Our diocese will launch the three year Eucharistic Revival on June 19, the Feast of The Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). If your parish is planning to have a Corpus Christi procession, please do all you can to participate. If not, plan to attend with Bp. Emeritus John Leibrecht at St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield, or with me at St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau at 2 p.m. that afternoon at both locations. Invite family members and make this a beautiful experience of faith on Father’s Day. Come as a family.
SACRED HEART OF JESUS
The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. According to the liturgical calendar the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is the Friday after Corpus Christi, this year on June 24. Did you know that in the Diocese of Springfield–Cape Girardeau we have 12 churches dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus throughout southern Missouri: in Springfield, Bolivar, Caruthersville, Conway, Dexter, Mountain Grove, Poplar Bluff, Salem, Verona, Webb City, Willow Springs, plus the mission in Thayer. Is there an image of the Sacred Heart prominently displayed in your home? As with the May altar in honor of Our Lady, do you continue the beautiful tradition of a sacred space dedicated to the Sacred Heart throughout the month of June?
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus originated from Christ himself, as his heart was pierced during the crucifixion. The Preface for the Mass of the Sacred Heart proclaims, “He poured out blood and water from His pierced side, the wellspring of the Church’s Sacraments.” With that particular focus on His suffering heart, later saints such as St. Lutgarde, a Cistercian, d. 1246; St. Matilda, a Benedictine, d. 1298; and St. Gertrude, a Benedictine, d. 1302, each contributed to furthering the devotion to the suffering, Sacred Heart of Jesus.
However, it was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who is principally responsible for spreading our modern-day devotion. Over a period of 18 months, from 1673 to 1675, Our Lord appeared to her and requested that he be honored under the image of His Sacred Heart. How were people to show honor to his heart? First, by consecrating themselves to His heart, followed by acts of reparation, little sacrifices (similar to the request at Fatima), and then a devotion to His human, wounded, Sacred Heart through the practice of the First Friday devotion (receiving Holy Communion, Confession, and spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament), and praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart. That is why many parishes have the tradition of having the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the first Friday of the month. In St. John the Baptist Church, in St. Louis where I was pastor, the parish has the tradition of reciting the litany of the Sacred Heart after the two morning Masses, followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all day in church so that children could participate, followed by 6:30 p.m. rosary and benediction. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the First Friday.
Our Lord made 12 promises to those who fulfill the First Friday devotion. These promises include graces, peace, consolation from troubles, blessings, mercy, growth in faith, and an increase in holiness. Of particular importance is that those “who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my heart.” In addition, those who receive Communion on the first Fridays, for nine consecutive months will have the grace of final repentance: they will not die without receiving the sacraments. And, the 10th promise is directed toward priests: “I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.” That is why it is good for priests to have a devotion to the Sacred Heart and propagate it amongst the people of the parish. It helps the priest to be a more merciful confessor!
So, what about you and your home? Is there an image of the Sacred Heart prominently displayed? Does the Heart of Christ reign in your home? Do you offer it reverence with a special place, or pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart during the month of June? And if you are looking for something to do with the kids, how about making a point to visit every parish named after the Sacred Heart and attend Mass. With a little coordination it could be done! And when you visit each parish, send a photo to me via Leslie Eidson, to email@example.com. Whoever visits all 12 churches will receive a rosary from me. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! ©TM
Photo Source: Padua – The heart of Jesus Christ painted in Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo) by R. Mulata (Getty Images)