Skip to comments.Importance of Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Posted on 06/22/2006 4:30:28 PM PDT by NYer
Interview With Director of the Apostleship of Prayer in Italy
ROME, JUNE 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- This Friday's feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical "Haurietis Aquas," on this devotion.
Benedict XVI has written a letter for this occasion to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits.
In this interview with ZENIT, Father Massimo Taggi, national director of the Apostleship of Prayer in Italy, talks about devotion to the Sacred Heart as an effective means to counteract secularization.
Q: What is the meaning and importance today of devotion to the Sacred Heart?
Father Taggi: In a world that, on one hand, is characterized by marvelous positive aspects, both at the scientific as well as the technical, cultural and social level, with a strong desire for justice, peace and solidarity, but which, on the other hand, seems terribly ambiguous and confused, in a crisis of values, essentially materialistic, devotion to the Sacred Heart offers a fundamental indication to capture the true image of God and the profound meaning of life.
If what a French thinker says, wonderfully, that "the quality of life depends on the quality of sentiments," a return to the heart -- understood in the biblical sense, as a person's center, where thoughts, decisions and sentiments find their existential point of synthesis -- and specifically to the Heart of Jesus, Word incarnate, is the royal road to "draw with joy the waters from the sources of salvation."
As the Holy Father Benedict XVI says in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est": "Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow. Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God."
Q: Why has this devotion been lost over the past 30 years?
Father Taggi: It hasn't really been lost altogether. Even in the post-conciliar period, devotion to the Sacred Heart continued to exist, especially at the level of popular religiosity and in very widespread devotional practices, such as the daily offering prayer, promoted by the Apostleship of Prayer, hours of adoration on the first Friday of the month, etc.
At the same time, it is true that it has been questioned and marginalized by the quite well founded criticism of falling prey to "devotionism," or with the assumption, much less founded, that after the Second Vatican Council there was no room for such things.
The real reason for the crisis is that it was not understood that it is not a question of an optional, minor devotion, but of a spirituality, a devotion whose foundation, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI has written in his message to Father Kolvenbach on May 15, is as old as Christianity itself.
Q: Why and in what way will the 50th anniversary of Pius XII's encyclical "Haurietis Aquas" be observed?
Father Taggi: We have decided to hold a national congress of the Apostleship of Prayer, for the 50th anniversary of "Haurietis Aquas" for two reasons: because that encyclical was an important document, which addressed in a complete and profound way the subject of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, taking into consideration the objections that were already arising and giving them an authoritative answer; and because we are convinced that today's world is in great need of discovering that God is love, that affectivity and not sentimentalism, is an essential component of an authentic relationship with God in Jesus Christ; that an attitude of mercy, accepted and given, is the foundation of authentic peace at all levels, from the family to interethnic and international relations, as clearly seen in the teachings of John Paul II and now of Benedict XVI.
The Apostleship of Prayer was born in Vals, near Le Puy, in France, on December 3, 1844, at the initiative of Jesuit Father Xavier Gautrelet.
The activity began as a proposal of spiritual life for a group of seminarians of the Society of Jesus, and it spread immediately, like an oil stain, to the different strata of the Church.
This development was given great impetus by another Jesuit, Father Henry Ramiere, so much so that at the end of the 19th century there were, both in and outside of Europe, 35,000 local centers -- parishes and religious institutes -- with over 13 million registered devotees worldwide.
It was very soon introduced in Italy by the Barnabites. In Naples, specifically, it was widespread through the work of Blessed Caterina Volpicelli.
The charism of the Apostleship of Prayer may be defined as living "baptism consciously and actively, especially the common priesthood which is proper to all the baptized."
It is lived through the daily offering of all one's personal experience, in union with the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus and for the special intentions that the Pope indicates every month at the universal level; the spirit of reparation, which is translated also in concrete actions at the social level; and with acts of consecration -- personal, of the family, etc. -- to the Heart of Jesus, as a specific expression of baptismal consecration.
In regard to followers, recent and reliable estimates indicate at least 50 million people in all the continents follow the Apostleship of Prayer.
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 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 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 all love for us and all lovable.
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" (Eph 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" (Mt 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" (Jn 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" (Jn 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.
Divine Jesus, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you." Behold me kneeling at Your feet, filled with a lively faith and confidence in the promises dictated by Your Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary. I come to ask this favor: Mention your request).
To whom can I turn if not to You, Whose Heart is the source of all graces and merits? Where should I seek if not in the treasure which contains all the riches of Your kindness and mercy? Where should I knock if not at the door through which God gives Himself to us and through which we go to God? I have recourse to You, Heart of Jesus. In You I find consolation when afflicted, protection when persecuted, strength when burdened with trials, and light in doubt and darkness.
Dear Jesus, I firmly believe that You can grant me the grace I implore, even though it should require a miracle. You have only to will it and my prayer will be granted. I admit that I am most unworthy of Your favors, but this is not a reason for me to be discouraged. You are the God of mercy, and You will not refuse a contrite heart. Cast upon me a look of mercy, I beg of You, and Your kind Heart will find in my miseries and weakness a reason for granting my prayer.
Sacred Heart, whatever may be Your decision with regard to my request, I will never stop adoring, loving, praising, and serving You. My Jesus, be pleased to accept this my act of perfect resignation to the decrees of Your adorable Heart, which I sincerely desire may be fulfilled in and by me and all Your creatures forever.
Grant me the grace for which I humbly implore You through the Immaculate Heart of Your most sorrowful Mother. You entrusted me to her as her child, and her prayers are all-powerful with You. Amen.
My God, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in thanksgiving for Your favors, in reparation for my sins, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the needs of our holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners, and for the relief of the poor souls in purgatory.
Some Sacred Heart threads:
Rough winter here on the coast range.
Spent my free time cleaning our Sacred Heart of Jesus up.
Got a question? Why is the Shell he stands in Blue?
I cleaned all the moss green off of it and wondered why the clam like shell is light blue.
in many Italian & ethnic neighborhoods old bathtubs were used to simulate the effect (sometimes called Mary in the bathtub).