The Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Fr. John Croiset, S. J.

Originally published in1691;
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1959
TAN Books and Publishers

Part One:
Motives for the Devotion


Chapter 1


The particular object of this devotion is the immense love of the Son of God, which induced Him to deliver Himself up to death for us and to give Himself entirely to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. The thought of all the ingratitude and all the outrages which He was to receive in this state of immolated Victim until the end of time did not prevent Him from operating this prodigy; He preferred to expose Himself each day to the insults and opprobrium of men rather than be prevented from testifying, by working the greatest of all miracles, to what excess He loved us.

This has excited the piety and zeal of many people, for when they consider how little the world is moved by this excess of love, how little men love Jesus Christ in return, and how little pains they take to be loved by Him, His faithful friends have not been able to endure seeing Him treated with such contempt day after day; they have endeavored to show their just sorrow at such treatment, and by their ardent love, their profound respect and by special acts of homage, to testify their great desire to make reparation to the utmost of their capacity for this ingratitude and contempt.

With this end in view, they have chosen certain days of the year to recognize in a more particular manner the extreme love which Jesus Christ has shown us in the Blessed Sacrament, and at the same time to make some reparation of honor to Him for all the indignities and all the contempt which our amiable Savior has received and which He still receives every day in this mystery of love. And certainly the regret which they show at the sight of the little love which men have for Jesus Christ in this adorable Mystery, the sensible sorrow which they feel at seeing Him so badly treated, these practices of devotion which love alone suggests and which have as their sole object to make reparation as far as possible for the outrages which He suffers there, are certain proofs of the ardent love which they have for Jesus Christ and visible marks of their just gratitude.

The object and the principal motive of this devotion is, as has been already said, the immense love which Jesus Christ has for men who, for the most part, have nothing but contempt or at least indifference for Him. The end which is proposed is, firstly, to recognize and honor as much as lies in our power by our frequent adoration, by a return of love, by our acts of thanksgiving and by every kind of homage, all the sentiments of tender love which Jesus Christ has for us in the adorable Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist, where, however, He is so little known by men, or at least so little loved even by these people who know Him; secondly, to make reparation, by all possible means, for the indignities and outrages to which His love has exposed Him during the course of His mortal life, and to which this same love exposes Him every day in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

This devotion consists, therefore, in ardently loving Jesus Christ, whom we have always with us in the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, and in showing this ardent love by our grief at seeing Him so little honored by men, and by our acts of reparation for this contempt and this want of love. But just as in the case of even the most spiritual devotions, we have always need of material and sensible objects which appeal to our human nature, act on the imagination and memory and facilitate the practice, so in the case of this devotion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been chosen as the sensible object most worthy of our veneration, and at the same time most proper for the end proposed by this devotion.

In truth, even if we had no particular reasons to give to these exercises of piety the title of  "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus;" it seems that we could not better express the particular character of this devotion than by this title; for indeed this devotion properly understood is nothing else than an exercise of love. Love is its object, love is its motive and principle, and it is love that ought to be its end. The heart of man is, says St. Thomas, in a certain manner, both the source and the seat of love; its natural movements follow and continually imitate the affections of the soul and serve to no small extent either by their vehemence or their weakness to increase or diminish the passions.

It is for this reason that we commonly attribute to the heart the most tender sentiments of the soul, and it is also that consideration which renders so precious the hearts of the Saints.

From what has been said so far, it is easy to see what is meant by the devotion to the Sacred Heart: by this devotion we mean the ardent love which we conceive for Jesus Christ at the remembrance of all the marvels which He has wrought to show His tender love for us, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the miracle of His love; we mean the keen regret which we feel at the sight of the outrages which men commit against Jesus Christ in this adorable Mystery; we mean the ardent desire which presses us to leave nothing undone to make reparation for these outrages by every possible means. That is what we mean by the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that is what it consists in. It cannot be reduced ---- as some people might think at seeing this title ---- to merely loving and honoring by special worship this Heart of flesh like ours, which forms part of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ.

It is not that the Sacred Heart is not worthy of our adoration; it suffices to say that It is the Heart of Jesus Christ; and if His Sacred Body and His Precious Blood deserve our respect and homage, who does not see that His Sacred Heart has still more special claim to respect and homage? And if we feel in ourselves such a strong attraction to the devotion to the Sacred Wounds, should we not feel ourselves still more penetrated with devotion to His Sacred Heart? What we wish to make clear is that the word "heart" is taken here only in the figurative sense, and that this Divine Heart considered as a part of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ is, properly speaking, only the sensible object of this devotion and that it is nothing less than the immense love which Jesus Christ bears to us which is its principal motive.

Now as this love is altogether spiritual, it cannot be perceived by the senses. It was necessary, therefore, to find a symbol, and what symbol could be more proper and more natural for love than the heart?

For the same reason, the Church wishing to give us a sensible object for the sufferings of the Son of God which are not less spiritual than His love, represents to us the image of His Sacred Wounds; so that the devotion to the Sacred Wounds is, properly speaking, only a particular devotion to Jesus Christ suffering; in like manner the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a more warm-hearted and ardent devotion towards Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, its principal motive being the extreme love which He shows us in this Sacrament, and the principal object, to make reparation for the contempt and the outrages which He suffers in this same Sacrament. [1]

The Sacred Heart of Jesus has, certainly, as much relation to His love, for which we endeavor by this devotion to inspire sentiments of gratitude and love, as the Sacred Wounds have to His sufferings, for which the Church endeavors to inspire her children with sentiments of gratitude and love by devotion to these Sacred Wounds. Now if people had at all times such devotion to the Sacred Wounds of Jesus Christ, and if the Church, wishing to inspire all her children with love for Jesus Christ, unceasingly puts before their eyes these Sacred Wounds, what ought to be the effect of the remembrance and of the image of the Sacred Heart?

We shall see later on that this devotion is not new; that several great Saints confirmed the use of it by their example. We can claim that the Holy See authorized the use of it under the same title, since Clement X, by the bull of October 4, 1674, accorded great indulgences to an association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the church of the Seminary of Coutance consecrated in its honor, and our Holy Father, Pope Innocent XII, by a special brief, has accorded a plenary indulgence in favor of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

<>It is not necessary to give here the numerous reasons which show the solidity of this devotion. It suffices to say that the immense love which Jesus has for us, and of which He has given such a signal proof in the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, is the principal motive; that reparation for the contempt with which men have treated this love is the principal end proposed; that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all inflamed with love for men, is the sensible object; and that a most ardent and tender love for the adorable person of Jesus Christ ought to be the fruit. [2]

1. The devotion to the Blessed Eucharist and the devotion to the Sacred Heart are not only two sister devotions, in reality they are only one and the same devotion. They complete each other and develop each other; they blend so perfectly together that one cannot go on without the other and their union is absolute. Not only can one of these devotions not be prejudicial to the other, but because they complete each other and perfect each other, they also reciprocally increase each other.

2. "If we have devotion to the Sacred Heart, we will wish to find It to adore It, to love It, and where shall we look for It but in the Blessed Eucharist where It is found, eternally living? . . . The devotion to the Divine Heart infallibly brings souls to the Blessed Eucharist; and faith in and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist necessarily lead souls to discover the mysteries of Infinite Love of which the Divine Heart is the organ and the symbol." -------Extract from the Book of Infinite Love by Mother Louise Margaret.