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Devotion to the Sacred Heart can be seen as early as the second century with

St. Justin Martyr and in the 7th century with Pope Gregory the Great. Writers throughout these centuries emphasized the pierced side of Christ as the inexhaustible source from which all graces flow upon humanity and the blood and water as symbols of the sacraments of the Church.

With the coming of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Anselm in the 12th century, there was a sudden increase in direct reference to the love of the Sacred Heart for every person redeemed by His Passion and Death. The widespread influence of Franciscan and Dominican Friars enkindled this devotion in the hearts of the faithful who heard their preaching. The focus on the Sacred Heart moved from being a symbol of the sacraments, to the symbol of Divine Compassion.

Between the years of 1673 and 1675 Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque revealing His Divine Heart to her. In one apparition He told her, “My Divine Heart is so passionately in love with humanity, and with you in particular, that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning charity any longer. They must burst out through you.”

The Devotion to the Divine Mercy, given to St. Faustina Kowalska in 1931, is a broadened devotion to the Sacred Heart. From this devotion our trust in God’s limitless love and mercy is rekindled. The incomprehensible treasures which we have in the sacraments are symbolized in the blood and water gushing forth from the Heart of Christ. The devotion to the Sacred Heart has flowered and has seemed to come full circle in the devotion to the Divine Mercy, particularly in its emphasis on the graces flowing from the Heart of Jesus, healing and forgiving souls, through the Sacraments of Mercy.

PRAYER Almighty God, whose Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, was moved with compassion for all who had gone astray and with indignation for all who had suffered wrong: inflame our hearts with the burning fire of your love, that we may seek out the lost, have mercy on the fallen and stand fast for truth and righteousness; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Eric Milner-White)

Father, we honour the Heart of your Son broken by human cruelty,

yet symbol of love’s triumph, pledge of all that we are called to be.

Teach us to see Christ in the lives we touch,

to offer Him living worship by love-filled service

to our brothers and sisters.

(From the Litany to the Sacred Heart)

Thanks to Fr. Marcin Drabik, of Our Lady of Lourdes & St Swithun's Parish, Southsea

and to The Church Union / The Society "The Sacred Heart of Jesus"

A prayer from Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy, UK

God of peace, your prophet Isaiah promised swords would be turned into ploughshares, and your Son’s mother, Mary, proclaimed the mighty would be put down and the humble exalted: Visit the people of Ukraine; deliver them from fear, violence, attack, injury, destruction, death; and give them courage, solidarity and allies in their hour of vulnerability and sorrow.

Turn the hearts of those bent on war and invasion.Strengthen the hand of all seeking to halt conflict, restore order, and pursue justice. And make this moment of peril an occasion for your Holy Spirit to show your world the cost of conflict and our dependence on one another. In Christ our Lord, who went to his death because of our hatred, and rose again because our hatred is never stronger than your indomitable love. Amen.

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