Today is the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is a Feast whereby we make Reparation for the sacrileges and indignities the Sacred Heart continuously suffers, particularly in His Blessed Sacrament.
Now, it was in the Octave of Corpus Christi, 1675, that Our Lord requested this Feast. In Paray-le-Monial, France, the Sacred Heart of Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, exposing His passionate and wounded Heart. And there He spoke to her, these words:
Behold this Heart, Which has loved men so much, that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them Its love; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show Me in this Sacrament of Love …
Therefore I ask of thee that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honour My Heart, by communicating on that day and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars.
In a town close to us, is a large church dedicated to the Sacred Heart. High above the altar is a magnificent window. It is so beautiful it almost takes my breath away.
In stained-glass, we can see an image of the Blessed Sacrament exposed upon the altar. There, too, stands Our precious Lord. Before Him, adoring His Holy Presence, is St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is bowled over in awe. For the Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself has appeared before her.
Now, He appeared, four centuries after the inauguration of the Feast of Corpus Christi. And, as was the case when Corpus Christi was established, there was a trend amongst the faithful to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. (For Jansenism, which greatly encouraged this dour practice, was rife in the Church at that time. There were also terrible blasphemies regarding the Holy Eucharist.)
So, the Sacred Heart of Jesus appeared at this time to request a new Feast, one to make Reparation for these indignities and irreverence towards His Sacrament of Love.
Today things are different from these Jansenist times. We do not have church leaders encouraging us to refrain from receiving the Blessed Sacrament. We have another situation altogether. We have ever-more widespread disbelief in His True Presence and a subsequent laxity in respect.
Our Lord’s words tear at my heart, particularly when I look at the liturgy today, which often does not procure reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament.
In the modern Church, I so often witness Our Blessed Lord being ignored, or forgotten. People fail to genuflect or even acknowledge Him at all, as they pass by the tabernacle.
And with Holy Communion, it is frequently the case that He is distributed, or rather dished out like cookies.
First Communion celebrations seem to focus on the Eucharist as a memorial, rather than teaching the True Presence of Our Lord in His Blessed Sacrament.
The consequences, obviously, are grave. Sadly, Our Lord seems all but forgotten, even by those who were once steeped in the Faith and knew this Mystery of the Real Presence.
Parents, Priests and teachers fail to pass on the importance of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, as they used to.
And as generations forget, youngsters do not even know how to pay due respect. For they know not Who is before them, worthy of the greatest honour.
Is it any wonder that the faith is dwindling?
Thanks be to God for the traditional Catholic movement. For there, one always sees incredible respect towards Our Lord in His Blessed Sacrament. And this respect naturally passes down, generation after generation.
Thus, I was very moved over the Easter Triduum, to see youngsters -even a group of young lads wearing hoods – at the traditional Latin Mass, kneeling with deep reverence, before the Sacred Mystery on the altar.
With this in mind, I include here, something I wrote a couple of years ago about my experience of Holy Mass on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
I spent much of that Feast day in a prayerful state, trying through my business (for it was a busy day) to keep an awareness of Our Lord’s request.
As I knelt before Holy Mass that evening, gazing upon the Sacred Heart altar and the Tabernacle, I intensified my prayer. I offered my Communion and all the prayers of the Mass, in reparation for all the sacrileges and wrongs committed by us, poor sinners that we are, towards our Lord’s Heart, particularly in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
I kept this intensity of intention throughout the Mass. Then on receiving Holy Communion, I experienced something that seemed to give me a morsel of understanding of that which Our Lord meant in His words, quoted above, as well as in these following words;
‘I promise thee that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its divine love upon all those who shall thus honour It, and cause It to be honoured.’
As I consumed this Most Holy nourishment of His Body and Blood, I felt a sweetness, a joy, as though He was bestowing His love upon me. And of course this is exactly what Holy Communion is. It is a gift of love, beyond measure. The greatest gift, the greatest love we can ever know.
And it is our responsibility to receive this greatest of gifts with the gratitude and reverence It deserves.
The all-encompassing sweetness of His love … The importance of right respect towards Him in His Sacrament … The necessity of prayer for reparation.
These are the things of which He spoke all those years ago and His words are just as relevant today. These are the things which we particularly honour on this Holy Feast.
And these are the things for which I found some minute understanding in my poor little heart, as I received and consumed the greatest of gifts, His Body and Blood.
For, I was consuming that very Heart that had so loved men. I was consuming in His Sacrament of love, that Heart that so requested the honouring and respect so rightly due It. That Heart, that through honour and reparation, would bestow:
‘in abundance the influence of Its divine love upon all those who shall thus honour It, and cause It to be honoured’.
And as we depart from the Octave of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us not forget these things, these words from Our Lord. Let us go to each and every Mass, remembering the generosity and love given to us daily in Holy Communion this greatest of gifts.
And let us act accordingly, that Our Lord will be pleased that we have returned ‘love for love’.
Practicing the Feast of the Sacred Heart
So, whilst with Corpus Christi, we adore the Blessed Sacrament honouring this Most Precious of gifts, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, we make reparation for the insults and blasphemies hurled at Our Lord in His Holy Eucharist.
Therefore, today, let us continue to adore Our Lord in His precious Sacrament of love. Yet, in doing so, we must particularly respond to the words He spoke to St. Margaret Mary.
It is customary to pray the Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, composed by Pope Leo XIII, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Your Priest may lead the faithful in this act. If not, here it is for you to pray.
Issued with the Encyclical Letter Annum Sacrum, 25 May 1899
Most sweet Jesus, redeemer of the human race, look down upon us, humbly prostrate before Thy altar. We are Thine and Thine we wish to be; but to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Many, indeed, have never known Thee, many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart.
Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to their father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Be Thou King also of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry, and refuse not to draw them all into the light and Kingdom of God. Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church, assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to It be glory and honor forever. Amen.
I have also placed here this Act of Reparation, which I find beautiful. I find it enkindles a heartfelt desire to make reparation.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy, and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee!
The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hopes of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole hope of mankind!
The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!
The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most liberal Heart of Jesus!
The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart, model of every virtue!
The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more w shall be inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of souls!
The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit, O Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more we will honor him as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray for him, O kingly Heart of Jesus!
O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the kingdom of heaven. Amen.