In the Church, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the third Friday after Pentecost.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began with the mystical visions of Jesus and His Sacred Heart as revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation Sister living in the French town of Paray-le-Monial.
To better understand what the Church is asking when it invites Christians to turn to the Heart of Christ, it is necessary to specify what Marguerite-Marie meant when she once spread the sacred word and the emblem of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The teaching of Vatican II insists on the Mystery of Christ as a whole and encourages a baptismal and Eucharistic liturgical life more than devotions.
|The “Lord of Charity” painted by St. Louise de
Marillac; discovered in Cahors, France in 1891.
During World Youth Day in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated the youth of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the 17th century, at the heart of Protestant or Jansenist controversies, the Church developed the cult of the Sacred Heart to recall the primacy of the love of God. Today, in a hyper-technologized world, devotion to the Sacred Heart makes it possible to reconsider the gifts of tenderness, love, human relationships that give sense and meaning to life.
Vincent and Louise, our founders, lived in France at the same time than Margaret Marie and used the word heart with great frequency in their writings. Louise specially urges the Company to be of “one heart” and one mind and encourages sisters to have “a loving heart for works of charity.”
Louise had many qualities including being a painter. Many of the images she painted represented the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Lord of Charity is one of them.
Focus on the heart of Jesus moves us to have a love that is expansive (mission) and that is both affective and effective (charity). Mission and charity characterize the family to which Vincent and Louise gave birth. The two founders’ focus on the heart of Jesus and the extraordinary impact of Jesus’ heart of their own hearts moved them toward missionary zeal and toward affective and effective charity. Focus on the heart of Jesus draws us to the vulnerable.
For in the end, the Sacred Heart is about understanding Jesus’ love for us and inviting us to love others as Jesus did.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
Written by Sister Michelle Loisel, D.C.