Would you like to have a heart-to heart encounter with our Lord? Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are a wonderful part of a devotion to His Sacred Heart that goes back centuries, practiced by such luminaries in our faith as St. Gertrude, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis De Sales, and St. John Eudes.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a 17th century French nun and mystic, received messages from Jesus in various apparitions concerning this devotion, and became a driving force behind spreading it publicly in the manner we know today.
This devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a powerful way of drawing closer to our Lord by joining our hearts to His Sacred Heart in a spirit of love, trust, adoration, and most importantly, reparation for the many sins and insults He has endured.
Jesus complained to St. Margaret Mary of the coldness and ingratitude he received just from Christians alone, much less from the rest of humanity, considering all He did for us in opening up the gates of heaven for us in His Passion so that we might have Eternal Life!
Interestingly enough, Jesus provides a remedy for such spiritual anemia in what has been called His Great Promise, a special devotion to His Sacred Heart he revealed to St. Margaret Mary that involves faithful Catholics taking Communion in a state of grace on nine consecutive First Fridays of each month.
Speaking of Fridays, the Church also has a Feast day marking the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus that falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday.
We have some prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in this section that can help strengthen your relationship with our Lord. These include three special prayers, including one by St. Gertrude, another by John Cardinal Henry Newman, and a third by Cardinal Merry de Val, author of the well-known Litany of Humility (which is a great prayer to Jesus, incidentally). Speaking of litanies, this Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has some colorful, moving, and inspiring imagery.
In addition, we have a Novena to the Sacred Heart, as well as pages on Adoration to the Sacred Heart, Devotion to the Sacred Heart and Reflections on the Sacred Heart. An evening Prayer for Daily Neglects also touches on our Lord's Sacred Heart as an offering for our weaknesses and sins.
We also have a couple of prayers from St. Margaret Mary herself, including a prayer of trust, and her Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart. We’ve also included some touching invocations as well. Finally, there are these important prayers of reparation for our sins and indifference to Jesus in His Sacred Heart.
And for those of you on a hectic schedule, these aspirations (short prayers) to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can allow you to receive comfort and strength from Him with just a few words!
In addition to the linked pages above, we’d like to offer this short prayer of reparation to our Lord below that that you can say before communion. It is easy to memorize. Jesus expressed to St. Margaret Mary His ardent desire for us to get closer to Him through His Sacred Heart by receiving Holy Communion. He is most present to us then, as the Eucharist encompasses our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity!
My dearest Lord Jesus, I will now receive this Holy Communion for love of Thee, in atonement for all the coldness and for all the sins whereby mankind has ever offended Thee in the Sacrament of Thy Love. Amen.
While Communion is a prime aspect of this devotion, honoring our Lord in his Sacred Heart in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is also quite important.
It’s a good idea as well to have a picture of Our Lord and His Sacred Heart, such as the one above, in your home. This can help give you His strength and support. So can saying a short prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the midst of a busy day.
The main thing, as touched upon earlier, is to approach Jesus’ Sacred Heart with love, contrition, trust in our Lord’s mercy, and a desire to make atonement for all the offenses and indifference He has suffered.
This devotion can increase our capacity for love, and not just for Jesus by any means! Pope Leo XIII, who consecrated the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899, called the Sacred Heart of Jesus “a symbol and clear image of Jesus Christ's infinite love, a love which impels us to love one another.” Or as Pope John Paul II put it in broader terms, "The heart-to-heart withJesus broadens the human heart on a global scale."
Jesus clearly wishes devotion to His Sacred Heart to enkindle in us, as we say in the Prayer to the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love! As we often see in scripture, Jesus was not one to express himself in a tepid or indifferent fashion.
For example He says in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 12:49) “I have come to cast fire on the earth”, a fire of blazing love and zeal for Him and His Gospel message. Such fervor could be quite catchy. As the two disciples asked themselves after seeing our Lord on the road to Emmaus: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was speaking on the road and explaining to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)
Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary the wonderful image of His Sacred Heart we see depicted in this picture above. What part of the body most symbolizes human love? The heart! (We’re talking here about love, not lust, although modern pop culture often sadly confuses the two emotions!) And what do we say so often when someone seems to be doing something lackadaisically? That their heart is not in it.
Clearly there’s nothing lukewarm in Christ’s love! In this image above, we see here the fire of Jesus’ love for us, mentioned above, emanating from the two flames protruding at the top of His Sacred Heart.
Our Lord clearly wishes us to identify the intensity of His love for us with His burning heart. As both God and man, Jesus has a heart just like ours, capable of feeling love, joy and sadness just as we can, but on a much grander scale, of course!
Christ’s love for us is unlike any other in this world. All you have to do is look at a crucifix to realize this. Remember that, as St. Paul said, God shows us His great love “because when as yet we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
We see symbols of His Passion in the Sacred Heart as well, both in the Cross which surmounts it and the thorns which surround it. The thorns symbolize Christ’s sorrow over all the ingratitude He’s been shown by mankind over His Passion. (Remember also that His Sacred Heart was pierced with a lance upon His death on the cross.)
And yet, we see triumph in this image as well. The cross is a symbol of Christ’s victory over sin and death. And what do we see all around Jesus’ Sacred Heart? Rays of light! Rays of light that in themselves suggest rays of love for fallen humanity, a love just waiting to be requited by our repentance of sins and trust in Him to see us through good times and bad!
(Incidentally, Our Blessed Mother had an image of our Lord’s Sacred Heart placed on the famous Miraculous Medal she inspired for people to receive graces and grow in Holiness.)
And speaking of repentance, one that comes straight from the heart, think of these lines from Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God….wash away all my guilt…Create a clean heart in me, O God…a contrite heart and humbled heart you will not spurn.”
It is in humility that we can come closest to Jesus. And then we can place our contrite, yet trusting hearts in the shelter of His Sacred Heart, joining them together as one!
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