How can we celebrate the month of the Sacred Heart in our families? Here are a few ideas to help families benefit from this beautiful devotion.
We can start by putting a picture or statue of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in our homes, where the whole family will see it often. Christ has promised to bless any home where an image of His Sacred Heart is venerated. What could be better than to receive Christ’s blessing on our homes? Surely we could find an inexpensive statue or picture of the Sacred Heart to grace our living rooms. Even better, we can have the Sacred Heart enthroned in our homes by asking a priest to come and bless the image! Don’t we all want the peace and joy in our homes that a blessing from Christ would impart?
If we say prayers as a family in the morning or evening, we can add a little prayer to the Sacred Heart, at least during the month of June. It can be short, just “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me” or “Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.” If we’re really ambitious, we can sing a hymn to the Sacred Heart every night during June before the children go to bed. The most famous one is “To Jesus’ Heart All Burning” which you should be able to find in an old hymnal or on-line.
On the feast day of the Sacred Heart, which falls on June 19 this year, we could say the Litany to the Sacred Heart as a family. Litanies are great for families because even if you only have one copy of the prayer, the whole family can say it because the responses are repeated over and over. Even children who can’t read yet can learn to say, “Have mercy on me” after every invocation. Or you can consecrate your family to the Sacred Heart on His feast day. Many graces will flow to your family from this consecration. If you don’t have a copy of the Litany or the Act of Consecration for Families, you can easily find both on-line. They can also be found in the Raccolta or other Catholic prayer books.
Another idea would be to say a novena to the Sacred Heart as a family; you can do it for the nine days leading up to the feast of the Sacred Heart, or you can do it anytime during June, or, of course, anytime throughout the year when you have a special favor to ask Our Lord. The Novena to the Sacred Heart written by St. Alphonsus Ligouri is particularly moving and can be bought in pamphlet form from Ligouri Press. You can give your children holy cards or coloring books about the Sacred Heart during June. Learning about the life of St. Margaret Mary is another great way to increase devotion to the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart Color and Learn Book is an especially beautiful coloring book available from http://www.catholic-christian-home-school-saint-prayer-book-gift-store.com .
For older children, there’s a biography of St. Margaret Mary by Mary Fabyan Windeatt that is available from TANbooks.com; your children could read it on their own, or you could read it a loud to them, a little bit every day, during the month of June. There are also plenty of adult biographies of St. Margaret Mary to inspire high-schoolers and parents. If you can’t afford to buy a book on St. Margaret Mary, do some research on-line. Find the 12 Promises for those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart. Read the words Christ spoke to her. Print them out and meditate on them. Read them to your children. Christ’s sadness over man’s indifference cannot fail to move you.
You best know your children and what will appeal to them. Whatever method we choose, the Sacred Heart appeals to everyone because the Sacred Heart is a symbol of Christ’s love for each and every one of us, and how can our hearts not respond to such a generous outpouring of love? Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary, “Behold this Heart, which has so loved men, and yet men do not love me in return.” He told her that most people treat Him, on the contrary, with contempt, coldness, ingratitude, sacrilege, irreverence. How can we reject an appeal like that? How can we turn our backs on Someone Who loves us so deeply and yearns for our love so passionately? How can we not be moved?
During this month of the Sacred Heart, let’s read a little about the devotion to the Sacred Heart. We can start with His appearances to St. Margaret Mary and the heart-rending words He spoke to her. One message will come through, stronger than anything else: believe it or not, Christ wants our love. He is God. He has everything. He is infinitely happy in Heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t need us. And yet, He loves us infinitely and actually cares about whether we love Him in return. He yearns for our love, for us to give ourselves to Him as He gave Himself to us. This is hard for us to understand, but it’s true.
Here is an excerpt from a letter from St. Margaret Mary which may get us started on thinking and meditating on Christ’s love for us as revealed through His Sacred Heart:
From this divine heart three streams flow endlessly. The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts sentiments of contrition and repentance. The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids those seeking perfection in order to find the means of surmounting their difficulties. From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of his friends who have attained perfection; these he wishes to unite to himself.
This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need.
Are you making no progress in prayer? Then you need only offer God the prayers which the Savior has poured out for us in the sacrament of the altar. Offer God his fervent love in reparation for your sluggishness. In the course of every activity pray as follows: “My God, I do this or I endure that in the heart of your Son and according to his holy counsels. I offer it to you in reparation for anything blameworthy or imperfect in my actions.” Continue to do this in every circumstance of life.
But above all preserve peace of heart. This is more valuable than any treasure. In order to preserve it there is nothing more useful than renouncing your own will and substituting for it the will of the divine heart. In this way his will can carry out for us whatever contributes to his glory, and we will be happy to be his subjects and to trust entirely in him.
These words, written by St. Margaret Mary, show us that this devotion isn’t just for saints, but for sinners, for real families, who struggle against peer pressure, financial straits, hectic schedules, and the influence of the secular media; families who are striving to conquer their own sinfulness and live a holy and Christian life. Christ knows we’re not perfect. He calls us to love Him, to give ourselves to Him as we are, and He will make us like Himself. He will make our families like the Holy Family He grew up in. He just wants our love. How can we say no?