Thursday 20th November 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Reconnecting With Mary . . . Devotion To The Sacred Heart: How It Began

May 15, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL FOLEY

Part 1

(Editor’s Note: Due to an organizational error, part 2 of the Sacred Heart series went in our issue dated May 1, before part 1 appeared. We therefore present part 1 here, with our apologies.)

+    +    +

This is the first article in a series of three concerned with the Sacred Heart Devotion. The origins of this devotion, which has proved so fruitful for the Church, go right back to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. In chapter 19 of St. John’s Gospel, we read of what happened after the crucifixion, after Jesus’ garments had been divided, after He had given Mary His Mother to St. John, and St. John to her.
While His dead body was on the cross, one of the soldiers pierced His side — His heart — with a spear, and blood and water came out of the wound. St. John pointed to the prophetic significance of this act saying that it fulfilled the words of Zechariah, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10).
The implication of this act of the soldier is that it showed that the very last drops of Christ’s Blood were shed for mankind, as a sign of His infinite love.
But even before this, during His public ministry, Christ had referred to this love of His for mankind, of His gentle and lowly heart, and invited all to share this love: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
While He was preaching, too, Christ had focused on the heart: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). He also spoke of how for those who believed in Him, His heart would become a fountain from which rivers of living water would flow (John 7:37-39). As St. John goes on to point out, this was a reference to the Holy Spirit, who would be Christ’s gift to His followers once He had been glorified.
Why did Christ focus on the heart in this way, both His own and that of others? Surely because the heart is universally recognized as the seat of the emotions, of human love. Although Jesus is God He is also man, and since the Incarnation, since His taking human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation, He has had a real human body and a real human heart.
So in the devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart we have a way of expressing our particular love for Him as a real person, and not just an abstract religious figure. And since He lives forever to intercede for us, He reciprocates our love in an infinite way.
The devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart can also be traced back in a general way to the New Testament, as for example in the writings of St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist, with their focus on Christ’s love for mankind. But it was only around the 11th and 12th centuries that this devotion really began to develop, particularly in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries. Meditation on the wounded side of Christ ultimately led to a focus on His wounded heart, and this devotion was well known to figures such as St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Mechtilde, and St. Gertrude.
Indeed, it is related that St. Gertrude, who was a Benedictine nun, had a mystical experience on the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, in which she rested her head near the wound in Christ’s side and heard the beating of His heart. She asked St. John, who was also present, why he had never spoken of this in his Gospel, and he told her that this new revelation was reserved for those times when love for God in the world, having grown cold, would need to be rekindled.
Between the 13th and 16th centuries, this devotion was practiced in a private way by many people, and also in a number of religious congregations. Various prayers and exercises were recommended for the devotion, as can be seen in the works of writers such as John of Avila, Louis of Blois, and, later on, St. Francis de Sales, most particularly in his Treatise on the Love of God.
From this point on, the Sacred Heart devotion flourished, being practiced by many Jesuits, including St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter Canisius. It was also popular amongst some Carmelites, Benedictines, and particularly in the Visitation Order founded in 1610 by St. Jane Frances de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, for those women who didn’t have the physical strength to undergo the regime then current in other religious orders.
It was St. John Eudes (1602-1680), a French missionary and founder of two religious orders, though, who elevated the status of the devotion by composing an office and establishing a Feast for the Sacred Heart. Interestingly, he began by promoting devotion to the Heart of Mary, and only later did he focus on devotion to the Sacred Heart. These two devotions, and particularly the devotion to the Sacred Heart, acted as a spiritual antidote to the increasing rationalism of European society during this period. It was also around this time that Jansenism, a Calvinist-influenced strain of teaching, was causing a “coldness” to enter into Catholic life in France.
St. John Eudes was instrumental in promoting the first Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1670, at Rennes in France. It spread to other dioceses and was adopted by various religious communities, and eventually this devotion coalesced with that which originated through the work of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690).
Margaret Mary was a religious of the Visitation Order who had been attracted to the order because of her delicate health. Christ appeared to her on a number of occasions with revelations about the love of His Sacred Heart for mankind. Like St. Gertrude, she was given the privilege of resting her head upon Christ’s Heart, and being told how much He loved mankind and sought a return for this love.
This particular revelation occurred on December 27, the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, probably in 1673, while Margaret Mary was a nun in the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial, a small town in the Burgundy region of eastern France.
She related what happened to Fr. Claude de la Colombière, who was in charge of the Jesuit house in the town, describing how she had had a vision of Jesus, during which she was given some idea of the greatness of His love for mankind. She related how Christ had told her that He wanted her to announce this love; and a similar theme was expressed during the second apparition, early in 1674.
During this, Margaret Mary saw Jesus’ Sacred Heart on a throne of flames, transparent as crystal, surrounded by a crown of thorns signifying the sins of mankind, with a cross above it. Again Jesus told her of His infinite love for mankind and His desire that He should be honored through the display of this image of His heart, with the promise that all who did so would be especially blessed. This vision is the origin of the traditional Sacred Heart picture which became so well known in later centuries, as indicated in one of the promises made by Christ to her: “I will bless every place where a picture of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.”
The next article will look at the third and fourth apparitions to St. Margaret Mary, as well as the Great Promise associated with this devotion, and the way in which it developed in the Church in succeeding centuries.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Catholics Want To Learn More About Their Faith, Bishops Report

BALTIMORE – For three and a half years, members of several U.S. bishops’ committees have been trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or reject church teachings. To this end, they have conducted…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal: Catholic charity ‘is not only giving food … but giving God’

The Vatican cardinal who oversees the Church’s charitable initiatives has emphasized again that Catholic charities cannot be satisfied with meeting the material needs of those they serve. “Charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity…Continue Reading

Prof at Catholic university tries to justify same-sex ‘marriage’ acceptance from Scripture

Professor Gerald Schlabach of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota recently published a piece for The Christian Century utilizing the writing of St. Paul to create an argument legitimizing acceptance of same-sex marriage. In light of Schlabach’s article, The Cardinal Newman Society…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group: “We Will Not Obey the Obamacare HHS Mandate, Not Today, Not Ever”

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Court Says Obama Admin Can Force Pro-Life Group to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Where Are Our Young People Going?

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for…Continue Reading

US Bishops Elect New Secretary, Discuss Health Care Ethics Guide

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2014 / 08:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Tuesday on several committee leadership positions, also considering several liturgical proposals and moving forward with a New York canonization cause. At their fall…Continue Reading

Fidelity to Bishop of Rome crucial to evangelization, US bishops say

Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2014 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to Pope Francis on Monday, the U.S. bishops vowed fidelity to the Holy See and voiced hope that Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families…Continue Reading

Nation’s Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore Monday

Nearly 300 bishops from across the nation will determine the coming year’s agenda for the American Roman Catholic church when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins its annual fall meeting Monday in Baltimore. The bishops will spend four days…Continue Reading

Pope names new ‘foreign minister,’ prefect of Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Burke given new position

The Holy See Press Office announced on November 8 that Pope Francis has named Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, as the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Mamberti replaces Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has served…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Church Risks Serious Tensions in Months Ahead

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said he is at the service of Pope Francis, has no personal animosity towards him, and those who claim the American cardinal is an opponent of the Pontiff are trying to discredit him. The head of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke . . . “one of the saddest documents that I could imagine ever coming from the Church”

On November 4th Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke presented in Vienna the German edition of the book “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” that collects articles of five Cardinals. A video recording of the presentation will be published on Gloria.tv tomorrow.…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Santa Marta: Jesus Weeps

pope667

(Vatican Radio) Jesus weeps today when the doors of our hearts, those of the pastors of the Church, are closed to His surprises not recognizing the One who brings peace said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning in Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel of the Day, Pope Francis said Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because its people did not…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Universal Call To Holiness

(Vatican Radio) “Every state of life leads to holiness, always”, but only if we are open to the grace of God’s gift, said Pope Francis Wednesday speaking of the universal call to holiness of all baptized at his general audience. Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis: Dear brothers and sisters, good morning. A great gift of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis . . . Children Have The Right To Grow Up In A Family With A Mother And A Father

pope665

(Vatican Radio) On Monday, Pope Francis addressed a Colloquium being held on the theme “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage.” The Holy Father began his address by dwelling on the word “complementarity”: “a precious word, with multiple meanings.” Although complementarity can refer “situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other”…Continue Reading

Angelus: Don’t Keep Grace Locked Up In A Safe

pope664

(Vatican Radio) “Jesus does not ask us to keep grace in a safe… He wants us to use it for the benefit of others.That was Pope Francis’ message at his weekly Angelus address on Sunday. He was speaking about the day’s Gospel, which relates Jesus’ parable of the talents. In the parable, the Pope said, the master is Jesus, we…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Apparitions At L’Ile Bouchard

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 1 This is first of two articles about the Marian apparitions at L’Ile Bouchard, in northwestern France, near Tours, which took place from December 8-14, 1947. The situation in postwar France was very serious, and there was a real threat from Communism, and even of civil war, but, unknown to…Continue Reading

Applying Just War Theory

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK The conditions that must be present before military force can be justified, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, are as follows: “1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; “2. all other means of putting an end…Continue Reading

A Parody From Hell

By DONALD DeMARCO “My symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state” — C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. + + + Screwtape: I am proposing a new method for promoting hatred. Wormwood: There is already a great deal of hatred in the world. Shouldn’t we set our targets on something…Continue Reading

“The Birth Control Pill: Unintended Consequences”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a CD containing hundreds of patient information pamphlets showing that the most common methods of birth control are abortifacient in their actions, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + One of the…Continue Reading

The Kumbaya Temptation

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN November 4 was a national vote of no confidence in Barack Obama. Had a British prime minister received a vote like this, he would have resigned by now. The one issue on which all Republicans agreed, and all ran, was the rejection of Obama. And by fleeing from him, some even…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Be Watchful And Alert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-17 In the first reading today we hear of the conflict that has tormented humanity from the very beginning. The problem is that we blame God for everything. Isaiah cries out to God in a lament, “Why do you let us…Continue Reading

In The Footsteps Of St. Paul… Bishop Conley’s Pilgrimage Teaches About Evangelizing Culture

(Editor’s Note: Below is the latest column by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., for the Southern Nebraska Register. Bishop Conley, in conjunction with Spirit Catholic Radio and others, went on an October 31 to November 9 St. Paul Mediterranean Pilgrimage Cruise. (ZENIT News Agency provided the text. All rights reserved.) + + + The ancient Christian writer and theologian…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Kingship Of Christ And Religious Freedom

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.” The first reading…Continue Reading

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

By Raymond de Souza, KM Part 2 Last week I told the story of the visit of two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW for short) to my house, and I showed to them that Jesus was in favor of repetitive prayer, because He gave us a prayer to repeat, the Our Father. I left a question unanswered. The younger JW had asked…Continue Reading

The Written Word Of God

By DON FIER In previous installments of this series, it was established that “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred Deposit of the Word of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 97), and that “the task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church” (CCC, n. 100). Furthermore,…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Cecilia

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church has thousands of saints. For the last two millennia, people of great holiness, exemplifying heroic virtue, have been honored as saints, members of the Church Triumphant in Heaven giving honor and glory to God. Some have been formally declared saints by the Church, while others have been so honored from the beginnings of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

By CAROLE BRESLIN Since the United States is a relatively new country compared to the rest of the world, we do not have as many canonized saints as do France, Italy, or Spain. Elizabeth Ann Seton (died 1821) was the first person born in the United States to be canonized, although she lived many years after Kateri Tekakwitha (died 1680)…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading