Feast of the Sacred Heart II

French Holy Card

Last year, Roger wrote at length about the Feast of the Sacred Heart – so nearly forgotten by the post Vatican II Church.

This year, I would simply like to say:

Praise be to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – burning with love and mercy for each and every one of us, every moment of every day.

Brought to us by the generosity of the Father and the humility of His Immaculate Mother, let us honour in humble adoration, this Most Sacred Gift on this day of His Feast.

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus implores us to make reparation for the outrages committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Pray! Make sacrifices! Go to Holy Mass!

And if you are like myself, following the liturgical year in all its beauty and splendour …

A practice that cleaves us to all the Church is, Her dogmas, Her doctrines, Her Holy Mysteries of the Tradition, through the intercession of the Communion of Saints …

Then as you open the pages of your old pre-Vatican II missal, for this Holy Feast today, you may well read …

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Double of the First Class with privileged Octave of the Third Order. White vestments.

Protestantism in the sixteenth century and Jansenism in the seventeenth had attempted to spoil one of the essential dogmas of Christianity, namely the love of God for all men.

It became necessary that the Spirit of love, which directs the Church, should by some new means counteract the spreading heresy, in order that the Spouse of Christ, far from seeing her love for Jesus diminish, should feel it always increasing.

This was made manifest in Catholic worship, which is the sure rule of our faith, by the institution of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

Yet in early Middle-Ages, the Doctors and Saints used to see in the wound of Jesus’ side the source of all graces. St. Bonaventure invites us “to enter this wound and to dwell in the quiet of this Heart” (Third Nocturn).

The two benedictine virgins, St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde, in the thirteenth century, had a clear vision of the grandeur of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

St. John the evangelist, appearing to the former, announced to her that “the meaning of the blessed beating of the heart of Jesus which he had heard while his head rested on His breast, was reserved for the latter times when the world grown old and cold in divine love, would require to have its fervour renewed by means of this mystery of burning love”.

This Heart, say these two Saints, is an altar on which Christ offers Himself to the Father as a perfect and most acceptable victim. It is a golden censer from which rise towards the Father as many clouds of incense as there are kinds of men for whom Christ suffered.

In this Heart the praise and thanks we give to God and all our good works are ennobled and become acceptable to the Father.

But in order to make this worship public and recognized, Providence first raised up St. John Eudes, who in 1670 composed an Office and a Mass of the Sacred Heart for the so-called Congregation of the Eudists.

Providence then chose one of the spiritual daughters of St. Francis of Sales, St. Margaret-Mary Alacoque, to whom Jesus showed His Heart at Paray-le-Monial, on June 10th, 1675, Sunday after Corpus Christi, and asked her to institute a feast of the Sacred Heart on the Friday following the Octave of Corpus Christi.

Lastly, God employed for the propagation of this devotion, Blessed [now St] Claude de la Colombiére. He belonged to the Company of Jesus “the whole of which inherited his zeal in the propagation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart”.

In 1765, Clement XIII gave his approbation to the feast and the Office of the Sacred Heart, and in 1856 [Now Bl.] Pius IX, extended it to the universal Church.

In 1929 Pius XI composed a new Mass and Office for this feast and gave it a privileged Octave of the third Order.

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart sums up all the phases of the life of Jesus recalled in the liturgy from Advent to the Feast of Corpus Christi.

It constitutes an admirable triptych giving us in abridgment all the mysteries, joyous, sorrowful and glorious, of the Saviour’s life devoted to the love of God and men.

This feast is indeed placed on a height from which may be contemplated the redeeming labours of the Saviour on earth and the glorious victories He will, by the working of the Holy Ghost, achieve in souls until the end of the world.

Coming after the feasts of Christ, this feast completes them, concentrating them in one object which is materially Jesus’ Heart of flesh, and formally the unbounded charity symbolised by this Heart.

This solemnity therefore does not relate to a particular mystery of the Saviour’s life, but embraces them all; indeed the devotion to the Sacred Heart celebrates all the favours we have received from divine charity during the year (Collect), and all the marvellous things that Jesus has done for us (Introit, Tract, Alleluia).

It is the feast of the love of God for men, a love which has made Jesus come down on earth for all by His Incarnation (Epistle), which has raised Him on the Cross for the Redemption of all and which brings Him down every day on our altars by transubstantiation, in order to make us benefit by the merits of His death on Calvary.

These three mysteries, which manifest to us the divine charity in a more special way, sum up the spirit of the feast of the Sacred Heart.

It is “His love which forced Him to put on a mortal body”.

It is His love which willed that the Sacred Heart should be pierced on the cross (Gospel and Communion), in order that from the wound should flow a spring (Preface) we might draw from joyfully (v. at 2nd Vespers), whose water cleanses us from our sins in baptism and whose blood nourishes our souls in the Eucharist.

And as the Eucharist is the continuation of the Incarnation and the sacrifice of Calvary, Jesus asked that the feast should be placed immediately after the Octave of Corpus Christi.

As these manifestations of Christ’s love only show the more the ingratitude of men who only answer by coldness and indifference (Offertory) this solemnity has a character of reparation (Collect) demanded of us by the wounded Heart of Jesus and by His immolation in the Crib, on the Cross and on the Altar.

Let us learn from the Heart of Jesus, whose gentle and humble love turns no one away, and in it we shall find rest for our souls (Alleluia).

Note: Italics and paragraph breaks have been added.

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One Comment

  1. Elaine Mann
    Posted 9 January 2012 at 14:01 | Permalink

    I am very happy to see that you are interested in bringing back the wonderful things about the
    Church. I found Imitation of Christ in a church in Sault St. Marie, Mi in 1961. It has 114 illustrations by Ariel Agemian K.S.G. for years I read a page a day. His drawings are beautiful and Inspiring. Elaine

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