Today’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus makes me think about the catholic context in which I grew up. Whether spoken out loud or not, the impression I had was that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a piety mostly for working class Catholics, for the simple minded, and for uneducated women. Images of the Sacred Heart were deemed to be kitschy. We even had a derogatory term for a particular kind of pious look (i.e., sweet and heavenward) that translates into English as a “heart of Jesus-face.” You did not want to be seen wearing one of those.
More recently, Mark Chaves,a sociologist of religion at Duke, has collated features of North American liturgical life with class/status/economic standing of worshipers. We are used by now to acknowledging how ethnicity shapes liturgical life — a Hispanic Catholic worships differently from a German Catholic. But how much do we think through the connections between class/status and liturgical and devotional life?