What is the history of the Sacred Heart devotion?
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
The foundation for the Sacred Heart devotion began in early Christianity. Sacred Scripture, particularly the New Testament, mentions the love of God many times, and the Church Fathers discuss God’s love as well.
In the 11th century, Christians often meditated on the Five Wounds of Jesus, and the specific devotion to the Sacred Heart came from this meditation. St Gertrude the Great, who had private revelations regarding the Sacred Heart, helped further the understanding of Jesus’ Sacred Heart in the late 13th century.
Several centuries later, in 1670, St John Eudes celebrated the first Feast of the Sacred Heart. In 1673, St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Visitation nun, received her own revelations, in which Jesus explained His love for all people, even allowing St Margaret to lay her head on His Heart, as He had also allowed St Gertrude to do. He asked that Catholics receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays of the month and adore Him in the Holy Eucharist.
In 1675, Jesus told St Margaret that He wanted an annual feast in honor of His Sacred Heart. In 1856, Blessed Pope Pius IX designated that the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be celebrated universally on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave each year.
What is the First Friday devotion?
Jesus Himself started the First Friday devotion. The last of twelve Sacred Heart Promises, He said, “I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
What are the 12 promises of Our Lord, revealed to Saint Margaret Mary, for those who have devotion to His Most Sacred Heart?
(1) “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
(2) I will establish peace in their homes.
(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
(6) Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”