Many spiritually fruitful elements of the modern devotion to the Sacred Heart come from the mystical visions of Jesus which St. Margaret Mary (1647-1690) experienced between 1673 and 1675, in which he spoke to her of the Sacred Heart. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make a Holy Hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This was emphasized in the private revelation to St Margaret Mary. As Bishop Sheen remarks, spending an hour with Jesus is the only thing relating to himself that he specifically asked of us, when he said in the Garden of Gethsemane: “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) One can make this Holy Hour with any frequency; Bishop Sheen urges priests to do so every day.
- Read a portion of one of the Gospels every day. It might perhaps be the Gospel reading for the Mass of the day, or it might simply be a chapter a day. The Gospel of Matthew has 28 chapters, the Gospel of Mark has 16, the Gospel of Luke has 24, and the Gospel of John has 21: a total of 89 chapters, so that at a chapter a day the whole Gospel can be read about four times a year. Each chapter takes only a few minutes to read prayerfully, so as to encounter Jesus, and to experience the love of his Sacred Heart.
- It is spiritually valuable to participate in Mass at any time, but to do so on consecutive First Fridays is a custom associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart.
- Place an image of the Sacred Heart in your home, and consecrate your family to the Sacred Heart. As it has been said, the family that prays together stays together, and both devotion to the love of the Sacred Heart and the praying of the Rosary can strengthen the love at the heart of each family. For a service of consecration of the family, see A Heart on Fire, by Father James Kubicki, pp 164-168.
- Give prominence to an image of the Sacred Heart in your parish Church. Parishes are encouraged to specially emphasize the Sacred Heart on the first Friday of every month, and throughout the month of June.
- Catholic schools have a responsibility to help their students, and all in the school community, to encounter Jesus, who will inspire and challenge them, and change their lives, as they enter deeply into the prayerful study of the Gospels, and the rest of sacred Scripture, and draw guidance from the living faith of the Church upon which the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart is a way to do that.
- Personally, carry an image of the Sacred Heart, and use it as a constant reminder of the generous love of Jesus which it symbolizes. Then put that love into practice throughout the day.
- Cardinal Thomas Collins