Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Sacred Heart as a model for your heart

Since 1873, by the approval of Pope Pius IX, the month of June has officially been consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In fact, this devotion had long been practiced privately by individuals and also locally by dioceses (especially in France).
As May is Lady Month, June is the Month of the Sacred Heart. During this month, the Church desires that all Christians (and indeed, all people throughout the world) find refuge in the Heart of the Savior. We pray: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make our hearts like unto thine!”
What, we ask, does the Heart of Jesus teach us about our own hearts? How is the Sacred Heart a model and exemplar for the heart of every Christian?

Indulgences attached to the Month of the Sacred Heart
Traditionally (though no longer in force), a number of indulgences were attached to acts of devotion to the Sacred Heart performed during this month – the most significant of which was a plenary indulgence granted for each Communion during June to those who promote the solemn adoration of the Sacred Heart during the month (cf. Acta Pontificia, IV, 388, 8 Aug., 1906).
Currently, the faithful may gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Sacred Heart (15 June, this year) through the public recitation of the act of reparation to the Sacred Heart, Iesu dulcissime – if the recitation is private (or on another day), a partial indulgence is granted. You will find this act of reparation [here] and at the bottom of this blog entry.
This act of reparation, together with the Litany of the Sacred Heart [here], would be most profitably recited daily (especially as a family) during the month of June.
The union of God and Man in the Sacred Heart of Jesus
In Christ, there is the most perfect union of humanity and divinity. This union is greater than every other created union, and is second only to that uncreated union of the three Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity.
In the Heart of Jesus, the fullness of the divinity deigned to dwell and find repose. In the Sacred Heart, the Trinity found greatest glory – a glory greater even than that which the three Persons receive from all the angels and saints in heaven!
We must recognize this: Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a devotion to the humanity of Christ our Savior. We worship the human Heart of Jesus; not only the beating organ, but the “Heart” as a symbol for the love of the incarnate and divine Person.
In the Litany of the Sacred Heart, we say that this Heart is the “Sacred Temple of God” and the “House of God”. Though we may not often think this way, the Church very clearly worships the human Heart of Jesus insofar as this Heart is the “Tabernacle of the Most High” and the dwelling place of the Trinity.
That our hearts may imitate the Sacred Heart
Now, through the hypostatic union, the human nature of our Savior was perfectly and wholly united to the divine nature in the Person of the Son. This is a union which is beyond any Christian.
However, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we see that our Lord (in his humanity) was united to the Trinity through grace – for it was through the highest and most perfect sanctifying grace that the Trinity dwelt in the Heart of Jesus. And, in this respect, Christ is a model for all Christians – for we too are called to be a Temple of God.
And how does the Christian imitate the Heart of Jesus, and make his own heart to be an abode for God himself? Our Savior tells us:
Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light. (Matthew 11:29-30)
As all the spiritual doctors tell us the same: Humility! Humility! Without this virtue, we will never be pleasing to God.
To be meek, that is to grow in that virtue which mitigates and restrains the passion of anger. By meekness, a man is made to be self-possessed. Thus, even amid turbulence and persecution, a constant peace reigns in his soul.
Humility, on the other hand, restrains pride and allows  a man to see himself as he truly stands before God – a mere creature before his Creator. This virtue is the foundation of the spiritual life.
It is odd that, even in the rare occasion when men pray God to grant them humility, they will revolt and become despondent when they suffer humiliations (just or unjust). But how can we grow in humility without the patient bearing of humiliations?!
You are not humble when you humble yourself, but when you are humbled by others and you bear it for Christ. (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way 594)
Iesu dulcissime, act of reparation to the Sacred Heart
Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is everywhere subject.
Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask your pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow you, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of your law.
We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against you; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holy-days, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against you and your Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which your Vicar on earth and your priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very Sacrament of your divine love, and lastly for the public crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which you have founded.
Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of your divine honor, the satisfaction you once made to your Eternal Father on the cross and which you continue to renew daily on our altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of your Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of your grace, for all neglect of your great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending you and to bring as many as possible to follow you.
O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to you, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make our hearts like unto thine!


Michelangelo said...

Dear Father,

Welcome back, happy Feast of St. Norbert, and thank you very much, I printed off the litany and the Act of Reparation and will pray them daily. I like your definition of meekness, the virtue which mitigates and restrains the passion of anger. And this, along with humility, to know that I am a mere creature before God, should always remind me to center the attention of my mind and soul on Our Lord and the Will of His Father, from whence comes my good and salvation. God bless you, Father.

Paddy said...

A clear & concise exposition of the devotion, Father ... & the act of reparation is particularly beautiful. Thank you for posting it.

Clinton R. said...


Is not the Lord's flesh we receive in the Holy Eucharist from His Sacred Heart? If I am not mistaken, Eucharistic miracles have indicated from the testing of the Holy Eucharist, that the flesh is from heart tissue. +JMJ+

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Clinton R.,
While it is true that, in the case of miracles, the Host takes the physical form of heart tissue ... the Eucharist is the whole body of Christ, and not only his heart organ ... it is the whole Christ who is present.

Still, thanks for reminding us of this very nice detail from the Eucharistic miracles! :-)

Steven R said...

Father excellent exposition, the prayers to the Sacred Heart are some of the most valuable prayers of the entire Church, or at least as I have seen them.

Out of curiosity for today's feast day, have you ever made a post about the Most Precious Blood of Christ and the Redemption of the Passion? I am sure many Catholics would benefit from this since many less learned and attentive Catholics do not know very much about the deep theology of this feast day. It certainly connects very strongly in my mind to tie the Most Precious Blood, the Sacred Heart, and the Divine Mercy devotions together.

May God bless you Father, I still try and pray for you whenever I remember you having taught me the teaching of the Church with regards to icons and images.

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