Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 2017

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has probably inspired more tacky ‘repository art’ than any other devotion in the history of the Church. It is easy to sniff at all those horribly graphic light-emitting hearts emerging from the breasts of impossibly aryan Christ figurines. Easy, but wrong. I confess that even after I discovered that devotion to the Sacred Heart goes back a long way before St Gertrude, St Margaret Mary Aloquoque and the rest, I found the feast too saccharine for my taste. It took me a while to realise that the feast is actually anything but sugary. The clue is in the fact that it always occurs on a Friday. It is the supreme devotional feast of the Passion, as Corpus Christi is the supreme devotional feast of the Eucharist. Unlike Corpus Christi, however, it has never had a Thomas Aquinas to compose its Office and has therefore suffered from sometimes embarassing hymns and other literary infelicities. All these are secondary. What we celebrate today is the overwhelming, sacrificial love of God made man in Jesus Christ. That thought alone should bring us to our knees. It should fill us with joy and wonder and make us want to share that love with everyone else. Today is not only the supreme feast of the Passion, it is also a feast of discipleship, of the sacrificial love we too are called to show in our lives.

However busy we may be today, let’s try to find a moment or two when we can reflect on God’s tremendous love, give thanks, and ask him to show us how to follow in the footsteps of his Son.

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6 thoughts on “Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 2017”

  1. I will admit to cringing at some of the images (and sometimes confusing sentiments) which have probable put me off over the years. All too easy to dismiss this devotion – will spend time contemplating and Googling to see what (slightly less crigeworthy) information is out there.

    Thanks for the pointers.

  2. I do agree about the potential to over-sugar images but I think that it probably just goes along in the general stream of what we humans often do to the best and most beautiful/sensitive ideas….we tend to over-egg them (mixing culinary metaphors there….sorry!). We have a gush of enthusiasm and blurt it out without any editing. Then it tends to stick… and a lot of people decry it for its extravagance. I find it helpful to try to return to the original upspringing of devotion and stand aside from anything that doesn’t appeal to me. I do recommend googling south american ex-voto images, especially the contemporary ones. ….including thanksgiving for a mended computer!!

  3. A few months after my husband and I had been received into the Church, this feast day occurred. With some misgivings we went to Mass, rather fearing the kitsch and tackiness might trigger some regrets about leaving our Anglican roots. We needn’t have worried. The priest gave a short homily, explaining that kitsch and general bad taste did not mean that God was not present, rather the opposite, that even in the messiest and tackiest situations His heart was there, His love unaffected by our tasteless portrayals of them. In the mess we make of our lives, too, He remains loving and faithful. Somehow, that changed my attitude to God, and I found it easier to pray naturally, accepting that whatever mess I am in, God will stick with me.

    • Thank you. When I was younger, I used to lament the ugliness of many Catholic churches in this country. When I was older, I realised that I had missed the true beauty that was there all along in the love and faith and devotion of both priests and people. That’s why I personally need a good dose of tacky art from time to time. It helps to keep one centred on what really matters.

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