Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Ivo Strigel 1430 - 1516
Herz-Jesu-Altar/ The Altarpiece of the Sacred Heart 1505
Kaiserdom St. Bartholomäus, Frankfurt am Main

Ivo Strigel was a member of a large family of painters and sculptors who created a remarkable series of carved altarpieces and church sculptures

As can be seen from the above sculpture, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus existed long before the Visions of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690), Certainly there is evidence of such devotion in the eleventh century.

The German mystical saints of Helfta such as St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde had particular devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

More recently one of the great modern Popes had a particular affinity with the devotion: Pope Pius XI Not only did he establish an Octave of the Sacred Heart, he published an Encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor (May 8, 1928)entirely devoted to the Devotion and extending it

He raised the Feast to a "Double First" of the Univeral Church with a special prayer in expiation for offences against Christ:

"Wherefore, we decree and command that every year on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, - which feast indeed on this occasion we have ordered to be raised to the degree of a double of the first class with an octave - in all churches throughout the whole world, the same expiatory prayer or protestation as it is called, to Our most loving Saviour, set forth in the same words according to the copy subjoined to this letter shall be solemnly recited, so that all our faults may be washed away with tears, and reparation may be made for the violated rights of Christ the supreme King and Our most loving Lord."

The Prayer of Reparation is set out in the Encyclical. But here it is:

"Prayer of Reparation

O sweetest Jesus, whose overflowing charity towards men is most ungratefully repaid by such great forgetfulness, neglect and contempt, see, prostrate before Thy altars, we strive by special honor to make amends for the wicked coldness of men and the contumely with which Thy most loving Heart is everywhere treated.

At the same time, mindful of the fact that we too have sometimes not been free from unworthiness, and moved therefore with most vehement sorrow, in the first place we implore Thy mercy on us, being prepared by voluntary expiation to make amends for the sins we have ourselves committed, and also for the sins of those who wander far from the way of salvation, whether because, being obstinate in their unbelief, they refuse to follow Thee as their shepherd and leader, or because, spurning the promises of their Baptism, they have cast off the most sweet yoke of Thy law.

We now endeavour to expiate all these lamentable crimes together, and it is also our purpose to make amends for each one of them severally: for the want of modesty in life and dress, for impurities, for so many snares set for the minds of the innocent, for the violation of feast days, for the horrid blasphemies against Thee and Thy saints, for the insults offered to Thy Vicar and to the priestly order, for the neglect of the Sacrament of Divine love or its profanation by horrible sacrileges, and lastly for the public sins of nations which resist the rights and the teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast instituted.

Would that we could wash away these crimes with our own blood!

And now, to make amends for the outrage offered to the Divine honour, we offer to Thee the same satisfaction which Thou didst once offer to Thy Father on the Cross and which Thou dost continually renew on our altars, we offer this conjoined with the expiations of the Virgin Mother and of all the Saints, and of all pious Christians, promising from our heart that so far as in us lies, with the help of Thy grace, we will make amends for our own past sins, and for the sins of others, and for the neglect of Thy boundless love, by firm faith, by a pure way of life, and by a perfect observance of the Gospel law, especially that of charity; we will also strive with all our strength to prevent injuries being offered to Thee, and gather as many as we can to become Thy followers.

Receive, we beseech Thee, O most benign Jesus, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Reparatress, the voluntary homage of this expiation, and vouchsafe, by that great gift of final perseverance, to keep us most faithful until death in our duty and in Thy service, so that at length we may all come to that fatherland, where Thou with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen."