The Divine Office readings for Matins on the Feast of the Sacred Heart are related to the history of, and progressive increase in, devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“Often enough in times past the Fathers, Doctors and Saints paid tribute to our Redeemer’s love, declaring that the wound opened in His side was the hidden spring of all graces. Beginning in the Middle Ages, when popular piety began to be characterized by a more tender devotion to the sacred humanity of Our Savior, it became almost habitual for contemplative souls to penetrate beyond that wound to the very Heart which was wounded for love of Men.
“From that time on, this kind of contemplation became so familiar to certain dedicated souls that the era found no country or religious order lacking noted witnesses to the devotion. In more recent times, especially with the attempts by heretics to deter Christians from Holy Communion by the claims of a false piety, devotion to the Most Sacred Heart began to be practiced publicly. This was principally due to the efforts of St. John Eudes, who is rightly credited with being the promoter of public devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
“But God chose His own instrument for the full and perfect establishment of devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and for its spread throughout the world.” Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a religious of the Order of the Visitation of Our Lady, in a series of apparitions (December 1673 through June 1675) at Paray-le-Monial in France, “granting her an understanding of the riches of His divine Heart, as well as of that Heart’s desires.”
The Divine Office continues: “In the most celebrated of these apparitions, Jesus revealed Himself before her eyes as she prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, showed her His Most Sacred Heart and voiced His sorrow that, for all His great love for Men, He had received nothing but the reproaches of ingrates. He asked for her to work for the establishment of a new feast on the Friday after the octave day of Corpus Christi; on this day His Heart should be honored with the reverence due It, and fitting expiation should be made for sins against Him in the Sacrament of love.”
Our Lord asks for both His Sacred Heart to be honored and Holy Communion to be received on this feast day, in reparation for the outrages which He suffers daily in the Blessed Sacrament. He also made known “His ardent desire to be loved by men and His design of manifesting His Heart with all Its treasures of love and mercy, of sanctification and salvation.” We can clearly see that devotions to the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Eucharist are interrelated.
Our Lord further asked that the First Friday of each month be designated as days to honor His Sacred Heart, with the dispositions and motives for the First Friday Communion being the same as on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart. Our Lord told Sister Margaret Mary:
“I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that Its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the nine first Fridays of the month, consecutively, the grace of final repentance; they will not die under My displeasure or without receiving their Sacraments, My Divine Heart making Itself their assured refuge at the last moment.”
There are Twelve Promises for those who honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the manner requested by Our Lord and Ten Promises for those who promote this devotion.
The 12 Promises of Our Lord for those who honor His Sacred Heart
- 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 difficulties.
- I will shed abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart a fountain and boundless ocean of mercy.
- Tepid souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
- I will bless every house in which the image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
- I will be their refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
- I will give to priests the power of touching the hardest hearts.
- Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart never to be blotted out.
- I promise in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My displeasure nor without their sacraments: My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
The 10 Promises for those who promote devotion to the Sacred Heart
According to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, regarding those who promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – laboring to make the Sacred Heart known, loved and glorified – Our Lord promises:
- Their names will never be erased from His Sacred Heart.
- Great rewards will be given to all those who devote themselves with their whole hearts, according to the lights and graces received from God, to establishing the reign of His Sacred Heart.
- In addition to the friendship of the Divine Heart, they are assured of the protection of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints.
- They will make rapid progress in virtue; the Sacred Heart of Jesus will sanctify and glorify them.
- They will receive the grace of the pure love of God.
- They will draw down special blessings on their native land and on their families.
- Great blessings are reserved for the works of zeal undertaken by them. They will make great conversions.
- They will be given to understand the inestimable value of the Cross, and will obtain strength and consolation in their difficulties.
- They will obtain the grace of final perseverance and of a holy death.
- The Sacred Heart will be their reward.
 Sources: The Roman Breviary in English and Latin, Vol. II: Passion Sunday to End of July (Baronius Press, 2013), pp. 1512-1515; The Fatima Center leaflet, The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
 This occurred on June 16, 1675, during the octave of Corpus Christi.
 Ibid., pp. 29-31.
 Saint Margaret Mary: “The Blessed Virgin will be their special protectress, She will assist them in attaining to the perfect life.”
 Saint Margaret Mary: “The loving Heart of Jesus has made known to me that He will take care to sanctify and glorify us before His Heavenly Father in the measure in which we exert ourselves to procure glory for Him and to increase the reign of His love in the hearts of men.”
 Saint Margaret Mary: “The zeal with which you labor to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved will gain for you in an ever increasing degree the crowning gift of the pure love of God.”
 Saint Margaret Mary: “My divine Savior assured me that those who labor for the salvation of souls will have the art of touching the hardest hearts and will obtain marvelous success, if they themselves are animated with a tender devotion to His Divine Heart. …”