June is the month of the Sacred Heart: Have you ever tried the Sacred Heart Novena?
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 based on the date of Pentecost, 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, but truly 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 an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that is reminiscent of Jesus’ hour in the Agony of the Garden.
Recently (and quite providentially), I learned how St. Pio of Pietrelcina (that is, “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. Given that Padre Pio would regularly pray this novena, receiving from it great benefit for those for whom he prayed, I felt prompted to take up this novena myself as a way to pray for present needs of those who ask. However, I did not want to stop with that. Accordingly, we have made laminated copies of the Novena that are available in the Gathering Space for the taking (and if we run short, I’ll see to more being produced). 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 a particular intention. Given the witness of Padre Pio, I would like to encourage all to practice using this novena as a way of offering prayers for particular intentions. It is timely insofar that if you were to take one today (or in the early days of this week), you’d be able to begin a new novena on Thursday, May 31 that will culminate on the very Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (which this year is on Friday, June 8). 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 – asking that the Diocese of Duluth would be blessed with vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
I will be praying this novena regularly for all of the parish, asking for graces of increased faith for all. I hope you will join me in giving this way of love to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.