“Behold the Heart that has so loved men. In return, I receive from the greater part of mankind nothing but ingratitude, by the contempt, irreverence, sacrileges and coldness with which they treat Me in this Sacrament of Love."
—These were the words of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun of the Order of the Visitation of Our Lady in Paral-le-Monial, France who received mystical visitations of Christ between 1673-1675, asking for a feast of reparation to the Sacred Heart.
“What is still more painful to Me is that even souls consecrated to Me act in this way. Therefore I ask of you that the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be dedicated as a feast in honor of My Heart, and amends made to It in an Act of Reparation offered to It and by the reception of Holy Communion on that day, to atone for the outrages It has received during the time It has been exposed on the Altars.”
—Words of Jesus to St. Mary Margaret
In 1856, the Feast of the Sacred Heart became a universal feast of the Church, celebrated on the Friday that follows the Second Sunday after Pentecost. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII officially approved the devotion of the Sacred Heart and the twelve promises given to Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.
Many Catholics prepare for this Feast by beginning a Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is the Thursday of the week before. On the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart the Church grants a Plenary indulgence for those who make an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart.
In 1999 St. John Paul II wrote:
“The value of what took place on 11 June 1899 was authoritatively confirmed in the writings of my Predecessors, who offered doctrinal reflections on the devotion to the Sacred Heart and mandated the periodic renewal of the act of consecration. Among these I am pleased to recall the holy successor of Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, who directed in 1906 that the consecration be renewed every year; Pope Pius XI . . . his successor, the Servant of God Pius XII . . .The Servant of God Paul VI, then, in the light of the Second Vatican Council. On the occasion of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and the month of June, I have often urged the faithful to persevere in the practice of this devotion, which contains a message which in our day has an extraordinary timeliness, because an unending spring of life, giving hope to every person, has streamed precisely from the Heart of God's Son, who died on the Cross. From the Heart of Christ crucified is born the new humanity redeemed from sin. The man of the year 2000 needs Christ's Heart to know God and to know himself; he needs it to build the civilization of love"
In 1899, Pope Leo XIII officially approved the devotion of the Sacred Heart and the twelve promises given to Jesus to St. Margaret Mary:
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