The Sacred Heart of Jesus

06-13-2021From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It was wonderful to see so many people at Holy Mass on Corpus Christi. I especially enjoyed celebrating the 11am Mass, with the Procession and Benediction that followed. As I carried the Blessed Sacrament around the Church, I could not help seeing the devotion on the faces of so many people as they gazed at our Blessed Lord. It was moving for me, and I hope for many of you, too.

As I thought about my homily from Corpus Christi, it occurred to me that I made a little mistake! I told you, correctly, that a shrine in Paris called Sacre Coeur has had Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for 155 years without interruption! My mistake is that I also said that Sacre Coeur was built some 800 years ago to house the Crown of Thorns.

I was confusing it with yet another Church in Paris, called San Chappelle. San Chappelle was built under Saint Louis the King nearly 800 years ago to house the Crown of Thorns. It was consecrated (blessed and officially dedicated to Divine Worship) on April 26, 1248. Sadly, San Chappelle was stolen from the Church and turned into a grain storehouse during the worst years of the French Revolution! The Crown of Thorns was then moved to Notre Dame (another 800 year old Church). You may recall from the news a few years ago, the Crown of Thorns survived the fire at Notre Dame and is currently being kept at the Louvre until the restoration of Notre Dame is complete. Today, San Chapelle is maintained as an historic site.

Although Sacre Coeur is not that old, it has held Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for 155 years, bearing great witness to our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The name, Sacre Coeur, means Sacred Heart, which leads me to my next point. June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Many – if not all of us – have seen the pictures of Jesus with His heart exposed. This Devotion comes from a vision granted to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun, in 1674. In these visions, which have long been approved by the Church, Jesus promised many graces to those who practiced devotion to Him:

  • “I will give them all the graces necessary for their station in life.
  • I will establish peace in their homes.
  • I will comfort them in their afflictions.
  • I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
  • I will bestow abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  • Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  • Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
  • Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
  • I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
  • I will give to priest the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  • Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart.
  • I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all powerful love will grant to all who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months shall not die in My disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”

The last of these promises is the reason why many people attend Holy Mass on the First Friday of the month, something I would encourage everyone to do if at all possible. It’s also why many people go to Confession around the First Friday of each month, to ensure that they receive Communion worthily. Given that we could all use the graces promised by Jesus in these visions, we would all do well to practice this devotion.

Another request that our Lord made in His appearances to St. Margaret Mary is that people spend an hour in quiet prayer on Thursdays, in memory of His Agony in the Garden on Holy Thursday. In my experience, fewer people are familiar with this request of our Lord. Again, I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Remember that I will be on my annual spiritual retreat this week. All of you will be kept in my prayers throughout the week. I will mention each and every intention given to me before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s tomb, which I often pray for you. Please keep me and the other priests on the retreat in your prayers!

Have a great week!

Fr. John