Recent Masses for healing, for Saints and for the faithful departed inspired me to encourage renewal of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion began around 1672, when Jesus appeared to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France. Two things are found in devotion to the Sacred Heart: Christ’s Heart of flesh and Christ’s love for us. True devotion to the Sacred Heart means devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ, which represents God’s infinite burning love for us. We contemplate the Person of Jesus, the fullness of love. Love is the force behind all Jesus does and suffers for us — on the Cross, in the Blessed Sacrament, in His teaching and healing. Jesus is the incarnation of God’s infinite love and his Sacred Heart is the perfect icon of love of God and neighbor.

The meaning of love in Jesus is evident in His suffering: “The world must know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded Me” (Jn 14:31). His love for us urged Him to accept death on the Cross. The Sacred Heart of Jesus never ceases to love and sanctify us through the Sacraments, fountains of grace and holiness flowing from his heart. .

Both in the Mass and in devotion to the Sacred Heart, we unite ourselves with Jesus who offers Himself and His Church to the Father. Devotion to the Sacred Heart moves us from prayer to acts of mercy. Reparation calls us to love the poor and marginalized and to help others become one with God. Devotion to the Sacred Heart helps us see Jesus in our hearts, our homes and the Eucharist inspiring us to love others with compassion and forgiveness. We remember that Jesus is Mary’s son as well as the Son of God, the lover and the beloved.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart teaches us that the story of Jesus is not finished and we are a part of the story. When the Sacred Heart pierces our hearts we are profoundly different because of divine love. When Jesus revealed his Heart to Sister Margaret Mary, many people saw Jesus as far away and few people were receiving Holy Communion. As St Margaret Mary knelt in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus showed His heart aflame with love and invited her to receive Communion more often, to pray for those who felt far from God and to help others understand how personal His love is.

When St. Pope John Paul II visited the convent of St Margaret Mary, he stressed that devotion to the Sacred Heart does not belong to one time or place. It is ancient yet new and exciting. Today the Sacred Heart invites us deeper into stewardship of God’s gifts, to prayer and to generous service to the parish and community. I would like to renew the devotion to the Sacred Heart: First Friday reception of Eucharist, Confession and Holy Hour. This devotion will lead us deeper into our Catholic faith and love of God as we are purified or made holy by God who is in the words of the liturgy: Holy Holy Holy.

I pray that the Holy Spirit (the eternal love between the Father and the Son) sets our hearts on fire with overflowing love. Please pray about coming to Mass and receiving the grace of confession on First Fridays. Devotion to the Sacred Heart will transform hearts making our parishes places of worship and joy that draw Catholics back to the sacraments.