Sacred Heart

This summer I introduced my church (ever so briefly and gently) to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Evangelicals who have a theology that focuses on the work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection, meditating on the wounds of Christ shouldn’t be too far away from our daily spiritual walk. Most of the recent classics of Evangelical theology (e.g. Stott’s The Cross of Christ) do this very thing.

To get us started, here’s what I wrote for week 3 of our Summer series looking at “Signs” of Christ through the Old and New Testament.

These days we remember Jesus’ death in Communion, but the bread and wine are a far cry from the bitter cup that Jesus had to swallow. In our nice and comfortable western world we flee pain and run away from suffering. But Jesus on the cross was given vinegar to drink, hardly a refreshing libation! Occasionally we are forced to engage with the pain that Jesus went through, perhaps by watching Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” or seeing a Mystery Play around Easter. In reality though, for most of us we can spend days and weeks not really engaging with what Jesus went through for us.

That hasn’t always been the case for Christians. While some parts of the Church have exhibited a rather unhealthy longing to inflict pain on themselves in order to understand the pain Jesus went through, there has also been a strong tradition of those who meditate on the wounds of Christ and his passion. The famous Jerusalem cross signifies the five wounds of Jesus, in his two hands, his feet, his head, and the large cross the spear in his side. Many of the more famous Christian mystics come from this school of prayer, as though some how contemplating the wonder of what Jesus was doing on the cross brings them closer and closer to him.

The practice of meditating on Christ on the cross has developed in some into dedicating themselves to the “Sacred Heart” of Jesus – a tradition that connects the plunging of the spear into Jesus with the piercing of his heart, but physically and metaphorically. The prayers that are connected with this tradition are surprisingly orthodox and Evangelical friendly. You can explore one of them in the prayer zone today.

For those involved in the healing ministry, Jesus’ death is at the centre of their work. Often the work of emotional and relational healing involves engaging with people’s pain. Only when we understand that that pain can go somewhere (to the cross) can it be released. But the process of articulating one’s pain and bringing it to the cross can have surprising results. Often those who have seen great suffering in their lives are the very same people who are devoted to Jesus for in being real about their pain they glimpse a bit more of what Jesus went through.

What I’m going to do over the next few weeks is look at the prayer of devotion to the Sacred Heart and dissect it line by line. This will help us see that the practice of devotion to the wounds of Christ is not some whacky sideshow of the church but actually a thoroughly orthodox spiritual practice. Given that this website is called “An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy”, one would think this is the kind of thing that I should be concentrating on.

Speaking personally, I can’t say that I’m a total devotee to the Sacred Heart like some of the major sold-out Christians of the past centuries have been, but meditating on the wounds and work of Christ has had a transforming effect in my life this past decade. It’s time to let you share in that as well. Here’s the prayer we’ll be looking at.

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mother’s womb, [etc.]
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon You.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in You.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in You.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee forever and ever. Amen.

0 Comments on “Sacred Heart

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.