Sacred Heart a Feast of God's Love, Says John Paul II

Solemnity to Be a Day of Prayer for Sanctification of Priests

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which the Church celebrates Friday, reminds the faithful of the mystery of God's love for each person.



The Pope delivered that message today to pilgrims at the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"This feast reminds us of the mystery of the love of God for the people of all times," the Holy Father said, recalling the essence of the message Christ gave when he appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a French religious of the Visitation.

"Dear young people," the Pope exhorted, "I invite you to prepare yourselves, in the school of the Heart of Christ, to face with confidence the commitments that await you in the course of life."

"I thank you, dear sick people, for the special help you offer the Christian people, accepting the fulfillment of the will of Jesus crucified, in fruitful union with his salvific sacrifice," he said.

The Pope then addressed newlyweds, who attended the audience in their wedding clothes, to wish them "the authentic joy that comes from daily faithfulness to the charity of God, of which your conjugal love must be an eloquent testimony."

Addressing compatriots in Polish, who were on hand, John Paul II said: "Entrusting Polish families to the divine Heart, we pray that they will be living sources of love."

The Pope then added: "Let us also pray for holy priests, formed 'according to the Sacred Heart of Christ.'"

John Paul II has established that on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart the Church will observe the World Day for the Sanctification of Priests.

In December 1673, during Christ's first apparition to St. Mary Margaret, he gave her this message, as she later recounted: "My Sacred Heart is so intense in its love for men, and for you in particular, that not being able to contain within it the flames of its ardent charity, they must be transmitted through all means."