There is in the Sacred Heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return.Pope Leo XIII
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At home and in my little Catholic Elementary Schools, I always managed to find this image. Sitting at the kitchen table or at my desk in class, I’d look up to find a picture of Jesus showing his most Sacred Heart with a gentle gaze. I recognized the thorny branches that surrounded it as the Crown of Thorns. I noticed that it was on fire, but not destroyed by the flame. I have memories of beholding this image, awestruck by its beauty and contemplating what it meant.
Before I understood that I was looking at Jesus’ Sacred Heart, I thought it was beautiful. From a young age, the Sacred Heart reminded me of Jesus’ love for me and helped me to love him more.
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We associate hearts with love, so Jesus’ heart is a visual, understandable way of depicting his love for us. It’s surrounded by the Crown of Thorns to remind us of his Passion. Often, it’s also depicted with blood dripping from a wound and his cross. These three images from the Passion appear with his heart to show that Jesus suffered, died, and rose again out of love for us. His heart contains such infinite love that it burns for us, which is why it’s surrounded by fire.
Through a series of visions in the 1670s, Jesus revealed his Sacred Heart to a French nun named St. Margaret Mary. He explained that he wanted to be honored through the image of his Sacred Heart, and he attached 12 promises to its devotion. One of these promises involves displaying and honoring images of the Sacred Heart. Jesus blesses every place that exposes his Sacred Heart, which is why so many homes, schools, and more hang pictures of Jesus and his Heart. It’s a staple in anyone’s Catholic art collection, and a perfect example of transcendental beauty.
The final promise gives the faithful a renewed love for the Eucharist and a way to deepen their devotion to the Sacred Heart. Jesus said that whoever goes to Mass and receives the Eucharist every month for nine consecutive months will not die without receiving the Sacraments. “My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment,” he promises.
The image and promises of the Sacred Heart gives the faithful a renewed love for the Eucharist. Jesus and his Sacred Heart inspired St. Margaret Mary to share not only the First Friday devotion, but also an increase in Eucharistic Adoration. Jesus requested that St. Margaret Mary spend an hour adoring the Eucharist once a week, which is where today’s Holy Hour comes from. You might recall Jesus urging Peter, James, and John to stay awake and pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane, (Matthew 26:40) and he still invites us as his disciples to pray with him. He asks us to spend an hour adoring his True Presence to know him and love him more.
Click here to read Holy Hour How-To’s for some tips to get the most out of your Holy Hour!
What strikes me the most about Jesus’ most Sacred Heart is that it’s on fire. I often find myself beholding his Heart and contemplating the fire that engulfs it. These intense flames remind us that Jesus’ heart burns with love for us. When I reflect on this truth, I understand that it isn’t enough to just know of his love. We should be on fire for Jesus, too. Our hearts should burn for Jesus like his burns for us. We come to know Jesus and feel his love deeper through his Heart, and his Heart leads us to the Eucharist where we receive his true presence. In Luke 12:49, Jesus announces that he wishes that the world was burning. We can set the world on fire by sharing our burning love for Jesus, and the best place to begin is with our own hearts.
Celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus today by going to Mass and Adoration if you can! If not, there are some great Adoration live streams online. Spend at least an hour today as close to Jesus as possible to grow closer to his Most Sacred Heart.
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