Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. John the Baptist
A visitor to Saint John the Baptist parish church would notice the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in three places. The ceiling of the sanctuary has the image of the Sacred Heart with the text from the Divine Praises “Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart”. There is a statute of our Lord and his Sacred Heart near the north exit (to the right of the sanctuary). Finally, the window near the sanctuary at the east side of the church is dedicated to our Lord and his Sacred Heart.
We might pass these images without a second thought, but they are there to help us reflect on the devotion to the Sacred Heart. They form part of the spiritual legacy left to us by the founding families of the parish and its first pastor, Father Peters. Devotion to the Sacred Heart continues today at Saint John the Baptist parish with the First Friday observances at the parish with devotions after the morning Masses, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in church all day, ending with Sacred Heart devotions, the recitation of the Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
While devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been known for more than one thousand years, its current worldwide popularity can be traced to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. Saint Margaret Mary received visions of our Lord and his Sacred Heart from 1673-1675.
During these apparitions to Saint Margaret Mary, our Lord made promises that are the basis for the First Friday devotions we celebrate down to our own day. The twelve promises have been translated into many languages. Our Lord promised these blessings to those who practice devotion to his Sacred Heart.
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will give peace in their families.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
- I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
- I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and Infinite Ocean of mercy.
- Tepid souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
- I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
- I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
- Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
- In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
The last promise has given rise to the pious practice of making an effort to attend Mass and receive Communion on the first Friday of each month. The image of the Sacred Heart has been attributed with great efficacy in conversion of persons to the Faith.
The feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated nineteen days after Pentecost and as Pentecost is always on a Sunday, the feast of the Sacred Heart is always celebrated on a Friday.
Enthronement of the image of the Sacred Heart in the home occurs when a priest or the head of the household consecrates the members of the family to the Sacred Heart and an image of the Sacred Heart (a statute of picture) is given a place of honor (enthroned) in the home. The image serves as a constant reminder to the members of the family of their consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is another opportunity to increase your devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in addition to Eucharistic adoration. Making time in your schedule to attend First Friday devotions and visits to the Blessed Sacrament are worthwhile habits to develop. Give it a try.
“May the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment in all the Tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time. Amen.”
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help at St. John the Baptist
Devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help has been a part of the devotional life of St. John the Baptist parish almost since its founding. Prayers to our Mother of Perpetual Help are recited every Tuesday morning after the morning Masses. On the east side of the church is a shrine with a statuary representation of our Mother of Perpetual Help icon. The statue comes to St. John the Baptist parish as part of the patrimony we received with the mergers of St. John the Baptist and Holy Family parishes. The icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help is displayed in the sanctuary during the devotions on Tuesdays. The feast of our Mother of Perpetual Help is observed on June 27 in the church calendar.
The image of our Mother of Perpetual Help is old and its origins are somewhat mysterious. The Catholic Encyclopedia gives this description:
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (Help) is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively.
The original icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help is housed in Rome at a church in honor of Saint Alphonsu Ligouri and staffed by the Redemptorist community which was founded by St. Alphonsus Ligouori. The Redemptorists have been the custodians of the icon since 1866. Devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help has spread around the world, but most prominently where the Redemptorist Community serves. It is hard to find a home in places like Ireland, the Philippines and Haiti without a picture of our Mother of Perpetual Help. In St Louis there are shrines to our Mother of Perpetual Help at St. Alphonsus (Rock) Church as well as many other parishes in the Archdiocese.
Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but the Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as you loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and his mercy is from age to age on those who love him. Our greatest fear is that in time of temptation, we may fail to call out to you, and become lost children. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help. Amen.