Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Pope on Sacred Heart - a devotion for June

One of the things I really love about the current Pope is the way he is promoting the traditional devotions. On Saturday he reiterated his encouragement of the Rosary, in the context of the close of the ceremonies for Our Lady in May.

The latest example is his Angelus address from Sunday, when he encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart as particularly appropriate for June, referred to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and reminded us of his encouragement of the use of the morning offering prayer.

He said:

"Dear brothers and sisters,

On this Sunday coincides with the start of June, I am pleased to recall that this month is traditionally dedicated to the Heart of Christ, symbol of Christian faith that is particularly dear to the people as it is to mystics and theologians, because it expresses in a simple and authentic way the 'good news' of love, embodying the mystery of the Incarnation and of Redemption.

Last Friday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the third and last of the feasts immediately following Eastertide, after those of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Domini.

This succession makes us think of a movement toward the center: a movement of the spirit which God himself leads. From the infinite horizon of his love, in fact, God entered the confines of history and the human condition, he took flesh and heart. Thus we can contemplate and encounter the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable mystery of the human Heart of Jesus the Nazarene.

In my first encyclical on the theme of love, the starting point was precisely a look at the pierced side of Christ, which John speaks about in his Gospel (cfr 19,37; Deus caritas est, 12). This center of faith is also the source of hope in which we are saved, hope which I made the topic of the second Encyclical.

Every person needs a 'center' in his life, a spring of truth and goodness to draw from in dealing with different situations and our day-to-day efforts. Each of us, when we pause in silence, needs to feel not only the beating of our own heart, but more profoundly, the pulse of a presence that is we can trust, perceptible with the senses of faith and yet much more real: the presence of Christ, heart of the world.

I invite each and everyone then to renew in this month of June one's own devotion to the Heart of Christ, making the most of the traditional prayer of offering for the day and keeping in mind the prayer intentions that I have proposed for all of the Church.

Next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the liturgy invites us to venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us always entrust ourselves to her with great confidence. I wish to invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin yet again for the people of China and Myanmar who have been struck by natural calamities, and for all those who are going through situations of pain, sickness, and the material and spiritual poverty that mark man's journey."

For anyone who doesn't currently make a morning offering, here is a version you might like to consider:

Lord Jesus Christ, in union with that divine intention wherewith on earth Thou didst offer to God Thy praises through Thy Most Sacred Heart, and dost now offer them in the Sacrament of the Eucharist everywhere on earth even to the end of time, I most gladly offer Thee throughout this entire day, all my thoughts and intentions, all my affections and desires, all my words and deeds, in imitation of the most sacred Heart of the blessed and ever Virgin Mary Immaculate. Amen.

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