Today in our catechesis there is a great need to renew our devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Thomas Aquinas defines devotion as a willingness “to give oneself readily to what concerns the service of God” (Summa, II-II, q. 82 a. 1). As you’ve probably read many many times that our goal, our mission, our aim in catechesis is to “put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ” (GDC 80). What better way to do this than fostering a devotion to the Sacred Heart. Pope Pius XII said:
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by its very nature is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our love by which we are related to God and to other men.
Fr. Timothy O’Donnel, who wrote a book on the Sacred Heart, The Heart of the Redeemer said the following:
From this definition it can be seen that authentic devotion to the Sacred Heart is not merely an optional set of pious practices (which may be very helpful) but an essential element of the Christian way of life. All Christians are called to the comprehension of certain truths concerning God and to a response in love to them. In living a life in imitation of Christ, as found in the Gospels and taught by the Church, the Christian should use all the spiritual aids offered to him by God. He should fill his life with an ever growing and deepening love for God and his fellow man. Every Christian will build his own unique spirituality upon this common foundation, which should include a response to the Heart of Christ that gives honor to the divine love and is offered for the sake of that love.
How Can we renew this Devotion in our Catechesis?
1) Expose students to images of the Sacred Heart and reference it so they can make the connection between Christ’s heart and our hearts which are called to respond to His love and grace. Fr. James Kubicki, in his book Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus said that this devotion is the devotion of devotions because, “devotion to the Heart of Jesus is a response to God’s devotion to us.” Therefore, providing art that reveals this helps students and adults alike draw closer to Christ.
2) Always help students keep in mind that God has loved us first and his heart burns for us. Pope John Paul II said “It is invaluable to converse with Christ and, leaning against Jesus’ breast like his beloved disciple, we can feel the infinite love of his Heart.” Taking the time in our catechesis to do this is important. Yes, it will require some silence, yes it will require us to maybe do things differently when we help kids enter into prayer, but it is infinitely valuable and worth it.
3) A few concrete ways to engage your students:
I close with words from the Catechism about the significant of the Sacred Heart image:
Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: “The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me.”116 He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation,117 “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception.118