In the Catholic Church, the entire month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and is one of the most popular devotions observed. It is liturgically celebrated on the octave day of Corpus Christi. It began when Christ appeared to Visitation nun St. Margaret Mary Alacoque told her over the period of several years the importance of devotion to his Sacred Heart. Jesus asked that all people receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, attend Eucharistic adoration for a holy hour on Thursdays, and that the feast of the sacred heart be established and celebrated. Christ instructed Margaret Mary that during the holy hour on Thursday nights, the faithful were to meditate on Jesus’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus also entrusted to Margaret Mary His 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart for her to spread across the world as a testament to His infinite love for mankind. Let us take a closer look at each promise made by Christ Jesus and how He is faithful to His every word.
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
This promise made by Christ to Saint Margaret Mary deals with the universal call to holiness found when an individual follows their vocation. Vocations such as the priesthood, consecrated religious, marriage, and the single life all share a unique path leading to God. These vocational states of life are granted special graces by God so that they may be fulfilled and carried out to the individual’s best ability.
- I will establish peace in their families.
The life of Christ was marked with peace from His birth to His resurrection. The angel Gabriel greeted the shepherds after the birth of Christ saying: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10-11) Similarly, after His death and resurrection, Jesus greets his apostles saying “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) Christ wishes for every follower to experience what St. Augustine calls “the tranquility of order.” That is, to live a life marked by charity, obedience, faith, and peace.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
The Gospel of Matthew 11:28, the more Jesus tells us “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The most assured place to find consolation is with the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, frequent prayer, reading Scripture, and devotion to the Sacred Heart. Christ intimately knows all of our sufferings and painfully longs to console us if only we wish to unite ourselves to His cross.
- They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
What does refuge mean? Refuge means a safe place free from fear, anxiety, and pain. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a refuge from the evils of the world brought by the devil during our earthly journey and at the hour of death. All Catholics strive to die in a state of sanctified grace, assuring our place in the Kingdom of God. The Sacred Heart is a refuge all sinners must turn Toni order for them to overcome the trials of life and death.
- I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
This promise refers to spiritual blessings that aid in our devotion to the Lord. Rather than external temporal goods such as riches or fame, Jesus promises the blessing of remembrance at the hour of death, safety from temptation, and the experience of the blessings of Heaven.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
This promise speaks to the grave matter of mortal sin and Christ’s power over it. For sin to be considered mortal it must consist of grave matter, the person committing a sin has full knowledge of its sinful character, and the individual deliberately consents to participating in the act. Committing mortal sin chips away at the sanctifying grace of the soul in a human being and subsists the virtue of charity necessary for a conversion of heart and sincere reconciliation. When speaking to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus used the term “ocean of mercy,” alluding to his infinite deep mercy that man can never fully understand.
- Tepid souls shall become fervent.
Revelation 3:15-20 discusses how the Lord views tempered, or lukewarm souls: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you’re lukewarm -neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Spiritual lukewarmness speaks to the indifference an individual feels about good and evil, grace and sin, love and hatred. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus ensures that those who become indifferent in their spiritual life will begin to enthusiastically and fervently proclaim the love of God.
- Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
The souls who are already fervent in their spiritual life, Christ promises that their enthusiasm for the love of God will lead them faster in their ascent to perfection of the sanctifying grace in the soul. Aided by God’s grace, the concrete actions of man of living out the love of God and love of neighbor, fully bring about freedom from sin. A fervent soul’s heart mirrors the heart of Christ.
- I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
Iconography is a rich tradition in both the Catholic and Orthodox faith stemming from the Incarnation of the person of Jesus Christ whose physical body allows for his image to be reverenced. Sacred images allow us to be reminded of God and brought closer to Him through rich, Scriptural imagery. Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is meant to inspire fervent prayer and devotion.
- I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
This promise, specifically dealing with the priesthood, illuminates the faithful on how the royal priesthood of Christ is enacted through the earthly priest of the Catholic Church today. Through the priest’s own holiness, devotion to the Sacred Heart, leading of the Holy Mass and other sacraments, and truthful teaching the Word of God, Christ ensures that even the most hardened sinner’s heart may be molded to mirror His own.
- Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
This promise ensures that those who promote the devotion of the Sacred Heart may find an intimate and deep friendship with Jesus and special graces at the end of their earthly life.
- The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
The final promise of Christ from his most Sacred Heart implies that those who are devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus during life and receive it’s graces, can be assured of a sanctifying grace in the soul necessitating one’s eternal salvation. Those who receive the Eucharist in a state of grace, have true devotion to the heart of Christ, and regularly attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation, will persevere throughout life and at the moment of death.
The 12 promises revealed by Christ Jesus to honor his Sacred Heart offer a rich opportunity for meditation and prayer. EWTN offers a short document providing meditations, prayers, and reflection questions that allow the reader to delve deeper into the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Feel free to explore that document and the Sacred Heart devotion here and take time to pray with these promises.