All of these were posted on my site earlier this month:
Archive for the ‘Sacred Heart’ Category
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 18, 2009
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 11, 2009
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 10, 2009
The greatest marvel in heaven and on earth is the Incarnation of the Son of God. That by a word the Almighty should bring out of nothing light and the stars, the earth and the heavens, is nothin very astonishing; it is the work of one absolute Creator and Master. But that the Almighty should deign to abase Himself, be conceived and born of a woman, and appear like an ordinary child, is what neither Angels nor men could have imagined! And what led the Son of God to such depths of humiliation? His love for us-“God of God, light of light. True God of true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made, who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven, was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, and made man.”
The Incarnation is therefore caused by love-St Mechtilde states the truth with both strength and grace. She personifies love under the form of a Virgin, and it is this Virgin who steals from the Heart of God His Son eternal and Almighty as Himself.
We will give her own words: “She saw in the Heart of God what seemed a beautiful Virgin, who had in her hand a diamond ring with which she constantly touched the Heart of God. The soul asked the Virgin why she so touched the divine Heart and she replied: I am divine Love, and this diamond represents Adam’s sin, and as blood is used with which to break the diamond, so Adam’s faults can only be obliterated by the Incarnation and blood of Christ. As soon as Adam had sinned, I intervened and prevented the consequences of this fault. I incessantly touched the Heart of God, moving it to pity, and left it no peace until I had taken the Son of God from the osom of the Father and placed Him in the womb of Mary His Mother.”
What a delightful thought! The love of God seized Adam’s sin, blacker than coal, and made of it a precious diamond! With this sin so transformed it touched the Heart of God and caused the greatest of wonders, the Incarnation of the Divine Word. Holy Church, which had already declared this thought in the Symbol of the Creed, developed it still further in the Hymn for the Feast of the Sacred heart. Are not the two following stanzas a rememberance of St Mechtilde’s revelations?
Amor coegit te Tuus
Mortale corpus sumere
Ut novus Adam reddres
Quod vetus ille abstulerat.
Ille amor, almus artifex
Terrae, marisque et siderum,
Errata patrum miserans
Et nostra rumpens vincula.
“It was Thy love which forced Thee to take upon Thee a mortal Body in order to restore to us, O second Adam! what the first had caused us to lose.
“It was this love, O Sovereign Creator of the earth, the sea and the heavens! that pitied the fall of our first parents and broke the chains of our slavery.”
Love alone overcame the power of divine Majesty. He, so to say, abased His unfathomable Wisdom; He then poured out His Goodness, tempered the rigour of His Justice, changed it into mercy and then lowered the Greatness of God down to the misery of our exile. The Incarnate Word could therefore say to St Mechtilde: “I am the Son of Love and Love is My Mother;” and the Angels rightly hailed Him, saying: “We praise Thee for ever, whom love has made the Son of a Virgin.”
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 9, 2009
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 8, 2009
The content of this post is excerpted from THE IMITATION OF THE SACRED HEART,by Father F. Arnoudt, S.J. I've made it available in a five page PDF document: learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 6, 2009
“And He showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such crowds of them, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure for Him all the honor and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which this Heart is the source.
He should be honored under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and its image should be exposed…He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing it special honor, He would pour forth His blessings and graces. This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion.”….. “The devotion is so pleasing to Him that He can refuse nothing to those who practice it.”
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 5, 2009
Devotion to the Sacred heart of Jesus is intimately linked with His Incarnation, suffering and death, consequently, this prayer from Thomas a Kempis (of THE IMITATION OF CHRIST fame) is perfectly fitting for devotion to the Sacred Heart. H/T Argent By The Tiber.
From Thomas a Kempis’ Prayers and Meditations on the Life of Christ
LORD JESUS CHRIST, Author of our Salvation, most gracious Giver of pardon, most patient in Thy long-suffering of man’s wickedness, I bless Thee, and give thanks to Thee for all the pain, and for each several blow and bloody wound, so cruelly inflicted on Thy most precious and most tender Body; so that from the sole of the foot even to the top of the Head there was no soundness in Thee, but either a grievous wale, or an aching wound, or a stream of warm red Blood trickling down Thy whole Body.
I praise and glorify Thee with the worthiest adoration of which I am capable, and with all the powers of my soul laid at Thy Feet, for the generous outpouring of Thy precious Blood from Thy five sacred Wounds, and from all Thy other wounds, great and small, bleeding and sending forth a life-giving stream, more precious than any balm, to be an effectual remedy for all our sins. Ah ! most gentle Jesus, how cruelly wast Thou tortured and wounded by savage men, so that all Thy bodily strength being exhausted, and Thy veins wide-opened, scarcely a drop of Blood remained in Thee; but whatever of that sacred Stream, whether living or dying, Thou hadst in Thee, was all lovingly poured forth for our souls use, and as the price of our Salvation.
O ye five precious Wounds, pre-eminent tokens of surpassing love, full of Divine sweetness, whence the sinner takes good heart, keeping thereby his guilty conscience from driving him to despair ! In you is found the medicine of life, fullness of grace, plentiful forgiveness, boundless mercy, the gate which leads to the glory which is in store for us. Whatever pollution I incur, whatever sins of the flesh I commit, in your five fountains I may wash all away, and may be purified, and made faultless.
I praise and glorify Thee, O Christ, only and beloved Spouse of Holy Church, for that inestimable love, which moved Thee, to redeem my soul, by the covenant of Thy Own Blood, from the chains of Adam s sin, to cleanse it from all its sins, and to endow and adorn it with the merits of Thy Own holiness; that so, made holy by Thy grace, it might be found meet in this life to be joined and united to Thee, and hereafter to be made happy and glorious in the Kingdom of Thy excellent Majesty.
Mark carefully, O faithful soul, and see at what great and notable cost He redeemed Thee, Who, of His own unbought goodness, made thee, at the beginning, to His own image and likeness. For thou wast not redeemed from the guilt of original sin, nor from the many actual sins which, by the exercise of thy own free will, thou hast wickedly added thereto, with contemptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled. And not only upon the Cross, for thy cleansing, did He shed His Blood; but He also vouchsafed to leave the same in the Chalice for thee to drink with faithful devotion in the Communion of that Sacrament, by which the daily sins of the world are purged and blotted out.
Alas ! of what terrible punishment will he be thought worthy, who shall have accounted the Blood of the Covenant of the Son of God an unholy thing, and shall not have paid the debt of thanksgiving which he owes to the Wounds of the Crucified. Be careful, then, to render thanks to Him Who has so loved thee, to Him Who has wrought for thee this His inestimable benefit, by at least one short prayer, or one devout meditatation, at some time, either of the day, or night. Many faithful soals, burning with love for Him, have rejoiced to shed their blood for Him: and yet more, taking part in His sufferings by using the rough ways of penance, have, for the Chalice of His Blood, humbly offered the waters of a bitter contrition.
Learn thou from their example to crucify thy flesh with its affections and lusts, manfully to resist temptation, and to bear until death the yoke of willing obedience ; to offer to Christ thy Redeemer, upon the altar of thy heart, in place of a martyrdom of blood, the sacrifice of a troubled spirit. Seek by diligent meditation to keep ever before thee the benefits purchased for thee by the Cross, and to find in the deep wounds of Jesus, as in the clefts of a rock, a hiding-place from the face of the enemy and the avenger.
Come to my help, O most gentle Jesus, in my every need, in every crisis of the strife. Stretch forth over me Thy hands, and with Thy right arm ever protect me ; put devotion in my heart, truth in my mouth, energy in my work. Purge me from all the corruption of my sins, heal my wounds with Thy precious Blood. Let no hidden thing of darkness, nothing impure, nothing that defiles, remain in me ; but may Thy sacred Blood, so abundantly shed, thoroughly cleanse me from all that is hurtful, and sanctify me wholly ; that so, when, at the last day, Thou shalt come in Judge ment, my spirit, and my soul, for the deliverance of which Thou didst endure so many and such grievous pains, and didst expend such boundless treasure, may be presented before Thee pure and undefiled.
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 4, 2009
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI
ON REPARATION TO THE SACRED HEART
TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE.
Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing.
Our Most Merciful Redeemer, after He had wrought salvation for mankind on the tree of the Cross and before He ascended from out this world to the Father, said to his Apostles and Disciples, to console them in their anxiety, “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matt. xxviii, 20). These words, which are indeed most pleasing, are a cause of all hope and security, and they bring us, Venerable Brethren, ready succor, whenever we look round from this watch-tower raised on high and see all human society laboring amid so many evils and miseries, and the Church herself beset without ceasing by attacks and machinations. For as in the beginning this Divine promise lifted up the despondent spirit of the Apostles and enkindled and inflamed them so that they might cast the seeds of the Gospel teaching throughout the whole world; so ever since it has strengthened the Church unto her victory over the gates of hell. In sooth, Our Lord Jesus Christ has been with his Church in every age, but He has been with her with more present aid and protection whenever she has been assailed by graver perils and difficulties. For the remedies adapted to the condition of time and circumstances, are always supplied by Divine Wisdom, who reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly (Wisdom viii, 1). But in this latter age also, “the hand of the Lord is not shortened” (Isaias lix, 1), more especially since error has crept in and has spread far and wide, so that it might well be feared that the fountains of Christian life might be in a manner dried up, where men are cut off from the love and knowledge of God. Now, since it may be that some of the people do not know, and others do not heed, those complaints which the most loving Jesus made when He manifested Himself to Margaret Mary Alacoque, and those things likewise which at the same time He asked and expected of men, for their own ultimate profit, it is our pleasure, Venerable Brethren, to speak to you for a little while concerning the duty of honorable satisfaction which we all owe to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the intent that you may, each of you, carefully teach your own flocks those things which we set before you, and stir them up to put the same in practice.
2. Among the many proofs of the boundless benignity of our Redeemer, there is one that stands out conspicuously, to wit the fact that when the charity of Christian people was growing cold, the Divine Charity itself was set forth to be honored by a special worship, and the riches of its bounty was made widely manifest by that form of devotion wherein worship is given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Coloss. ii, 3). For as in olden time when mankind came forth from Noe’s ark, God set His “bow in the clouds” (Genesis ix, 13), shining as the sign of a friendly covenant; so in the most turbulent times of a more recent age, when the Jansenist heresy, the most crafty of them all, hostile to love and piety towards God, was creeping in and preaching that God was not to be loved as a father but rather to be feared as an implacable judge; then the most benign Jesus showed his own most Sacred Heart to the nations lifted up as a standard of peace and charity portending no doubtful victory in the combat. And indeed Our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, admiring the timely opportuneness of the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, said very aptly in his Encyclical Letter, “Annum Sacrum,” “When in the days near her origin, the Church was oppressed under the yoke of the Caesars the Cross shown on high to the youthful Emperor was at once an omen and a cause of the victory that speedily followed. And here today another most auspicious and most divine sign is offered to our sight, to wit the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a Cross set above it shining with most resplendent brightness in the midst of flames. Herein must all hopes be set, from hence must the salvation of men be sought and expected.”
3. And rightly indeed is that said, Venerable Brethren. For is not the sum of all religion and therefore the pattern of more perfect life, contained in that most auspicious sign and in the form of piety that follows from it inasmuch as it more readily leads the minds of men to an intimate knowledge of Christ Our Lord, and more efficaciously moves their hearts to love Him more vehemently and to imitate Him more closely? It is no wonder, therefore, that Our Predecessors have constantly defended this most approved form of devotion from the censures of calumniators, and have extolled it with high praise and promoted it very zealously, as the needs of time and circumstance demanded. Moreover, by the inspiration of God’s grace, it has come to pass that the pious devotion of the faithful towards the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus has made great increase in the course of time; hence pious confraternities to promote the worship of the Divine Heart are everywhere erected, hence too the custom of receiving Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month at the desire of Christ Jesus, a custom which now prevails everywhere.
4. But assuredly among those things which properly pertain to the worship of the Most Sacred Heart, a special place must be given to that Consecration, whereby we devote ourselves and all things that are ours to the Divine Heart of Jesus, acknowledging that we have received all things from the everlasting love of God. When Our Savior had taught Margaret Mary, the most innocent disciple of His Heart, how much He desired that this duty of devotion should be rendered to him by men, moved in this not so much by His own right as by His immense charity for us; she herself, with her spiritual father, Claude de la Colombiere, rendered it the first of all. Thereafter followed, in the course of time, individual men, then private families and associations, and lastly civil magistrates, cities and kingdoms. But since in the last century, and in this present century, things have come to such a pass, that by the machinations of wicked men the sovereignty of Christ Our Lord has been denied and war is publicly waged against the Church, by passing laws and promoting plebiscites repugnant to Divine and natural law, nay more by holding assemblies of them that cry out, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke xix, 14): from the aforesaid Consecration there burst forth over against them in keenest opposition the voice of all the clients of the Most Sacred Heart, as it were one voice, to vindicate His glory and to assert His rights: “Christ must reign” (1 Corinthians xv, 25); “Thy kingdom come” (Matth. vi, 10). From this at length it happily came to pass that at the beginning of this century the whole human race which Christ, in whom all things are re-established (Ephes. i, 10), possesses by native right as His own, was dedicated to the same Most Sacred Heart, with the applause of the whole Christian world, by Our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII.
5. Now these things so auspiciously and happily begun as we taught in Our Encyclical Letter “Quas primas,” we Ourselves, consenting to very many long-continued desires and prayers of Bishops and people, brought to completion and perfected, by God’s grace, when at the close of the Jubilee Year, We instituted the Feast of Christ the King of All, to be solemnly celebrated throughout the whole Christian world. Now when we did this, not only did we set in a clear light that supreme sovereignty which Christ holds over the whole universe, over civil and domestic society, and over individual men, but at the same time we anticipated the joys of that most auspicious day, whereon the whole world will gladly and willingly render obedience to the most sweet lordship of Christ the King. For this reason, We decreed at the same time that this same Consecration should be renewed every year on the occasion of that appointed festal day, so that the fruit of this same Consecration might be obtained more certainly and more abundantly, and all peoples might be joined together in Christian charity and in the reconciliation of peace, in the Heart of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
6. But to all these duties, more especially to that fruitful Consecration which was in a manner confirmed by the sacred solemnity of Christ the King, something else must needs be added, and it is concerning this that it is our pleasure to speak with you more at length, Venerable Brethren, on the present occasion: we mean that duty of honorable satisfaction or reparation which must be rendered to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For if the first and foremost thing in Consecration is this, that the creature’s love should be given in return for the love of the Creator, another thing follows from this at once, namely that to the same uncreated Love, if so be it has been neglected by forgetfulness or violated by offense, some sort of compensation must be rendered for the injury, and this debt is commonly called by the name of reparation.
7. Now though in both these matters we are impelled by quite the same motives, none the less we are holden to the duty of reparation and expiation by a certain more valid title of justice and of love, of justice indeed, in order that the offense offered to God by our sins may be expiated and that the violated order may be repaired by penance: and of love too so that we may suffer together with Christ suffering and “filled with reproaches” (Lam. iii, 30), and for all our poverty may offer Him some little solace. For since we are all sinners and laden with many faults, our God must be honored by us not only by that worship wherewith we adore His infinite Majesty with due homage, or acknowledge His supreme dominion by praying, or praise His boundless bounty by thanksgiving; but besides this we must need make satisfaction to God the just avenger, “for our numberless sins and offenses and negligences.” To Consecration, therefore, whereby we are devoted to God and are called holy to God, by that holiness and stability which, as the Angelic Doctor teaches, is proper to consecration (2da. 2dae. qu. 81, a. 8. c.), there must be added expiation, whereby sins are wholly blotted out, lest the holiness of the supreme justice may punish our shameless unworthiness, and reject our offering as hateful rather than accept it as pleasing.
8. Moreover this duty of expiation is laid upon the whole race of men since, as we are taught by the Christian faith, after Adam’s miserable fall, infected by hereditary stain, subject to concupiscences and most wretchedly depraved, it would have been thrust down into eternal destruction. This indeed is denied by the wise men of this age of ours, who following the ancient error of Pelagius, ascribe to human nature a certain native virtue by which of its own force it can go onward to higher things; but the Apostle rejects these false opinions of human pride, admonishing us that we “were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians ii, 3). And indeed, even from the beginning, men in a manner acknowledged this common debt of expiation and, led by a certain natural instinct, they endeavored to appease God by public sacrifices.
9. But no created power was sufficient to expiate the sins of men, if the Son of God had not assumed man’s nature in order to redeem it. This, indeed, the Savior of men Himself declared by the mouth of the sacred Psalmist: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me: Holocausts for sin did not please thee: then said I: Behold I come” (Hebrews x, 5-7). And in very deed, “Surely He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows. . . He was wounded for our iniquities (Isaias liii, 4-5), and He His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree . . . (1 Peter ii, 24), “Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross . . .” (Colossians ii, 14) “that we being dead to sins, should live to justice” (1 Peter ii, 24). Yet, though the copious redemption of Christ has abundantly forgiven us all offenses (Cf. Colossians ii, 13), nevertheless, because of that wondrous divine dispensation whereby those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ are to be filled up in our flesh for His body which is the Church (Cf. Colossians i, 24), to the praises and satisfactions, “which Christ in the name of sinners rendered unto God” we can also add our praises and satisfactions, and indeed it behoves us so to do. But we must ever remember that the whole virtue of the expiation depends on the one bloody sacrifice of Christ, which without intermission of time is renewed on our altars in an unbloody manner, “For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different” (Council of Trent, Session XXIII, Chapter 2). Wherefore with this most august Eucharistic Sacrifice there ought to be joined an oblation both of the ministers and of all the faithful, so that they also may “present themselves living sacrifices, holy, pleasing unto God” (Romans xii, 1). Nay more, St. Cyprian does not hesitate to affirm that “the Lord’s sacrifice is not celebrated with legitimate sanctification, unless our oblation and sacrifice correspond to His passion” (Ephesians 63). For this reason, the Apostle admonishes us that “bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus” (2 Corinthians iv, 10), and buried together with Christ, and planted together in the likeness of His death (Cf. Romans vi, 4-5), we must not only crucify our flesh with the vices and concupiscences (Cf. Galatians v, 24), “flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world” (2 Peter i, 4), but “that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies” (2 Corinthians iv, 10) and being made partakers of His eternal priesthood we are to offer up “gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Hebrews v, 1). Nor do those only enjoy a participation in this mystic priesthood and in the office of satisfying and sacrificing, whom our Pontiff Christ Jesus uses as His ministers to offer up the clean oblation to God’s Name in every place from the rising of the sun to the going down (Malachias i, 11), but the whole Christian people rightly called by the Prince of the Apostles “a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood” (1 Peter ii, 9), ought to offer for sins both for itself and for all mankind (Cf. Hebrews v, 3), in much the same manner as every priest and pontiff “taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God” (Hebrews v, 1).
10. But the more perfectly that our oblation and sacrifice corresponds to the sacrifice of Our Lord, that is to say, the more perfectly we have immolated our love and our desires and have crucified our flesh by that mystic crucifixion of which the Apostle speaks, the more abundant fruits of that propitiation and expiation shall we receive for ourselves and for others. For there is a wondrous and close union of all the faithful with Christ, such as that which prevails between the head and the other members; moreover by that mystic Communion of Saints which we profess in the Catholic creed, both individual men and peoples are joined together not only with one another but also with him, “who is the head, Christ; from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together, by what every joint supplieth, according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in charity” (Ephesians iv, 15-16). It was this indeed that the Mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus, when He was near to death, asked of His Father: “I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one” (John xvii, 23).
11. Wherefore, even as consecration proclaims and confirms this union with Christ, so does expiation begin that same union by washing away faults, and perfect it by participating in the sufferings of Christ, and consummate it by offering victims for the brethren. And this indeed was the purpose of the merciful Jesus, when He showed His Heart to us bearing about it the symbols of the passion and displaying the flames of love, that from the one we might know the infinite malice of sin, and in the other we might admire the infinite charity of Our Redeemer, and so might have a more vehement hatred of sin, and make a more ardent return of love for His love.
12. And truly the spirit of expiation or reparation has always had the first and foremost place in the worship given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and nothing is more in keeping with the origin, the character, the power, and the distinctive practices of this form of devotion, as appears from the record of history and custom, as well as from the sacred liturgy and the acts of the Sovereign Pontiffs. For when Christ manifested Himself to Margaret Mary, and declared to her the infinitude of His love, at the same time, in the manner of a mourner, He complained that so many and such great injuries were done to Him by ungrateful men – and we would that these words in which He made this complaint were fixed in the minds of the faithful, and were never blotted out by oblivion: “Behold this Heart” – He said – “which has loved men so much and has loaded them with all benefits, and for this boundless love has had no return but neglect, and contumely, and this often from those who were bound by a debt and duty of a more special love.” In order that these faults might be washed away, He then recommended several things to be done, and in particular the following as most pleasing to Himself, namely that men should approach the Altar with this purpose of expiating sin, making what is called a Communion of Reparation, – and that they should likewise make expiatory supplications and prayers, prolonged for a whole hour, – which is rightly called the “Holy Hour.” These pious exercises have been approved by the Church and have also been enriched with copious indulgences.
13. But how can these rites of expiation bring solace now, when Christ is already reigning in the beatitude of Heaven? To this we may answer in some words of St. Augustine which are very apposite here, – “Give me one who loves, and he will understand what I say” (In Johannis evangelium, tract. XXVI, 4).
For any one who has great love of God, if he will look back through the tract of past time may dwell in meditation on Christ, and see Him laboring for man, sorrowing, suffering the greatest hardships, “for us men and for our salvation,” well-nigh worn out with sadness, with anguish, nay “bruised for our sins” (Isaias liii, 5), and healing us by His bruises. And the minds of the pious meditate on all these things the more truly, because the sins of men and their crimes committed in every age were the cause why Christ was delivered up to death, and now also they would of themselves bring death to Christ, joined with the same griefs and sorrows, since each several sin in its own way is held to renew the passion of Our Lord: “Crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery” (Hebrews vi, 6). Now if, because of our sins also which were as yet in the future, but were foreseen, the soul of Christ became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that then, too, already He derived somewhat of solace from our reparation, which was likewise foreseen, when “there appeared to Him an angel from heaven” (Luke xxii, 43), in order that His Heart, oppressed with weariness and anguish, might find consolation. And so even now, in a wondrous yet true manner, we can and ought to console that Most Sacred Heart which is continually wounded by the sins of thankless men, since – as we also read in the sacred liturgy – Christ Himself, by the mouth of the Psalmist complains that He is forsaken by His friends: “My Heart hath expected reproach and misery, and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none” (Psalm lxviii, 21).
14. To this it may be added that the expiatory passion of Christ is renewed and in a manner continued and fulfilled in His mystical body, which is the Church. For, to use once more the words of St. Augustine, “Christ suffered whatever it behoved Him to suffer; now nothing is wanting of the measure of the sufferings. Therefore the sufferings were fulfilled, but in the head; there were yet remaining the sufferings of Christ in His body” (In Psalm lxxxvi). This, indeed, Our Lord Jesus Himself vouchsafed to explain when, speaking to Saul, “as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter” (Acts ix, 1), He said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts ix, 5), clearly signifying that when persecutions are stirred up against the Church, the Divine Head of the Church is Himself attacked and troubled. Rightly, therefore, does Christ, still suffering in His mystical body, desire to have us partakers of His expiation, and this is also demanded by our intimate union with Him, for since we are “the body of Christ and members of member” (1 Corinthians xii, 27), whatever the head suffers, all the members must suffer with it (Cf. 1 Corinthians xii, 26).
15. Now, how great is the necessity of this expiation or reparation, more especially in this our age, will be manifest to every one who, as we said at the outset, will examine the world, “seated in wickedness” (1 John v, 19), with his eyes and with his mind. For from all sides the cry of the peoples who are mourning comes up to us, and their princes or rulers have indeed stood up and met together in one against the Lord and against His Church (Cf. Psalm ii, 2). Throughout those regions indeed, we see that all rights both human and Divine are confounded. Churches are thrown down and overturned, religious men and sacred virgins are torn from their homes and are afflicted with abuse, with barbarities, with hunger and imprisonment; bands of boys and girls are snatched from the bosom of their mother the Church, and are induced to renounce Christ, to blaspheme and to attempt the worst crimes of lust; the whole Christian people, sadly disheartened and disrupted, are continually in danger of falling away from the faith, or of suffering the most cruel death. These things in truth are so sad that you might say that such events foreshadow and portend the “beginning of sorrows,” that is to say of those that shall be brought by the man of sin, “who is lifted up above all that is called God or is worshipped” (2 Thessalonians ii, 4).
16. But it is yet more to be lamented, Venerable Brethren, that among the faithful themselves, washed in Baptism with the blood of the immaculate Lamb, and enriched with grace, there are found so many men of every class, who laboring under an incredible ignorance of Divine things and infected with false doctrines, far from their Father’s home, lead a life involved in vices, a life which is not brightened by the light of true faith, nor gladdened by the hope of future beatitude, nor refreshed and cherished by the fire of charity; so that they truly seem to sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Moreover, among the faithful there is a greatly increasing carelessness of ecclesiastical discipline, and of those ancient institutions on which all Christian life rests, by which domestic society is governed, and the sanctity of marriage is safeguarded; the education of children is altogether neglected, or else it is depraved by too indulgent blandishments, and the Church is even robbed of the power of giving the young a Christian education; there is a sad forgetfulness of Christian modesty especially in the life and the dress of women; there is an unbridled cupidity of transitory things, a want of moderation in civic affairs, an unbounded ambition of popular favor, a depreciation of legitimate authority, and lastly a contempt for the word of God, whereby faith itself is injured, or is brought into proximate peril.
17. But all these evils as it were culminate in the cowardice and the sloth of those who, after the manner of the sleeping and fleeing disciples, wavering in their faith, miserably forsake Christ when He is oppressed by anguish or surrounded by the satellites of Satan, and in the perfidy of those others who following the example of the traitor Judas, either partake of the holy table rashly and sacrilegiously, or go over to the camp of the enemy. And thus, even against our will, the thought rises in the mind that now those days draw near of which Our Lord prophesied: “And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matth. xxiv, 12).
18. Now, whosoever of the faithful have piously pondered on all these things must need be inflamed with the charity of Christ in His agony and make a more vehement endeavor to expiate their own faults and those of others, to repair the honor of Christ, and to promote the eternal salvation of souls. And indeed that saying of the Apostle: “Where sin abounded, grace did more abound” (Romans v, 20) may be used in a manner to describe this present age; for while the wickedness of men has been greatly increased, at the same time, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, a marvelous increase has been made in the number of the faithful of both sexes who with eager mind endeavor to make satisfaction for the many injuries offered to the Divine Heart, nay more they do not hesitate to offer themselves to Christ as victims. For indeed if any one will lovingly dwell on those things of which we have been speaking, and will have them deeply fixed in his mind, it cannot be but he will shrink with horror from all sin as from the greatest evil, and more than this he will yield himself wholly to the will of God, and will strive to repair the injured honor of the Divine Majesty, as well by constantly praying, as by voluntary mortifications, by patiently bearing the afflictions that befall him, and lastly by spending his whole life in this exercise of expiation.
19. And for this reason also there have been established many religious families of men and women whose purpose it is by earnest service, both by day and by night, in some manner to fulfill the office of the Angel consoling Jesus in the garden; hence come certain associations of pious men, approved by the Apostolic See and enriched with indulgences, who take upon themselves this same duty of making expiation, a duty which is to be fulfilled by fitting exercises of devotion and of the virtues; hence lastly, to omit other things, come the devotions and solemn demonstrations for the purpose of making reparation to the offended Divine honor, which are inaugurated everywhere, not only by pious members of the faithful, but by parishes, dioceses and cities.
20. These things being so, Venerable Brethren, just as the rite of consecration, starting from humble beginnings, and afterwards more widely propagated, was at length crowned with success by Our confirmation; so in like manner, we earnestly desire that this custom of expiation or pious reparation, long since devoutly introduced and devoutly propagated, may also be more firmly sanctioned by Our Apostolic authority and more solemnly celebrated by the whole Catholic name. Wherefore, we decree and command that every year on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, – which feast indeed on this occasion we have ordered to be raised to the degree of a double of the first class with an octave – in all churches throughout the whole world, the same expiatory prayer or protestation as it is called, to Our most loving Savior, set forth in the same words according to the copy subjoined to this letter shall be solemnly recited, so that all our faults may be washed away with tears, and reparation may be made for the violated rights of Christ the supreme King and Our most loving Lord.
21. There is surely no reason for doubting, Venerable Brethren, that from this devotion piously established and commanded to the whole Church, many excellent benefits will flow forth not only to individual men but also to society, sacred, civil, and domestic, seeing that our Redeemer Himself promised to Margaret Mary that “all those who rendered this honor to His Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces.” Sinners indeed, looking on Him whom they pierced (John xix, 37), moved by the sighs and tears of the whole Church, by grieving for the injuries offered to the supreme King, will return to the heart (Isaias xlvi, 8), lest perchance being hardened in their faults, when they see Him whom they pierced “coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matth. xxvi, 64), too late and in vain they shall bewail themselves because of Him (Cf. Apoc. i, 7). But the just shall be justified and shall be sanctified still (Cf. Apoc. xxii. 11) and they will devote themselves wholly and with new ardor to the service of their King, when they see Him contemned and attacked and assailed with so many and such great insults, but more than all will they burn with zeal for the eternal salvation of souls when they have pondered on the complaint of the Divine Victim: “What profit is there in my blood?” (Psalm xxix, 10), and likewise on the joy that will be felt by the same Most Sacred Heart of Jesus “upon one sinner doing penance” (Luke xv, 10). And this indeed we more especially and vehemently desire and confidently expect, that the just and merciful God who would have spared Sodom for the sake of ten just men, will much more be ready to spare the whole race of men, when He is moved by the humble petitions and happily appeased by the prayers of the community of the faithful praying together in union with Christ their Mediator and Head, in the name of all. And now lastly may the most benign Virgin Mother of God smile on this purpose and on these desires of ours; for since she brought forth for us Jesus our Redeemer, and nourished Him, and offered Him as a victim by the Cross, by her mystic union with Christ and His very special grace she likewise became and is piously called a reparatress. Trusting in her intercession with Christ, who whereas He is the “one mediator of God and men” (1 Timothy ii, 5), chose to make His Mother the advocate of sinners, and the minister and mediatress of grace, as an earnest of heavenly gifts and as a token of Our paternal affection we most lovingly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brethren, and to all the flock committed to your care.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, on the eighth day of May, 1928, in the seventh year of Our Pontificate.
Prayer of Reparation
O sweetest Jesus, whose overflowing charity towards men is most ungratefully repaid by such great forgetfulness, neglect and contempt, see, prostrate before Thy altars, we strive by special honor to make amends for the wicked coldness of men and the contumely with which Thy most loving Heart is everywhere treated.
At the same time, mindful of the fact that we too have sometimes not been free from unworthiness, and moved therefore with most vehement sorrow, in the first place we implore Thy mercy on us, being prepared by voluntary expiation to make amends for the sins we have ourselves committed, and also for the sins of those who wander far from the way of salvation, whether because, being obstinate in their unbelief, they refuse to follow Thee as their shepherd and leader, or because, spurning the promises of their Baptism, they have cast off the most sweet yoke of Thy law. We now endeavor to expiate all these lamentable crimes together, and it is also our purpose to make amends for each one of them severally: for the want of modesty in life and dress, for impurities, for so many snares set for the minds of the innocent, for the violation of feast days, for the horrid blasphemies against Thee and Thy saints, for the insults offered to Thy Vicar and to the priestly order, for the neglect of the Sacrament of Divine love or its profanation by horrible sacrileges, and lastly for the public sins of nations which resist the rights and the teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast instituted. Would that we could wash away these crimes with our own blood! And now, to make amends for the outrage offered to the Divine honor, we offer to Thee the same satisfaction which Thou didst once offer to Thy Father on the Cross and which Thou dost continually renew on our altars, we offer this conjoined with the expiations of the Virgin Mother and of all the Saints, and of all pious Christians, promising from our heart that so far as in us lies, with the help of Thy grace, we will make amends for our own past sins, and for the sins of others, and for the neglect of Thy boundless love, by firm faith, by a pure way of life, and by a perfect observance of the Gospel law, especially that of charity; we will also strive with all our strength to prevent injuries being offered to Thee, and gather as many as we can to become Thy followers. Receive, we beseech Thee, O most benign Jesus, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Reparatress, the voluntary homage of this expiation, and vouchsafe, by that great gift of final perseverance, to keep us most faithful until death in our duty and in Thy service, so that at length we may all come to that fatherland, where Thou with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2009
LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
ON OCCASION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE ENCYCLICAL “HAURIETIS AQUAS’
To the Most Reverend Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Today, 50 years later, the Prophet Isaiah’s words, which Pius XII placed at the beginning of the Encyclical with which he commemorated the first centenary of the extension of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the entire Church, have lost none of their meaning: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is 12: 3).
By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of his love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it. After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome him ever better into their lives.
The Redeemer’s pierced side is the source to which the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas refers us: we must draw from this source to attain true knowledge of Jesus Christ and a deeper experience of his love.
Thus, we will be able to understand better what it means to know God’s love in Jesus Christ, to experience him, keeping our gaze fixed on him to the point that we live entirely on the experience of his love, so that we can subsequently witness to it to others.
Indeed, to take up a saying of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II, “In the Heart of Christ, man’s heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbour”.
Thus: “The true reparation asked by the Heart of the Saviour will come when the civilization of the Heart of Christ can be built upon the ruins heaped up by hatred and violence” (Letter to Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus for the Beatification of Bl. Claude de la Colombière, 5 October 1986; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 27 October 1986, p. 7).
In the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I cited the affirmation in the First Letter of St John: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”, in order to emphasize that being Christian begins with the encounter with a Person (cf. n. 1).
Since God revealed himself most profoundly in the Incarnation of his Son in whom he made himself “visible”, it is in our relationship with Christ that we can recognize who God really is (cf. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 29-41; Deus Caritas Est, nn. 12-15).
And again: since the deepest expression of God’s love is found in the gift Christ made of his life for us on the Cross, the deepest expression of God’s love, it is above all by looking at his suffering and his death that we can see God’s infinite love for us more and more clearly: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).
Moreover, not only does this mystery of God’s love for us constitute the content of the worship of and devotion to the Heart of Jesus, but in the same way it is likewise the content of all true spirituality and Christian devotion. It is consequently important to stress that the basis of the devotion is as old as Christianity itself.
Indeed, it is only possible to be Christian by fixing our gaze on the Cross of our Redeemer, “on him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19: 37; cf. Zc 12: 10).
The Encyclical Haurietis Aquas rightly recalls that for countless souls the wound in Christ’s side and the marks left by the nails have been “the chief sign and symbol of that love” that ever more incisively shaped their life from within (cf. n. 52).
Recognizing God’s love in the Crucified One became an inner experience that prompted them to confess, together with Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20: 28), and enabled them to acquire a deeper faith by welcoming God’s love unreservedly (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 49).
The deepest meaning of this devotion to God’s love is revealed solely through a more attentive consideration of its contribution not only to the knowledge, but also and especially to the personal experience of this love in trusting dedication to its service (cf. ibid., n. 62).
It is obvious that experience and knowledge cannot be separated: the one refers to the other. Moreover, it is essential to emphasize that true knowledge of God’s love is only possible in the context of an attitude of humble prayer and generous availability.
Starting with this interior attitude, one sees that the gaze fixed upon his side, pierced by the spear, is transformed into silent adoration. Gazing at the Lord’s pierced side, from which “blood and water” flowed (cf. Jn 19: 34), helps us to recognize the manifold gifts of grace that derive from it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 34-41) and opens us to all other forms of Christian worship embraced by the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.
Faith, understood as a fruit of the experience of God’s love, is a grace, a gift of God. Yet human beings will only be able to experience faith as a grace to the extent that they accept it within themselves as a gift on which they seek to live. Devotion to the love of God, to which the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas invited the faithful (cf. n. 72), must help us never to forget that he willingly took this suffering upon himself “for us”, “for me”.
When we practise this devotion, not only do we recognize God’s love with gratitude but we continue to open ourselves to this love so that our lives are ever more closely patterned upon it. God, who poured out his love “into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (cf. Rom 5: 5), invites us tirelessly to accept his love. The main aim of the invitation to give ourselves entirely to the saving love of Christ and to consecrate ourselves to it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 4) is, consequently, to bring about our relationship with God.
This explains why the devotion, which is totally oriented to the love of God who sacrificed himself for us, has an irreplaceable importance for our faith and for our life in love.
Whoever inwardly accepts God is moulded by him. The experience of God’s love should be lived by men and women as a “calling” to which they must respond. Fixing our gaze on the Lord, who “took our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Mt 8: 17), helps us to become more attentive to the suffering and need of others.
Adoring contemplation of the side pierced by the spear makes us sensitive to God’s salvific will. It enables us to entrust ourselves to his saving and merciful love, and at the same time strengthens us in the desire to take part in his work of salvation, becoming his instruments.
The gifts received from the open side, from which “blood and water” flowed (cf. Jn 19: 34), ensure that our lives will also become for others a source from which “rivers of living water” flow (Jn 7: 38; cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 7).
The experience of love, brought by the devotion to the pierced side of the Redeemer, protects us from the risk of withdrawing into ourselves and makes us readier to live for others. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I Jn 3: 16; cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 38).
It was only the experience that God first gave us his love that has enabled us to respond to his commandment of love (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 17).
So it is that the cult of love, which becomes visible in the mystery of the Cross presented anew in every celebration of the Eucharist, lays the foundations of our capacity to love and to make a gift of ourselves (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 69), becoming instruments in Christ’s hands: only in this way can we be credible proclaimers of his love.
However, this opening of ourselves to God’s will must be renewed in every moment: “Love is never “finished’ and complete” (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 17).
Thus, looking at the “side pierced by the spear” from which shines forth God’s boundless desire for our salvation cannot be considered a transitory form of worship or devotion: the adoration of God’s love, whose historical and devotional expression is found in the symbol of the “pierced heart”, remains indispensable for a living relationship with God (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 62).
As I express the wish that the 50th anniversary will give rise to an ever more fervent response to love of the Heart of Christ in numerous hearts, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Father, and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus, who are still very active in promoting this fundamental devotion.
From the Vatican, 15 May 2006
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Posted by Dim Bulb on June 2, 2009
LETTER OF JOHN PAUL II
ON THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONSECRATION
OF THE HUMAN RACE TO THE DIVINE HEART OF JESUS
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. The 100th anniversary of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Divine Heart of Jesus, prescribed for the whole Church by my Predecessor Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Annum sacrum (25 May 1899: Leonis XIII P. M. Acta, XIX , 71- 80) and carried out on 11 June 1899, prompts us first of all to give thanks to “him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Rv 1:5-6).
This happy occasion seems a particularly appropriate one for reflecting on the meaning and value of that important ecclesial act. With the Encyclical Annum sacrum, Pope Leo XIII confirmed all that had been done by his Predecessors carefully to preserve and highlight the devotion and spirituality of the Sacred Heart. With that consecration he wished to obtain “extraordinary benefits first for Christianity, but also for the whole human race” (Annum sacrum, p. 71). Asking that not only believers but all people should be consecrated, he gave a new direction and sense to the consecration which had already been practised for two centuries by individuals, groups, Dioceses and nations.
The consecration of the human race to the Heart of Jesus was thus presented by Leo XIII as “the summit and crowning of all the honours which have been customarily paid to the Most Sacred Heart” (Annum sacrum, p. 72). Such a consecration, the Encyclical explains, is owed to Christ, Redeemer of the human race, for what he is in himself and for what he has done for human beings. Since in the Sacred Heart the believer encounters the symbol and the living image of the infinite love of Christ, which in itself spurs us to love one another, he cannot fail to recognize the need to participate personally in the work of salvation. For this reason every member of the Church is invited to see consecration as the giving and binding of oneself to Jesus Christ, the King “of prodigal sons”, the King of all who are waiting to be led “into the light of God and of his kingdom” (Formula of Consecration). Consecration thus understood is to be joined to the missionary activity of the Church herself, because it answers the desire of Jesus’ Heart to propagate in the world, through the members of his Body, his total dedication to the kingdom, and to unite the Church ever more closely to his offering to the Father and his being for others.
The value of what took place on 11 June 1899 was authoritatively confirmed in the writings of my Predecessors, who offered doctrinal reflections on the devotion to the Sacred Heart and mandated the periodic renewal of the act of consecration. Among these I am pleased to recall the holy successor of Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, who directed in 1906 that the consecration be renewed every year; Pope Pius XI of revered memory, who recalled it in his Encyclicals Quas primas, in the context of the Holy Year of 1925, and in Miserentissimus Redemptor; his successor, the Servant of God Pius XII, who treated it in his Encyclicals Summi Pontificatus and Haurietis aquas. The Servant of God Paul VI, then, in the light of the Second Vatican Council, wished to make reference to it in his Apostolic Epistle Investigabiles divitias and in his Letter Diserti interpretes, addressed on 25 May 1965 to Major Superiors of institutes named after the Heart of Jesus.
I too have not failed on several occasions to invite my Brothers in the Episcopate, priests, religious and the faithful to cultivate in their lives the most genuine forms of devotion to the Heart of Christ. In this year dedicated to God the Father, I recall what I wrote in the Encyclical Dives in misericordia: “The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ. In fact, it is precisely this drawing close to Christ in the mystery of his Heart which enables us to dwell on this point – a point in a sense central and also most accessible on the human level – of the revelation of the merciful love of the Father, a revelation which constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man” (n. 13). On the occasion of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and the month of June, I have often urged the faithful to persevere in the practice of this devotion, which “contains a message which in our day has an extraordinary timeliness”, because “an unending spring of life, giving hope to every person, has streamed precisely from the Heart of God’s Son, who died on the Cross. From the Heart of Christ crucified is born the new humanity redeemed from sin. The man of the year 2000 needs Christ’s Heart to know God and to know himself; he needs it to build the civilization of love” (8 June 1994; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 15 June 1994, p. 3).
The consecration of the human race in 1899 represents an extraordinarily important step on the Church’s journey and it is still good to renew it every year on the feast of the Sacred Heart. The same should be said of the Act of Reparation which is customarily recited on the feast of Christ the King. The words of Leo XIII still ring true: “We must have recourse to him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We have gone astray and we must return to the right path; darkness has overshadowed our minds, and the gloom must be dispelled by the light of truth; death has seized upon us, and we must lay hold of life” (Annum sacrum, p. 78). Is this not the programme of the Second Vatican Council and of my own Pontificate?
2. As we prepare to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, this centenary helps us to reflect with hope on our humanity and to see the third millennium illumined by the light of the mystery of Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6).
In stating that “the imbalances under which the modern world labours are linked with that more basic imbalance rooted in the human heart” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 10), faith happily discovers that “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear” (ibid., n. 22), since “by his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind, acted with a human will and loved with a human heart” (ibid.). God has so willed that the baptized Christian, “associated with the paschal mystery and configured to the death of Christ”, should hasten “forward to the resurrection strengthened by hope”, but this holds true “also for all people of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way” (ibid.). “All human beings”, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, “are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we come, through whom we live and towards whom we are led” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, n. 3).
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church authoritatively states that “by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the baptized are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christians they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the marvellous works of him who called them out of darkness into his wonderful light (cf. 1 Pt 2:4-10). Therefore all the disciples of Christ, persevering in prayer and praising God (cf. Acts 2:42-47), should offer themselves as a sacrifice, living, holy and pleasing to God (cf. Rom 12:1). They should everywhere on earth bear witness to Christ and give an answer to those who seek an account of that hope of eternal life which is in them” (ibid., n. 10). In facing the challenge of the new evangelization, the Christian who looks upon the Heart of Christ and consecrates himself as well as his brothers and sisters to him, the Lord of time and history, rediscovers that he is the bearer of his light. Motivated by this spirit of service, he cooperates in opening to all human beings the prospect of being raised to their own personal and communal fullness. “From the Heart of Christ, man’s heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love of God with love of neighbour” (Message to the Society of Jesus, 5 October 1986; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 27 October 1986, p. 7).
I wish to express my approval and encouragement to all who in any way continue to foster, study and promote devotion to the Heart of Christ in the Church with language and forms adapted to our times, so that it may be transmitted to future generations in the spirit which has always animated it. The faithful still need to be guided to contemplate adoringly the mystery of Christ, the God-Man, in order to become men and women of interior life, people who feel and live the call to new life, to holiness, to reparation which is apostolic cooperation in the salvation of the world, people who prepare themselves for the new evangelization, recognizing the Heart of Christ as the heart of the Church: it is urgent for the world to understand that Christianity is the religion of love.
The Saviour’s Heart invites us to return to the Father’s love, which is the source of every authentic love: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). Jesus ceaselessly receives from the Father, rich in mercy and compassion, the love which he lavishes upon human beings (cf. Eph 2:4; Jas 5:11). His Heart particularly reveals the generosity of God towards sinners. God’s reaction to sin is not to lessen his love, but to expand it into a flow of mercy which becomes the initiative of the Redemption.
Contemplation of the Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist will spur the faithful to seek in that Heart the inexhaustible mystery of the priesthood of Christ and of the Church. It will enable them to taste, in communion with their brothers and sisters, the spiritual sweetness of charity at its very source. By helping all to rediscover their own Baptism, it will make them more aware of having to live their apostolic dimension by spreading love and participating in the mission of evangelization. Each person needs to be more committed to praying the Lord of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:38) to grant the Church “shepherds after his own heart” (Jer 3:15) who, in love with Christ the Good Shepherd, will pattern their own hearts on his and be ready to go out into the highways of the world to proclaim to all that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, n. 82). To this we must add effective action so that many of today’s young people, docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit, may be taught to let the great expectations of the Church and of humanity resonate in the depths of their hearts and to respond to Christ’s invitation to consecrate themselves enthusiastically and joyously with him “for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).
3. The coincidence of this centenary with the last year of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which is “aimed at broadening the horizons of believers, so that they will see things in the perspective of Christ: in the perspective of the ‘Father who is in heaven’ (cf. Mt. 5:45)” (Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 49) offers a fitting opportunity to present the Heart of Jesus, “the burning furnace of love, … the symbol and the expressive image of the eternal love with which ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son’ (Jn 3:16)” (Paul VI, Apostolic Epistle Investigabiles divitias). The Father is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16), and the only-begotten Son, Christ, manifests this mystery while fully revealing man to man.
Devotion to the Heart of Jesus has given form to the prophetic words recalled by St John: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37; cf. Zec 12:10). It is a contemplative gaze,”which strives to enter deeply into the sentiments of Christ, true God and true man. In this devotion the believer confirms and deepens the acceptance of the mystery of the Incarnation, which has made the Word one with human beings and thus given witness to the Father’s search for them. This seeking is born in the intimate depths of God, who loves man eternally in the Word, and wishes to raise him in Christ to the dignity of an adoptive son” (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 7). At the same time devotion to the Heart of Jesus searches the mystery of the Redemption in order to discover the measure of love which prompted his sacrifice for our salvation.
The Heart of Christ is alive with the action of the Holy Spirit, to whom Jesus attributed the inspiration of his mission (Lk 4:18; cf. Is 61:1) and whose sending he had promised at the Last Supper. It is the Spirit who enables us to grasp the richness of the sign of Christ’s pierced side, from which the Church has sprung (cf. Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 5). “The Church, in fact”, as Paul VI wrote, “was born from the pierced Heart of the Redeemer and from that Heart receives her nourishment, for Christ “gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph 5:25-26)” (Letter Diserti interpretes). Through the Holy Spirit, then, the love which permeates the Heart of Jesus is poured out in the hearts of men (cf. Rom 5:5), and moves them to adoration of his “unsearchable riches” (Eph 3:8) and to filial and trusting petition to the Father (cf. Rom 8:15-16) through the Risen One who “always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7:25).
4. Devotion to the Heart of Christ, “the universal seat of communion with God the Father; … seat of the Holy Spirit” (8 June 1994; L’Osservatore Romano English edition 15 June 1994, p. 3), aims at strengthening our bond with the Holy Trinity. Thus, the celebration of the centenary of the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart prepares the faithful for the Great Jubilee, because it concerns its objective of “giving glory to the Trinity, from whom everything in the world and in history comes and to whom everything returns” (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 55), and because of its orientation to the Eucharist (cf. ibid.), in which the life that Christ came to bring in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10) is communicated to those who feed on him in order to have life because of him (cf. Jn 6:57). The entire devotion to the Heart of Jesus in its every manifestation is profoundly Eucharistic: it is expressed in religious practices which stir the faithful to live in harmony with Christ, “meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29), and it is intensified in adoration. It is rooted and finds its summit in participation in Holy Mass, especially Sunday Mass, where the hearts of the faithful, fraternally assembled in joy, listen to the word of God and learn to offer with Christ themselves and the whole of their lives (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 48). There they are nourished at the paschal banquet of the Redeemer’s Body and Blood and, sharing fully the love which beats in his Heart, they strive to be ever more effective evangelizers and witnesses of solidarity and hope.
We give thanks to God, our Father, who has revealed his love in the Heart of Christ and has consecrated us by the anointing of the Holy Spirit (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, n. 10) so that, in union with Christ, we may adore him in every place and by our holy actions consecrate to him the world itself (ibid., n. 34) and the new millennium.
Conscious of the great challenge that lies before us, we call upon the help of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. May she guide the People of God across the threshold of the millennium soon to begin. May she enlighten them on the ways of faith, hope and love! In particular, may she help every Christian to live with generous consistency the consecration to Christ which has its basis in the sacrament of Baptism and is fittingly confirmed in personal consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in whom alone humanity can find forgiveness and salvation.
Warsaw, 11 June 1999, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
JOHN PAUL II