This coming December 27, 2023 will mark the 350th anniversary of the revelation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. As pastors and associate pastors, I encourage you to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a longstanding devotion rooted in John 19: 33-34: “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” I am sure you have that powerful verse from the Preface of the Sacred Heart memorized, “For raised up high on the Cross, He gave Himself up for us with a wonderful love and poured out blood and water from His pierced side, the well-spring of the Church’s Sacraments…”
The Diocese of Springfield- Cape Girardeau is blessed with 12 parishes named in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the 350th anniversary, which begins on the date of the first apparition, December 27, and will conclude next year on December 27, 2024, I encourage all Catholics to grow in their devotion and love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the diocesan Website you will find a collection of time-honored prayers and resources to encourage and enhance your devotion: https:// dioscg.org/sacred-heart-pilgrimage/ .
Additionally, I am encouraging the faithful to make a “pilgrimage” to each of the 12 parishes. The staff of the Office of Communications has created a kit for the 12 parishes which includes a stamp, prayers to pray during your visit and Sacred Heart devotionals. A ”passport” can be easily downloaded from the Website for this purpose or it may be clipped from The Mirror; with each visit, pilgrims can stamp the “passport” of the particular parish they are visiting. Once the 12- parish pilgrimage is completed, they simply mail the passport to the Office of the Bishop and I will send them a gift, along with a certificate of completion.
I am grateful for the cooperation and hospitality of our 12 Sacred Heart parishes. I am also grateful for the support of all the clergy in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us remember that one of the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart, is of particular importance for priests in the confessional: “I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.” (10) “Jesus, meek and humble of hearts, make my heart like unto Thine. ”
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Edward M. Rice
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
Published in the November 24, 2023 issue of The Mirror.