Friday, June 20, 2014

7 Ways to Grow in Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The month of June is traditionally devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the feast of the Sacred Heart celebrated at the end of the Octave of Corpus Christi, 19 days after Pentecost. I have childhood memories of the various images of the Sacred Heart which adorned many friends and family member's homes in the Italian - immigrant neighborhood in which I grew up. It wasn't till I was an adult that I became interested in the history of the devotion, and eventually, we had our home enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I am by no means an expert on the devotion to the Sacred Heart, so writing this post has been both a reflection of things I have already done to grow in this devotion and a list of things I hope to do.

1. Learn
In order to for any devotion to bear good fruit, it is essential that we know the history and significance of the devotion. Catholics have long been accused of entering into dubious and suspicious devotional practices. Understanding our own beautiful tradition of devotions and entering into them with the proper dispositions does much for our own spiritual growth and guards against turning a devotional practice into something superstitious.

Here are a few links to help learn more about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Catholic Encyclopedia: Devotion to the Sacred Heart
The Sacred Heart Institute has a wide variety of resources (CD's videos, etc) to help you and your family learn.

Three Papal Encyclical's on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Pope Leo XIII: Annum Sacrum (1899)
Pope Pius XI Miserentissimus Redemptor: (1928)
Pope Pius XII: Haurietis Aqua (1956)

Father James Kubicki, SJ's book  A Heart on Fire: Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus provides a fresh, contemporary and readable look into this traditional devotion. Citing lyrics to Bruce Springsteen and U2 songs, and acknowledging that not everyone may share a love for the various artistic depictions of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Kubicki gets to the "heart" (no pun intended) of this devotion and its relevancy for all generations.

2. Pray

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not about a devotion to a thing, but about a love-relationship with a person, Jesus Christ.  In order to grow in devotion to the Lord's Sacred Heart, we need to grow in communication and relationship with the Lord himself. The primary means of this growth is through prayer. EWTN's page devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a great resource for daily prayers, Acts of Consecration, the Morning Offering and Novena prayers.

A word of caution - as you begin to pray these prayers, do so slowly, allowing the words and the image of Jesus' heart, which suffered out of love for each of us, to soak into your own heart. We would never expect a speedy, rote, perfunctory conversation with our spouse or child to adequately express our love for them; likewise, we should savor our prayers in order that they may authentic expressions of our love for Jesus.

3. First Friday Devotions
During one of our Lord's appearances to St. Margaret Mary Aloquoque, he instructed her in the following words:
"I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they will not die under my displeasure or without receiving their sacraments, my divine Heart making itself their assured refuge at the last moment."
This Novena of Holy Communions, celebrated on the First Friday of the Month should be done in order to make reparation for those who wound the Lord's Sacred Heart through ingratitude and irreverence towards his true presence in the Eucharist. Like all prayers and devotions, this special novena is not a "get out of jail free card" but is to be part of a  life that is already pleasing to the Lord, with the special goal of increasing our own love for Jesus and our gratitude for his infinite love for us.

4. Home Enthronement
Our family was blessed to be part of a parish community where the Pastor was deeply devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and had wonderful memories of his own family's home being enthroned to the Sacred Heart when he was a child. He encouraged all parish families to have their homes enthroned and established a team of people to assist with the preparations, both spiritual and temporal, for the enthronement ceremony.

Our own home was enthroned to the Sacred Heart when our children were 2 and 4 years old.  The ceremony, which occurred in our home and was presided over by our parish priest, included a house blessing, scripture readings and finally the enthronement of the image of our Lord's Sacred Heart in a prominent place above our mantle.  We all recited a prayer of consecration and signed our names to the pledge, solemnly acknowledging that Jesus was the King of our family and ruler of our home. A quote from the Sacred Heart Institute sums up the spirit of the home enthronement:
"The  Enthronement... is somewhat more than a merely transitory act, or a beautiful ceremony.  It is and should be a permanent state of life, an every day recognition of all the rights of Christ the King, by every member of the family.  As a ceremony, it is a social and solemn recognition by the family of the divine royalty of the loving Heart of Jesus. "
5. Meditate on the 12 Promises
Jesus made 12 promises to St. Margaret Mary that he would grant to souls who devoted themselves to his Sacred Heart. Meditating on these promises highlights the depths of God's love for us and the desire he has for our salvation and the perfection of our souls.



6. Watch
Watch Dr. Mark Miravalle, professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, explain the Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart in this short video.


7. Teach Your Children
Some of the earliest notes I received from my children included hand-drawn lopsided hearts accompanied by professions of love and lots of xoxoxo's. Children seem to be naturally drawn to images of hearts and messages of love, making the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a perfect opportunity to share the love of our Lord with our children.

This Pinterest board has a wide variety of idea, crafts, projects, recipes and more to help kids of all ages celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Read related posts here:
31 Ways to Grow in Devotion to Mary

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4 comments:

  1. The key is to speed time with Jesus. The Garden of Gethsemane,story is talking to us to make time for Jesus each day. Pray and listen to what God is telling you.

    Chris
    Owner CEL Financial Services
    http://www.taxprepfillmore.com/

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  2. Great! GREAT advice and information! Thank you!

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  3. Happy to discover your blog! Celebrating the Saints is close to my heart and I look forward to reading your posts! Congrats on being a Big Click Awards Winner for the month of June over at the Catholic Bloggers Network Link Up Blitz: http://www.catholicbloggersnetwork.com/p/2014-link-up-blitz.html

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    1. Thanks so much Monica! That is so exciting! I appreciate it!

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