Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus involves a prayer of consecration and, above all, a commitment to living a virtuous life, united with Jesus Christ.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is ancient, finding its inspiration in various passages of the Bible . However, a more precise devotion became widespread in the 17th century, thanks to Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque , including a specific “consecration”.
The consecration promoted by the saint was intended to bring the Christian faithful to a more intimate union with Jesus, like that experienced by the apostle Saint John “who, during the meal, leaned on the chest of Jesus” ( Jn 21:20 ). This image, which evokes a deep relationship with the Lord, has become the breath and main inspiration of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy ( Vatican 2001) explains the spiritual requirements of this devotion, particularly of the act of consecration to the Heart of Jesus:
Devotion to the Sacred Heart constitutes, in history, a major expression of the Church’s piety towards Christ Jesus, her Spouse and her Lord;it includes a fundamental attitude constituted by conversion and reparation, love and gratitude, apostolic commitment and consecration to Christ and his work of salvation.(No. 172)
To dedicate oneself to Jesus Christ is to promise Him, in a sincere and total commitment, to change one’s life and to act with love.
In 1999, on the occasion of the centenary of the consecration of humanity to the Heart of Jesus, made by Leo XIII , Saint John Paul II recalled this essential ingredient of devotion, emphasizing it in his message:
Each member of the Church is invited to see consecration as a gift of self and a commitment to Jesus Christ, the King “of the prodigal sons”, the King of all those who wait to be led “into the light of God and of his kingdom”… From the Heart of Christ, the heart of man learns to know the true meaning of his life and his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to guard against certain perversions of the heart and to unite the filial love of God with the love of neighbor.
For this reason, Catholics are often suggested to go to confession before performing a formal act of consecration, renouncing sin and embracing a new life of virtue.
Beyond these more abstract recommendations, there are several prayers of consecration which express the desire to live united with Jesus Christ. The prayer of consecration is often recited kneeling before an image or icon of the Sacred Heart. This will help you visualize what you are about to do.
Here is a prayer of consecration written by Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque which summarizes the basic elements of devotion, placing your whole being in the Heart of Jesus.
Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
I give and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ my person and my life, my actions, my pains and my sufferings, to no longer use any part of my being except to love Him, honor Him and Glorify him.
This is my irrevocable will to be entirely His and to do everything for His love, renouncing with all my heart everything that could displease Him.
I therefore take You, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protector of my life, the assurance of my salvation, the remedy for my inconstancy, the repairer of all the defects of my life and my asylum to the hour of my death.
Be therefore, O Heart of goodness, my justification towards God the Father and turn away from me the darts of His just wrath.
O Heart of love, I place all my trust in You, for I fear everything from my weakness, but I hope everything from Your goodness.
Therefore consume in me everything that can displease or resist You, and may Your pure love be imprinted to such an extent in my heart that I can never forget You, nor be separated from You.
I beg You, through all Your kindness, that my name be written in You, since I want all my happiness to consist in living and dying as Your slave.So be it.