The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared several times to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque late in the 17th Century and thus began one of the greatest and most beloved devotions in the Catholic Church, the pious devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Saint Margaret was born in France and, at age eight after the death of her father, was sent to the Poor Clares school. At an early age, she was bedridden with rheumatic fever for several years and, at that time, became especially devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.
In 1671, she entered a Visitation convent and soon experienced visions of Our Lord. In 1673, a series of revelations began and continued for the next year and a half. In these unique locutions, Jesus explained to her the need for devotion to His Sacred Heart and told how He wanted people to spread this devotion. He also emphasized the importance of devotion to the Holy Hour of reparation; and the necessity of frequent Communion. He specifically asked for Communion on the First Friday of each month and requested the establishment of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Our Lord demonstrated His overwhelming love for mankind by horribly suffering and dying on the Cross and continues to show His love by eternally giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. The familiar image of the Sacred Heart depicts Our Lord showing us His Heart and serves to remind us that He and He alone is the flawless incarnation of God’s love on earth.
For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotton Son; that whosoever believith in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. (John 3:16) Indeed, we must always remember that the love He felt for us, gave Him the strength to accept the Cross as He said at the Last Supper: Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy-five years after the death of Saint Margaret Mary.
Private Act of Consecration by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque
I consecrate and surrender to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my person, my life, my difficulties and my sufferings, that I may henceforth live only for His love and glory. It is my firm and unwavering purpose to belong to Him alone, to do everything for His love, and with my whole heart to renounce everything that could displease this Divine Heart.
For this end I choose Thee, O Sacred Heart, as the only object of my love, the protector of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the support of my weakness, and the atoner for all the sins of my whole life. O mild and bountiful Heart! be Thou likewise, my refuge at the hour of my death, my justification before God, and ward off from me the penalty of His just wrath. O loving Heart! In Thee I place my entire trust; I fear everything from my own malice, but I also hope everything from Thy goodness. Destroy, therefore, in me everything which may displease Thee, or prevent Thy pure love from making so deep an impression on my heart, that I may never forget or be separated from Thee. O Divine Heart! By Thy goodness I conjure Thee, let my name be deeply engraven in Thee, for in Thy service and in Thy love I will live and die.