GUARDS OF THE HEART OF JESUS
FR. JÓZEF GAWEŁ, PRIEST OF THE SACRED HEART
What is the Honor Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and what are its aims? You could reply briefly with the words of St. Francis de Sales. "I would like the crown of thorns around the Heart of Jesus to be replaced by a crown composed of the hearts of all people."
The members of the Archconfraternity of the Honorary Guard are trying to show a fervent love for the Heart of Jesus, to reward for the sins of people and to spread the cult of the Heart of Jesus, that is to be His devoted apostles. Pope Pius XII wrote in the encyclical "Haurietis aquas" that the cult of the Sacred Heart is essentially the cult of love that God has shown us through Jesus Christ. It is "above all a response of our human love to God's love for us".
Beginnings of worship
The cult of the Heart of God invites us to deepen the personal experience of God's love, which through the contemplation of the wounded body of Christ was deeply experienced by medieval saints and mystics. This was best expressed by Saint Bonaventure (1217-74), who asked: "Who would not love this Heart so wounded? Who will not reciprocate to the one loving with love? " In the 17th century, the answer to this love was given with all of her life by Saint Małgorzata Maria Alacoque (1647-90), called the beloved disciple of the Heart of Jesus, because she tried to renew the memory of God's lovein the hearts of people . In the years 1673-75, Jesus showed her his loving Heart. The answer of the modest nun to the words of the Savior: "Behold, the Heart that people loved so much" was to dedicate herself to His Heart and reward for human sins. She also became an apostle of God's Heart, asking for a special day to worship it.
Guard is created
Małgorzata Maria was beatified in 1864. Her beatification coincided with the creation of the Honor Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the convent of the Visitation Sisters in Bourg-en-Bresse - in 1863. The establishment of this community is connected with the person of Sr. Maria from Sacred Heart Bernaud (1825 - 1903). It became a charismatic tool, which God's Providence used to revive the devotion to the Heart of Jesus and enrich it even more. At that time, in the monasteries of the Visitation Sisters, there were many talks about Sr. Małgorzata Maria, about her revelations and about what the Lord Jesus demanded from her. In December 1862, a letter from Mother Superior of Annecy, from the mother convent of the order, wrote: "Our Lord complained to the privileged soul that when he revealed his heart to us, we were not sufficiently zealous in spreading His glory." These words made a great impression and caused a stir among the sisters in Bourg, who were wondering how to celebrate the Heart of Jesus in a new way. Then Sr. Maria Bernaud, under the influence of the Holy Spirit's inspiration, decided to organize the Honorary Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesusin the monastery . On a piece of paper she drew a clock with twelve hours, and in its center - an image of the Heart of Jesus. Above him she placed the inscription: "WORSHIP, LOVE, REMUNERATION. These words became the motto of the new community. At the bottom of the drawing, she wrote: THE HONORARY GUARD OF THE BLESSED HEART OF JESUS. The following day, March 13, 1863, she suggested the sisters of her community that they would take one hour during the day, when they would connect thoughts with the Heart of Jesus, without giving up their usual daily duties. This date is the beginning of the creation of the Honorary Guard. Later, Sr. Maria of the Sacred Heart offered the same to the sisters from other monasteries of the Visitation Sisters, which were inscribed around the clock face. This was the beginning of a new community, which in 1864 was called the brotherhood, and in 1878 received the title of archduke. Cloisters joined it, but the clergy and lay faithful also did so. The task of the community was to develop devotion to the God's Heart. Thanks to the daily practice of the Hours of Presence at the Heart of the Savior, members of the Archconfraternity deepen their faith, strengthen their apostolic zeal and sanctify their family, professional and social life, and thus become more involved in the pursuit of holiness.
Guard in Poland
The Honor Guard arrived in Poland as early as 1868, five years after its founding, and found a fertile ground in the Polish society. The Visitation Sisters from Cracow were especially zealous apostles of the Heart of Jesus. As the first, they established the Brotherhood of the Honor Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their monastery. On January 1, 1869, the Polish Brotherhood was canonically approved by Bishop Antoni Gałecki. Thanks to it, the Cracow convent of the Visitation Sisters became the headquarters of this community for whole Poland, even though it was divided into three partitions.
On the Polish lands, the Honor Guard was developing very dynamically. The center at the Cracow monastery, however, could not receive the title of "Archconfraternity" for Poland, because officially this country did not exist on the maps of Europe. Thus, the Polish brotherhood was joined in 1911 to the arch-brotherhood in Vienna. However, when our country regained its independence, on January 19, 1919, the apostolic visitator in Poland Achille Ratti (later Pope Pius XI) issued a decree under which the Honorary Guard in Poland was raised to the rank of archconfraternity.
The first national director was Maria Józefa Twarowska, who held this position until 1952 and contributed to spreading reverence, love and rewarding the Heart of Jesus. In 1921, she also began publishing the quarterly "News about the Honorary Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesus", which later appeared as a bimonthly. At one time, the magazine's circulation reached 10,000. Thanks to the merits of m. Twarowska before the Second World War, the community grew rapidly: in 1936, it had 137 thousand. members, and by 1949 - over 180,000 people. It was not until the Stalinist era and the period of communist rule that the apostolic and formative activity of the archconfraternity in Poland ceased. At that time, the Cracow monastery was under surveillance by the militia, which accused the sisters of illegal activities, threatened them with imprisonment and imposed fines on them.
430 Guard centers
In 1986, the first nationwide pilgrimage of the reborn archconfraternity to Jasna Góra could take place. It initiated the tradition of annual pilgrimages to the national sanctuary in Częstochowa. After the fall of communism, most pre-war communities - mostly in hiding - resumed their official activities. During this period, the Director of the Honorary Guard was very involved in the development of the organization of Maria Amata Promna, who among others resumed publishing the "Message of the Honorary Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesus". Under her resilient leadership, the Honor Guard was revived.
Currently, there are approx. 430 Guard centers in various regions of Poland. Its director is Sr. Maria Bernadeta Wysocka, and the national director - the undersigned, Fr. Józef Gaweł SCJ. From 2014, the Honorary Guard has his guardian on behalf of the Bishops' Conference of Poland, who is Bishop Stanisław Salaterski.
In 2019, the Honorary Guard of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Poland has two jubilees: the 150th anniversary of the founding of the community at the Church of the Visitation Sisters in Cracow and the 100th anniversary of raising it to the status of Archconfraternity. Nationwide thanksgiving for favors received during these years took place on June 15 this year. during our 34th pilgrimage to Jasna Góra. We also asked for making the Sacred Heart of Jesus be ever more known and loved everywhere.
The main idea written at the top of the guard clock, outlining the action, is expressed in a short and brief form. The words "Worship, Love, Renumeration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" are the slogan of the Honorary Guard. Motto - the motto of the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sisters of Visitation): "May Jesus live!". These words are the greeting among the members of the Guard and are placed in the headline of the correspondence.