We recently finished our Saints of the Sacred Heart series where we discussed three saints to whom Jesus gave particular roles in spreading devotion to His Most Sacred Heart. To the last of these, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Jesus asked for the establishment of a feast of the Sacred Heart. He also requested that people make frequent Confessions and receive Communion, especially on the First Friday of every month, in reparation for sins against His Heart.
Our Lord reveals His Heart to show us how He loves us, and He asks in return that we love Him and ask forgiveness for the times when we and others have not loved him as we should. But Jesus doesn’t only make requests of us. He also shared with St. Margaret Mary the twelve promises of the Sacred Heart for those who keep a devotion and respond to the appeals of His Heart.
1. “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.”
The heart of every vocation is love. God calls us and gifts us with the graces we need in order to love Him and others in a particular way. His Heart is the model of perfect love; it is the very image of the Son’s perfect love of the Father. And so it makes sense that when we unite ourselves with His Heart, the grace to love with His Heart should follow.
2. “I will establish peace in their homes.”
Devotion to the Sacred Heart began at the Last Supper, when St. John the Evangelist rested his head over Our Lord’s Heart. And later that night, St. John recounts Jesus praying in Gethsemane, “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21). United in His Heart, He desires the peace that comes from unity for us.
3. “I will comfort them in all their afflictions.”
As we’ve seen in the Saints of the Sacred Heart, sometimes the way Jesus provides comfort isn’t quite what we’d expect. Sometimes “comfort” consists in accompanying Him as He carries His Cross to Calvary, and sometimes it comes in the form of Him carrying our cross alongside us, easing the burden but not taking it from us. But we can trust that Our Lord is good and that He is with us in every trial and suffering.
4. “I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.”
His Heart is the safest shelter. While they may not initially look that way, the cross, the flames, and the thorns are all fortifications. Outside His Heart, we can be harmed by fires, by thorns, by torture and death. But inside His Heart is the purest love and the fountain of life. A love that could not contain itself and so poured itself out for the love of humanity.
5. “I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.”
The key to this is that when we are devoted to His Heart, we become so united with His Heart that we will nothing which God Himself does not will. And so, of course, if our actions are fully in accord with God’s will, and even in accord with His timing (to be perfectly at peace with God’s timing is itself a tremendous blessing), all that we do in His name will be blessed.
6. “Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.”
I’ve heard that the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy devotions, while having their own distinct expressions, are really at their core the same thing. We pray in the Divine Mercy Chaplet, “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.” When we run to His Heart, we run to His love, and we run also to His mercy.
7. “Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.”
Authentic love, the love God calls us to, requires commitment. When we look at the Sacred Heart, when we let the love of this Heart infuse our love, we can’t remain halfhearted or lukewarm. Devotion to the Sacred Heart calls our hearts to a response. The natural response is a deeper love.
8. “Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.”
We see this in the lives of those saints with a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. By devoting their lives entirely to the love of this Heart, they were ever more closely united with Our Lord. Margaret Mary often talks about how she wouldn’t want to do even the smallest thing to offend Him, to participate in the wounds of His Heart, to mar the beauty of her love for Him.
9. “I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.”
Many of us keep nearby pictures of those we love. Our Lord, whom we should love above all things, asks that we keep an image of His Heart to remember His love for us and rekindle our love for Him. Of course, we’re not likely to be able to snap a picture with Jesus on our next vacation. But if you’re interested, the Sacred Heart Enthronement Network has resources to guide you through putting (and keeping) Jesus at the center of your home.
10. “I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.”
By virtue of their vocation, our spiritual fathers, when their hearts are properly united with Christ’s, show us most perfectly what the love of the Sacred Heart looks like in action. They can reveal to us the compassion of Our Lord, His humility, and His quiet suffering. But at the same time, priests give us the Sacred Heart in the flesh whenever they present to us the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. “This is my body,” he says. And, like Jesus, a priest gives of himself to each and every one of us.
11. “Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.”
It is from this Heart that springs of living water flow, the very waters of life. Heaven is the ultimate promise of those who remain in His Heart. And it is the greatest gift, above all treasures, to be so fully united with Him.
12. “I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
This last promise can seem a little overly technical, but the point is that Our Lord wants us totally, completely, to give everything we have, everything we are, and everything we desire to Him. He wants to spend time with us, and He asks that that time be purposeful and intentional for love of Him. So we run to His Heart, that our hearts might become united with His own that it is His Heart that beats within us.
Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.