"In the spirituality of the Sacred Heart devotion that essential affectivity and personal relational warmth, and zealous energy, works in harmony with intellect and will. The devotion is rooted in intellectual reflection upon the Gospel encounter with Jesus, and the doctrine of the incarnation; this leads to deep personal love for Jesus. which bears fruit in a life of decisive Christian action." - Cardinal Thoma Collins
I: The Need for Devotion to the Sacred Heart
- What does the Sacred Heart of Jesus mean to me?
- What have been some of my (or my parish’s) struggles and difficulties during this time of the pandemic? Have I considered how the Sacred Heart of Jesus might respond to those struggles?
- Cardinal Collins writes that as Christians, we have a mission “to move outward with compassion and love […] to share his love.” How have I shared this love? How can my parish reach out with love and compassion to others during the pandemic?
II: The Symbol of the Sacred Heart
- There are various symbols that are manifested within the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the heart, the wounded heart, the crown of thorns, the cross, the flame, Jesus pointing to the heart and Jesus’ arms reaching outward). Which of these symbols do I identify with and why?
- How does the devotion to the Sacred Heart help me to imitate the Heart of Jesus in a more intimate manner? What are some of the qualities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I wish to emulate?
- Cardinal Collins writes that we “require visible signs and symbols that speak to us in our humanity.” What am I doing to become that visible sign of Christ’s love for others?
III: The Meaning of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- What does it mean to have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Why is it important for my life as a Christian to imitate the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
- The Sacred Heart of Jesus has been a recurring theme throughout the history of the Church. How can I (or my parish) work to make this devotion current and relevant for our times?
- “The devotion to the Sacred Heart is more a way for each of us to intensely encounter Jesus in practices of prayer.” How have I experienced the power of prayer during the pandemic? Have I encountered Christ in my prayer and how has this encounter led me to imitate Him more closely?
IV: Head, Heart, and Hands: To Know, to Love, and to Serve
- What are the differences between the intellect, will and the heart? Why is it essential for a Christian to consider all three aspects of the human person?
- “We are not just well-informed spectators.” In what ways have I (or can I) put my understanding of the faith into action?
- How can the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus encourage a more harmonious and complete relationship among intellect, will and heart?
V: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:10)
- What does it mean for me to have a “deep change of heart?” What is keeping me from this change? What are some practical steps that I need to take in order to achieve this conversion/transformation of the heart?
- Why does integrity and purity play such a large role in imitating the heart of Christ? What does integrity and purity mean for me and how have I put them into practice in my relationship with others and in my parish community?
- As followers of Christ, we can “accept no substitutes” for the real Jesus. What are some the characteristics of a “false Jesus?” How can I identify such substitutes in order to be on guard against these illusions?
- Who is the true Jesus, and have I identified Him in my life? How can the devotion to the Sacred Heart encourage my parish community to discover this true and real Jesus?
VI: Living Water in the Desert of Isolation and Ego
- How have I responded to the loneliness that is prevalent in our society today (especially during the pandemic)? How can I ensure that my (or my parish’s) response to this loneliness reflects the Sacred Heart of Jesus who reaches out to others?
- What are some effective and pastoral responses to society’s notion that “My life, my body is my own?” How can the parish community help the individual to experience the Christian disposition, namely, by turning outwards in order to love the other?
- The Didache refers to the “two ways,” namely, “the way to death and the way to life.” What are some of the characteristics of each of these two ways? How can my parish use the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to encourage the way to life?
- Our reliance on technology has often made our relationships impersonal and abstract. What are some ways that my parish can reach out to its community in a more human and tangible manner? How can I convey God’s love to others while using the technological means that I am limited to during the pandemic?
VII: Compassion, and its Deadly Imitation: Sentimentality
- What does it mean to be compassionate and why is it so important for a disciple of Christ? How can I grow in compassion in the example of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
- What are some of the ways in which I can avoid falling into sentimentality? What are some practical examples of sentimentality vs. compassion that I have witnessed in my life?
- When and how have I experienced the true love of Christ? How was this different from other “sentimental substitutes?” How can I (or my parish) reflect this same love of Christ through the devotion to the Sacred Hear of Jesust?
- What can I learn from Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery? Why is his particular response a worthy example of compassion?
VIII: The Sacred Heart and Social Justice
- Why is the devotion to the Sacred Heart not just an individual matter? How does it lead the individual to reach out to those around him?
- Jesus’ outstretched arms invite the wearied to find comfort and rest in His heart. How can I become his effective hands to reach out to those in need? What can the parish do to reach out to the suffering during this time of the pandemic?
- What is Christian social justice? Why is it important for it to be grounded in the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
- Why is it not enough for Christians to possess a generalized concern for humanity? How does the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus become a “corrective” to society’s incomplete notion of justice?
IX: The Day and the Month of the Sacred Heart: Friday and June
- What can the parish do to encourage the devotion to the Sacred Heart on Fridays?
- How can the human and loving encounter with the crucified Jesus be better encouraged in the celebrations and liturgies that are celebrated in our parishes?
- Does my parish offer times of prayer during the week? In the various forms of the liturgy that take place on the weekends, how can the parish reflect the compassionate Heart of Christ that reaches out to the flock? Does the parish encourage a prayerful environment or would people describe it as unwelcoming?
- June is the month of the Sacred Heart. Has my parish dedicated itself and its community to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? To what degree have parishioners been involved in the process? Do they feel that they are an integral part in dedicating the month of June to the Sacred Heart?
X: Some Practical Suggestions for Devotion to the Sacred Heart
- What are some ways to practice the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? What can the parish do to encourage this devotion in a practical way?
- “The family that prays together stays together.” How can I introduce prayer into the daily routine of those living with me? How can I propose the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to those around me? What can the parish do to introduce the devotion to its families?
- How has the parish encouraged the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion in its Catholic schools? Are the teachers and students aware of this devotion? If not, how can the parish work to encourage this devotion for those attending Catholic schools?
- What does the image/icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus mean to me? Does it speak to me or touch me in a particular way? What does it remind me of and how does this reminder affect my daily life?