This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

FRIDAY AFTER THE OCTAVE OF CORPUS CHRISTI - Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Protestantism in the sixteenth century and Jansenism in the seventeenth had attempted to spoil one of the essential dogmas of Christianity, namely the love of God for all men.

It became necessary that the Spirit of love, which directs the Church, should by some new means counteract the spreading heresy, in order that the Spouse of Christ, far from seeing her love for Jesus diminish, should feel it always increasing.

This was made manifest in Catholic worship, which is the sure rule of our faith, by the institution of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

Yet in early Middle-Ages, the Doctors and Saints used to see in the wound of Jesus' side the source of all graces. St. Bonaventure invites us "to enter this wound and to dwell in the quiet of this Heart" (Third Nocturn).

The two Benedictine virgins, St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde, in the thirteenth century, had a clear vision of the grandeur of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. St. John the evangelist, appearing to the former, announced to her that "the meaning of the blessed beating of the heart of Jesus which he had heard while his head rested on His breast, was reserved for the latter times when the world grown old and cold in divine love, would require to have its fervour renewed by means of this mystery of burning love".

This Heart, say these two Saints, is an altar on which Christ offers Himself to the Father as a perfect and most acceptable victim. It is a golden censer from which rise towards the Father as many clouds of incense as there are kinds of men for whom Christ suffered. In this Heart the praise and thanks we give to God and all our good works are ennobled and become acceptable to the Father.

But in order to make this worship public and recognized, Providence first raised up St. John Eudes, who in 1670 composed an Office and a Mass of the Sacred Heart for the so-called Congregation of the Eudists. Providence then chose one of the spiritual daughters of St. Francis of Sales, St. Margaret-Mary Alacoque, to whom Jesus showed His Heart at Paray-le-Monial, on June 16th, 1675, Sunday after Corpus Christi, and asked her to institute a feast of the Sacred Heart on the Friday following the Octave of Corpus Christi.

Lastly, God employed for the propagation of this devotion, Blessed Claude de la Colombiere. He belonged to the Company of Jesus " the whole of which inherited his zeal in the propagation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart ".

In 1765, Clement XIII gave his approbation to the feast and the Office of the Sacred Heart, and in 1856 Pius IX, extended it to the universal Church. In 1929 Pius XI composed a new Mass and Office for this feast and gave it a privileged Octave of the third Order.

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart sums up all the phases of the life of Jesus recalled in the liturgy from Advent to the Feast of Corpus Christi.

It constitutes an admirable triptych giving us in abridgment all the mysteries, joyous, sorrowful and glorious, of the Saviour's life devoted to the love of God and men. This feast is indeed placed on a height fr m which may be contemplated the redeeming labours of the Saviour on earth and the glorious victories He will, by the working of the Holy Ghost, achieve in souls until the end of the world.

Coming after the feasts of Christ, this feast completes them, concentrating them in one object which is materially Jesus' Heart of flesh, and formally the unbounded charity symbolised by this Heart. This solemnity therefore does not relate to a particular mystery of the Saviour's life, but embraces them all; indeed the devotion to the Sacred Heart celebrates all the favours we have received from divine charity during the year (Collect), and all the marvellous things that Jesus has done for us (Introit, Tract, Alleluia). It is the feast of the love of God for men, a love which has made Jesus come down on earth for all by His Incarnation (Epistle), which has raised Him on the Cross for the Redemption of all and which brings Him down every day on our altars by transubstantiation, in order to make us benefit by the merits of His death on Calvary.

These three mysteries, which manifest to us the divine charity in a more special way, sum up the spirit of the feast of the Sacred Heart. It is " His love which forced Him to put on a mortal body" (Hymn at Matins). It is His love which willed that the Sacred Heart should be pierced on the cross (Gospel and Communion), in order that from the wound should flow a spring (Preface) we might draw from joyfully (f at 2nd Vespers), whose water cleanses us from our sins in baptism and whose blood nourishes bur souls in the Eucharist. And as the Eucharist is the continuation of the Incarnation and the sacrifice of Calvary, Jesus asked that the feast should be placed immediately after the Octave of Corpus Christi.

As these manifestations of Christ's love only show the more the ingratitude of men who only answer by coldness and indifference (Offertory) this solemnity has a character of reparation (Collect) demanded of us by the wounded Heart of Jesus and by His immolation in the Crib, on the Cross and on the Altar.

Let us learn from the Heart of Jesus, whose gentle and humble love turns no one away, and in it we shall find rest for our souls (Alleluia).

Cogitationes Cordis ejus in generatione et generationem: ut eruat a morte animas eorum et alat eos in fame. * Exsultate, justi, in Domino, rectos decet collaudatio.
The thoughts of His Heart are to all generations: to deliver their souls from death and feed them in famine. * Rejoice in the Lord, ye just: praise becometh the upright.
(Introit from Psalm 32:11,19,1)

Deus qui nobis in Corde Fllii tui, nostris vulnerato peccatis, infinitos dilectionis thesauros misericorditer largiri dignaris; concede, quaesumus, ut illi devotum pietatis nostrae praestantes obsequium, dignae quoque satisifactions exhibeamus officium.
O God, who in the Heart of Thy Son, wounded by our transgressions, dost mercifully vouchsafe to bestow upon us the infinite wealth of Thy love; grant, we beseech Thee, that revering it with meet devotion, we may make a worthy reparation for our sins.

Dulcis et rectus Dominus, propter hoc legem dabit delinquentibus in via. * Diriget mansuetos in judicio, docebit mites vias suas.
Alleluia, alleluia. * Tollite jugum meum super vos et discite a me, quia mitis sum et humilis Corde, et invenietis requiem animabus vestris. Alleluia.
The Lord is sweet and righteous: therefore He will give a law to sinners in the way. f. He will guide the mild in judgment: He will teach the meek his ways. (Gradual Psalm 24:8-9)
Alleluia, alleluia. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. Alleluia. (St Matthew 11:29)

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Judaei, quoniam Parasceve erat, ut non remanerent in cruce corpora sabbato, erat enim magnus dies ille sabbati, rogaverunt Pilatum ut frangerentur eorum crura et tollerentur. Venerunt ergo milites, et primi quidem fregerunt crura et alterius qui crucifixus est cum eo. Ad Jesum autem cum venissent, ut viderunt eum jam mortuum, non fregerunt ejus crura: sed unus militum lancea latus ejus aperuit, et continuo exivit sanguis et aqua. Et qui vidit testimonium perhibuit: et verum est testimonium ejus. Et ille scit quia vera dicit, ut et vos credatis. Facta sunt enim haec ut Scriptura impleretur : Os non comminuetis ex eo. Et iterum alia Scriptura dicit: Videbunt in quem transfixerunt.

Continuation of the holy Gospel, according to St. John.
At that time, the Jews, (because it was the Parasceve), that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath-day (for that was a great Sabbath-day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came, and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it hath given testimony and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true: that you also may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of Him. And again another Scripture saith: They shall look on Him whom they pierced.
(St John 19:31-37)

Improperium exspectavit Cor meum et miseriam, et sustinui qui simul mecum contristaretur et non fuit; consolantem me quaesivi et non inveni.
My heart hath expected reproach and misery: and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none; and for one that would comfort me, and I found none.
(Offertory: Psalm 68:21)

Ad Jesum autem * cum venissent, ut viderunt eum jam mortuum, non fregerunt ejus crura, sed unus militum lancea latus ejus aperuit et continuo exivit sanguis et aqua.
But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water.
(Antiphon at the Magnificat: St John 19:33)

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