Cor Iesu: Devotion to the Sacred Heart, the most hallowed symbol of God’s love

Aurelio Porfiri

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has always been deeply embedded in the life of the Church. Pius XII in the encyclical Haurietis Aquas of 1956, among other things, stated: “Hence, since there can be no doubt that Jesus Christ received a true body and had all the affections proper to the same, among which love surpassed all the rest, it is likewise beyond doubt that He was endowed with a physical heart like ours; for without this noblest part of the body the ordinary emotions of human life are impossible. Therefore the Heart of Jesus Christ, hypostatically united to the divine Person of the Word, certainly beat with love and with the other emotions- but these, joined to a human will full of divine charity and to the infinite love itself which the Son shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, were in such complete unity and agreement that never among these three loves was there any contradiction of or disharmony.

“However, even though the Word of God took to Himself a true and perfect human nature, and made and fashioned for Himself a heart of flesh, which, no less than ours could suffer and be pierced, unless this fact is considered in the light of the hypostatic and substantial union and in the light of its complement, the fact of man’ s redemption, it can be a stumbling block and foolishness to some, just as Jesus Christ, nailed to the Cross, actually was to the Jewish race and to the Gentiles.

“The official teachings of the Catholic faith, in complete agreement with Scripture, assure us that the only begotten Son of God took a human nature capable of suffering and death especially because He desired, as He hung from the Cross, to offer a bloody sacrifice in order to complete the work of man’s salvation. This, the Apostle of the Gentiles teaches in another way: ‘For both He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one. For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will declare thy name to My brethren”. . .And again, “Behold I and My children, whom God hath given Me.” Therefore, because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also in like manner hath been partaker of the same. . .Wherefore it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest before God, that He might be a propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that wherein He Himself hath suffered and been tempted He is able to succor them who are tempted.’

“The holy Fathers, true witnesses of the divinely revealed doctrine, wonderfully understood what St. Paul the Apostle had quite clearly declared; namely, that the mystery of love was, as it were, both the foundation and the culmination of the Incarnation and the Redemption. For frequently and clearly we can read in their writings that Jesus Christ took a perfect human nature and our weak and perishable human body with the object of providing for our eternal salvation, and of revealing to us in the clearest possible manner that His infinite love for us could express itself in human terms (Nos 41-44).”

Therefore, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus strongly reminds us of the fact that God’s love for us is central to our faith. This is why an invocation, which was once widespread, read as follows:

 V. Cor Iesu, flagrans amore nostri.

R. Inflamma cor nostrum amore tui.

The translation being:

 V. Heart of Jesus, flaming with love of us.

R. Inflame our hearts with love of Thee.

This prayer was very popular and was often recited or sung. To be able to appreciate the profound value that this devotion has and should have for us, would be extremely beneficial to the Church.

Children should be taught in catechism class to sing this invocation, preferably in Latin. They should be informed that they are part of a long line of children, and very likely even some saints, who received this sacred tradition and saw in the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a way to experience implicitly God’s love for us.

Image: Pompeo Batoni: Sacro cuore di Jesù (“Sacred Heart of Jesus”), painting on the altar in the northern side chapel of Il Gesù in Rome, 1767. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain