The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi because the Eucharist comes from the loving heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, promoted especially by the Jesuits, was a favorite devotion of generations of Catholics. I think today of the beautiful church of the Sacred Heart in Springfield, Mass, where Father Theodore Foley, the saintly Passionist whose cause for canonization was recently introduced, grew up. That church surely had a profound influence on him.
The devotion was strong in the pre-Vatican II church, but perhaps is not so strong today. How do I know? I was listening on the internet to a little segment on church music from Vatican Radio featuring popular hymns to the Sacred Heart. Most of them you don’t hear today.
The devotion, however, transcends popularity. Here’s an excerpt from St. Bonaventure for today’s Office of Readings:
“Take thought now, you who are redeemed, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder.
“By divine decree, one of the soldiers opened his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’.
“The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.”
“Sweet Savior, bless us ere we go
thy words into our minds instill
and make our lukewarm hearts aglow
with lowly love and fervent will.
Through life’s long day and death’s dark night,
O gentle Jesus be our light.”