St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina popularized a wonderful devotional prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He used to pray this novena every day for those who asked his intercession. This short novena prayer—a prayer that takes no more than five minutes if you say it slowly like I do—is a masterclass in devotion to the Sacred Heart.
By Dan Dellamarine
22 June 2019
As many Catholics may know, each month of the year is dedicated to a certain aspect of the Catholic Faith. The month of June, for example, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Although the month of June is winding down, there is no reason for Catholics to let their devotion to the Sacred Heart grow cold.
Let’s stop for a moment and consider the necessity for devotion to the Sacred Heart. Firstoff, every religious order worth its salt has a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus because of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Visitandine nun. Our Lord revealed a set of twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary. Some of these promises include those of a lukewarm soul becoming more fervent, a fervent soul attaining perfection, and peace in the home. On a side note, one of the beautiful things about the Catholic Church is that the promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Rosary, and the Sorrowful Heart of Mary all agree with each other. But that’s another thought for another day.
I said before that we should not allow our devotion to the Sacred Heart die out after the month of June. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart shouldn’t even necessarily begin in the month of June. Quite frankly, there is no other day but “today.”
But something I know many Catholics struggle with (including myself) is forming a devotion. I remember being a Third Order Discalced Carmelite (which is a lay order), and our prioress giving a presentation on the various devotions of Carmelite spirituality. One of the principal devotions was to the Sacred Heart. The only real Carmelite devotions I could say I had were to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Therese of Lisieux, as I always preferred Franciscan spirituality. Others had no idea how to start nursing a devotion to St. Gabriel the Archangel. And then there was me: supremely lacking in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which everyone else seemed to be well-acquainted with. My devotion to the Sacred Heart is still nowhere near where it should be. That being said, it is much better than it was before.
Thanks be to God, there is a novena prayer popularized by St. Pio of Pietrelcina. He used to pray this novena every day for those who asked his intercession. This short novena prayer—a prayer that takes no more than five minutes if you say it slowly like I do—is a masterclass in devotion to the Sacred Heart. It is split into three parts with one final prayer, and after each part the participant is to pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be, and one recitation of, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.” (“Jesus, I trust in You.” Sound familiar?)
“O my Jesus, You have said: ‘Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.’ Behold I knock, I seek, and I ask for the grace of…”
I more than anyone fall into the habit of thinking I am being a burden by asking God to hear a petition of mine. There are so many problems in the world, most of which are more impactful than my own. Do I really have a right to ask? Yes I do. He also says to knock continuously, perseveringly, like the neighbor in the Parable who needs a loaf of bread (cf. Luke 11:5).
“O my Jesus, You have said: ‘Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in My Name, He will give it to you.’ Behold, in Your Name, I ask the Father for the grace of…”
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus doing His Father’s will. This is why He was born, this is why He lived, this is why He died, and this is why He rose again. We have to conform ourselves to the Sacred Heart, first and foremost, by doing the Father’s will. Even when we are asking for something. Look at it this way: if you’re embarrassed to ask even while looking through the eyes of faith, you know for a fact your petition is not conducive to the deepening of faith. But on the other hand, we pray automatically for the Father’s will to be done. St. Louis Martin was never meant, in the eyes of God, to become a monk. But because he tried while still resigning himself to the will of God, he was especially receptive to grace while working as a watchmaker and father.
O my Jesus, You have said: ‘Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away.’ Encouraged by Your infallible words, I now ask for the grace of…”
If we ever feel discouraged, we have to remember that Our Lord promises His own personal protection. By praying this novena we have no excuse to forget. If we lack trust, we have to remember that St. Therese of Lisieux says, “Discouragement is itself but a form of pride.”
“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for Whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of You, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your tender Mother and ours.” (Pray the Hail Holy Queen and say, ‘St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.”)
A few things can be learned here. We are sinners. We are suffering. And yet despite these things (and also because of these things) He loves us. When one thinks of an abyss, he may think of Hell, where nothing escapes the odium of the devil. And yet the Sacred Heart is an abyss as well, where nothing escapes the love of Our Lord. This abyss is filled with graces which Christ wants to bestow upon us. There’s only one thing He wants us to do: ASK.