Sunday, June 18, 2006

Opus Angelorum: Devotion to the Sacred Heart

I decided we would break, until next Thursday, on the prayers for priest series because the next prayer is intended for a Thursday.

Also, I am still having significant problems uploading any pictures in blogger. I upload, and nothing happens. Until this works itself out, or until I switch services, enjoy some news and spiritual articles.

Today, I would like to bring forward again, this article on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr. William Wagner, ORC. During this break I will bring extracts from this nice article as we approach the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Fr. Wagner opens by discussing devotion itself and it is a nice primer leading into an explanation of the devotion surrounding the Sacred Heart. Many of us born after Vatican 2 have not received catechesis on these devotions. Now's your chance if you never had a clue, or if you simply want to revisit something with which you were familiar years ago.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The spiritual life is more than a spiritual doctrine, but if it were, it would be about Jesus: "I am the truth!", "in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2,3), and Jesus would be our teacher, "We know that you are a teacher come from God" (Jn 3,2), "one only is your master, the Christ" (Mt 23, 10). The spiritual life is more than the practice of virtue; but if it were, Jesus presents Himself as our model: "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart" (Mt 12, 29). Not only is Jesus the model but the source of our virtue, for "from His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace" (Jn 1, 16), and He assures us, "My grace is sufficient to you" (2 Cor 12, 9). The spiritual life is more than a pilgrimage, a journey towards heaven, but if it were, Christ is the way and the guide: "I am the way, one comes to the Father but through Me" (Jn 14,6), and, "Come, follow Me!" (Mt 19, 21). The spiritual life is about eternal life, and therefore, about loving union and the knowledge (vision) of God. The development of the spiritual life, therefore, is inseparable from the development of devotion to Jesus. We hear, of course, about many different devotions based on different prayer practices. These are not our present concern; here we want to reflect upon the virtue of devotion and its chief expression, which is devotion to the Sacred Heart.

In order to better appreciate devotion to the Sacred Heart, we need to understand the true nature of devotion. What is meant by devotion? 'Devotion' derives from the Latin word meaning to make a vow. Accordingly, "devotion", Faber explains, "means a particular propension of the soul to God, whereby it devotes itself ['dedicates' would be a better word], commits itself, binds itself over, consecrates itself, to the worship and service of God. This it may do by vow, by oath or by simple sentiment."By its very nature devotion tends towards permanent commitment. Devotion, therefore, is a virtue most pleasing to God. After the theological virtues it belongs to the most important virtue of the spiritual life, to the virtue of religion. St. Francis de Sales warns that those who do not know the nature of true devotion will easily be deceived and led astray by their own proclivities. We need something greater than our own personal likes and dislikes to guide our spiritual life.

St. Thomas shows that devotion is not just an emotion ("feeling devotion") but that it is a virtue and act of the will whereby we readily dedicate ourselves to those things that have to do with the service of God....
[continue reading - Sacred Heart]