Recently, I came across the Holy Art website that sells small devotional statues, and I was prompted to get a this small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This statue now sits just above my writing space and I have found it to be of great inspiration as well as encouragement.
How you might ask?
The inspiration is rooted in the beauty of the small statue itself. It is evident that great attention to detail was taken as it was hand-painted in a variety of colors, and the hand reaching out to me inspires me to do my best work to try and reach out to people through ministry as Jesus did.
Encouragement comes from the loving look on Jesus’ face, and his showing me with His other hand, His most Sacred Heart. But encouragement also comes from knowing what the Sacred Heart is all about.
The Sacred Heart Devotion
In an article published in the National Catholic Register, a brief history of the devotion to the Sacred Heart was given:
“Devotion to the wounded heart of Jesus has its origins in the eleventh century, when pious Christians meditated on the Five Wounds of Christ. There grew up among the faithful prayers to the Sacred Heart, prayers to the Shoulder Wound of Christ—private devotions which helped Christians to focus on the passion and death of Christ, and thus to grow in love for our Savior who had suffered and died for us.
It was not until 1670, however, that a French priest, Fr. Jean Eudes, celebrated the first Feast of the Sacred Heart. Around the same time, a pious sister by the name of Margaret Mary Alacoque began to report visions of Jesus. He appeared to her frequently, and in December 1673, he permitted Margaret Mary—as had once allowed St. Gertrude—to rest her head upon his Heart. As she experienced the comfort of his presence, Jesus told her of his great love and explained that he had chosen her to make his love and his goodness known to all.
The following year, in June or July of 1674, Margaret Mary reported that Jesus wanted to be honored under the figure of His Heart of flesh. He asked the faithful to receive Him in the Eucharist frequently, especially on the First Friday of the month, and to observe a Holy Hour of devotion to Him.
And then in 1675, during the octave of Corpus Christi, Margaret Mary received the vision which came to be known as the “great apparition.” Jesus asked that the modern Feast of the Sacred Heart be celebrated each year on the Friday following Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice which Christ had made for them.”
It is from Jesus’ request to be faithful to receiving Him in the Eucharist, especially on the First Friday of each month, and then the subsequent opportunity authorized by Pope Leo XIII to receive indulgences for the practice, especially for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, that the practice of the “First Friday devotion”–of going to confession and Holy Mass, receiving Holy Eucharist, and spending an Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament became popular.
The Power of the Devotion to Transform our Hearts
I personally can attest to power of the First Friday devotion in my own spiritual life, and how it has enabled me to grow closer to God and become more like Jesus in my daily life. For as I look upon His Sacred Heart, I am looking upon the the divine Heart that encompasses all of who I desire and have been created to become–if I but say yes to His infinite, pure, and perfect love.
Blessed Conception Cabrera de Armida beautifully describes what I have experienced at different points during my own time before the Sacred Heart:
“Nothing is more demanding and yet more tender and precious than that Heart in which every holy affection could be seen to radiate…His serenity in His intimate sufferings, in that interior cross which tortured His soul from the instant of the Incarnation until His death…Jesus felt the piercing thorns of all our suffering and the bitterness of all our tears…that divine Heart, which suffers deep wounds of love. Which moves, astounds, and fascinates…This divine Heart that wants to unite itself to us in an intimate embrace and to fuse our soul into His own. He loves us in order to reveal His secrets to us. To grant us his Spirit. To give us what is His.”
This is what it is to be loved beyond measure. To know our worth is not in anything that we say or do, but is simply in the fundamental essence of who we are–beloved sons and daughters of God.
Promises of the Sacred Heart
But I have also found deep comfort and been encouraged by the promises Jesus gave to Saint Margaret Mary regarding those who honored His Sacred Heart.
Those 12 promises are:
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will give peace in their families.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
- I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
- I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
- Tepid souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
- I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
- I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
- Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
- In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
As I reflect upon the promises, and I look upon Jesus’ Sacred Heart so beautifully depicted in the small statue from Holyart.com I am inspired and given great encouragement that the quest for holiness is not a fool’s errand. No, my desire for sanctity is simply the only way to respond to a love that is beyond measure.
So I invite you to do not one, but two things today: check out Holyart.com and get your own little bit of inspiration and encouragement for the journey and offer a prayer to the Sacred Heart that you may continue to grow more perfect in love.
Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.
Christina Semmens is a Roman Catholic author, blogger, speaker and mentor. She currently lives in Fort Payne, Alabama where she strives to live out a life of authentic discipleship in the pursuit of holiness while encouraging, teaching and accompanying others in striving to do the same. You can find out more about Christina and her ministry efforts at www.sayyestoholiness.com.
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