Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is meant to help us come into deeper union with the very heart of God’s love for us. As with all true devotions, it points us back to the eternal Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by helping us to visualize Jesus’ complete gift of himself for our redemption.The “burning furnace of charity” that is Jesus’ sacrificial heart touched the heart of the disciples in their encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35) and their own hearts began to burn within them as well.
As Jesus offers his heart continually to us, we can begin to receive this intense love through our own reciprocal offering of self, during mass, in daily prayer, and especially in a daily consecration to Jesus’s Sacred Heart, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Here is a traditional Morning Offering prayer:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
Devotion to Jesus through his Sacred Heart has a long history extending back to the time of the Apostles. In recent times, the Sacred Heart especially brings to mind the revelations of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who received in prayer the call to make the sufferings of Jesus’s heart known to all. As Jesus displayed his heart to her, he told her how much his heart burned with love for all people, but how little this love was appreciated and returned. The Sacred Heart reveals the Second Person of the Trinity in a love that is fully divine and human, divine in its intensity and eternity, human in its great suffering over the indifference it meets in men and women. As in all things, Jesus shows us the Father, and the nature of the Father’s love for his creatures: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Thus, if we meditate on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and allow his Holy Spirit to kindle our own love, we draw closer to the Father’s heart, and its desire to overflow to all people.
Resources for learning more:
Heart of the Redeeemer by Timothy T. O’Donnell. Ignatius Press, 1989.
This is the best single history of Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, covering the Scriptural basis, Apostolic and Patristic writings, writings of the saints and recent popes.
A Heart on Fire: Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by James Kubicki. Ave Maria Press, 2012.
This book also presents the history of the devotion but with a focus on the “love story” of the Eucharistic heart of Jesus for humanity. An inspirational text is enhanced by an extensive section on various forms of the devotion. Highly recommended.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: How to Practice the Sacred Heart Devotion by Fr. John Croiset. TAN Books, 1988.
Includes a short biography on Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque by her spiritual director, Fr. Croiset, who presents his own treatise on the practice of the sacred heart devotion.
Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat- Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Marian Press, 2010.
Fr. Gaitley offers a weekend “retreat” (it will takes most of us much longer to digest) that combines the wisdom of St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Faustina to explicate the Offering of Merciful Love as a rich practice for consoling the heart of Jesus.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus by Saint John Eudes [1601-1680]. Loreto, 2011.
The Autobiography of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque [1647-1690]. TAN Books, 1995.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Prayer Book (ed. by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé). Pauline Books, 2016.