive us most when we forgive ourselves least; you call us to spread your love in whatever way we can.
Lord Jesus, your heart is moved with compassion when we are suffering, when we need your help and when we pray for each other. I ask you to listen to my prayer during this novena, and grant what I ask (make your request silently). If what I ask is not for my own good and the good of others, grant me always what is best for me, that I may build up your kingdom of love in our world. Amen.
Over at the Irish Jesuits website Sacredspace.ie they have daily meditations for the novena.
The UK Jesuits also have online daily meditations and reflections
Some other links for the month of the Sacred Heart:
CatholicCulture.org provides a number of links and prayers associated with the devotion including a short scriptural support for the devotion to the Sacred Heart.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Theology of Benedict XVI
Pope Pius XII encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart - Haurietis Aquas
Homily of Pope John Paul II on his apostolic journey to Canada at Mass dedicated to the Heart of Christ (18th September 1984)