by Matthew David
Welcome to June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Specifically, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the Friday after the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. This year it will be on June 16, 2023. There are four visionaries to whom Jesus revealed his heart aflame for all people: St. Lutgardis (1182-June 16, 1246), St. Mechtilde (1240-November 19, 1298), St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1301), and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (July 22, 1647-October 17, 1690).
In one of St. Lutgardis’ visions, she asked the Lord to have his heart. The Lord replied that He wanted her heart. She replied, “So be it, Lord, so long as your heart’s love is mingled with mine, and I have and hold my heart in you. For with you as my shield, my heart is secure for all time.” It was beautiful how the Lord turned it around by wanting Lutgaris’ heart. Our Lord wants our hearts too. He wants us all to love him. “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt 9:13)
St. Mechtilde had many conversations with Jesus, documented by sisters in her convent in “The Book of Special Grace.” In one of these moments, Jesus told Mechtilde, “In the morning, let your first act be to greet my Heart and to offer me your own. Whoever breathes a sigh toward me draws me to himself.” This is the ultimate goal, for the reader to go deeper into the unfathomable abyss of His divine Love.
St. Gertrude the Great was one of the nuns who contributed to the book about St. Mechtilde’s visions of Jesus. Our Lord also appeared to St. Gertrude many times as an intimate friend. He consoled her in the highs and lows of life, saying, “May the full tide of thy affection rise to Me, so that all thy pleasure, thy hope, thy joy, thy grief, thy fear, and every other feeling may be sustained by My love.” Jesus taught her that His love is for each and every soul. He is the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find you, the one lost sheep.
The Solemnity came into fruition to the universal church through the intercession of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. In 1675, the Lord told St. Margaret Mary that He wanted the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart to be celebrated on the Friday after the Corpus Christi. In 1856, the Solemnity became a universal feast. Jesus also made 12 promises to those who receive Holy Communion on first Fridays, monthly confession, venerate an image of His Sacred Heart, and pray and offer sacrifices out of love for Him and for the conversion of sinners.
12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
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.
So what do I do with this? As the Sacred Heart has a crown of thorns surrounding it, we, too, are called to do small penances in our lives. Personally, I am going to work on purity. Being a single male, I am prone to habitual sins against chastity. This month, I will put a better effort into sheltering myself in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We can also bring Christ’s love into the world. I share his love with others in the Army. Specifically, I work with two women married to other women. Over the past two years, I loved them both where they were at. By building a relationship with each of them, they noticed I’m very involved with church. They saw my love for Jesus and asked me about my weekends hanging with the Aunties and Uncles at church. Furthermore, I show all my coworkers how I live as a single Catholic man by treating everyone with dignity and following our organization's laws. I even have a crucifix at my desk. St. Bernadette used to say when people came to talk to her about seeing the Blessed Virgin, she said my mission is to inform, not to convince. It’s up to Jesus to turn their hearts and bring about conversion.
Another thing you can do is enthrone your home with an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here are a few books that talk about this devotion.
A Heart on Fire: Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by James Kubicki
Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Michael E. Gaitley
The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Revised Edition) by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
You can also pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day. https://www.usccb.org/prayers/litany-sacred-heart-jesus.
Whatever you do this month to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I pray you will strengthen your relationship with Jesus. I hope you give your heart to Jesus like St. Lutgardis. I hope you can have meaningful talks with Jesus throughout the day, entrusting all your joys and sorrows with him. His merciful love is there. It’s up to you to dive into his ocean of love.
Fenton, Francesca Pollio, “Why is June the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus”, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251588/why-is-june-the-month-of-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus, June 1, 2023, 2:00 a.m.
Kosloski, Philip, “4 Visionaries who saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the messages they received”, https://aleteia.org/2018/06/07/4-visionaries-who-saw-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus-and-the-messages-they-received/,June 7, 2018
Ghezzi, Bert, "Saint Lutgarde of Aywières," https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/saint-lutgarde-of-aywieres/, copyright 2023
Casanova, Gertrude, "Mecthilde, Saint," https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/mechtilde-saint, copyright 1996-2023
Hadley, Cheryl, “St. Gertrude the Great: Into the Heart of Christ Through Prayer,” https://www.catholiccompany.com/magazine/st-gertrude-the-great-heart-of-christ-through-prayer-6538, Nov 14, 2019
“What is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus?” https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/seasons-and-feast-days/sacred-heart-of-jesus-14357, Copyright © 2023 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. Irondale, Alabama. All rights reserved.
Thierfelder, Mary, “The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus”, https://www.catholiccompany.com/magazine/12-promises-sacred-heart-of-jesus-2-6075, June 5, 2017
“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” https://media.ascensionpress.com/video/devotion-to-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus/, 2023 copyright Ascension Press
Kosloski, Philip, “How to enthrone the Sacred Heart in your home (and heart)” https://aleteia.org/2017/06/01/how-to-enthrone-the-sacred-heart-in-your-home-and-heart/, June 1, 2017
Costa, Anne, “Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” https://www.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit-blog/prayers-to-the-sacred-heart/, April 15, 2020
Matthew "Matt" David joined EPIC Ministry when it was just a young adult ministry at Our Lady of Sorrows in 2007. He has built many friendships with members from being stationed in Hawaii for ten years of his Army career. Matt celebrates 19 years of active duty and is currently stationed at the Army School of Music, Virginia Beach, VA. In September, he will take command of the US Army Japan Band. He enjoys living a celibate single life for Christ while staying active in the church with all the Aunties and Uncles no matter the duty station. He occasionally comes back to Hawaii to reconnect with friends and family and EPIC Ministry of course, coming on a retreat or two, helping out at faith sharing, and just seeing how he can serve the ministry, whether its taking photos, praying, or just bringing joy whenever he is on-island.