A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690), was a French Visitation nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart. As a young girl, she had apparitions of Jesus Christ, which she thought were a normal part of human experience. After receiving her first Holy Communion at age nine, she suffered four years with rheumatic fever, which confined her to bed. After making a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was instantly restored to perfect health.
Margaret Mary lost her father at a young age, plunging her family into poverty. During this time, her only consolation was frequent visits to a local church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. When she was 17, her mother encouraged her to socialize in the hope of finding her a suitable husband. Out of obedience, and believing that her childhood vow was no longer binding, she began to accompany her brothers to social events.
One night, after returning home from a ball, she experienced an apparition of the scourged and bloody body of Christ. He reproached her for her forgetfulness of Him while reassuring her that His Heart was filled with love for her because of the childhood promise she had made to His Blessed Mother.
As a result of this apparition, Margaret Mary fulfilled her childhood vow and entered the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial, France at the age of 24. In this monastery, Margaret Mary received several private revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The apparitions revealed to her the format of a devotion to the Sacred Heart which featured reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration during a “Holy hour” on Thursdays, and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
In the apparitions, Jesus gave 12 promises to St. Margaret Mary for those who consecrate themselves to His Sacred Heart. The first three of these promises are of special importance to the vocation of marriage and family life:
- 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.
In Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Annum Sacrum, published on May 25, 1899, the Holy Father consecrated the entire human family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
And since there is in the Sacred Heart a symbol and a sensible image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love one another, therefore is it fit and proper that we should consecrate ourselves to His most Sacred Heart – an act which is nothing else than an offering and a binding of oneself to Jesus Christ…
Hence that abundance of evils which have now for a long time settled upon the world, and which pressingly call upon us to seek for help from Him by whose strength alone they can be driven away. Who can He be but Jesus Christ the Only-begotten Son of God? “For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We must have recourse to Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We have gone astray and we must return to the right path: darkness has overshadowed our minds, and the gloom must be dispelled by the light of truth: death has seized upon us, and we must lay hold of life. It will at length be possible that our many wounds be healed and all justice spring forth again with the hope of restored authority; that the splendors of peace be renewed, and swords and arms drop from the hand when all men shall acknowledge the empire of Christ and willingly obey His word, and “Every tongue shall confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:2).
When Pope John Paul II visited Paray-le-Monial in France on October 5, 1986, he affirmed the importance of family consecration to the Sacred Heart:
Faced with the open heart of Christ, we try to draw from it the true love our families need. The family cell is fundamental for building the civilization of love. Everywhere, in society, in our villages, in our neighborhoods, in our factories and in our offices, in our meetings between peoples and races, the “heart of stone”, the desiccated heart, must be transformed into “heart of flesh”, open to the brothers, open to God. Peace demands it. The survival of humanity demands it. This goes beyond our strength. It is a gift from God. A gift of his love.
We encourage you to consecrate your family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and hang an image of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in your home.
Consecration of the Family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sacred Heart of Jesus, You made clear to Saint Margaret Mary Your desire of being King in Christian families. We today wish to proclaim Your most complete kingly dominion over our own family. We want to live in the future with Your life. We want to cause to flourish in our midst those virtues to which You have promised peace here below. We want to banish far from us the spirit of the world which You have cursed. You shall be King over our minds in the simplicity of our faith, and over our hearts by the wholehearted love with which they shall burn for You, the flame of which we will keep alive by the frequent reception of Your divine Eucharist. Be so kind, O divine Heart, as to preside over our assemblings, to bless our enterprises, both spiritual and temporal, to dispel our cares, to sanctify our joys, and to alleviate our sufferings. If ever one or other of us should have the misfortune to afflict You, remind him, O Heart of Jesus, that You are good and merciful to the penitent sinner. And when the hour of separation strikes, when death shall come to cast mourning into our midst, we will all, both those who go and those who stay, be submissive to Your eternal decrees. We shall console ourselves with the thought that a day will come when the entire family, reunited in heaven, can sing forever Your glories and Your mercies. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the glorious patriarch Saint Joseph present this consecration to You, and keep it in our minds all the days of our life. All glory to the Heart of Jesus, our King and our Father! Amen.
 Catholic Culture, Catholic Prayer: Twelve Promises of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary, internet: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=875 (accessed June 1, 2018).
 Leo XIII, Encyclical Annum Sacrum, §8 and §11, internet: http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_25051899_annum-sacrum.html (accessed June 1, 2018).
 John Paul II, Homily, Apostolic Pilgrimage in France, Eucharistic Celebration at Paray-Le Monial, internet: https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/it/homilies/1986/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19861005_paray-le-monial-francia.html (accessed June 1, 2018; translated with Google Translator).