Family Prayer and Devotion – The Sacred Heart
Peace for Families
In the previous article we covered the first two of the twelve promises normally associated with the Sacred Heart Devotion as given to St Margaret Mary Alacoque. I also recommended this devotion to families, particularly on account of the second promise which promises peace to the families of those who practice this devotion. In our own family we have found that the practice of a particular devotion provides a focus for family prayer. In our home we gather in front of the Sacred Heart picture most mornings for a short prayer where we consecrate our day to His Heart and ask His blessings on all our endeavours.
I am well aware of the pressures on our young people today and of how easy it is for them to abandon the practice of their faith almost as soon as they leave home or begin third level education. I know the heart break of having a child who has stopped practising their faith and of the various emotions that accompany such a discovery and also of how helpless parents can feel at these times for you cannot force any child to believe in the Catholic Faith. It is at times like these when I really appreciate the Sacred Heart devotion for I can give it all over to the Heart of Jesus and learn to trust in Him and in His promises. I also know that our morning practice of devotion to the Sacred Heart, which may have come too late for some of our older children, will plant a seed of faith deep in the hearts of our younger children which hopefully will have begun to germinate and grow when their time of trial for the faith comes as it inevitably comes for all of us. It is these memories of the faith that we are planting now that will help to sustain them in the struggles they will encounter in their own lives.
With this in mind let us continue on with the promises of the Sacred Heart. I hope to have these available in booklet form with the opening of the ‘True Devotions’ Apostolate in Knock later this month and I would appreciate your ongoing prayers for this intention.
Third Promise: “I will console them in all their troubles”
This promise recalls Christ’s words in Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.”
None of us can escape troubles in this life due to our fallen nature and Christ, being very much aware of this through His own passion and death, offers us this beautiful gift of His consolation during our troubles to sustain us in faith and in hope.
Christ raised the widow’s son to life and restored him to her at Naim. Christ wept over the death of Lazarus and returned him to his sisters Martha and Mary.
Let us never forget to turn to the Sacred Heart in all our troubles and let us encourage others to call on this most loving of hearts in their troubles too.
Fourth Promise: “They shall find in my heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death”
A refuge is a place of safety to which one can flee in times of threat or where there is a danger of being attacked. In the spiritual life our faith faces many threats. There is the threat which we pose to ourselves through our weak, selfish and sinful nature. There is the threat posed by those who mock and ridicule our faith. There is the threat posed by the Devil and his agents. This last threat often intensifies as death approaches and the Devil makes his final attempt to destroy our happiness.
Christ has promised us a refuge in His Sacred Heart to protect us from all of these dangers and to strengthen us against life’s temptations.
Let us make sure that we are familiar with the way to this refuge of the Sacred Heart so that we too may safely attain our eternal destiny in Heaven with God and His angels and Saints.
Fifth Promise: “I will pour abundant blessings on all their enterprises”
God’s primary interest in us is for our salvation so that we may reside in the light of His face for all eternity. This does not mean however that He is not interested in our temporal affairs, for our salvation is also bound up with how we live our lives on this earth.
God told the Jews “If you walk in my precepts, and keep my commandments, and do them, I will give you rain in due seasons. And the ground shall bring forth its increase: and the trees shall be filled with fruit. The threshing of your harvest shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land without fear. (Leviticus 26: 3-5)
Remain close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then you will walk in His precepts and He will pour out abundant blessings on all your enterprises.
Sixth Promise: “Sinners shall find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of Mercy”
Christ came into the world to save sinners not to condemn them. Sometimes we forget this beautiful truth. We may forget it when we become aware of our own sinfulness and in shame and confusion we turn further away from God too embarrassed or too proud to humbly approach His Mercy.
We may forget it when we become aware of the sins of others and we rush to condemn and to pass judgement on the person who has sinned. St Thomas tells us that “Mercy is an inward compassion for the miseries of others which urges us to relieve them”
Christ’s Sacred Heart is a furnace of loving Mercy. Let us never be afraid to approach this source of Mercy and to lead our fellow sinners to this Sacred Heart in Sacrament of Confession.
Seventh Promise: “Tepid Souls shall become fervent”
Once, Christ showed His Sacred Heart to St Margaret Mary surrounded by thorns, with a cross on top and glowing with the flames of love and He said to her:
“Behold this Heart which has loved men to such a degree that It has spared nothing, not even to exhausting and consuming Itself, to prove to them Its love; and in return I receive from the greater part of men but ingratitude, contempt, irreverence, sacrilege and coldness, which they show Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what wounds Me still more is that it is hearts consecrated to My service that do use Me so”
Let us too desire to make reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the indifference of so many souls to this loving Heart concealed in the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us unite our hearts to His Sacred Heart so that we too will be consumed with the fire of Divine Love and then let us go forth and spread this flame of love to all hearts.