"Sacred Heart"

What exactly does this phrase refer to? It appears in the name of many Catholic Churches, hospitals, schools, etc… What is its origin and what does it signify?

[quote=mshealy]What exactly does this phrase refer to? It appears in the name of many Catholic Churches, hospitals, schools, etc… What is its origin and what does it signify?

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I used to have a difficult time with this devotion up until the last couple of years. Here is something I wrote awhile back as I came to understand this a little better:

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary have always puzzled me somewhat. Why have a devotion to the internal organ of someone? I mean, I knew that it wasn’t really that, but the wording always sounded awkward and odd to me – to pray to their hearts? Why not just pray to them?

There have been little light bulbs going off in my head regarding this devotion for some time now, and I think I’m finally starting to get it.

It started awhile ago when we put up two pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our living room. I often look at their pictures when I pray. The particular images I have do not show the entire heart, as the traditional ones do, but show their hearts glowing beneath their clothes. Then, about three months ago, we went to a mass where we had a dedication of our family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

A few months ago, I started seeing my pastor on a somewhat regular basis, as my spiritual director. I have been going through so much emotionally, physically and spiritually that I need someone to help me sort things out and give me some direction. I was speaking with him about some experiences I was having during Eucharistic Adoration, and he suggested I try to find a book or tape on Eucharistic miracles.

Providentially, a few weeks later, there was a special on EWTN about Eucharistic Miracles. The one that really touched me was a miracle in Italy, where the priest was having a crisis of faith and didn’t know if he really believed that Jesus was truly present. During a mass, as he raised the host for consecration, the bread turned into flesh in his hands, and the wine (which was white) turned blood red. This piece of flesh remains incorrupt, and the blood turned into several dry nuggets of different sizes.

As the flesh and the blood underwent scientific testing, the piece of flesh was found to be heart muscle! The nuggets were indeed blood, and of the seven or so nuggets, they all weighed the same collectively as one weighed on its own, even though they were varying sizes. Miraculous!

I thought, why would Jesus choose to have the flesh be heart muscle? It truly is the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus!

Then recently I went to a concert given by Michael John Poirier, that was absolutely beautiful. Just this one man and his guitar, and singing prayerful songs while inviting us to join him. During this concert, we had exposition, adoration and benediction of the Holy Eucharist. Before this, during the concert part, we learned a song based on the words of St. Margaret Mary “Oh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Truly Present in the Holy Eucharist, we place all our trust in You.” We sang this song during the adoration as well. It was very moving.


(continued from previous post)

The next day, at my hour of Adoration, I picked up a book in the chapel entitled “Pope John Paul II Prays the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Here I found these words of wisdom:

“Therefore, we can truly say: in the Heart of Christ there shines forth the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit; in it there is also reflected the heart of His Mother. May every Christian heart be like the Heart of Christ: obedient to the Spirit’s action and to the Mother’s voice.” (p. 28)

“Through the union of the Heart of Jesus to the Person of the Word of God, we can say that in Jesus God loves humanly, suffers in a human manner, and rejoices in a human way. And vice versa, in Jesus human love, human suffering and human glory acquire a divine intensity and power.” (p. 30)

**Our Holy Father wrote about the hearts of Jesus and Mary beating together, in such close proximity, as the baby Jesus formed in Mary’s womb. ** And nobody on earth knew Jesus’ heart like His Mother Mary. Their hearts continued to beat in unison as they worked for the salvation of all. Her heart was crushed as Jesus’ heart was pierced on the cross. And their hearts continue to burn with the fire of love for all of us.

Often their hearts are shown with fire. Our Holy Father also wrote of the Heart of Jesus burning with love for us, yet never being consumed by the fire of His Love. It is an inextinguishable furnace, much like the burning bush that Moses saw; burning yet not consumed. “The furnace as it burns illumines the darkness of night and warms the bodies of frozen wayfarers.” (p. 44)

Then I started to think of how often we use the word “heart” to mean things other than this organ of our body that pumps blood. When someone is hurting, we say “my heart goes out to them.” When we are burdened, we say “my heart is heavy.” When we truly love someone, we say “I love you with all my heart.” When my Mom saw my Dad after open heart surgery, all puffy and bruised, she said “Oh, bless his heart.” We are to love the Lord, Our God, with all our heart, all our strength, all our mind.” Does that mean we love Him with this organ that pumps blood, with our muscles, and with our brain? Well, yes and no!

We use the heart as the center of our bodies, as the place of emotion, as the place of our conscience – “follow your heart.” When someone hurts us, they “break our hearts.” We understand that this is not literal, but use it to try to explain our emotions, the very core of our being.

So when we speak of the hearts of Mary and Jesus, we speak of their love which burns like fire for all of us. We speak of the very essence, the very core of their being. Likewise, when we pray to their hearts, we are appealing to their emotions and their love for us.

Am I devoted to the heart of my husband? Yes! Am I devoted to the hearts of my children? Yes! So why should I not be devoted to the hearts of my Savior and my Mother?

Yes, I think I’m finally starting to get this!

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