Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is celebrated on the Friday after the second Sunday following Pentecost.
From its earliest days, the Church has meditated on the mystery of Christ’s wounds at his crucifixion, and the blood and water that poured from his side. In the 11th and 12th centuries, we see indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart, beginning in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries.
Specific devotions became popular after St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation nun, received a personal revelation, which involved a series of visions of Christ, as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote, “He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart.” Christ made the following promises to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to his Sacred Heart:
- He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
- He will establish peace in their homes.
- He will comfort them in all their afflictions.
- He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
- He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
- Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
- Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
- He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and honored.
- He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
- Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His Heart.
- In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.