Originally posted on Fisheaters forums
The month of June was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in honor of which I decided to go a little in-depth on the promises of the Sacred Heart for those unfamiliar with this excellent means to grow closer to Christ. As a recent devotee to the Sacred Heart, I can personally vouch for the beautiful abundance of spiritual graces which accompany this most blessed among all devotions [emphasis mine]. As well as promote its necessity in this current crisis we face regarding the faith, which was expressed by Our Lady at Fatima.
The devotion of the Sacred Heart was known in its material form since the early Church, but it was not until the 17th century that it was given to the world from our Redeemer through the French Visitation nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690).
The core of the devotion is to honor and adore the Heart of Jesus Christ, crowned in thorns, wounded with the spear and aflame with Divine Charity. Our Blessed Redeemer appeared to St. Margaret Mary on numerous occasions, repeatedly showing her His Heart in the form illustrated and charging her, along with St. Claude de la Colombiere of the Society of Jesus, to propagate the devotion throughout Christendom.
This devotion was established with the promises of Our Lord to re-kindle piety and restore the faith in times of lukewarmness. Early in its spread, the devotion was attacked by the Jansenist heretics and scrutinized by the Holy See. It eventually triumphed, and the cult was officially sanctioned by the Church with a universal feast instituted on the first Friday following the octave of Corpus Christi.
The common promises associated with the Sacred Heart devotion are as follows:
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will establish peace in their families.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
- They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
- I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
- Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
- I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
- I will give to devotees of My Heart the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
- Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
- The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
The promises of the Sacred Heart devotion are typically found in this tabular form of 12 promises, but there has been debate as to the authenticity of this format. As St. Margaret Mary, St. Claude de la Colombiere, nor any of the Visitation sisters can be credited with its publication. Most of these early devotees to the Sacred Heart expressed the promises through longer tracts of quotations from St. Margaret Mary.
According to the booklet by Fr. Paul Wenisch, S.J., Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary, the promises given to St. Margaret Mary in her writings are generalized as follows:
- The Promise of Love: To pour out His love, to set up His reign of love in the hearts of men.
- The Promise of Mercy: Saving sinners, withdrawing them from perdition, securing their salvation.
- The Promise of Graces: To bestow abundant graces of salvation and sanctification.
These promises can be further elucidated through ten specific promises based upon the letters of St. Margaret Mary as she was given them from Christ:
1. Promise to persons consecrated to the Heart of Jesus
“This divine Heart is more and more disclosing to his unworthy slave its vehement desire of being known, loved and honoured by men… HE MAKES KNOWN that this desire is so great that HE PROMISES to all those who consecrate themselves to Him and are devoted to Him in order to render Him and procure for Him all the love, honour and glory they possibly can… that He will never allow them for be lost, that He will be their secure refuge against all the snares of their enemies, but especially that, at the hour of their death, this divine Heart will receive them lovingly and make their salvation sure.”Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary (L.131, p.532)
This means a total commitment of ourselves to Christ, not just a formula for recitation.
2. Promise concerning the Image
“This divine Heart is more and more disclosing to His unworthy slave its vehement desire of being known, loved and honoured by men… He makes known that this desire is so great that HE PROMISES that… as He is the source of all blessings, He will abundantly pour these out on all the places where the image of His Sacred Heart will be honoured, because His love urges Him to bestow the inexhaustible riches of His sanctifying and salutary graces upon souls that are of good will.”Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary (L.131, p.532)
This means that honoring His Heart through its image will bestow a wealth of spiritual blessings upon devotees.
3. Promises to Families
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus made it known to me again that the pleasure He takes in being loved, known and honoured by His creatures is so great that HE PROMISES… that, as He is the source of all blessings, He will pour them abundantly on all the places where the image of His Heart will be set up and honoured: and that He will reunite divided families, and protect and assist all those that are in any necessity and approach Him with confidence.”Letter to Mother Greyfie: L.36, p.300
This promise is usually expressed through the enthronement of an image of the Sacred Heart in a place of honor in the home, promising to abundantly bless those families who do so.
4. Promise to Religious Communities
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus has again made known to me that His desire of being known, loved and honoured by men is so great that HE PROMISES… that He would pour out the sweet unction of His ardent charity on all the communities which would honour Him and place themselves under His special protection, and that He would keep all their hearts united so as to make them one with His.
Quoting St. Margaret Mary once more; “Strive above all, that religious persons may embrace this devotion, for they will obtain through it so many helps that no other means would be necessary to establish the first fervour and the most exact regularity in the least well-regulated communities and to bring to the highest perfection those that already live in great regularity.”Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary L.131, p.532; L.141, pp.626-627
5. Promises concerning the Apostolate
“My divine Master HAS MADE KNOWN TO ME that those who labour for the salvation of souls, shall be successful in their labours and shall have the art of touching the most hardened hearts, if they have a tender devotion to His Heart and if they labour to inspire everyone with it and to establish it everywhere.”Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary L.141, p.628
Within the context of the economy of salvation, these promises imply great graces to those postulates who try their best to spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart.
6. Promise to those who celebrate the Feast of the Heart of Jesus
“I ask of you that the Friday after the octave of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament be kept as a special Feast in honour of my Heart, by receiving communion on that day and making to my Heart a reparation of honour for all the unworthy treatments It has received during the time that It has been exposed on the altars. I PROMISE YOU that my Heart shall shed in abundance the influence of its divine love on all those who shall thus honour It, and so cause It to be honoured.”Aut. no.92, p.103
In essence, go to confession, receive communion, and offer communion for reparation to the Sacred Heart on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
7. Promise that the Heart of Jesus will be for us a Fountain of Living Water and a Furnace of Love
“One day He appeared to me covered with wounds and TOLD ME TO LOOK AT THE OPENING OF HIS SACRED SIDE which was a bottomless abyss made by a spear beyond all measure, the spear of love… The soul finds in it the spring of living water to purify itself and receive the life of grace of which sin had deprived it. The heart finds in it a burning furnace of love which lets it live only through love… But as its entrance is small, one has to be small and devoid of everything to enter into it.”Writings to Mother de Saumaise, no.22, p.143
While not an explicit promise, it emphasizes the love and mercy found within the pierced Heart of Our Lord.
8. Promise of the Cross
“It seems to me that Our Lord made me see several names written in His Sacred Heart owing to their desire to cause It to be honoured… But HE DOES NOT say that His friends would have nothing to suffer because HE WISHES that they make all their happiness consist in tasting His sorrows.”Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary L.39, p.303
Another implicit promise, it affirms that we will need to meet with the cross of His sufferings through this devotion.
9. Promise to Faith
“When I placed before Our Lord my little petitions regarding those things which seemed to me difficult to obtain (concerning the devotion to His Heart), it seemed to me I heard these words: ‘Do you believe that I can do this? If you believe it, you will see the power of My Heart in the magnificence of My Love.’ And as I watch in steady progress, I hear these other words: ‘Did I not indeed tell you that, if you could believe, you would see all your desires accomplished?’Letter to Mother de Saumaise, L.97, p.429
The context of this promise is rooted in the Gospel promises of God providing for those who believe.
10. Promise concerning the Nine First Friday Communions
One Friday during Holy Communion, unless she is mistaken, He spoke these words to His unworthy slave: ‘I PROMISE you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on nine consecutive first Fridays of the month, the grace of final repentance. They will not die in my disfavor nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their secure refuge in their last moments.’”Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary L.59, p.346
The authenticity of these direct words of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary have been debated over the years, due to claims that the original letter is not in possession and that the promise was not known until the latter half of the 19th century.
There is also the question of this promise’s “failure to perform” citing those that have completed the promise but died suddenly without the last sacraments. Yet the promise never explicitly mentions the last sacraments, but “their sacraments.” Meaning that a devotee could have had confession and communion shortly before their sudden end, with the focus of the promise being that of the “grace of final repentance.”
In light of the anonymous tabular form of the Sacred Heart devotion’s promises and the words of St. Margaret Mary, there is a mild disparity between the two forms. Yet this does not detract from the overall promise of final repentance through devotion to the Sacred Heart, as well as the incredible graces that flow forth from this Furnace of Burning Charity.
Regardless of which set of promises one follows, devotion to the Sacred Heart is an essential tool towards sanctity.
Source: Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary by Fr. Paul Wenisch, S.J.