Sacred Heart League



Devotions to Sacred Heart:

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a worshipful relationship to the person of Christ  and His redeeming love, under the aspect or symbol of his heart (see CCC #2011).

Scriptural Origins

1.    The love of God for humankind is like a mother for her infant (Isaiah 49:14-15) and like a husband for his wife (Hosea 1-2; CCC #1604).

2.    The human heart, a person’s deepest self, is where God has written his covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; CCC #s 1764-1765).

3.    Jesus of John’s Gospel:

•    At the Feast of the Tabernacles (John 7:37-39)-   “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”
•    On the Cross (John 19:34)-when blood and water flowed from his pierced side
•    As risen Lord (John 20:27)-with his wounds still visible

Historical Evolution

1.    Between 800 and 1000, there developed the use of Jesus’ heart as a symbol to focus the venerable devotion to his humanity and to the wounds of Christ.
2.    St. John Eudes (1601-1680) promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Heart of Mary, prompting Pope Pius XI to call him the father of the tradition.
3.    Apparitions of Christ to Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1673-1675), tell of his concern about the indifference and coldness in the world in response to his
love. He asked her to promote these practices:
•    Devotion to his heart, symbolic of his love for all
•    Frequent Communion in a spirit of reparation, especially on the first
Friday of the month
•    Holy hours and other devotions
4.    Promotion by the Jesuits, at first through St. Margaret Mary’s Jesuit spiritual director, Claude de la Colombière, became part of their institute, notably through the Apostleship of Prayer (Sacred Heart League), which popularized the Morning Offering and widely distributed the Sacred Heart badge.
5.    Pope Pius XII’s encyclical in 1956 on the Sacred Heart.

The promises of Our Lord

Part of the apparitions to St. Margaret Mary, these promises to those devoted to the Sacred Heart were implicitly approved by the Church in the 1920 canonization of St. Margaret Mary.

1.    I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2.    I will establish peace in their houses.
3.    I will comfort them in their afflictions.
4.    I will be their strength during life and above all during death.
5.    I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.
6.    Sinners shall find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7.    Tepid souls shall grow fervent.
8.    Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9.    I will bless every place where a picture of my heart shall be set up and honoured.
10.    I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11.    Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my heart, never to be blotted out.
12.    I promise you in the excessive mercy of my heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the first Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the sacraments; my divine heart shall be their safe refuge in the last moment.

Traditional Practices of the Sacred Heart Devotion

Act of Consecration

The devotion renews the gift of ourselves that was made in Baptism and Confirmation (as well as Marriage and Holy Orders) and implies a total surrender to Christ in gratitude, promising fidelity. A most ancient form dates from the fifteenth century, popularized by the Benedictine monks at the Abbey of St. Matthias, Trier, Germany. The practice proliferated after St. Margaret Mary and later through the Apostleship of Prayer’s Morning Offering as a personal and daily consecration. It was formalized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI who ordered an annual, public consecration of the human race on the feast of Christ the King:

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly
prostrate before Thine 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 whom heresy holds in error or discord keeps
aloof; call them back to the harbour of truth and the unity of faith,
so that soon there may be but one fold and one Shepherd. 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 honour forever. Amen

Acts of Reparation
This conscious turning to God, change of heart, and reconciliation with others, leads to and flows from the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

First Fridays (See promise twelve above)
These are memorials of Good Friday and a response in loving praise and gratitude for the grace flowing from the heart of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Holy Hour
This special kind of vigil commemorates Jesus’ agony in the garden: “Could you not stay awake with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40).

Morning Offering
The Morning Offering was inspired by Christ’s requests to St. Margaret Mary and initiated by Jesuit Fr. Gaulrelet (1844). Popularized since 1860 by the Apostleship of Prayer (League of the Sacred Heart), it associates one’s “prayers, works, joys, and sufferings” with the Church’s Eucharist (“Dogmatic Constitution of the Church,” no. 34; 1 Peter 2:5).

-Excerpt from The Catholic Source Book, Harcourt Religion Publishers; Pages 374,375 & 376