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Closer to the heart

Sacred Heart devotion reveals Jesus’ infinite mercy

Mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus located at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
In a homily during his visit to St. Louis in 1999, St. John Paul II noted the Sacred Heart of Jesus is “the door through which the eternal love of the Father is poured out on the world.”

Christ revealed the devotion to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a nun of the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial in France, in a series of apparitions from 1673-75. He revealed to her the great mystery of His infinite love for us, represented by His Sacred Heart.

Specifically, as part of the devotion, He asked for the faithful to:

• receive Communion on the first Friday of each month (Jesus asked St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to make a reparation on the nine first Fridays to His Sacred Heart, which was hurt by the sins of humanity);

• participate in eucharistic adoration during a Holy Hour on Thursdays;

• celebrate of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which occurs 19 days after Pentecost on a Friday (this year, the feast is June 8);

• consecrate His Sacred Heart as a sign of His living presence with us in the Church, especially through the Eucharist.

The Sacred Heart image is depicted as a flaming heart that is pierced, bleeding and wrapped in a crown of thorns, and radiating from Jesus’ chest. The imagery represents His human suffering and death, but also the transformative power of His divine love.

The devotion was especially popular during the first half of the 20th century, when many Catholic families displayed images of Jesus and his Sacred Heart in their homes. Families today still participate in the home enthronement, a solemn placing of the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home to signify that the home and the lives of all who live in the home belong to Him. Another important part of the enthronement is the consecration of the family to the Sacred Heart.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, former St. Louis archbishop who has long held a devotion to the Sacred Heart, describes once described it as an expression of “the true Kingship of Christ Who rules over us by giving up His life for us. It daily reminds each member of the family to follow in Christ’s royal way by making reparation for sins committed and by striving to serve God and neighbor more lovingly.”

Sacred Heart resources

• Marian Catechist Apostolate: Offers a Sacred Heart home enthronement book, published by Cardinal Raymond Burke, and other devotional materials. Visit www.mariancatechist.com and click on bookstore for ordering information.

• Sacred Heart Shrine: Located in the west transept of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, it is open to the public during normal visiting hours. The Cathedral bookstore also has copies of a Sacred Heart novena booklet for sale.

• Alliance of the Two Hearts: The St. Louis chapter promotes the devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart and Mary’s Immaculate Heart and monthly First Friday/First Saturday Vigils of Reparation. The apostolate also schedules home enthronements. For more information, see www.ath-stl.org.


“A Heart on Fire: Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” by Father James Kubicki, SJ

“The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: How to Practice the Sacred Heart Devotion,” by Father John Croiset, SJ

“Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat — Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius,” by Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC

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