It is very important for all the faithful, but specially for the overseers and the associates of the Apostolate of Prayer, what the Church has said about the Devotion to the Heart of Jesus. We have in those precious documents enough doctrine for reflection and examination of conscience, for Christian formation and for an incentive to develop and propagate the Devotion to the Divine Heart.
On January 25, 1756, after numerous petitions had been sent to Pope Clement XIII, the former so-called Congregation for the Rites declared that to the Heart of Jesus, pierced by the soldier’s sword, it is given adoration and, therefore, the respective devotion was approved. This devotion had already been practiced for centuries before it was finally approved. Later on, on August 28, 1794, Pope Pius VI, in Constitution Auctorem Fidei, turned to this devotion, saying that it is something essential and that “any doctrine which rejects the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is false, foolhardy, nocuous, offensive to pious ears and to the Apostolic See”. A century later, in 1956, Pope Pius IX extended the Feast of the Heart of Jesus to the entire Universal Church. It was a long way, full of difficulties, but God kept making the grace of this devotion known. The same Pope, in 1873, approved the practice of dedicating the month of June to honor the Heart of Jesus.
An important landmark was the consecration of Humankind to the Heart of Jesus, announced and declared in the Encyclical Annum Sacrum, of May 25, 1899, and made by Pope Leo XIII on June 11 of that year. On June 21, the same Pope approved the Litany of the Heart of Jesus, and, in the same text of the Congregation for the Rites of the same date, there appears a call for the faithful to do the First Fridays, practice that Jesus had asked St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to do. Later on, St. Pius X arranged for the consecration to the Heart of Jesus to be renewed every year, and Benedict XV approved the Devotion to the Heart of Jesus with Mass and Office of its own, through a decree of 1921. Famous also turned out to be the Encyclical of Pius XI Miserentissimus Redemptor, dated May 8, 1928.
Pius XII, in his Encyclical Haurietis Aquas, of May 15, 1956, all of it dedicated to the Heart of Jesus, stated: “The Heart of Christ is the Heart of a Divine Person, namely, of the Incarnate Word, and, therefore, represents and, we could say it, puts before our own eyes all the love He had and still has for us. Precisely for this reason, the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus ought to merit so much our esteem that we must consider it the most complete profession of the entire Christian religion…Therefore, it is easy to conclude that, after all, the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is the devotion to the love with which God has loved us, through Christ, and it is also the practice of our love for God and the others”.
Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Letter Investigabiles Divitias Christi, of February 6, 1965, wrote: “It is absolutely necessary that the faithful pay homage of devotion, with practices of private piety and public manifestations, to the Heart from Whose fullness we all have received and learn from Him the perfect way to organize one’s life, in order for this life to correspond fully to the demands of our times…”.
These and many other texts place before us the Church’s thought. It urges us to intensify and renew the Devotion to the Heart of Jesus. We need to talk about it, to urge the faithful to live it, to make it known. This is one of the great missions of the Apostolate of Prayer and also of all pastors and all faithful. It urges to fulfill it. Let us commit ourselves seriously to it. Because it is from here that the civilization of love will come.