June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For fourteen years of my life I had worked at a high school named for Our Lord’s Sacred Heart. The motto of the school is: Fac Cor Nostrum Secundum Cor Tuum. (The translation of the Latin is: Make our hearts like unto Thine or Make our hearts like Your Heart.)
The image of the Sacred Heart centers on a devotion to Jesus’ physical heart as representing His Divine Love for all humanity. The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light. It is bleeding, pierced by the lance-wound, surrounded by a crown of thorns, and surmounted by a cross. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus' death, while the fire represents the transformative power of Christ’s love.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is associated with the devotion to the Sacred Heart. She entered the Visitation Convent in 1671 and six years later Christ appeared to her in a vision in which she said: "I could plainly see His heart, pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns around it. He told me to behold His heart which so loved humanity. Then He seemed to take my very heart from me and place it there in His heart. In return He gave me back part of His flaming heart."
In all, there were four revelations, during which the now-familiar Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart were made, the last of which ("I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.") is responsible for the nine First Fridays' devotion. Also requested by the Sacred Heart was the establishment of a feast in His honor. We now celebrate this Feast of Sacred Heart on the first Friday after the octave of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, in addition to honoring the Sacred Heart every first Friday of the month.
Now that you have a brief history, the “heart” of the matter (sorry, I couldn’t resist) is whether or not we are becoming more Christ-like and whether our hearts reflect Christ’s love for us.
The simple prayer said daily--Make my heart like Your Heart--should remind us of the task in front of each of us.
Fr. Ed Namiotka