Monday, June 2, 2008

The Second Day of June

Origin of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart may be considered as ancient as the Church itself. It began on Calvary, when this divine Heart, transfixed by the lance, opened to all the faithful an assured refuge, and an inexhaustible fountain of grace. For many ages, however, this devotion was practised only by a few chosen souls, and it was not till the seventeenth century that the Heart of Jesus was honored in a solemn and public manner, France being not only the birth place, but the centre of the devotion. In a monastery of the Visitation, at Paray-le-Monial, in the diocese of Autun, there lived a holy religious whose name in the world had been Margaret Alacoque, but in religion was called Sister Margaret Mary. Her entire life was spent in the closest union with God, and in return He bestowed upon her His choicest graces. One day, during the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in the year 1675, Jesus Christ appeared to her, and showing to her His Heart, which bore the mark of that deep and precious wound inflicted on Calvary: "Behold," He said, "this Heart which loves men so ardently, and is so little loved in return!" He then desired that a special feast should be set apart to honor His Heart, and to offer It a worship of love and reparation; and He promised the most signal blessings to all those who should adopt and spread this devotion. Sister Margaret Mary put forth all her zeal and charity in order to win hearts to the Heart of Jesus. Her generous efforts were crowned with the greatest success; after a short interval of time, the Church authorized the office and Feast of the Sacred Heart, and encouraged all the faithful to take advantage of the inestimable treasures which God, in His infinite mercy, had vouchsafed to offer them. The voice of the Church was heard; the fire of divine love spread from soul to soul, parishes and dioceses caught the holy flame, and at the present time the devotion to the Sacred Heart has revived throughout the world feelings of faith, and piety and love.

In recalling to our minds, Christians, the origin and propagation of this devotion, let us admire the ingenuity and tenderness of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; let us bless Him for bestowing upon us His favors, and let us ask of Him the grace to profit by them: oh! if we only knew the gift of God, and how to appreciate the value of the offering He makes us! Let us also cultivate a great devotion to the humble religious to whom Jesus imparted His gracious designs, and who was called by Him the beloved disciple of His Heart. Let us extol this noble daughter of St. Francis of Sales, who became the glory and patroness of France, was beatified by Pius IX on the 17th of January, 1864, and canonized by Benedict XV on the 13th of May, 1920. Let us beg of her to obtain for us the grace to love the Heart of Jesus as she loved It.


During the month of May, 1722, the plague broke out in the town of Marseilles. Death, the king of terrors, erected his mournful throne in the midst of that great city, one so brilliant and so gay. Deserted by all the inhabitants who had it in their power to fly, Marseilles soon became like a battle field, strewn with the dying and the dead. The afflicted town, devastated by the scourge of pestilence, saw her streets and public places encumbered by its victims, priests and doctors decimated by the dreadful visitation, and forty thousand persons consigned to the grave. Heart-rending shrieks were heard on every side, and the complete annihilation of the ancient city seemed at hand. It was then that the holy Bishop of Marseilles, Monsignor Belzunce, a model of charity and pastoral zeal, was interiorly enlightened by Almighty God, and inspired with the idea of having recourse to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of consecrating to It the unfortunate town and diocese, and of establishing in Its honor a solemn and public procession in perpetuity. The magistrates and inhabitants joined in the vow of the venerable prelate, which already gave promise of a speedy deliverance. Marseilles was consecrated to the Sacred Heart, and the procession took place with every demonstration of religious pomp. Suddenly the plague ceased; fear vanished, and the inhabitants returned, and during six weeks not a single death, or sickness of any sort, was known in the town. "Oh! you whose lives are spent on the waters of the ocean," said the bishop, addressing the sailors of Marseilles, "publish to all nations, even the most uncivilised, the glory, power, and infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has worked such wonders in our behalf, and has turned our sorrows into joy."


Jesus! how wonderful art Thou in the outpourings of Thy love! We bless Thee for communicating to us the treasures of Thy Heart, and ask Thee to grant us Thy divine assistance, that we may profit by them. O St. Margaret Mary! friend and apostle of the Heart of Jesus, we congratulate thee that the divine Master selected thee as the instrument to accomplish His merciful designs; obtain for us that this adorable Heart may be always the object of our love, and the pledge of our salvation. Amen.


Obtain a Sacred Heart Badge and carry it with you at all times as a sign of your love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

*Sacred Heart Badges can be obtained from any religious good dealer or from the Apostleship of Prayer. The Sisters of Carmel make beautiful Sacred Heart Badges.

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