As we draw near to the month of June, we approach the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This designation has its source primarily in the fact that the established day for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart usually takes place during June – though its date moves around each year as its particular date each year is based on the actual date of Pentecost within that same year, taking place on the Friday in the third week after Pentecost – or more precisely, 19 days after Pentecost – though this number is incidental and I only give this number to help simplify “when” the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is in relation to Pentecost.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart is rooted in the truth of the love of Jesus Christ for us – and in particular how the human heart, both as vital organ and as symbol of love that it is, is a way for us to consider such love while returning our love to Christ by being devoted in a direct way to His love for us in His heart. The devotion is particularly linked to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, from the 17th century, though it has been in the Church for many more centuries. St. Margaret Mary is said to have received locutions (that is, visions with messages) from the Lord Himself that asked for this devotion, presenting with it several promises of God’s graces being given in particular ways to those who keep this devotion. In addition, the messages given to St. Margaret Mary invited this devotion as a way of making reparation for sins committed. As the devotion pertains to the love of Christ who offered Himself for us, it has a very close connection to Eucharistic devotion, as illustrated especially through its promotion of the offering of what we know as the “Holy Hour,” or the traditional way of spending and hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that is reminiscent of Jesus’ hour in the Agony of the Garden.
As one example of devotion to the Sacred Heart, St. Pio of Pietrelcina (better known as “Padre Pio,”) used to offer the prayer of devotion to the Sacred Heart known as the “Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart” for all who would ask him for prayers. A few years ago, I was able to promote this novena – making small laminated prayer cards available at that time. I am confident that it was very fruitful for any who have faithfully used it. This novena contains a very simple set of prayers (it only takes a couple of minutes at a time) that are said over nine days for particular intention.
Given the witness of Padre Pio, I would once again like to encourage all to practice using this novena as a way of offering prayers for particular intentions. I will see to it that some copies of the novena are available in the Gathering Space for the taking (though they probably will not be laminated this time – as one of the great and recent mysteries of the parish office staff is the question of “what” happened to the numerous rolls of laminating material we thought we had on hand in the office, as no one seems to know where they are – but I digress).
As the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart will be on Friday, June 11, to begin the novena this Thursday, June 3 will lead one right into the celebrating of the solemnity. In addition, I’d like to ask a favor: that any and all who take up this novena might employ it in these coming days for prayers for our local Church – and particularly for our new bishop, Daniel Felton, in these early days of his ministry as our bishop.
As I write this, I realize that I need to renew my own commitment to praying this novena. Thus, I will seek to pray this novena regularly for the parish, especially in this time of transition, asking for graces of increased faith for all. I hope you will join me in giving this way of love to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.