Now if, because of our sins also which were as yet in the future, but were foreseen, the soul of Christ became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that then, too, already He derived somewhat of solace from our reparation, which was likewise foreseen, when “there appeared to Him an angel from heaven” (Luke xxii, 43), in order that His Heart, oppressed with weariness and anguish, might find consolation.
With this simple paragraph in his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI gives us all the reason we need to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament for a holy hour of reparation. And there is no better time than the month of June to do so, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart has existed privately since the early Church, with St. Augustine writing, “Access is possible: Christ is the door. It was opened for you when his side was opened by the lance. Remember what flowed out from his side: thus, choose where you want to enter Christ. From the side of Christ as he hung dying upon the Cross there flowed out blood and water, when it was pierced by a lance. Your purification is in that water, your redemption is in that blood”.
But universal devotion to the Sacred Heart was brought about due to the mission entrusted to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (whom we have already written about in regards to the First Friday devotion). It was successively raised to an observance in specific dioceses by Clement XIII in 1765, extended to the whole church by Pius IX in 1856, and made a first-class feast by Leo XIII in 1889. Pius XI, having great personal devotion to the Sacred Heart, gave us a wealth of writings on the subject – more than any other pontiff. Below is a selection from Caritate Christi Compulsi, his encyclical from 1932 wherein he exhorted the bishops to provide expositions of the Blessed Sacrament for devotion to the Sacred Heart:
Let the faithful hasten in large numbers to the eucharistic board, hasten to the foot of the altar to adore the Redeemer of the world, under the veils of the Sacrament, [and] let them pour out to that Merciful Heart that has known all the griefs of the human heart, the fullness of their sorrow, the steadfastness of their faith, the trust of their hope, the ardor of their charity.
– Caritate Christi Compulsi
The feast and month of the Sacred Heart is not just a time for “simple” prayer. Rather, it has always been tied to the spirit of sacrifice, with reparation made for the offenses against Our Lord. As faithful, therefore, we should prepare to participate in this month fully, with our external actions, penances, and holy hours playing a vital role as desired by Pius XI. But as with all the practices of Holy Mother Church, this is not just a one-dimensional feast of penance and reparation. There is plenty of space within this month to approach the Sacred Heart of Our Lord with sentiments of love and gratitude. Gratitude especially that He has opened His heart; literally almost two millennia ago, and figuratively every day that a faithful soul asks Him to.
During this first Friday of the month, June 3 of the current year, may we suggest that all our readers make a specific effort to find a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament – either exposed or at least present – and set aside an hour of devotion and reparation to the Sacred Heart. May we further suggest that our readers add as an intention 7 men who are receiving Holy Orders in Winona, MN that same day.
There is surely no reason for doubting, Venerable Brethren, that … many excellent benefits will flow forth not only to individual men but also to society, sacred, civil, and domestic, seeing that our Redeemer Himself promised to Margaret Mary that “all those who rendered this honor to His Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces.”
– Mirentissimus Redemptor
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"The prudent man considers things afar off, in so far as they tend to be a help or a hindrance to that which has to be done at the present time." - St. Thomas Aquinas