Pope Francis invites to pray to the Heart of Jesus during the month of June, in the wake of the feast of the Sacred Heart, this Friday, June 8, 2018, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, instituted by John Paul II.
On the occasion of this Wednesday’s General Audience, June 6, 2018, in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father reminded of the feast of the Heart of Jesus, saying in Italian: “Friday will be the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I invite you to pray to the Heart of Jesus during the month of June and to support your priests with closeness and affection, so that they are the image of this Heart full of merciful love.
And, addressing young people, the sick, the elderly and newlyweds, the Pope added: “Draw from the Heart of Jesus the spiritual food and drink for your life so that, nourished by Christ, you are new persons, transformed in depth by this divine love.”
The two most known invocations of the Heart of Jesus are: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine,” and “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.”
Devotion to the Heart of Christ was born and developed in the Church well before the foundation of the Society of Jesus in the 16th Century and also before the revelations to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th Century.
However, it’s at Paray-le-Monial that the Society of Jesus, in the person of Saint Claude de La Colombiere, SJ, Spiritual Father of Saint Margaret Mary, as well as of her Congregation, the Visitation, received from Christ the mission to spread this devotion.
Popes John Paul II in 1986 and Benedict XVI in 2006, — on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pius XII’s encyclical “Haurietis Aquas” on the Heart of Christ – -, recalled this mission of the Jesuits.
“The gaze towards the “side pierced by the lance,” in which the unlimited will of salvation on the part of God shines, cannot, therefore, be considered a passing form of worship or devotion: adoration of the love of God, which found its historical and liturgical expression in the symbol of the “pierced heart,” remains an adoration that is absolutely to be taken into account for a living relationship with God (Cf. Encyclical Haurietis Aquas, 62),” wrote Pope Benedict XVI.
And for Pope Francis, Jesuit Pontiff, “the Heart of Christ is the center of mercy”: he reminded priests of this on the occasion of their Jubilee of Mercy, June 2, 2016, at Saint Mary Major. He recommended that they read Pius XII’s encyclical “Haurietis Aquas” on the Heart of Christ, and stressed that “mercy is a question of freedom,” of heart to heart.
Moreover, on July 9, 2015, during his trip to Ecuador, Pope Francis stressed the fruit of Consecration to the Heart of Christ, which is a renewal of the grace of Baptism, saying: “That was going around in my head and I prayed. I asked God several times in prayer: What do these people have that is different?” And this morning, while praying, this was impressed on me: consecration to the Sacred Heart. I think that I must tell you this as a message of Jesus. All that richness that you have, the spiritual richness of piety, of profundity, which comes from having had the courage, despite very difficult moments, to consecrate the nation to the Heart of Christ, the divine and human Heart that loves us so much. And I observed a bit that – divine and human – certain that you are sinners, as I am, but the Lord forgives everything. And guard that. And then, a few years later, the consecration to the Heart of Mary; don’t forget that this consecration, that this grace that you have, this piety, this thing that makes you different, I feel comes to you from that consecration.”