The command, “Love the Lord with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:4), has been an obligation which has expressed the totality of the person’s response to the love of our God who gives all. The symbolic expression for this in the Church has been in the devotions focused on the Sacred Heart – to which Eugene and the Oblates were very much attached.
The Oblate church in Aix was dedicated to the Sacred Heart and in 1818 the Diocese entrusted the organization of the annual procession through the streets of Aix on the feast or the Sacred Heart to the Oblates.
I understand, dear friend, that with all the worry of the affair which we have just been speaking of, you have not had time to give me details of our beautiful feast of the Sacred Heart. On that day, I was with you in spirit and twenty times, I would even say a hundred times, I united myself in prayer with you…
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 24 June 1825 EO VI n 187
Eugene himself had written a pamphlet for this procession. In it he linked devotion to the Sacred Heart with the gift of God’s oblation in the Eucharist:
All of us gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus, with the intention to honor and worship the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, inflamed with love for our souls. We come to express our gratitude to him, especially because after he shed his precious blood for all people in His Passion and Death, he wanted to stay with us until the end of time in the Blessed Sacrament and become the nourishment for our life, our companion, our friend.
« Exercice a l’honneur du Sacré-Cœur qui se fait par les agrégés tous les premiers vendredis de chaque mois dans l’Église du Sacré-Cœur, dite de la Mission, à Aix »
During the procession focused on God’s compassion for the world, and the participants were invited to make an act of consecration to imitate the love of the Sacred Heart. Thus the aim of the procession was a deeper conversion to the love of God and to treating others with the same love.
“The human heart, at whatever age, opens only to the heart that opens in return.” Maria Edgeworth