Month of the Sacred Heart

June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Some people might dismiss this devotion as outdated. That is a shame. The meaning behind this title is awesome and makes it relevant.

To us, a heart means the entire person, one’s whole being, the core of oneself, the most important part. We say, “I love you with all my heart,” a “heart-to-heart conversation,” “put your heart into it,” “heartfelt praise,” and so on. When we refer to the heart of Jesus then, we mean his whole person, human and divine. When we say Jesus loves us with his whole heart, we mean with all his being. And that is the heart of the matter! It’s said that one reason that God became human was so that he could love us with a human heart. The love we enjoy from anyone else is a tiny reflection of the tremendous love God has for us.

The heart is a symbol of love. Jesus loves us more than anyone else loves us. My goodness, he sacrificed his life for us! And as he said, there’s “no greater love.” It’s no coincidence that as Jesus hung on the cross, it’s his heart that was pierced with a lance.

Such extreme love calls for love in return. When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary in the seventeenth century and asked her to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart, he said some of the saddest words ever spoken: “Behold this heart that has so loved and is so little loved in return.” Unrequited love is a shame; unrequited divine love is tragic.

As a result of Jesus’s request, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart became celebrated on the Friday nineteen days after Pentecost. The Jesuits were charged with promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart. People had Sacred Heart scapulars or badges, families were consecrated to the Sacred Heart and his image was enthroned in their homes, Catholics began going to Communion on nine consecutive Fridays and prayed the Litany to the Sacred Heart.

Divine Mercy devotion is related to the sacred heart. In a vision St. Faustina saw Jesus with a red ray and a white ray emanating from his heart. He explained that the rays represented the blood and water that flowed from his pierced heart. Jesus instructed St. Faustina to have this vision painted. When she first saw his image painted under her directions, she wept in disappointment and said to Jesus, “Who will paint you as beautiful as you are?”

June is the most popular month for weddings. This month then is the ideal time to rekindle our love for Jesus. How? We can read the Gospels, accounts of his life, with fresh eyes. We can open our ears to hear him speak personally to our hearts through them. We can spend extra time aware of his ever-present presence and bask in his love. We can participate more fully in the Eucharist, his farewell gift to us where we are nourished by his whole being.

We have an unquenchable thirst for something more. It’s said that our heart is like a puzzle with a piece missing. Only God will complete it. Conversely, the human heart of Jesus possibly is missing a piece: you!

In the artistic rendition of the Sacred Heart, flames fan out from the heart. These symbolize that Jesus is burning with love for us. In some pictures Jesus is offering his heart to us. Would that we were on fire with love for him, a love that impels us to introduce others to him.

St. Augustine said, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him, the greatest adventure, to find him, the greatest human achievement.”

• How does the Sacred Heart devotion figure in your spiritual life?

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