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The Heart of Jesus in History

About the Sacred Heart

Sometime towards the end of the 20th century the Cleansing Department of New York State, at Albany, the state capital, asked for help from their colleagues in Public Relations. They were planning a big clean-up of the state. One of the PR men had just got to work on a logo when an advertisement for SONY tape recorders caught his attention. It simply featured the trade name with one modification. The letter "O" had been replaced with the sketch of a heart. S (a heart ) NY. He got a brainwave. By simply replacing the "S" with an "I" and adding full-stops ( in American English ëperiodsí) after the "N" and the "Y" he had just stumbled on the most ubiquitous logo of modern times, I (heart) N.Y. Now adapted to every imaginable object of affection and language under the sun, it is the most universally understood message on earth. Even if you canít decipher a single Chinese character nor have a clue about the meaning of any sign on a hoarding in Shanghai, once you see the heart you get the message. Somebody is telling you about something they love.

A Logo From Long Ago

Over 300 years ago, long before "logos" or "sound-bites" were ever heard of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a nun in a Visitation Convent in France saw the possibilities latent in a simple image of a heart. She designed it herself and got another nun in her community to draw it. It wasnít high art but Margaret Mary said that it was adequate for reminding people of the most important message in the world: that God has a heart for you and me. He loves us in a way beyond our wildest imaginings. Margaret Mary was quite confident that after her death in 1690 this message would sweep the world. Today there is hardly a Catholic Church in the world where you wonít find either a painting, a stained-glass window or a statue inspired by this simple, naÔve drawing. The inspiration for Margaret Maryís sketch was something more significant than an advertisement for Sony tape recorders. It was the Heart of Jesus Himself.

Love In Return For Love

Saint Margaret Mary was canonised in 1920. Between 1673 and 1675 she received messages from the Heart of Christ that were to have a profound influence on the practice of the Catholic faith ever since. Her simple message added nothing new to the revelations of Sacred Scripture. It simply stressed the infinite mercy in the Divine Heart, something sadly neglected at the time. The deplorable influence of Jansenism, called after Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), with its narrow focus on the justice of God was so influential in popular preaching that His mercy was practically forgotten. Margaret Mary learned from the Lord that all he wanted from us was a return of love for Love. People could understand this from their own experience. All that good parents want in return for everything they do for their children is that the children love them in return. This is even more true of God.

They Shall Look To The One Whom They Have Pierced

"The Heart of Jesus in History", presents on DVD the story of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart from its origins on Calvary up to the present time. This Devotion has been part of Christianity since Calvary where John the Evangelist saw the fulfilment of the ancient prophecy, "They shall look to the one whom they have pierced", (Zechariah 12:10).

Almost 2000 years later, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking shortly after his election to the papacy, referred to the centrality of the heart in our religion. "In biblical language, 'heart' indicates the centre of the person where his sentiments and intentions dwell. In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore Godís love for humanity, his will for universal salvation, his infinite mercy."

The Promises Of The Sacred Heart

St. Margaret Mary referred to a number of consoling promises made to her by the Lord. These were on offer to anyone in any state in life who practiced Devotion to His Sacred Heart. These promises were recorded in her writings, published after her death in 1690 and based on confidential discussions with her religious superiors, personal letters and private conversations.

In 1882, nearly two hundred years after her death, a very practical American business man Philip Kemper from Dayton, Ohio was so taken by these promises that he decided to draw up a short list of the main ones. He reduced them to twelve and then had them published. Within three years his list of twelve promises had been translated into no less than 238 languages. Around the same time pictures of the Sacred Heart were appearing on walls in millions of homes on all five continents.

Twelve Promises Of The 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 comfort 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. Tepid 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 shall be exposed and honoured.
  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, never to be effaced.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die outside My grace nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

The Eleventh Promise

"Those who promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced"

This extraordinary promise is on offer to every man or woman of goodwill who encourages a neighbour to respond to the consoling Gospel invitation of the Saviour:

"Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light".Matthew 12:28-30

A very simple but effective way of spreading this Gospel message would be to invite a few friends to your home to watch the DVD (45 minutes). This could lead to helpful sharing and provide people with a chance to talk freely about their faith in a congenial and non-threatening atmosphere.