The new edition of the Roman Missal, has been adopted by all the Italian dioceses, with the exception of Milan, which follows its own rite. It contains numerous prayer texts on the theme of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Above all is the Mass for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Friday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost. Then there is the Votive Mass of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and finally there are three optional prayers for the Masses of the Solemnity in years A, B and C. It is these texts that we wish to examine as to their theological and spiritual content.
A historical perspective
The theme of the “heart” is certainly central to biblical anthropology, and it is also present in the Gospels, where Jesus shows himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29), and where he highlights the hardness of heart of some (cf. Matt 19:8). The Fathers of the Church developed the theme of the heart, above all starting from the wound in the side of Jesus, from which came forth “blood and water” (John 19:34), the symbol of the sacraments and of the Church herself. During the Middle Ages, with its various spiritualities, especially Franciscan and Dominican, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus spread among the people, but it was in more recent times that it gained liturgical recognition.