What hymns to mark the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Monsignor Philip Whitmore...
O Jesus Heart all burning
Traditional Catholic Hymns
SWEET HEART OF JESUS
Sweet Heart of Jesus, fount of love and mercy,
Today we come, Thy blessing to implore;
O touch our hearts, so cold and so ungrateful,
And make them Lord, Thine own for evermore.
SWEET HEART OF JESUS, WE IMPLORE.
OH, MAKE US LOVE THEE, MORE AND MORE.
Sweet Heart of Jesus, make us know and love Thee,
Unfold to us the treasures of Thy grace.
That so our hearts, from things of earth uplifted,
May long alone to gaze upon Thy face.
O Sacred Heart, What Shall I Render Thee?
O Sacred Heart, what shall I render Thee,
For all the gifts Thou hast bestowed on me?
O Heart of God, Thou seem'st but to implore,
That I should love Thee daily more and more.
Refrain: Then I will love Thee,
Then I will love Thee,
Then I will love Thee
Daily more and more.
O Heart of Jesus, come and live in me,
That with thy love my heart consumed may be;
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I implore,
That I may love Thee daily more and more.
Refrain:Then I will love Thee,
Then I will love Thee,
Then I will love Thee
Daily more and more.
O Sacred Heart, be this our life's one aim,
To labor for the glory of Thy name;
O dearest Heart, this grace we Thee implore,
That all the world may know and love Thee more.
Refrain:Then I will love Thee,
Then I will love Thee,
Then I will love Thee
Daily more and more.
Video clips about the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Sacred Heart of Jesus: God's Powerful Love
The Social Significance of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart
DIVES IN MISERICORDIA JOHN PAUL II
13. The Church Professes the Mercy of God and Proclaims It
The Church must profess and proclaim God's mercy in all its truth, as it has been handed down to us by revelation. We have sought, in the foregoing pages of the present document, to give at least an outline of this truth, which finds such rich expression in the whole of Sacred Scripture and in Sacred Tradition. In the daily life of the Church the truth about the mercy of God, expressed in the Bible, resounds as a perennial echo through the many readings of the Sacred Liturgy. The authentic sense of faith of the People of God perceives this truth, as is shown by various expressions of personal and community piety. It would of course be difficult to give a list or summary of them all, since most of them are vividly inscribed in the depths of people's hearts and minds. Some theologians affirm that mercy is the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God, and the Bible, Tradition and the whole faith life of the People of God provide particular proofs of this. It is not a question here of the perfection of the inscrutable essence of God in the mystery of the divinity itself, but of the perfection and attribute whereby man, in the intimate truth of his existence, encounters the living God particularly closely and particularly often. In harmony with Christ's words to Philip,112 the "vision of the Father"-a vision of God through faith finds precisely in the encounter with His mercy a unique moment of interior simplicity and truth, similar to that which we discover in the parable of the prodigal son.
"He who has seen me has seen the Father."113 The Church professes the mercy of God, the Church lives by it in her wide experience of faith and also in her teaching, constantly contemplating Christ, concentrating on Him, on His life and on His Gospel, on His cross and resurrection, on His whole mystery. Everything that forms the "vision" of Christ in the Church's living faith and teaching brings us nearer to the "vision of the Father" in the holiness of His mercy. The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ. In fact, it is precisely this drawing close to Christ in the mystery of His Heart which enables us to dwell on this point-a point in a sense central and also most accessible on the human level-of the revelation of the merciful love of the Father, a revelation which constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man. The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy-the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer-and when she brings people close to the sources of the Savior's mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser. Of great significance in this area is constant meditation on the Word of God, and above all conscious and mature participation in the Eucharist and in the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. The Eucharist brings us ever nearer to that love which is more powerful than death: "For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup," we proclaim not only the death of the Redeemer but also His resurrection, "until he comes" in glory.114 The same Eucharistic rite, celebrated in memory of Him who in His messianic mission revealed the Father to us by means of His words and His cross, attests to the inexhaustible love by virtue of which He desires always to be united with us and present in our midst, coming to meet every human heart. It is the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation that prepares the way for each individual, even those weighed down with great faults. In this sacrament each person can experience mercy in a unique way, that is, the love which is more powerful than sin. This has already been spoken of in the encyclical Redemptor hominis; but it will be fitting to return once more to this fundamental theme.
It is precisely because sin exists in the world, which "God so loved...that he gave his only Son,"115 that God, who "is love,"116 cannot reveal Himself otherwise than as mercy. This corresponds not only to the most profound truth of that love which God is, but also to the whole interior truth of man and of the world which is man's temporary homeland.
Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father's readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.
Therefore, the Church professes and proclaims conversion. Conversion to God always consists in discovering His mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind117 as only the Creator and Father can be; the love to which the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"118 is faithful to the uttermost consequences in the history of His covenant with man; even to the cross and to the death and resurrection of the Son. Conversion to God is always the fruit of the"rediscovery of this Father, who is rich in mercy.
Authentic knowledge of the God of mercy, the God of tender love, is a constant and inexhaustible source of conversion, not only as a momentary interior act but also as a permanent attitude, as a state of mind. Those who come to know God in this way, who "see" Him in this way, can live only in a state of being continually converted to Him. They live, therefore, in statu conversionis; and it is this state of conversion which marks out the most profound element of the pilgrimage of every man and woman on earth in statu viatoris. It is obvious that the Church professes the mercy of God, revealed in the crucified and risen Christ, not only by the word of her teaching but above all through the deepest pulsation of the life of the whole People of God. By means of this testimony of life, the Church fulfills the mission proper to the People of God, the mission which is a sharing in and, in a sense, a continuation of the messianic mission of Christ Himself.
The contemporary Church is profoundly conscious that only on the basis of the mercy of God will she be able to carry out the tasks that derive from the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and, in the first place, the ecumenical task which aims at uniting all those who confess Christ. As she makes many efforts in this direction, the Church confesses with humility that only that love which is more powerful than the weakness of human divisions can definitively bring about that unity which Christ implored from the Father and which the Spirit never ceases to beseech for us "with sighs too deep for words."119
The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Theology Pope of Benedict XVI
by Father Mark D. Kirby, O.Cist.
'We see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer'
"In the pierced heart of the Crucified, God's own heart is opened up; here we see who God is and what he is like. Heaven is no longer locked up. God has stepped out of his hiddenness. That is why St John sums up both the meaning of the Cross and the nature of the new worship of God in the mysterious promise made through the prophet Zechariah (cf. 12:10). 'They shall look on him whom they have pierced' (Jn 19.37)".1
Pope Benedict XVI: Theologian of the Heart of Christ
In July of 1985, 1 was standing in the bookstore of the Abbey of Sainte-Cécile of Solesmes in France when, by a wonderful providence of God, I met the Benedictine scholar, Mother Elisabeth de Solms. The encounter remains unforgettable. I had long studied and used her admirable translation of the Life and Rule of Saint Benedict, as well as her Christian Bible,2 a series of volumes setting the commentaries of the Church Fathers line by line alongside the Scriptures.
The simplicity of so great a woman was a marvel. She engaged me in conversation, asking if I had read the works of Cardinal Ratzinger. I admitted that I was familiar with certain writings of his, surely not with everything published. "Read him", she said. "You will see. God will make of him a great gift to his Church". That was 20 years ago.
I began reading Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I devoured, in particular, his writings on the sacred liturgy in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. I discovered, among other things in the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger, elements of a theology of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In Pope Benedict XVI God has given the Church a shepherd who has contemplated the pierced Heart of the Crucified and already written of it, notably in Behold The Pierced One3 and, more recently, in The Spirit of the Liturgy.
Cardinal Ratzinger's writings on the Sacred Heart are warm and luminous. Fire and light are characteristic of a theology forged in experience.
Theologians who do not persevere in a humble prayer of amazement and adoration fall inevitably into one of two syndromes. Either they generate heat without shedding any light, or they shine a cold light, one that fails to warm the heart. The true theologian at once warms the heart and illumines the mind.
Recall the words of Jesus concerning John the Baptist: "He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (Jn 5:35). In our new Holy Father, God has given the Church "a burning and shining lamp" (Jn 5:35). Those already familiar with his writings and liturgical preaching know what I mean.
Theology itself is a difficult word. Theology of the Sacred Heart thrusts us into deep waters. The Song of Songs assures us that "many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it" (8:7).
Theology is more than a mere flood of words. All words oblige us, in some way, to wrestle with meaning. Words are the vehicle of meaning. Words wait to be unlocked. The words we use in talking about God, or in talking to God, can be unlocked only in prayer.
Before we can reflect on a theology of the Sacred Heart, we have to ask ourselves this question: "What do we mean by theology?".
The Greek etymology of the word discloses both God (theós) and word (lógos). Lógos, in turn, has a huge richness: it can mean word, but it also signifies meaning, message, poem and even hymn.
When we speak of theology we mean not one thing but at least three: word from God; word to God; and word about God. All theology, and therefore a theology of the Sacred Heart, is more adequately understood in terms of: God's self-revealing word addressed to us; the doxological word of Christ and of the Church addressed to God; and the healing word of the Church addressed to the world.
Sacred Heart: God's Word addressed to us
Theology is, first of all, God's word addressed to us. Apply this immediately to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pierced Heart of the Crucified is God speaking a word to us, a word carved out in the flesh of Jesus' side by the soldier's lance. It is the love of God laid bare for all to see: "God stepping out of his hiddenness".4
When we speak of a theology of the Sacred Heart, we mean this first of all: not our discourse about love, but the love of God revealed first to us, the poem of love that issues forth from the Heart of God. This is exactly what St John, whom the Eastern tradition calls, "The Theologian", says in his First Letter: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins" (I Jn 4:10).
The difficulty here is that, in order to receive this word inscribed in the flesh of the Word (cf. Jn 1:14), we have first to stop in front of it, to linger there and to look long at the wound made by love. "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19:37). To contemplate is to look, not with a passing glance, but with the gaze of one utterly
conquered by love. Jeremiah says, "You have seduced me, O Lord, and I was seduced; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed" (20:7).
The call to be an adorer and an apostle of the Sacred Heart is addressed to every Christian. The apostle is, in essence, the bearer of a word, one sent forth and entrusted with a message. The message that the apostle carries into the world is the one he has learned by looking long with the eyes of adoration at the pierced Heart of the Crucified.
The word of Crucified Love is hard to pronounce — not with our lips but with our lives. Adoration is the school wherein one learns how to say the Sacred Heart. It is in adoration that the apostle receives the word of the pierced Heart that, in turn, becomes his life's message.
Adoration and apostleship together model a spirituality accessible to all Christians: the word received in adoration is communicated in the dynamism of one sent forth with something to say.
Sacred Heart: Our word addressed to God
Theology is, in the second place, our word addressed to God. Applying this also to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we see that all we could possibly want to say to God has already been uttered and is being said eternally through the "mouth" of Christ's glorious pierced Heart in heaven. It is through the Sacred Heart that the Blood of Christ speaks "more graciously than the blood of Abel" (Heb 12:24).
The Letter to the Hebrews puts it this way: "Christ is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he lives for ever to make intercession for them" (7:25). Christ exercises his priesthood of intercession in "the inner sanctuary behind the veil" (Heb 6:19) by presenting to the Father the glorious wounds in his hands, his feet and his side. The wound in the side of Christ, "great high priest over the house of God" (Heb 10:21), speaks to the Father on our behalf. It is our word addressed to God.
At the core of devotion to the Sacred Heart is a passing-over into the prayer of Christ to the Father, a long apprenticeship to silence by which we begin to let the Heart of Christ speak in us and for us to the Father.
The mystics of the Sacred Heart, in particular St Gertrude and St Mechthilde, speak of offering the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Father. This means allowing the Sacred Heart to speak for us, to pray in us, to pray through us, taking comfort in what Scripture says, "that we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15).
This suggests a simple way of praying, one accessible to all: "Lord Jesus, I come to be silent in your presence, trusting that your Heart will speak for me, knowing that all I could ever want to say, that all I would ever need to say, is spoken eternally to the Father by your Sacred Heart".
In this way, everything that prayer can or should express — adoration, praise, thanksgiving, supplication and reparation — finds its most perfect expression.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, thus understood, is a manifestation in the Church of the Holy Spirit, "helping us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26).5 The Sacred Heart is, in the life of the Church, the organ by which "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8:27).
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: "We see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. The Christian confession of faith comes from participating in the prayer of Jesus, from being drawn into his prayer and being privileged to behold it; it interprets the experience of Jesus' prayer, and its interpretation of Jesus is correct because it springs from a sharing in what is most personal and intimate to him".6
This is the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the prayer that filled the days and nights of Jesus' earthly life, the prayer that suffused his sufferings and ascended from the Cross at the hour of his death, the prayer that with him descended into the depths of the earth, the prayer that continues uninterrupted in the glory of his risen and ascended life, the prayer that is ceaseless in the Sacrament of the Altar.
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that "by entering into Jesus' solitude", and "only by participating in what is most personal to him, his communication with the Father, can one see what this most personal reality is; only thus can one penetrate to his identity".7 The Sacred
Heart represents and invites us into what is most personal to Jesus: his communication with the Father.
In words that today sound almost prophetic, Cardinal Ratzinger concluded that "the person who has beheld Jesus' intimacy with his Father and has come to understand him from within is called to be a 'rock' of the Church. The Church arises out of participation in the prayer
of Jesus (cf. Lk 9:18-20; Mt 16:13-20)".8
Prayer of the Sacred Heart in the New Testament
The Letter to the Hebrews tells us exactly what was the prayer of the Heart of Christ at the moment he took flesh in the Virgin's womb: "When Christ came into the world, he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure'. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God', as it is written of me in the scroll of the book'" (Heb 10:5-7). This is the first prayer of the Heart of Jesus, "substantially united to the Word of God".9
The prayer of the Heart of Christ revealed in the Letter to the Hebrews resonates throughout the Fourth Gospel. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: "We could say that the Fourth Gospel draws us into that intimacy which Jesus reserved for those who were his friends" (ibid., 22). The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple belongs, in a special sense, to the friends of the Heart of Jesus.
The liturgy gives us the Gospel of St John on every Sunday and weekday during Paschaltide. Holy Thursday's Gospel of Jesus washing his disciples' feet at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 13:1-5) becomes Good Friday's Gospel of the Heart from which flowed blood and water: "They shall look on him whore they have pierced" (cf. Jn 19:34-37).
By continuing to read the Fourth Gospel on Easter Sunday (Jn 20:1-9) and for the 50 days following, the liturgy guides us into the prayer of the Heart of Christ.
The Second Sunday of Easter, that of Divine Mercy, invites us in a particular way to the contemplation of the Sacred Heart. In the Gospel (Jn 20:19-31), the Risen Christ stands before Thomas, inviting him to touch his wounded side. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: "All of us are Thomas, unbelieving; but like him, all of us can touch the exposed Heart of Jesus and... behold the Logos himself. So, with our hands and eyes fixed upon this Heart, we can attain to the confession of faith: 'My Lord and my God!'".10
The liturgical lectionary's repartition of the Fourth Gospel is integral to the mystical pedagogy of the Church. When the liturgical Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus arrives on the Friday following the Second Sunday after Pentecost, it finds us already prepared, ready and full of desire to pass fully into the prayer of the Sacred Heart.
For Cardinal Ratzinger, "the entire Gospel testimony is unanimous that Jesus' words and deeds flowed from his most intimate communion with the Father; that he continually went 'into the hills' to pray in solitude after the burden of the day (cf., Mk 1:35; 6:46; 14:35, 39)".11 He notes that "Luke, of all the Evangelists, lays stress on this feature. He shows that the essential events of Jesus' activity proceeded from the core of his personality and that this core was his dialogue with the Father".12
Prayer of the Sacred Heart in the Psalms
The psalms also express and communicate the prayer of the Heart of Christ. The Psalter is for the Church a "sacrament" of the prayer of the Heart of Christ to the Father, revealing that prayer and making it present in her.
Jesus intoned two psalms from the Cross, leaving it to his Church to continue them: Psalm 21 in Matthew 21:46, and Psalm 30 in Luke 23:46.
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"' (Mt 27:46). The Church, imaged in the Mother of Jesus, the beloved disciple and the other holy women at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25), prays the psalm through to the end to discover in its triumphant final verses (cf. Ps 21:22-31) the promise of a banquet for the afflicted and the hope of the resurrection: "The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; and those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live for ever" (Ps 21:26).
Psalm 30 gives the verse, "Into your hands I commit my spirit" (Ps 30:5). Praying it from the Cross at the hour of his death, Jesus adds a single word, a word that rises out of the depths of his Heart and utterly transforms the psalmist's prayer into one by which the Son entrusts everything to the Father. "Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!'. And having said this he breathed his last" (Lk 23:46).
"Jesus died praying.... Although the Evangelists' accounts of the last words of Jesus differ in details, they agree on the fundamental fact that Jesus died praying. He fashioned his death into an act of prayer, an act of worship.... The last words of Jesus were an expression of his devotion to the Father.... His cry was not uttered to anyone, anywhere, but to Him, since it was of his innermost essence to be in a dialogue relationship with the Father".13
Prayer of the Sacred Heart in the Liturgy
The prayer of the Heart of Christ at the hour of his sacrifice passes entirely into the heart of the Church, where it is prolonged and actualized "from the rising of the sun to its setting" (Mal 1:11) in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the mystery of the Eucharist.
Cardinal Ratzinger asks if, after the once-for-all Pasch of Jesus, anything more is needed. "After the tearing of the Temple curtain and the opening up of the heart of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified, do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the 'image', through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified".14
It is through the liturgy, first and above all, that we pass over into the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the word to the Father forever inscribed in his pierced side.
Sacred Heart: the Church's Word to the World
Theology is, finally, a word about God addressed to the world, a word about God addressed to anyone who will listen. The Sacred Heart, pierced in death, becomes a word of life for the world.
"Death, which by its very nature is the end, the destruction of every communication, is changed by Jesus into an act of self-communication; and this is man's redemption, for it signifies the triumph of love over death. We can put the same thing another way: death, which puts an end to words and to meaning, itself becomes a word, becomes the place where meaning communicates itself".15
This means that after the mouth of Jesus fell silent in death, there remained the open side and the pierced Heart that speaks of nothing but love, the ultimate and everlasting word about God.
In the final analysis, one "impelled by the charity of Christ" (cf. II Cor 5:14) will have but one message, that of the pierced Heart revealing the love of the Father and "drawing all to himself" (cf. Jn 12:32).
One who has contemplated the message carved in the flesh of Jesus' side by the soldier's lance and learned to read it in adoration has but one language in which to speak to the world: the language of the heart.
It is learned not in conferences or classrooms or books, but in silence and in the contemplation of the Pierced One. It is learned especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The language of the heart encompasses a thousand local dialects, a million accents. Devotion to the Sacred Heart impels the Christian to an inventive charity, a charity ready to explore every dark and treacherous place in search of the lost sheep.
"Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame" (Lk 14:21). "The great gesture of embrace emanating from the Crucified has not yet reached its goal; it has only just begun."16
Word from God, Word to God, Word for the World
Word of God addressed to us, word addressed to God, word of the Church addressed to the world: herein lies one approach to a theology of the Sacred Heart. The liturgy remains its primary articulation. Together with the Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the 12 biblical texts provided for the Mass — a First Reading; Psalm, Second Reading and Gospel for each of the three years A, B and C — become a fundamental resource, an inexhaustible treasure waiting to be mined for every one called to hear, to pray and to offer the healing word that is the pierced Heart.
The Sacred Heart is the Heart of God laid bare for man: word from God. It is a human Heart lifted high on the Cross: word to God. It is the Heart of the Church open to all who seek, to all who thirst, to every lost sheep waiting to be found and carried home: word for the world.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the full and irrevocable message of the Father to us. It is everything we ever could or should need to say to the Father. It is all we have to say to one another and to the world.
Pope Benedict XVI, writing in 1981 as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, challenges us to nothing less: "In the Heart of Jesus, the center of Christianity is set before us. It expresses everything, all that is genuinely new and revolutionary in the New Covenant. This Heart calls to our heart. It invites us to step forth out of the futile attempt of self-preservation and, by joining in the task of love, by handing ourselves over to him and with him, to discover the fullness of love which alone is eternity and which alone sustains the world".17
1 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, trans. John Saward (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), p. 48.
2 Mére Elisabeth de Solms, La vie et la règle de saint Benoît (Paris: Téqui, 1984); Bible Chrétienne (Québec: Editions Anne Sigier et Desclée, 1988).
3 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986).
4 Card. Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 48.
5 Cf. Litany of the Sacred Heart.
6 Card. Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One, p. 19.
7 Ibid., p. 19.
9 Cf. Litany of the Sacred Heart.
10 Card. Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One, p. 54.
11 Ibid., p. 17.
13 Ibid., pp. 22-24.
14 Card. Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 61.
15 Card. Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One, p. 25.
16 Card. Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 50.
17 Card. Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One, p. 69.
Weekly Edition in English
25 May 2005, page 10
L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Weekly Edition in English is published for the US by:
For the 50th Anniversary of Haurietis Aquas Benedict XVI
Sacred Heart devotion builds our faith and love To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Haurietis Aquas (1956) on the centenary of the extension of the Feast of the Sacred Heart to the whole Church by Pius XII, the Holy Father sent a Letter to Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits have been champions of devotion to the Sacred Heart since St. Claude de la Colombière was the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who spread the devotion in the 17th century. We must draw from the source of the "Redeemer's pierced side" to which Haurietis Aquas refers us, the Pope wrote in his Message, if we want to attain "true knowledge of Jesus Christ and a deeper experience of his love". The following is a translation of the Holy Father's Message, which was written in Italian.
To the Most Reverend Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Today, 50 years later the Prophet Isaiah's words, which Pius XII placed at the beginning of the Encyclical with which he commemorated the first centenary of the extension of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the entire Church, have lost none of their meaning: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Is 12:3).
By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of his love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it. After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome him ever better into their lives.
The Redeemer's pierced side is the source to which the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas refers us: we must draw from this source to attain true knowledge of Jesus Christ and a deeper experience of his love.
Thus, we will be able to understand branch what it means to know God's love in Jesus Christ, to experience him, keeping our gaze fixed on him to the point that we live entirely on the experience of his love, so that we can subsequently witness to it to others.
Indeed, to take up a saying of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II, "In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbour".
Thus: "The true reparation asked by the Heart of the Saviour will come when the civilization of the Heart of Christ can be built upon the ruins heaped up by hatred and violence" (Letter to Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus for the Beatification of Bl. Claude de la Colombière, 5 October 1986; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 27 October 1986, p. 7).
Knowing God's love in Jesus
In the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I cited the affirmation in the First Letter of St. John: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us", in order to emphasize that being Christian begins with the encounter with a Person (cf. n. 1).
Since God revealed himself most profoundly in the Incarnation of his Son in whom he made himself "visible", it is in our relationship with Christ that we can recognize who God really is (cf. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 29-41; Deus Caritas Est, nn.12-15).
And again: since the deepest expression of God's love is found in the gift Christ made of his life for us on the Cross, the deepest expression of God's love, it is above all by looking at his suffering and his death that we can see God's infinite love for us more and more clearly: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).
Moreover, not only does this mystery of God's love for us constitute the content of the worship of and devotion to the Heart of Jesus, but in the same way it is likewise the content of all true spirituality and Christian devotion. It is consequently important to stress that the basis of the devotion is as old as Christianity itself.
Indeed, it is only possible to be Christian by fixing our gaze on the Cross of our Redeemer, "on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19:37; cf. Zc 12:10).
The Encyclical Haurietis Aquas rightly recalls that for countless souls the wound in Christ's side and the marks left by the nails have been "the chief sign and symbol of that love" that ever more incisively shaped their life from within (cf. n. 52).
Recognizing God's love in the Crucified One became an inner experience that prompted them to confess, together with Thomas: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28), and enabled them to acquire a deeper faith by welcoming God's love unreservedly (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 49).
Through the Heart of Jesus
The deepest meaning of this devotion to God's love is revealed solely through a more attentive consideration of its contribution not only to the knowledge, but also and especially to the personal experience of this love in trusting dedication to its service (cf. ibid., n. 62).
It is obvious that experience and knowledge cannot be separated: the one refers to the other. Moreover, it is essential to emphasize that true knowledge of God's love is only possible in the context of an attitude of humble prayer and generous availability.
Starting with this interior attitude, one sees that the gaze fixed upon his side, pierced by the spear, is transformed into silent adoration. Gazing at the Lord's pierced side, from which "blood and water" flowed (cf. Jn 19:34), helps us to recognize the manifold gifts of grace that derive from it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 34.41) and opens us to all other forms of Christian worship embraced by the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.
Faith, understood as a fruit of the experience of God's love, is a grace, a gift of God. Yet human beings will only be able to experience faith as a grace to the extent that they accept it within themselves as a gift on which they seek to live. Devotion to the love of God, to which the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas invited the faithful (cf. n. 72), must help us never to forget that he willingly took this suffering upon himself "for us", "for me".
When we practise this devotion, not only do we recognize God's love with gratitude but we continue to open ourselves to this love so that our lives are ever more closely patterned upon it. God, who poured out his love "into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (cf. Rom 5:5), invites us tirelessly to accept his love. The main aim of the invitation to give ourselves entirely to the saving love of Christ and to consecrate ourselves to it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 4) is, consequently, to bring about our relationship with God.
This explains why the devotion, which is totally oriented to the love of God who sacrificed himself for us, has an irreplaceable importance for our faith and for our life in love.
Witness to love experienced
Whoever inwardly accepts God is moulded by him. The experience of God's love should be lived by men and women as a "calling" to which they must respond. Fixing our gaze on the Lord, who "took our infirmities and bore our diseases" (Mt 8:17), helps us to become more attentive to the suffering and need of others.
Adoring contemplation of the side pierced by the spear makes us sensitive to God's salvific will. It enables us to entrust ourselves to his saving and merciful love, and at the same time strengthens us in the desire to take part in his work of salvation, becoming his instruments.
The gifts received from the open side, from which "blood and water" flowed (cf. Jn 19:34), ensure that our lives will also become for others a source from which "rivers of living water" flow (Jn 7:38; cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 7).
The experience of love, brought by the devotion to the pierced side of the Redeemer, protects us from the risk of withdrawing into ourselves and makes us readier to live for others. "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (I Jn 3:16, cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 38).
It was only the experience that God first gave us his love that has enabled us to respond to his commandment of love (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 17).
So it is that the cult of love, which becomes visible in the mystery of the Cross presented anew in every celebration of the Eucharist, lays the foundations of our capacity to love and to make a gift of ourselves (cf. Haurietis Aquas n. 69). becoming instruments in Christ's hands: only in this way can we be credible proclaimers of his love.
However, this opening of ourselves to God's will must be renewed in every moment: "Love is never 'finished' and complete" (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 17).
Thus, looking at the "side pierced by the spear" from which shines forth God's boundless desire for our salvation cannot be considered a transitory form of worship or devotion: the adoration of God's love, whose historical and devotional expression is found in the symbol of the "pierced heart", remains indispensable for a living relationship with God (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 62).
As I express the wish that the 50th anniversary will give rise to an ever more fervent response to love of the Heart of Christ in numerous hearts, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Father, and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus, who are still very active in promoting this fundamental devotion.
From the Vatican, 15 May 2006
Weekly Edition in English
14 June 2006, page 4
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MESSAGE OF Pope
FOR LENT 2007
“They shall look on Him
whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37)
But God’s love is also eros. In the Old Testament, the Creator of the universe manifests toward the people whom He has chosen as His own a predilection that transcends every human motivation. The prophet Hosea expresses this divine passion with daring images such as the love of a man for an adulterous woman (cf. 3:1-3). For his part, Ezekiel, speaking of God’s relationship with the people of Israel, is not afraid to use strong and passionate language (cf. 16:1-22). These biblical texts indicate that eros is part of God’s very heart: the Almighty awaits the “yes” of His creatures as a young bridegroom that of his bride. “Him whom they have pierced”
Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.
BENEDICT XVI ANGELUS St Peter's Square Sunday, 5 June 2005
Last Friday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion that is deeply rooted in the Christian people. In biblical language, "heart" indicates the centre of the person where his sentiments and intentions dwell. In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore God's love for humanity, his will for universal salvation, his infinite mercy.
Practising devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life.
The feast of the Sacred Heart is also World Day for the Sanctification of Priests, a favourable opportunity to pray that priests will put nothing before love of Christ.
BENEDICT XVI ANGELUS St. Peter's Square Sunday, 25 June 2006
Last Friday we celebrated the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an event that felicitously unites this popular devotion with theological depth. It was traditional - and in some countries, still is - to consecrate families to the Sacred Heart, whose image they would keep in their homes.
The devotion is rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation; it is precisely through the Heart of Jesus that the Love of God for humanity is sublimely manifested.
This is why authentic devotion to the Sacred Heart has retained all its effectiveness and especially attracts souls thirsting for God's mercy who find in it the inexhaustible source from which to draw the water of Life that can irrigate the deserts of the soul and make hope flourish anew. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests: I take the opportunity to invite all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to pray for priests always, so that they will be effective witnesses of Christ's love.
ADDRESS TO PILGRIMS FROM THE DIOCESE OF VERONA ITALY Saturday, 4 June 2005
the Solemnity of the SacredHeart of Jesus: only in this inexhaustible source of love will you be able to find the necessary energy for your mission.
The Church was born from the Heart of the Redeemer, from his pierced side, and she is ceaselessly renewed in the sacraments.
May it be your concern to draw spiritual nourishment from prayer and an intense sacramental life; deepen your personal knowledge of Christ and strive with all your might for the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" which is what holiness is, as our beloved John Paul II used to say.
ENCYCLICAL DEUS CARITAS EST OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
On the other hand, man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishe s to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38). Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. Jn 19:34).
19. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint Augustine. In the foregoing reflections, we have been able to focus our attention on the Pierced one (cf. Jn 19:37, Zech 12:10), recognizing the plan of the Father who, moved by love (cf. Jn 3:16), sent his only-begotten Son into the world to redeem man. By dying on the Cross—as Saint John tells us—Jesus “gave up his Spirit” (Jn 19:30), anticipating the gift of the Holy Spirit that he would make after his Resurrection (cf. Jn 20:22). This was to fulfil the promise of “rivers of living water” that would flow out of the hearts of believers, through the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Jn 7:38-39). The Spirit, in fact, is that interior power which harmonizes their hearts with Christ's heart and moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them, when he bent down to wash the feet of the disciples (cf. Jn 13:1-13) and above all when he gave his life for us (cf. Jn 13:1, 15:13).
God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory. Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—
LENTEN MEETING WITH THE CLERGY OF ROMEADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Thursday, 22 February 2007
Fr Alberto Pacini, Rector of the Basilica of Sant'Anastasia, spoke of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration - especially of the possibility of organizing night vigils - and asked the Pope to explain the meaning and value of Eucharistic reparation with reference to sacrilegious thefts and satanic sects. Pope Benedict XVI: In general we do not speak much about Eucharistic Adoration, which has truly penetrated our hearts and penetrates the hearts of the people. You have asked this specific question about Eucharistic reparation. This has become a difficult topic.
I remember, when I was young, that on the Feast of the SacredHeart we prayed using a beautiful prayer by Leo XIII and then one by Pius XI in which reparation had a special place, precisely in reference, already at that time, to sacrilegious acts for which reparation had to be made.
I think we should get to the bottom of it, going back to the Lord himself who offered reparation for the sins of the world, and try to atone for them: let us say, try to balance the plus of evil and the plus of goodness. We must not, therefore, leave this great negative plus on the scales of the world but must give at least an equal weight to goodness.
This fundamental idea is based on what Christ did. As far as we can understand it, this is the sense of the Eucharistic sacrifice. To counter the great weight of evil that exists in the world and pulls the world downwards, the Lord places another, greater weight, that of the infinite love that enters this world. This is the most important point: God is always the absolute good, but this absolute good actually entered history: Christ makes himself present here and suffers evil to the very end, thereby creating a counterweight of absolute value. Even if we see only empirically the proportions of the plus of evil, they are exceeded by the immense plus of good, of the suffering of the Son of God.
In this sense there is reparation which is necessary. I think that today it is a little difficult to understand these things. If we see the weight of evil in the world which is constantly increasing, which seems indisputably to have the upper hand in history, one might - as St Augustine said in a meditation - truly despair.
But we see that there is an even greater plus in the fact that God himself entered history, he made himself share in history and suffered to the very end. This is the meaning of reparation. This plus of the Lord is an appeal to us to be on his side, to enter into this great plus of love and make it present, even with our weakness. We know that this plus was needed for us too, because there is evil in our lives as well. We all survive thanks to the plus of the Lord. However, he gives us this gift so that, as the Letter to the Colossians says, we can associate in his abundance and, let us say, effectively increase this abundance during our time in history.
I think that theology ought to do more to enable people to understand this reality of reparation better. In history, there were also some erroneous ideas. In the past few days I have been reading the theological discourses of St Gregory Nazianzus, who at a certain moment speaks of this aspect and asks: For whom did the Lord offer his Blood? He states, the Father did not desire the Blood of the Son, the Father is not cruel, it is not necessary to attribute this to the Father's will, but history wanted it, the needs and imbalances of history desired it; it was necessary to enter into these imbalances and recreate true balance here. This is very enlightening.
But it seems to me that we have not sufficiently mastered the language to make this fact understood to ourselves, and subsequently, also to others. We should not offer to a cruel God the blood of God. But God himself, with his love, must enter into the suffering of history, not only to create a balance, but also a plus of love which is stronger than the abundance of the existing evil. This is what the Lord invites us to do.
It seems to me a typically Catholic reality. Luther said: we cannot add anything. And this is true. And then he said: our acts thus do not count for anything. And this is not true, because the Lord's generosity is revealed precisely in his invitation to us to enter and also gives value to our being with him.
We must learn all this better and also be aware of the greatness and generosity of the Lord and the greatness of our vocation. The Lord wants to associate us with his great plus. If we begin to understand it, we will be glad that the Lord invites us to do this. It will be a great joy to be taken seriously by the Lord's love.
GENERAL AUDIENCEBENEDICT XVI 1st June 2005
This very day we begin the month of June, dedicated to the SacredHeart of Jesus. Let us often stop to contemplate this deep mystery of divine Love.
Dear young people, at the school of the Heart of Christ may you learn to assume seriously the responsibilities that await you.
VISIT TO HEILIGENKREUZ ABBEYADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Sunday, 9 September 2007
Our light, our truth, our goal, our fulfilment, our life – all this is not a religious doctrine but a person: Jesus Christ. Over and above any ability of our own to seek and to desire God, we ourselves were already sought and desired, and indeed, found and redeemed by him! The gaze of people of every time and nation, of all the philosophies, religions and cultures, ultimately encounters the wide open eyes of the crucified and risen Son of God; his open heart is the fullness of love.
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