Dedication, Devotion and Reparation to the Sacred Heart

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is popularly associated with St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, a nun of the Visitation Order who during the years 1673-1675 who received a number of private revelations through which Our Lord chose to reveal His Most Sacred Heart to the world. ‘My divine Heart is so inflamed with love for mankind … that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its burning charity and must spread them abroad by your means.’ In the course of these apparitions Our Lord had St. Margaret Mary ask that a Feast in honour of His Sacred Heart be offered to Him by the Church on the Friday after the Solemnity of Corpus Christi; that the King consecrate France to the Sacred Heart, and that the mission of propagating the devotion be entrusted to the Order of the Visitation, as well as the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuit Order. St. Margaret Mary was assisted by St. Claude de la Colombière, a Jesuit priest who was her spiritual director. From Paray-le-Monial, the site of the apparitions, the devotion has spread throughout the world; and since then, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been a source of strength and consolation especially in times of persecution. As with hope we look to an end to the lockdown measures that have caused so much harm to society and to the practice of the faith, especially as it concerns the celebration and reception of the sacraments, this devotion can serve as a source of renewal of faith and life to God’s glory and the salvation of souls.

The Nine First Fridays Devotion is by far the most common expression of devotion to the Sacred Heart. In the course of His apparitions to St. Margaret Mary, Our Lord made twelve promises to those who practise this devotion. The last of these promises states: ‘I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they will not die under my displeasure or without receiving their sacraments, my divine Heart making itself their assured refuge at the last moment’. In addition to Holy Mass and Communion, the faithful who observe this devotion also participate in a Holy Hour of Reparation and Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in their homes.

Sadly, as with many other traditional practices, this devotion was eclipsed in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. As with many post-conciliar developments that contradicted the very texts of the Council’s documents, it may come as a surprise to many that in 1965, as the Council was coming to a close, Pope Paul VI exhorted the Catholic faithful to deeper devotion to the Sacred Heart: This, therefore, seems to us to be the most suitable ideal: that devotion to the Sacred Heart which, we say it sadly, has declined somewhat in some, now re-flourish daily more and more, and be esteemed by all as an excellent and acceptable form of true piety, which, in our times, especially because of the norms laid down in the Second Vatican Council, is strongly called for toward Christ Jesus, the king and center of all hearts… We especially desire … that through a more intense participation in the august Sacrament of the Altar, a greater devotion be given to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose outstanding gift is the Eucharist” (Pope Paul VI, Investigabiles Christi, Feb. 6, 1965). Near the very end of his turbulent pontificate, on October 13, 1977, on the 60th anniversary of the apparitions, Pope Paul VI observed: The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic World. The darkness of satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. These are very sobering words spoken by a pope. A few years earlier, he had made an even more sobering, often-quoted observation: We believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms and of darkness of searching and uncertainties…It is as if from some mysterious crack, no it is not mysterious, from some crack the smoke of satan has entered the temple of God (Sermon of June 29, 1972).

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Should We Care About Pride?

This is a question that I find myself pondering with some regularity, but for the last few years during the month of June – I cannot seem to escape it. The formerly oppressed minority in the interminably increasing alphabet soup of sexual and gender identities and now a host of social justice causes among the avant-garde have taken their quest for tolerance and inclusion into a much wider and more aggressive stage – acceptance and participation. To not do so is grounds for cancellation. After all, in their lexicon – silence is violence. As recently as yesterday, someone I consider a good man and a decent friend posted his pledge of support for pride month on a social media platform, then abruptly directed that anyone who does not agree with him should immediately un-friend him. I disagree with him, though silently, and have not yet done as he directed. So, again, why should I care?

It comes down to an answer that is grounded in a theological anthropology that is at least as old as the book of Genesis – that all men and women are created in the Image and Likeness of God. That foundational understanding of the nature of a human person is what lies at the crux of this whole discussion. From the Christian view, a human being is a composite creation, possessing a physical body and an immortal soul. The physical body is subject to decay and death, like any animal. But the soul, once created by God, since it lacks matter, cannot be destroyed in the same way. It, therefore, must endure. That begs another question, how does this endurance come about, practically speaking? The body dies, the soul lives on, but where? That answer is also found in Christian Scripture and Tradition. The soul lives either with God in heaven, or suffers eternal separation which is the essence of hell with Satan. One has two outcomes from a choice to believe God or not.

In the modern secular world view, mankind has become no different from a highly evolved hairless ape. In the context of a living and sentient animal who has only an animal nature and once that nature passes, that’s it, the idea of eternal consequences seems frivolous, at best. If one does not possess an immortal spirit, then the idea of that spirit suffering an eternity of separation from its creator does not hold any water. And I fear this is where a great majority of our well-intended friends find themselves. This leads to several other errors, among them being abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. Each of these impose a conditional acceptance of the killing of a human being. While an argument can be made for the liceity of the last, the former two are nearly impossible to justify – ever. At the risk of conflating these life issues with sexual mores, I only bring this up to discuss the wayward mindset our secular friends. Just a few days ago, I was labelled a “forced birth extremist” by one of these lost souls who tried to convince me that there were occasions in which killing a baby is good, for the sake of “bodily autonomy”, a hallmark of the alphabet pride movement. But, I fear I may digress too much… The point being, this physical existence, right here and now, is all they think we have. For them, there is no immortal spirit, and therefore, no eternal consequence – for anything.

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