The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has an
Ancient History. At the beginning of Devotion to the Sacred
Heart we find References of the Fathers of the Church to the
Sacred Wound of the Side of Jesus. In time,
Devotion to this Sacred Wound
led to Devotion to the Sacred Heart. From this
Sacred Wound, with the Blood and Water, the Church
and the Sacraments were Born. The Blood, Symbolized the Holy Eucharist
and the Water, Symbolized Baptism. As Saint Ambrose (circa 397)
stated: "The Water Cleanses us, the Blood Redeems us".
The Sacred Heart of Jesus as the Source of the Catholic Church - by Saint John Chrysostom
Birth of Eve,
the Bride of Adam,
from Adam's side
Birth of the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
from Christ's Side
"Water and Blood Symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these Two (2) Sacraments the Church is
Born: from Baptism, the Cleansing Water that gives Rebirth and Renewal from the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist.
Since the Symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ 'Fashioned' the Church,
as He had 'Fashioned' Eve from the side of Adam".
Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church
Another Theme that the Fathers of the Church
contemplated was that, at the Last Supper, Saint John leaned upon the Breast of Our Lord and
thereby received Divine Wisdom. Saint Augustine (circa 430)
explains that Saint John drank-in "Sublime Secrets from the Innermost Depths of Our Lord's
Heart". Saint Paulinus (circa 431) taught that this was how Saint John
received the Wisdom to write his Gospel and the Apocalypse. In a later age, another
Theme that was considered was that we should Spiritually "Enter
wholly into the Heart of Jesus, into the Holy of Holies". Saint Bernard (circa 1153)
explained that the Piercing of Our Blessed Lord's Side reveals His
Goodness and the Charity of His Heart for us. Another
Writer taught that no Sweetness or Tenderness could be found that could be compared to that of the Heart
Saint Lutgarde (circa 1246), had Visions of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. When once asked by Our Lord what Gift she
wanted, she replied: "I want Your Heart". To which Jesus
responded: "I want your heart". Then Our Blessed Lord
granted the Saint a very special Grace. He Mystically exchanged
Hearts with her. Saint Lutgarde is the First known Mystic
to receive this Grace. Saint Bonaventure (circa 1274), the
Franciscan and a Great Theologian, wrote:
"Since we have reached the most sweet Heart of Jesus, and it is good for us to abide
in It, let us not readily turn away from It. How good, how sweet it is to dwell in Thy Heart, O good Jesus! Who is there who would
not desire this Pearl? I would rather give all else, all my thoughts and all the Affections of my Soul in exchange for It, casting
my Whole Mind into the Heart of my Good Jesus. Who is there who would not Love this Wounded Heart? Who would not Love, in return,
Him Who Loves so much?"
So Great was Saint Gertrude's Love for the Sacred
Heart, that once, when Saint John the Apostle appeared to her, she asked him why he did not write of the
Sacred Heart. He replied, "Because I was charged with instructing the
newly-formed Church concerning the Mysteries of the Uncreated Word". Saint John then told Saint Gertrude
that the Grace of Learning of the Sacred Heart was reserved to
her Century, to Rouse it from its Lethargy, so that it would be
Inflamed with the Great Worth of Divine Love. Saint Gertrude
"Through Thy Wounded Heart, Dearest Lord, pierce my Heart so deeply with the Dart of
Thy Love that it may no longer be able to contain Earthly Things, but may be Governed by the Action of Thy Divinity alone".
Once, when Saint Gertrude's friend, Saint Mechtilde, was Praying for a
woman who was Suffering, Our Blessed Lord said to Saint Mechtilde
that the woman should, with Childlike Simplicity, bring each of her Troubles to
Him, and that she should seek Consolation in His Compassionate Heart. Saint Mechtilde
taught that Jesus has given us the Gift of
His Sacred Heart so that, when Suffering, we can seek our Refuge and our Consolation there.
Two (2) of the Mystics from the Group known as the
"Rhineland Mystics" in Germany referred to Our Lord's
Heart. The Dominican, Johannes Tauler (circa 1361), encourages one to Take Refuge
in this Sweet Heart, which is open to those who give their Hearts to Jesus.
Blessed Henry Suso (circa 1366), also a Dominican, once had a vision of an Angel taking his
Heart from him and Uniting it in Rapturous Love to the Heart of Jesus.
The Carthusian Monks were among the earliest Religious Orders to be Devoted to the Sacred Heart. The
Carthusian, Ludolph of Saxony (circa 1378), wrote:
"Our Lord's Heart was Wounded with the Wound of Love for our sake, so that, Loving Him in
return, we might enter through that Open Wound into His Heart and there live Inflamed with His Love, just as iron cast into the fire
The great Dominican Mystic, Saint Catherine of Sienna (circa 1380), one day
said to Our Lord: "Sweet, Spotless Lamb, You were Dead when Your Side
was Opened. 'Why, then, did You allow that Your Heart should be thus Wounded and Opened by Force?"
Our Lord answered:
"For several reasons, of which I will tell you the Principal. My desires regarding
the Human Race were Infinite and the Actual Time of Suffering and Torture was at an end. Since My Love is Infinite, I could not
therefore, by this Suffering, Manifest to you how much I Loved you. That is why I Willed to Reveal to you the Secret of My Heart by
letting you see It open, that you might well understand that It Loved you far more than I could prove to you by a Suffering that was
Julian of Norwich (circa 1416), the English Anchoress and Mystic, tells us of
the following Vision she had:
"Then Our Lord looked into His Side and Rejoiced. By this Sweet Look, He had me gaze
within this Wound. He showed me a Fair, Delectable Place, and large enough for all Mankind that shall be Saved, to Rest in Peace and
in Love. And therewith He had me recall His Dear-worthy Blood and Precious Water, which He let Pour-out for Love, and He showed His
A Carthusian, Dominic of Treves (circa 1461), wrote:
"In this most Sweet Heart of Jesus, is found all Virtue, the Source of Life, Perfect
Consolation, the True Light that Enlightens every Man".
The Italian Poor Clare Nun Blessed Baptista Varani (circa 1527) Honored and also
Shared-in the Sufferings of the Sorrow-filled
Heart of Jesus. When she asked Jesus how Great was the
Sorrow of His Heart, His answer was:
"As great as the Love which I bear toward My Creatures". Our
Blessed Lord told Blessed Baptista that the Sorrows of His
Heart were so Great, because so many People are in Mortal Sin.
The Carthusian, called Lansperguis (circa 1539), recommended that People have
a Picture of the Sacred Heart to Foster their Devotion. He encouraged that the picture be placed where
it would be easily seen, so that by seeing it, Holy Love would be kindled in the
Soul. He also encouraged that this Picture be Kissed with Affection. This is perhaps the First Reference to encouraging People to
have a Picture of the Sacred Heart. Saint Teresa of Avila (circa
1582), the great Spanish Carmelite Mystic and "Doctor of Prayer", explained
that we should make the Sacred Wound our Place of Refuge.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the Year 1672.
On repeated-occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation Nun, in
France, and during these Apparitions, He explained to her the Devotion to His
Sacred Heart as He wanted People to practice it. He
asked to be Honored in the Symbol of His Heart of Flesh; He asked for
Acts of Reparation, for Frequent Communion, Communion on the First
Friday of the Month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour. When the Catholic
Church approved the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
she did not base her Action only on the Visions of Saint Margaret Mary. The
Church approved the Devotion on its own Merits.
There is only One (1) Person in Jesus,
and that Person was at the same-time God and Man.
His Heart too, is Divine - it is the Heart of God. There are
Two (2) things that must always be found together in the Devotion to the Sacred
Heart: Christ's Heart of Flesh and
Christ's Love for us. True Devotion to the Sacred Heart means Devotion to the
Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart Represents and Recalls
His Love for us. In Honoring the Heart of Christ, our Homage lingers
on the Person of Jesus in the Fullness of His Love. This
Love of Christ for us was the Moving Force of all He did and
Suffered for us in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving
Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in
His Teaching and Healing, in His Praying and Working. When we speak of the
Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us
His Heart. Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of God's Infinite
Love. The Human Nature which the Son of God took upon Himself,
was filled with Love and Kindness, that has never found an equal.
He is the Perfect Model of Love of God and Neighbor. Every day of
His Life was filled with Repeated Proofs of "Christ's Love that surpasses
all knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). Jesus handed-down, for all time, the Fundamental Feature of
His Character: "Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me,
for I am Meek and Humble of Heart" (Matthew 11:29). He invited all, refusing none, surprising Friends and Rivals by
His Unconditional Generosity. The meaning of Love in the Life of
Jesus was especially evident in His
Sufferings. Out of Love for His Father,
He Willed to Undergo the Death of the Cross. "The World must
know that I Love the Father and do just as the Father has Commanded Me" (John 14:31). The
Love that Jesus bore toward us, also urged Him to undergo
the Death of the Cross. At the Last Supper, He said,
"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13).
The Heart of Jesus never ceases to Love us in
Heaven. He Sanctifies us through the Sacraments. These are
Inexhaustible Fountains of Grace and Holiness which have their source
in the Boundless Ocean of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Papal Encyclicals on the Sacred Heart