The feast of the Sacred Heart is a feast that started with the devotion fostered by Carthusian and Jesuit priests and promoted by St. Francis de Sales. The devotion became especially popular following the disclosure of private revelations to a French Visitandine nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in the late 17th century. Assisted by Claude de la Colombière, her confessor, she asked to establish a feast in honor of the Sacred Heart and for prayers of reparation for sins, especially those directed against the Eucharist. In 1856 Pope Pius IX introduced the feast into the general calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Margaret had several visions and encounters with Jesus; in one of her visions, she was instructed to spend an hour every Thursday night meditating on Jesus' Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, a practice known as "The Holy Hour," that later became widespread.
In December 1673,
On a second vision, Jesus allowed St. Margaret to rest her head on His heart. His human heart was to be the symbol of His divine-human love. He revealed to her the wonders of His love. He explained to her that he wished to make these wonders known to all the world and that she was chosen to promote His wonders.
Convicted and obedient Margaret Mary convinced her superior that her visions were authentic. Making others believe was a challenge she faced, even among those in her community. By God's grace, Margaret gained support from the community's confessor, St. Claude de la Colombiere, who declared her visions as genuine. Finally, all opposition from the community regarding Margaret's visions ended in 1683. and she became Novice Mistress, led the monastery in observing the Feast of the Sacred Heart privately, and inspired the construction of a chapel built to honor the Sacred Heart.
"I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus."
What does the feast of the Sacred Heart invite us to?
I did some research preparing for this article, and what better resource than asking a Jesuit, right? Jesuits have protected and promoted devotion until today. One of my Jesuit friend’s Brother Mike, shared with me an Examen that he wrote to reflect on the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Examen Prayer aims for us to ponder on the characteristics of His Sacred Heart.
A heart outside of the body, a heart with a fire flame, wrapped in thorns bleeding for us.
Like St Margaret was instructed to enter into the image of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, this feast encourages us to aim to love as Jesus did; Totally, freely and sacrificially.
Here are some of the questions from Br. Mike Martinez SJ.
Jesus' heart is Vulnerable ( outside of his body)
- Have you hidden your heart from anyone today?
- Is there someone or something you are afraid to give your whole heart to?
- How is God inviting you to greater vulnerability this week?
Jesus' heart is Set on Fire.
- Has there been a moment today where your heart was set on fire with joy or love?
- Have you felt God's presence today? A presence that gives you consolation and peace?
- Have you felt your heart cold or slothful?
- What kind of activities have you been passionate about today?
Jesus' heart is Crowned with Thorns
- What have you sacrificed today?
- Is there something that you should have sacrificed today and did not because of selfishness or getting ahead?
- Is there something you are committed to offering up in union with Christ's own crowned heart?
Let us celebrate this feast of the Sacred Heart with an open heart, a heart ready to love as Jesus did!
Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!