Benedict XVI Hails Devotion to Sacred Heart

Vital for Spiritual Life, He Says in Letter to Jesuit Superior

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is vital for the spiritual life of every Christian, insists Benedict XVI.



The Holy Father affirmed this in a letter sent to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical "Haurietis Aquas," on devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Benedict XVI stated that he wrote the letter because the Jesuits have always been "extremely active in the promotion of this essential devotion."

This devotion, the Pope clarifies, consists fundamentally in "the contemplation of the 'side pierced by the spear,' in which shines the limitless will of salvation on the part of God."

For this reason, "it cannot be considered as a passing form of worship or devotion," he stated. "Adoration of the love of God, which has found in the symbol of the 'pierced heart' its historical-devotional expression, continues to be vital for a living relationship with God."

The letter extends an invitation to know, experience and witness the love of Christ manifested at the supreme moment in which his side poured out "blood and water" on the cross.

Witness to others

Christ's side is the "source" to which we must take recourse "to attain true knowledge of Jesus Christ and to experience his love more profoundly," indicated the Pontiff.

"In this way," he added, "we will be able to understand better what it means to know in Jesus Christ the love of God, to experience it, keeping our gaze fixed on him, until we live completely from the experience of his love, to be able to witness it afterward to others."

"Near the Heart of Christ, the human heart learns to know the authentic and only meaning of life and of its destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to be removed from certain perversions of the heart, to unite filial love of God with love of neighbor," Benedict XVI wrote, quoting Pope John Paul II.

This year the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be celebrated on June 23.