Devotion to the Sacred Heart
When one starts to write about such a devotion, the first word that jumps out of the page is “heart”. The heart is, above all, the emblem of love. However, being directed to the loving Heart of Jesus, it naturally encounters whatever in Jesus is connected with this love. Now, was not his love the motive of all that Christ did and suffered? Was not all His inner, evermore than his outward, life dominated by this love?
On the other hand, the devotion to the Sacred Heart, being directed to the living Heart of Jesus, thus becomes familiar with the whole inner life of the Master, with all His virtues and sentiments, finally with Jesus infinitely loving and lovable. Hence, first extension of the devotion is from the loving Heart to the intimate knowledge of Jesus, to His sentiments and virtues, to His whole emotional and moral life; from the loving Heart to all the manifestations of Its love.
There is still another extension which, although having the same meaning, is made in another way, that is by passing from the Heart to the Person, a transition which, as we have seen, is very naturally made. When speaking of a large heart our allusion is to the person, just as when we mention the Sacred Heart we mean Jesus. This is not, however, because the two are synonymous but when the word heart is used to designate the person, it is because such a person is considered in whatsoever related to his emotional and moral life. Thus, when we designate Jesus as the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus manifesting His Heart, Jesus all loving and amiable. Jesus entire is thus recapitulated in the Sacred Heart as all is recapitulated in Jesus.
History of the Devotion
During the initial years of the Church, when St John and St Paul were still preaching of the Good News here on Earth, the Church had, even then been devoted to the love of God, who so loved the world as to give it His only begotten Son, and to the love of Jesus, who so loved us as to deliver Himself up for us. But the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had to wait. In fact, it is in the 11th and 12 centuries that we find the first unmistakable indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart. The Benedictine and Cistercian orders worked tirelessly for such devotion to rise within the Church. Having said this it seems impossible to say which of the above mentioned orders were the first to write texts and votaries about the Sacred Heart.
Something which deserves special mention is the revelation that St John the Beloved made to St Gertrude. Allowed to rest her head near the wound of the Savior’s, she heard the beating of the Divine Heart and asked John, if on the night of the last Supper, he too had felt these delightful pulsations and why he had never spoken of the fact. John replied that this revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages when the world, having grown cold, would have need of it to rekindle its love. As I write such words, I can’t help but reflect, on the fact that the world has grown cold. Cold to the suffering of others, cold to those who cry out in pain and anguish, cold are the hearts of those without love for Christ.
May this feast and our devotion to it fill the empty hearts of such people and may the fire of Christ’s love burn in their hearts and inspire them to change their lives.