Sacred Heart of Jesus

As a devotional practice, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has experienced its fair share of highs and lows. Ever since 1673 when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received a vision of Jesus Christ, His heart visible with love and suffering, the devotion has been an important practice and reminder for Roman Catholics the world over (Knight 26). However, throughout the centuries that followed, the extent of that importance in the daily lives of believers has greatly fluctuated.

During the French Revolution, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was used to combat the revolution itself and all the bloodshed and sentiment against the Church it brought with it. Recently however, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has experienced a sort of, “cardiac arrest” (Borchard 9). A question that often plagues the hearts of those who adhere to these prayers and devotions is, does a lack of consistency equal a lack of significance? I would argue that it does not. Just like most facets of society, religious practices experience an ebb and flow of popularity. This changing sort of enthusiasm can be seen everywhere from the increased church attendance that results after a current national tragedy to all of the Israelites’ Biblical history. While it is not immune to these trends, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has enough physiological and traditional evidence to warrant its continued practice.
Imagery, particularly that of Christ’s heart, plays a key role within the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Humankind has always had a fascination with the heart; British author Louisa Young even devoted an entire book to its medical and artistic use in 2003. Arts have long used the heart to explain the origins of love and pain. All the attention aside though, the heart remains very personal. Each living person has a working one, and with each beat we are reminded of our contingency, an inability to willfully pump our own life sustaining blood. No reason or insight can make a heart beat. Rather, our lives are dependent upon an outside force. Christians know that this force is the one true Lord and Savior.
Even with this knowledge, our hearts remain wicked, cold, and selfish. While we cannot make them beat, we can curb our behavior with the help of Christ. What better image to remind us of the inherent benefits that come from intentional sanctification than with an image of Jesus’s heart? A heart whose love for His children outweighed the real pain that He felt on the cross. While word order is not the strongest component of hermeneutics, there stands to reason a careful look at Deuteronomy 6:5-6 “And thou shalt love the Lord your God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Use the image of Jesus’s heart and the active member that beats in your chests as a reminder to strive for a better relationship in the Word and Sacrament.

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially to the Word of God.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts.
Heart of Jesus, in whom art all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.

Works Cited
Knight, David M. “Heart Of The Matter.” America 199.15 (2008): 26-29. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Aug. 2013.
Therese J. Borchard, et al. “Contemporary Catholics On Traditional Devotions.” America 188.8 (2003): 14. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Aug. 2013.

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