Sixth Sunday of Easter
The second reading, a reading during the Mass that we sometimes ignore, provides a tremendous distillation of the Christian message: “Sanctify Christ as the Lord in your hearts.” Of course Peter is not writing here about our anatomical hearts, rather he is identifies the heart as that location where we hold those things that we value most. Ignatius of Loyola created his Spiritual Exercises as a means of purifying our hearts so that they would only contain God’s will. It is for this reason that the heart has become such a strong image for Christian and particularly Catholic Spirituality.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus contained nothing but the will of the Father and the Father’s desire that all men and women would come to know and more importantly experience that love in the deepest possible way. The devotion to the Sacred Heart, although it can trace its roots to medieval Christian devotion, really got its big push from the Jesuits in the mid nineteenth century within a time when it was popular to deny the action of a loving God no less even the presence of God.
In 1855, when the Church approved the Mass to the most pure Heart of Mary, they did so to support the belief that Mary’s Heart was the desired image of all Christian’s hearts as exemplified by her yes to God. Thus one heart, the Heart of Christ may be seen as the source, the other the Heart of Mary, as the vessel of that love. It is important to note how these devotions received particular emphasis in the mid nineteenth century when various forms of materialism were taking the place in people’s hearts that once belonged to God.