HOM-Slide Sacred Heart

Discover the spiritual reinvigoration that can be drawn from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Pius XII demonstrates the importance of devotion to this wellspring of Our Savior’s love for mankind.

Haurietis aquas (meaning “you will draw waters”) is a landmark encyclical of Pope Pius XII. Written on May 15, 1956, it coincided with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Pius IX.

The title is derived from Isaias 12:3, a verse which alludes to the abundance of supernatural graces which flow from the heart of Christ. Haurietis aquas encouraged the whole Church to recognize the Sacred Heart as an important element of Catholic spirituality.

Haurietis aquas

Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, given on May 15, 1956, on devotion to the Sacred Heart.


Attain Christian perfection

109. In truth, if the arguments brought forward which form the foundation for the devotion to the pierced Heart of Jesus are duly pondered, it is surely clear that there is no question here of some ordinary form of piety which anyone at his own whim may treat as of little consequence or set aside as inferior to others, but of a religious practice which helps very much towards the attaining of Christian perfection. For if "devotion"—according to the accepted theological notion which the Angelic Doctor gives us—"appears to be nothing else save a willingness to give oneself readily to what concerns the service of God,"[1] is it possible that there is any service of God more obligatory and necessary, and at the same time more excellent and attractive, than the one which is dedicated to love? For what is more pleasing and acceptable to God than service which pays homage to the divine love and is offered for the sake of that love—since any service freely offered is a gift in some sense and love "has the position of the first gift, through which all other free gifts are made?"[2]

110. That form of piety, then, should be held in highest esteem by means of which man honors and loves God more and dedicates himself with greater ease and promptness to the divine charity; a form which our Redeemer Himself deigned to propose and commend to Christians and which the Supreme Pontiffs in their turn defended and highly praised in memorable published documents. Consequently, to consider of little worth this signal benefit conferred on the Church by Jesus Christ would be to do something both rash and harmful and also deserving of God's displeasure.

111. This being so, there is no doubt that Christians in paying homage to the Sacred Heart of the Redeemer are fulfilling a serious part of their obligations in their service of God and, at the same time, they are surrendering themselves to their Creator and Redeemer with regard to both the affections of the heart and the external activities of their life; in this way, they are obeying that divine commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength."[3]

For the sake of God's goodness

112. Besides, they have the firm conviction that they are moved to honor God not primarily for their own advantage in what concerns soul and body in this life and in the next, but for the sake of God's goodness they strive to render Him their homage, to give Him back love for love, to adore Him and offer Him due thanks. Were it not so, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ would be out of harmony with the whole spirit of the Christian religion, since man would not direct his homage, in the first instance, to the divine love. And, not unreasonably as sometimes happens, accusations of excessive self-love and self-interest are made against those who either misunderstand this excellent form of piety or practice it in the wrong way. Hence, let all be completely convinced that in showing devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus the external acts of piety have not the first or most important place; nor is its essence to be found primarily in the benefits to be obtained. For if Christ has solemnly promised them in private revelations it was for the purpose of encouraging men to perform with greater fervor the chief duties of the Catholic religion, namely, love and expiation, and thus take all possible measures for their own spiritual advantage.

113. We therefore urge all Our children in Christ, both those who are already accustomed to drink the saving waters flowing from the Heart of the Redeemer and, more especially those who look on from a distance like hesitant spectators, to eagerly embrace this devotion. Let them carefully consider, as We have said, that it is a question of a devotion which has long been powerful in the Church and is solidly founded on the Gospel narrative. It received clear support from tradition and the sacred liturgy and has been frequently and generously praised by the Roman Pontiffs themselves. These were not satisfied with establishing a feast in honor of the most Sacred Heart of the Redeemer and extending it to the Universal Church; they were also responsible for the solemn acts of dedication which consecrated the whole human race to the same Sacred Heart.[4]

Roused to greater activity

114. Moreover, there are to be reckoned the abundant and joyous fruits which have flowed therefrom to the Church: countless souls returned to the Christian religion, the faith of many roused to greater activity, a closer tie between the faithful and our most loving Redeemer. All these benefits particularly in the most recent decades, have passed before Our eyes in greater numbers and more dazzling significance.

115. While We gaze round at such a marvelous sight, namely, a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus both warm and widespread among all ranks of the faithful, We are filled with a sense of gratitude and joy and consolation. And after We have offered thanks, as We ought, to our Redeemer Who is the infinite treasury of goodness, We cannot help offering Our paternal congratulations to all those, whether of the clergy or of the laity, who have made active contribution to the extending of this devotion.

116. But although, venerable brethren, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has everywhere brought forth fruits of salvation for the Christian life, all are aware that the Church militant on earth—and especially civil society—has not yet attained in a real sense to its essential perfection which would correspond to the prayers and desires of Jesus Christ, the Mystical Spouse of the Church and Redeemer of the human race. Not a few children of the Church mar, by their too many sins and imperfections, the beauty of this Mother's features which they reflect in themselves. Not all Christians are distinguished by that holiness of behavior to which God calls them; not all sinners have returned to the Father's house, which they unfortunately abandoned, that they may be clothed once again with the "first robe"[5] and worthily receive on their finger the ring, the pledge of loyalty to the spouse of their soul; not all the heathen peoples have yet been gathered into the membership of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Feeble loyalty of the good

117. And there is more. For if We experience bitter sorrow at the feeble loyalty of the good in whose souls, tricked by a deceptive desire for earthly possessions, the fire of divine charity grows cool and gradually dies out, much more is Our heart deeply grieved by the machinations of evil men who, as if instigated by Satan himself, are now more than ever zealous in their open and implacable hatred against God, against the Church and above all against him who on earth represents the Person of the divine Redeemer and exhibits His love towards men, in accordance with that well-known saying of the Doctor of Milan:

For (Peter) is being questioned about that which is uncertain, though the Lord is not uncertain; He is questioning not that He may learn, but that He may teach the one whom, at His ascent into Heaven, He was leaving to us as 'the representative of His love.'[6]

118. But, in truth, hatred of God and of those who lawfully act in His place is the greatest kind of sin that can be committed by man created in the image and likeness of God and destined to enjoy His perfect and enduring friendship forever in heaven. Man, by hatred of God more than by anything else, is cut off from the Highest Good and is driven to cast aside from himself and from those near to him whatever has its origin in God, whatever is united with God, whatever leads to the enjoyment of God, that is, truth, virtue, peace and justice.[7]

119. Since then, alas, one can see that the number of those whose boast is that they are God's enemies is in some places increasing, that the false slogans of materialism are being spread by act and argument, and unbridled license for unlawful desires is everywhere being praised, is it remarkable that love, which is the supreme law of the Christian religion, the surest foundation of true and perfect justice and the chief source of peace and innocent pleasures, loses its warmth in the souls of many? For as our Savior warned us: "Because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold."[8]

Sharp conflict among individuals, families, nations and the whole world

120. When so many evils meet Our gaze—such as cause sharp conflict among individuals, families, nations and the whole world, particularly today more than at any other time—where are We to seek a remedy, venerable brethren? Can a form of devotion surpassing that to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be found, which corresponds better to the essential character of the Catholic faith, which is more capable of assisting the present-day needs of the Church and the human race? What religious practice is more excellent, more attractive, more salutary than this, since the devotion in question is entirely directed towards the love of God itself?[9]

Finally, what more effectively than the love of Christ—which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus daily increases and fosters more and more—can move the faithful to bring into the activities of life the Law of the Gospel, the setting aside of which, as the words of the Holy Spirit plainly warn, "the work of justice shall be peace,"[10] makes peace worthy of the name completely impossible among men?

121. And so, following in the footsteps of Our immediate predecessor, We are pleased to address once again to all Our dear sons in Christ those words of exhortation which Leo XIII, of immortal memory, towards the close of last century addressed to all the faithful and to all who were genuinely anxious about their own salvation and that of civil society:

Behold, today, another true sign of God's favor is presented to our gaze, namely, the Sacred Heart of Jesus... shining forth with a wondrous splendor from amidst flames. In it must all our hopes be placed; from it salvation is to be sought and hoped for.[11]



1. Sum. Theol. II-II, q. 82, a. 1: ed. Leon., vol. IX, 1897, p. 187.

2. Ibid. I, q. 38, a. 2: ed. Leon., vol. IV, 1888, p. 393.

3. Mk. 12:30; Mt. 22:37.

4. Cf. Leo XIII, Encl. "Annum Sacrum: Acta Leonis," vol. XIX, 1900, p. 71 sq; Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, June 28, 1899, in Decr. Auth. III, n. 3712; Encl. Miserentissimus Redemptor: A.A.S. 1928, p. 177 sq.; Decr. S.C. Rit., January 29, 1929: A.A.S. XXI, 1929, p. 77.

5. Lk. 15:22.

6. Exposit. in Evang. sec. Lucam, 1, X, n. 175: P.L. XV, 1942.

7. Cf. Sum Theol. II-II, q. 34, a. 2: ed. Leon., vol. VIII, 1895, p. 274.

8. Mt. 24:12.

9. Cf. Encl. "Miserentissimus Redemptor": A.A.S. XX, 1928, p. 166.

10. Is. 32:17.

11. Encl. "Annum Sacrum: Acta Leonis," vol. XIX, 1900, p. 79; Encl. "Miserentissimus Redemptor": A.A.S. XX, 1928, p. 167.