Photo credit: Anna Anderson/Achona Online/Piktochart
June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion is one of the most popular Catholic devotions. To capture the power of this, I asked Sr. Theresa Lee, FMA, a Salesian Sister with a special devotion to the Sacred Heart, some questions. Sr. Theresa is currently the director of vocations for the Salesian Sisters in New Jersey. She has lived in Florida, and has even spoke at some of Academy’s retreats.
What is the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
“Simply, the Heart of Jesus is complete and perfect Mercy and Love.”
How did the devotion to the Sacred Heart start?
“1. Mt. 11:28-30 —“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” This was the first time Jesus mentioned His Sacred Heart.
2. St. Gertrude — St. Gertrude had visions of Jesus and His Sacred Heart. She encouraged others to pray to the Sacred Heart for graces. Jesus told her: “They may draw forth all they need from My Divine Heart.”
3. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque + Pope Pius IX — Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque many times, revealing to her His Sacred Heart and showing her “form of the devotion, the chief features being reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration during a ‘Holy hour’ on Thursdays, and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.” She was beatified by Pope Pius IX. Her tomb was opened two years later. Two immediate cures took place and her body was incorrupt.
4. St. Faustina Kowalska + St. John Paul II — St. Faustina had visions of the Sacred Heart, and Jesus placed an emphasis on His Divine Mercy in those visions. He said to spread the Divine Mercy image and devotion. The devotion to Divine Mercy is really devotion to the Sacred Heart with a special focus. St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina, established Divine Mercy Sunday for the whole Church, and entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy.”
Why do so many Catholics honor Jesus’ Sacred Heart?
“I’d say for three reasons: 1. Jesus asks for our love; 2. We human beings long to be loved unconditionally and to be forgiven even when we feel we don’t deserve it, or in fact, deserve punishment, and that’s exactly how Jesus loves you and me, and only He is able to love us like this; 3. and so, it is our response to His great love! When we have allowed ourselves to experience His love, when we open ourselves to receive His mercy, then His grace pours into our hearts and we can love ourselves, others, and above all, God, as He does: purely, freely, and courageously.”
How did you first learn about His Sacred Heart, and what drew you to learn more about it?
“My first memory is a very large white marble Sacred Heart statue I passed by every morning on my walk to elementary school. I always felt a loving & living presence in His outstretched arms and wide, gentle smile. Then, it was somewhat buried until I was about 22 years old, working in NYC, and trying to figure out my vocation. It was a very taxing discernment for me, so that Lent, I decided to go to Mass on my lunch hour. I walked (ran) over 30 blocks to St. Patrick’s Cathedral from my Madison Ave. office the first day, but cut it close. Then, I remembered that some weeks earlier, I had passed by a Catholic Church only two blocks from my office, and so I looked for it the next day. Guess what the Church is called. Yep. Sacred Heart of Jesus. I spent MANY hours in that Church… before work, after work, lunch hours. But still at that time, my focus was on Jesus in the Eucharist, not so much on His Sacred Heart. My devotion specifically for the Sacred Heart of Jesus REALLY grew after I became a Salesian Sister! Did you know that one of our KEY devotions is the SACRED HEART of JESUS?! Yes, St. John Bosco and especially St. Mary Mazzarello were deeply devoted.”
What can we do, as high school students, to grow closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
“1. In the morning and/or at night, pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, simply, asking Him to open your heart, to help you love Him more.
2. You can also pray short ‘arrow’ prayers throughout the day, such as:
“Jesus, help me to love you and imitate you more, especially your Sacred Heart.”
“Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like Yours.”
“Jesus, come into my heart and never depart.”
3. Learn more about His Sacred Heart by reading the lives of the Saints or spiritual books about His Heart.
4. Keep an image or bookmark of His Sacred Heart or the Divine Mercy in your room or nearby.
5. Talk to others about His Sacred Heart. Pray and ask Jesus to give you those opportunities and the words to share simply and joyfully.
6. As often as possible, whenever possible, choose to act with love and choose to forgive. After receiving Communion, ask Jesus for this grace. And take advantage of Jesus’ mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, at least once a month, if possible.”
Here are some links for more in-depth information on The Sacred Heart:
Five Facts About The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Where Did Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Come From?”