Tomorrow we celebrate Jesus’ love for us, in both Eastern and Western churches. In the East, this Friday is called Christ, Lover of Mankind and in the West it is called the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and is traditionally celebrated on the Friday 19 days after Pentecost. This Friday we focus upon the image of Christ’s heart and meditate on the wonder of His love for us. The love that caused God to become man and then for Him to choose to die for us on the cross.
In icons and other imagery featuring the sacred heart of Jesus, we see that it is pierced. This comes back to the line in the Gospel according to St. John which reads: “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out” (John 19:34).
In the West
The Sacred Heart is a very popular devotion in the Western church. Indeed, the first Friday of every month is seen as especially devoted to Jesus’ divine love and mercy. These first Fridays include receiving communion of reparation for sins. The Catholic Church acknowledges the personal revelation of St. Margaret Alacoque, who said that Jesus revealed to her that no person who received communion 9 months in a row on the first Friday would die without receiving their sacraments. An added practice to this day is spending an hour in adoration of Christ in the blessed sacrament.
In the East
Eastern churches take a more mystical approach to devotion to Jesus’ heart. In fact, in the East this devotion focus’ not just on Jesus’ love for us all, but His whole interior life. In His heart we also adore His wisdom, virtues, teachings, and relationship within the Trinity. While First Friday’s are not an Eastern devotion, instead we recognize the month of June as being dedicated to the Christ, Lover of Mankind.
Eastern Ways to Celebrate Christ, Lover of Mankind:
Make this Christ, Lover of Mankind Sunday special by meditating on the incomprehensible mystery of Christ’s love for us with your family. If you have small Children, you can have them draw a heart and write in all the things they can think of that Jesus loves. Then when they run out of room remind them that Jesus loves infinitely more.
You can also add this Sunday’s prayers to your icon corner time, or even pray the Akathist to Christ, Lover of Mankind which can be found here.
Troparion for the Sunday of Christ, Lover of Mankind (tone 6): Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.* We sinners bring this appeal to You, O Master,* for we have no defense.* Have mercy on us.
Kondak for the Sunday of Christ, Lover of Mankind (tone 8): To you, Lord, my Commander and Champion, I your servant, ascribe my victories. Delivered from eternal death, I address my thanks to you. Since you have ineffable mercy, free me from all kinds of danger as I cry out: Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me.
Prokimen for the Sunday of Christ, Lover of Mankind (tone 4): I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing your praises.
The Byzantine Life
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