Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we now know it, began about the year 1672. On repeated occasions Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary, a Visitation nun in France, and during these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. He asked to be honored in the figure or symbol of His Heart of flesh; He asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Communion, Communion on the first Friday of the month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour.
When the Catholic Church approved the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she did not base her action merely on the visions of St. Margaret Mary. The Church approved the devotion on its own merits. We honor the Sacred Heart not only because every drop of Christ’s Precious Blood passed through it during the thirty-three years of His life on earth; not only because the Sacred Heart throbbed in closest sympathy with every movement of joy or sorrow, pity or love in our best Friend, but we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus because of its intimate union with His divinity. There is only one person in Jesus, and that person was at the same time God and man. Therefore every part of His body was human and divine. His Heart, too, is divine; it is the Heart of God.
Devotion to the Heart of Jesus alone, as a noble part of His sacred body, would not be devotion to the Sacred Heart as understood and approved by the Church. There are two things that must always be found together in the 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 insofar as this Heart represents and recalls His love for us. It means devotion to the love of Jesus Christ for us insofar as this love is recalled and represented to us by His Heart of flesh.
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