Thin Edge of the Wedge Part A - Eucharistic Devotions of Reparation Devotion to the Sacred Heart
This is my first draft of the first article in the wedge series. I decided to not polish it ad nauseum in order to make some progress on this project.
The next article will (predictably) be on Devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
In a previous article, I discussed the crisis in the Church from the organizational behavior point of view, with an emphasis on organizational culture. In the follow on article titled “Don Bosco’s Two Pillars and Displacing Cultural Assumptions – A Role for Traditional Catholics”, I discussed what I believe to be some key elements pointing towards a way for Traditional Catholics to help reassert Catholic Culture within the Church.
Culture is a learned trait. In the most basic sense, if a lesson is repeated enough times with sufficient force, the ‘correct’ answer will come automatically to the trainee.
From the traditionalist point of view, since the Second Vatican Council, most Roman Catholics have been wandering in the desert, with relatively few cultural oases’ to support their Catholic culture. To make matters worse, nature abhors a vacuum and something that is not quite Catholic yet not quite protestant seems to have been substituted for the original culture. Thus it is up to traditional Catholics; who have been nourished by the unadulterated Faith, Doctrine and Liturgy; to help Catholics to rediscover more than just their liturgical heritage, we must help them to redevelop their sense of the True Faith, what was formerly known as the sensum fidei. This will probably sound like the ultimate in pride to any non-traditional Catholics that are reading this, but this is the traditional Catholic perspective.
This article will focus on the eucharistic devotions of reparation. Obviously, such devotions require an understanding that the Catholic Church teaches that the substance of the bread and wine are changed at the consecration into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus.
If you are familiar with this teaching, consider yourself fortunate as surveys performed in the USA (CARA, 2010) indicate a serious problem with Catechetics within the non-Traditional Catholic parts of the Church. For example while in one study 74% of Catholics believe in Transubstantiation, in another study 45% didn’t know that the Church teaches that the bread/wine become the body/blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So while slightly more than ¼ of the Catholics in the USA are in material heresy, nearly half of Catholics surveyed don’t know that the Church Teaches it.
The Need for Reparation
In this age there is a great necessity of making reparation for sins – even if they aren’t our own! The notion that God does not take offense when his creatures misuse their free-will is presumptuous and heretical in origin. God does take offense, the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette and Fatima made this quite clear:
“If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son’s arm. It is so heavy…” (La Salette)
“… if people do not cease offending God, a worse one [war] will breakout …” (Fatima)
If offenses committed against God in the earl 1900’s were sufficient to result in the Second World War with an estimate 50 to 70 million deaths, how large is the cup of wrath that the world is filling today with legalized sin becoming a moral epidemic? When will the cup spill over?
While scoffed at by the pagans and atheists, famines, wars and tribulations are seen by Catholics as a call to repentance. Those who profess to love God, should be the first to do penance and make reparation.
There are two devotions in particular, within the life of the Church, that have been given to Catholics to make reparation to God: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart
While there is a long history of devotion to the Sacred Heart, for the purposes of this article I’m going to focus on the messages received by St. Margaret Mary. My primary reference is Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by Jean Croiset SJ one of the spritiual directors of St. Margaret Mary. (Croiset 1689)
“and He showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such crowds of them, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure for Him all the honour and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which this Heart is the source. “(Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)
This is what God, Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Jesus wants to do and all we have to do is:
“He should be honoured under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and Its image should be exposed … He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing it special honour, He would pour fourth His blessings and graces. This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion” “(Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)
These are truly wonderful promises for honouring the Sacred Heart. Just to be certain that the devotion is understood correctly:
From all that has been said, it is easy to understand what is meant by devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It means an ardent love for Jesus Christ at the remembrance of all the wonders He has wrought, to testify His love, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is indeed the miracle of His love. It means a lively grief at the sight of the outrages committed by men against Jesus Christ in this adorable mystery. It means an ardent desire to omit nothing in order to make reparation, in every way we can, for all these insults. This is what is understood by devotion to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it principally consists in, not exclusively, as some perhaps have supposed, in the loving and specially honouring that Heart of flesh, like our own, which forms a part of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ. Not that the Sacred Heart does not merit our adoration. It is enough to say that it is the Heart of Jesus Christ. If His Body and His precious Blood deserve all our respect, who does not see that His Sacred Heart claims our homage even more particularly? If we feel a devotion towards His Sacred Wounds, how much more powerfully should we be inflamed with devotion towards His Sacred Heart? This Divine Heart, regarded as a part of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ, is, properly speaking, the material object of this devotion. The immense love which Jesus Christ bears towards us is its form or motive principle. Now, as this love is purely spiritual, it was impossible that it could come under the cognizance of the senses. It was therefore necessary to find a symbol to express it. What more appropriate or more natural symbol of love could be found than the real Heart of Jesus? (Croiset 1689)
In essence, the greater our love of Jesus Christ in return for his love for us that keeps him in the Blessed Sacrament, symbolically represented as the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the more we should want to repair the sins and outrages committed against Him.
In exchange for practicing and fostering this devotion Jesus made the following promises:
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will give peace in their families.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
- They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
- I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and Infinite Ocean of mercy.
- Tepid soul shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
- I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honoured.
- I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
- Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My heart, and it shall never be effaced.
- The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
Our Lord keeps His promises
There are many stories concerning the twelfth promise, I have one from the late twentieth century.
A priest was traveling by car, for some reason with the Holy Oils, when he came across a car accident. Four teenagers had been in the car, three were already dead. Father approached the last and asked if she was Catholic. It was obvious that she would soon appear before the just Judge. She answered that she was and wanted to make her confession. Father heard her confession and gave her the last rights. Soon afterwards she passed away.
Father, noticed the funeral announcement and went to the prayers the night before. When he had a moment he explained to the grieving mother that he had attended to her daughter’s last moments, heard her confession and given her the last rights. The mother was consoled and explained that her daughter had left home and was living with bad companions. However, in spite of this, she remained confident that she would be saved because immediately after her first communion she ensured that her daughter made the nine first Fridays in reparation.
True love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament involves not just adoration, but also reparation for the sins offending God and crying out for holy vengeance. If we are not saddened when Our Lord is neglected and nations legalize sinful behavior, then we do not love enough. There are six billion souls on this planet and less than 2 billion Catholics, many sinners go to hell because there is no one to pray for them. We all need to make reparation and console Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is His love that keeps him there, near to us, waiting for us. It is His love that is cast aside by the world today. Let us do our part to pick the love that was cast aside and add it to our love for Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray for sinners and make reparation on the sins as Our Lord has asked.
If this is insufficient to spur you up the slopes of Calvary then remember that she who loved much, was forgiven much.
Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, 1954 Bookmark produced by Tan.
Croist, Fr. Jean (1689) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Devotion_to_the_Sacred_Heart_of_Jesus