Sacred Heart 2023 – “Both the Old and the New”
There has been much written about the new evangelization that Pope St. John Paul II called for. And so when I was contemplating starting the First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart upon word last Spring from the Archdiocese that I would be receiving an associate pastor, and thus able to have Masses on the First Fridays, I prayed about it for a long time. And a line kept coming to me from the Gospels where Jesus says “every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
And so we celebrate the culmination of these First Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart today.
This morning I was praying through the encyclical written by Pope Pius XII about the Sacred Heart Devotion, and so I would like to share a few lines with you from this encyclical:
“There are some who sometimes go so far as to consider this devotion ill-adapted to the more pressing spiritual needs of the Church and humanity in this present age.”
It seems to me that this is in fact what is going on in our world today, and I have sometimes fallen into the trap of thinking that, but over the last 20 years, I have been gradually realizing the power of this particular devotion.
Pius XII continues: “There are some who, confusing this devotion with various individual forms of piety which the Church approves and encourages but does not command, regard this as a kind of additional practice which each one may take up or not according to his own inclination.”
I have often talked about how the Catholic Church offers a buffet of spiritual devotions, and that Jesus expects NO ONE to do them all. But this particular devotion to the Sacred Heart, Pius XII says, IS necessary for all Catholics.
The encyclical letter continues: “There are others who reckon this devotion burdensome and of little or no use to men who are fighting in the army of the divine King and who are inspired mainly by the thought of laboring with their own strength, their own resources and expenditures of their own time, to defend Catholic truth, to teach and spread it, to instill Christian social teachings, to promote those acts of religion and those undertakings which they consider much more necessary today.”
There is a tendency among Catholics in America to think that we can first of all rely on our strength and wisdom to spread the Gospel, which Pius XII explicitly rejects.
The encyclical continues: “there are those who see devotion to the Sacred Heart more suited to the use of women, since it seems to them something not quite suitable for educated men.”
“Those forces of evil which have now for so long a time been taking root and which so fiercely compel us to seek help from Him by Whose strength alone they can be driven away. Who can He be but Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God? 'For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.' We must have recourse to Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
“Since then, alas, one can see that the number of those whose boast is that they are God's enemies is in some places increasing, that the false slogans of materialism are being spread by act and argument, and unbridled license for unlawful desires is everywhere being praised, is it remarkable that love, which is the supreme law of the Christian religion, the surest foundation of true and perfect justice and the chief source of peace and innocent pleasures, loses its warmth in the souls of many?”
Do we not see this happening throughout the western world today, in 2023, in an astonishing and exponentially increasing rate?
Let us continue to pray first, understanding that any true victory in the world comes through Jesus Christ, and His Inspiration of our own efforts begins first with each of bowing our head in prayer, and not first from relying on our strength.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus…Pray for Us!!!