The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Andrew Church in Sag Harbor, N.Y. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Archbishop calls for devotion to Sacred Heart

  • June 3, 2024

Toronto Archbishop Francis Leo urged the Toronto faithful to honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus by practising humility, being pure of heart and leaning on God when broken-hearted in a letter published for the month of the Sacred Heart.

Leo also encouraged every member of the largest Canadian Catholic archdiocese to “join together in celebrating Our Lord with this venerable devotion throughout the entire month and especially on June 7 this year, the liturgical celebration of the Solemnity. At home and in parishes, schools and different communities — let us draw closer to Christ and adore Him with deep faith and devotion.”

Neil MacCarthy, the Archdiocese of Toronto’s director of public relations and communications, explained what guided the archbishop’s approach to this spiritual missive.

“As shepherd of the Catholic community in the Archdiocese, one of the archbishop’s main roles is to help us better understand our faith — he is a teacher,” wrote MacCarthy in an email. “As a spiritual father, he recognizes the importance of regular communication with the flock and the need to encourage us to step back and reflect on what is really important in our lives. One of the best things we can do to live our faith is to imitate the heart of Jesus in the care and love we show to others. Each one of us is called to share this gentle and humble witness in our day-to-day interactions with all those we encounter.”

Leo’s letter draws from Pope Pius XII’s 1956 encyclical Haurietis aquas (You will draw waters) and Sacred Scripture.

The Montreal native spotlighted Matthew 11:29, which reads, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” He delved into how there is a horizontal-vertical relationship between gentleness and humility.

“Gentle (or meek) points to Jesus' attitude towards others; it is the horizontal dimension whereby he interacts with persons with a courageous but non-violent approach, a truly merciful demeanour, always ready to forgive, but also demanding and challenging — as true, authentic love is,” explained Leo. “Humble indicates the vertical plane, the obedient and docile attitude vis-à-vis the Father's will; an interior, free, generous and authentic quality of the heart which is life-giving and which brings about peace.”

Leo then highlighted Matthew 5:8 — “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” He communicated to his flock that the pure of heart would enjoy the splendour of Heaven and see God face to face. Purifying your heart might require you to ask yourself some tough questions.

“Does my heart yearn for the living God,” queried Leo. “How precious is it for me to do His will over and beyond all others? Am I attached in unhealthy and slavish ways to my own idols, ideas and ways of doing that are not of God? Is purity of mind, heart and body what I strive for daily?” 

Thirdly, Leo cited Psalm 34:18, which teaches us, "The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” He reminded churchgoers that “to live in this world as a follower of the Crucified Lord Jesus means to enter willingly and generously into the misery, pain and brokenness of the other, lovingly trying to bring the healing of our presence and compassion.” He added, “The Lord works His marvels in us, to heal us, as we get busy healing others.” 

The letter’s conclusion declared that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the only symbol required to help people “in better understanding and deeply experiencing the life-giving power of Christ’s personal love for them.” He also implored readers to “prefer Christ to politicization, devotion to guile, grace to odium, truth to ideology.”

A specialized webpage about the Sacred Heart of Jesus is published on the archdiocesan website ( This dedicated section contains links to multimedia resources (text, videos and graphics) conceptualized to educate Catholics on the various aspects of this hallowed observance. It also features suggested activities, prayers and reflection questions suitable for parishes, classrooms (both elementary and secondary) and youth groups.

Read the Archbishop's letter in full below.

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