Today begins the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose feast we will celebrate next Friday, June 12. Jesus revealed the devotion to Himself in His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray-le-Monial, France between the years 1673 and 1675. It is a very powerful devotion, with overwhelming effect. Many of the saints have come to know and love Jesus in His Sacred Heart. Pictured here are St. Margaret Mary with St. Catherine of Siena, two of my heroines in faith.
Consider the promises Jesus makes to those who participate in and promote this devotion:
The Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
This last promise seems absurd when you think about it, especially in light of our current priest shortage. How can it be guaranteed that I will die having received the final sacraments? A priest-friend once shared a story with me that gives me great confidence that this will be the case. Early in his priesthood, he was riding with a friend along a major expressway when they came upon slowed traffic and flashing lights. He saw the ambulance, and told his friend to pull over, that perhaps, as a priest, he could help in some way. He admitted that he was actually quite squeamish around blood, and so was a bit nervous (in fact, he was telling me this story to show me how the power of the grace of his ordination was at work that day).
He discovered that the man in the accident was a Catholic, and that he was dying. Father immediately gave him the last rites, and the man died peacefully on the side of the highway. He found out where the man’s funeral was held, and decided to attend, simply to tell the family that he had been with their beloved at his death, and that he had administered the sacraments. He thought they should know.
“Oh, Father,” the nephew of the man said, “this is incredible! Our uncle had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of the promises is that you will not die without having received the sacraments. When we heard how he had died, we were sure this could not have been the case. Thank you, Father!”
This witness – to both the power of the grace of ordination AND the power of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – has stayed with me all these years. One aspect of the devotion is the confidence with which one is to have in it – a confidence I am sure our brother in Christ who died on the side of the highway had. I have come to rely fully on the love of the Sacred Heart, and encourage everyone to participate in the novena and to begin or renew the daily consecration.
Merciful Jesus, I consecrate myself today and always to your Sacred Heart.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I implore that I may ever love you more and more.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like your heart. Amen.
Carmina Chapp is Associate Director of Online Theology Programs and teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online.