“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature, is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men.” – Pope Pius XII
At the very center of Christianity is love. Love is the whole message, the whole law. Now, I don’t mean love in the sense of quickly passing infatuation or sexual attraction, two mistaken definitions of our confused culture, but rather sacrificial self-giving. In its essence, love is nothing more than laying down your life for the good of another.
The deeper we grow in the Catholic and Apostolic faith, the more we realize that the gospel is centered not so much in our love for God, but in God’s love for us. Holy Church has dedicated the month of June to a devotion that is designed to remind us of the depth of God’s passionate love for his creatures: devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In the burning and wounded Sacred Heart, we see that God’s heart is consumed with love for us—so much so that he was willing to suffer and die for us in the most gruesome manner. The Sacred Heart teaches us that true love is always costly, but that it always gives life.
There is much more that can be said about devotion to the Sacred Heart, but today I want to focus on 7 ways we can honor it.
1. Consecration – In mediating on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we realize the depth of God’s sacrificial love for us. Jesus gave himself to us completely on the Cross to prove his love for us, and he continues to do so every day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive the very heart of Christ.
Yes, Jesus gives us his heart again and again, and the only reasonable thing to do is to give our hearts to him in return. One beautiful way to do this is by consecrating ourselves to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Click here for a prayer of consecration.
2. Enthronement - An important aspect of devotion to the Sacred Heart is recognizing and submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives. Jesus is truly a king—the king of the Church, of our families, and of society in general. The tradition of enthroning the Sacred Heart is an excellent way to express this kingship of Christ.
In this ceremony, a blessed image of the Sacred Heart is placed prominently in our homes, reminding us that Jesus is our king, and that we should love and serve him with our whole hearts. Here are the prayers for an enthronement ceremony.
3. Reparation – The name of Jesus is regularly blasphemed and abused in media, literature, and every day conversation. Each time this happens, the heart of Christ is wounded again by the rejection of his creatures. One way we can show love to the Sacred Heart is by making acts of reparation for the abuse that Jesus receives. A prayer of reparation can be found here.
4. First Fridays - When our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary and revealed the devotion to the Sacred Heart, he requested the practice of attending mass, going to confession, and receiving him in the Eucharist on the first Friday of 9 consecutive months. This devotion is important because we remember the passion and death of our Lord on Friday. It is essentially a novena that reminds us of the love of Jesus for us, and instills in us a desire to imitate his sacrificial love.
Of course, we are all busy, and it can be difficult to remember the first Friday devotion. If that’s the case for you, sign up for handy email reminders.
5. Frequent Prayer – Prayer is the breath of the spiritual life and the primary way we grow in love for God and neighbor. Calling frequently on the Sacred Heart is an excellent way to pray, since doing so is an appeal to the love and mercy of Jesus. Prayer to the sacred heart can be as lengthy as a novena or litany, or as simple as a spontaneous, “Sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.”
6. Imitation – Devotion to the Sacred Heart is designed to inspire imitation. We can say all the right prayers and even practice the first Friday devotion faithfully, but if we aren’t imitating the self-giving, sacrificial love of Jesus, we aren’t truly devoted to his heart. Of course, imitating the Sacred Heart starts with giving love to Christ and being ready to sacrifice for his sake. But it also involves loving those we encounter every day—including those we don’t particularly like. It means loving and forgiving our enemies and those who persecute us. It means laying our life down for others.
7. Missionary activity – Finally, loving the Sacred Heart of Jesus means bringing its love to others. It means sharing our faith with those who may have fallen away from it, or who might have never heard of the fact that Christ lovingly gives himself to us, body and soul, in the Eucharist. It means bearing witness to the fact the Jesus is our king whom we serve sacrificially. And it means bearing our crosses lovingly and patiently.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart has waned in recent years, but I encourage all of you to learn more about this beautiful devotion, and to grow in your love for the burning heart of Jesus. It is only when we learn to imitate the true, costly, and sacrificial love of the Sacred Heart that we will discover our vocation as men.