As we are currently in the middle of June, we are deep in the heart of the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This designation comes from the fact that the feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated in most years during the month of June. In rare instances (when Easter is either very early or very late), it may fall at the tail end of May or within the first two days of July. It always falls on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, or 19 days after Pentecost. This year, it is commemorated on Friday, June 19.
One way we can commemorate this month is to develop a deeper devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Throughout the centuries, devotion to pious practices, saints, and other aspects of our faith have been highly encouraged by the Church as a whole. Though the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, that is not the only means by which we grow and live out the spiritual life.
According to Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), one of the documents of Vatican II:
“The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. The Christian is indeed called to pray with his brethren, but he must also enter into his chamber to pray to the Father, in secret; yet more, according to the teaching of the Apostle, he should pray without ceasing…
“Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with the laws and norms of the Church, above all when they are ordered by the Apostolic See...
But these devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them.”
As Saint John Paul II said in 2001:
"Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted. Such authentic expressions of popular piety are not at odds with the centrality of the Sacred Liturgy. Rather, in promoting the faith of the people, who regard popular piety as a natural religious expression, they predispose the people for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.”
What this may look like can be different for different people. Some are drawn to contemplation of sacred images, while other prefer reading books. A pilgrimage may be made to a shrine, or specific prayers or acts of fasting can be performed.
And therein lies the beauty of the catholic (universal) faith! We were created as unique individuals, though joined together by the one true faith, and thus express ourselves in unique ways.
Therefore, perhaps a spiritual goal this month could be to increase your personal devotion to the Sacred Heart through a familiar or novel means.
- Meditate upon the mercy of God by contemplating the image of the Sacred Heart
- Read what the Saints have to say about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, especially the writings of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque – the 17th-century French nun known as the “Apostle of the Sacred Heart”
- Pray one of the prayers of Consecration to the Sacred Heart
Regardless of how we pursue Him, the Lord is always glorified by the acts His children take on in order to further seek Him. May the remainder of your month of June be one filled with the love and graces of our Lord and His most Sacred Heart!