Recently in Sacred Heart of Jesus Category

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Thou hast set Thy Heart on us (cf. Dt 7:7)
that we might set our hearts on Thee.
In this is consecration,
not that that we have consecrated ourselves to Thee,
but that Thou hast set Thy Heart on us.
"For their sake," Thou didst say,
"I consecrate Myself,
that they also may be consecrated in truth" (Jn 17:19).

This the Beloved Disciple understood
not by any labour of the mind
but by the resting his head
on the Heart of the Lamb.
"In this is charity,
not as though we had loved God,
but because He hath first loved us,
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn 4:10).

This he learned
not by searching far and wide,
but by abiding with Mary near the cross,
there to gaze on the "One whom they have pierced" (Jn 19:37).
This he learned, John the eagle,
gazing unblinking into the Sun
that rose each day before his eyes
in the Breaking of the Bread.
"This is My Body which is given for you.
Do this for a commemoration of Me.
In like manner the chalice also,
after He had supped, saying:
'This is the Chalice, the new testament in my blood,
which shall be shed for you'" (Lk 22:19-20).

Teach us, John of the seeing heart,
how to gaze with unveiled faces
on the Face here veiled,
that we may discern in the Bread broken and given
the Eucharistic Heart, the water and the blood (cf. Jn 19:34).

He who gazes
is drawn into mysteries hidden from the wise and clever,
to "what no eye hath seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what things God hath prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9).
These things children understand
and those who like them
gaze through the crystal of a pure heart.
For this is given the water and the blood
that we with eyes bathed in light
might look upon the Sacred Host
and see the Face, the Heart of Love.

"Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden"
--Love's invitation --
"and I will refresh you" (Mt 11:28).
No crushing deity here.
No annihilating power.
Here lies bare the weakness of Love
and the meekness of one Humble unto death.

Love waits
not for our gaze alone
but for the "Yes" of hearts already claimed by Love.
On us He hath set his heart,
the Pierced One, the Victim and the Priest.
Amen, Alleluia.

This One Thing Does Love Ask

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After Longinus had done his work
and done it well,
wielding the lance
to open with iron the floodgates of flesh,
there came a gushing torrent.
The waters of a river gave joy to God’s city (cf. Ps 45:5).
He, the One lifted up, poured out His heart like water (cf. Lam 2:19).
“He who saw it has borne witness;
his testimony is true” (Jn 19:35).

Zechariah’s prophecy was wondrously fulfilled:
“On that day there shall be a fountain opened
for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem
to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness” (Zech 13:1).
“O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps 50:9).

Ruby blood and water “bright as crystal” (Rev 22:1) flowed
burning like fire
washing in its tide,
and quenching the thirst of the few
who stood watching,
waiting in the shadow of Love’s outstretched wings.
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother,
and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene” (Jn 19:25),
and “the disciple whom He loved” (Jn 19:26).

“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37; Zech 12:10).
Looking, they saw the bloody gash
and found the open door.
“I, through the greatness of Your mercy
have access to Your house.
I bow down before Your holy temple,
filled with awe” (Ps 5:8).
“There is one thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek,
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life . . .
to behold His temple” (Ps 26:4).

The arms of Love flung wide
and nailed there upon the tree
disarmed the cherubim.
The spear was raised to heaven
and, for a moment, flashed bright against the darkling sky.
A single thrust
and the “flaming sword which, at the entrance of the garden,
turned every way” (Gen 3:24)
was wrested by weakness from strong angelic hands
and hid again within its sheath.

The gates forbidden
became the open portal,
the lover’s embrace,
the safeway, the only way,
for no one comes to the Father (cf. Jn 14:6)
except through this door’s threshold
of given-flesh and outpoured-blood.
Here David’s song reveals the mystery:
the house become a heart,
the heart become a house.
“It was there that Your people found a home,
prepared in Your goodness, O God, for the poor” (Ps 67:11).

“Go out quickly to the streets
and lanes of the city,
and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame” (Lk 14:21).
“Go out to the highways and hedges,
and compel people to come in” (Lk 14:23)
that my house, my heart, may be filled.
“The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal” (Ez 34:16).

Cross the threshold by night
with faith’s unseen feet;
with hope a lamp for your steps,
enter by desire;
dwell therein by love,
and with John the beloved and those of his lineage
“have power to comprehend
what is the breadth and length
and height and depth,
and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge
to be filled with all the fullness of God” (cf. Eph 3:18-19).

The pierced Heart
is Love’s last proof.
“For while we were still weak,
while we were yet sinners” (cf. Rom 5:6, 8),
the door was opened in Love’s side.
Plunge then, fearless, into the tide of water and of blood.
Wash your soul’s disfigured face
in the torrent of purity that to the image restores likeness,
giving loveliness to the unlovely,
There every bruise is bathed in love;
there, every old, unsightly thing
made fresh, and new.
This is love’s reparation,
for only love can repair what Love has made.
“Behold,” Love says, “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).

Love’s joy is the one sheep
sought and found and prized above all others
“on a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Ez 34:12),
Love’s joy is Love’s Heart
opened for the sake of all,
inhabited by the foolish to shame the wise,
and by the weak to shame the strong (cf. 1 Cor 1:27).
Love chose “what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not” (1 Cor 1:28)
and in these is the mercy of His Heart displayed.

Others come knocking, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us”
but their greatness, their shining certitudes,
not their sins, prevent their entering in.
“Truly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Mt 25:12)
who have not known my Heart of mercy,
who have not needed my repairing,
nor known nor believed in love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16).

Only this one thing does Love ask:
that, “out of the depths” (Ps 129:1), we believe in Love,
and, preserved by Love,
never despair of Mercy’s Heart.
These are “thoughts of His Heart to all generations” (Ps 32:11).
Come, then, to the water that washes every impurity
and quenches every thirst.
Come, be repaired, restored in the Blood.
If you would be delivered from death, come (cf. Ps 32:19).
If you would be fed in famine, come (cf. Ps 32:19).
If you would be loved, come.

Just as Love withheld nothing of His Heart
in the sacrifice offered once from the Cross
so now, does Love withhold nothing of His Heart
in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
nothing from the Father,
nothing from us.
All is given,
and in this is the mystery of the Sacred Heart.

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A Family Story

My Irish grandmother's Christian name was Margaret Mary. As one might expect, a framed picture of the Sacred Heart figured prominently in her kitchen. She, like so many Irish Catholics of her generation had an unshakeable faith in the promises of the Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary. In my "Treasury of the Sacred Heart" published in Dublin by Charles Eason, Middle Abbey Street, in 1860, I read the promise in which my grandmother invested her hope: "I shall bless the houses where the representation of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed."

Precious Inheritance

Shortly before her death at the age of 93, Grandma asked me if I wanted anything belonging to her. "Only your picture of the Sacred Heart," I said. She had me write my name on the back of it. The day after she died I took the picture to be reframed; it was placed on her coffin in church. After the funeral, I took the picture home and it stayed with me for about a year.

Give It Away

Some time later, on the eve of my cousin Patrick's wedding, my grandmother came to me in a dream and said, "I want you to give my picture of the Sacred Heart to Patrick as a wedding present." And so, I wrapped it carefully and presented Patrick and Cheryl with it on their wedding day. Patrick took one look at the wrapped package and said, "I know what it is. It's Grandma's picture of the Sacred Heart."

Saint Margaret Mary

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October 16, 2012 is the sixth anniversary of my pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial, la cité du Sacre-Coeur in the company of dear friends. Ma joie demeure. Little did I suspect then that six years later I would be living in a former monastery of the Visitation, where Saint Margaret Mary was greatly loved and honoured. Today that monastery of the Visitation is called Silverstream Priory.

The Mystical Invasion

Saint Teresa of Jesus died in 1582. Thirty-two years later, Mother Catherine Mectilde de Bar was born in 1614. And in 1647, sixty-five years after the death of Saint Teresa and thirty-three years after the birth of Mother Mectilde, Saint Margaret Mary was born. The spiritual climate in Europe, following the Council of Trent, was one of extraordinary effervescence. Henri Brémond in his monumental Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France speaks of a "mystical invasion." Saint Teresa's Carmel had crossed the Pyrenees, introducing men and women of all states of life to the way of interior prayer. The Jesuits had launched their missions to North America or, as they called it, "New France." Men and women of God, too many to be counted, undertook great things for His glory. It was the golden age of great friendships in God. In 1610, the young widow, Jeanne-Françoise de Chantal, together with Francis de Sales, established at Annecy the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, declaring "that no great severity shall prevent the feeble and the weak from joining it."

The Choice of God

When Margaret Mary Alacoque entered the Visitation Monastery of Paray-le-Monial, it was assumed that she, like so many other women, would disappear into the cloister, leaving behind no more than the sweet lingering fragrance of another life given to Christ. But, as always, "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Cor 1:27-29).

Contemplating the Pierced Side

The icy wind of Jansenism was blowing through the chinks in more than one cloister. It chilled the heart with the fear of a distant and vindictive God, eclipsing the mission of Jesus sent by the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, "to proclaim release to the captives . . . to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Lk 4:18). While the hearts of many around her grew cold, Saint Margaret Mary fixed her gaze upon the wounds of Jesus Crucified. Like Saint John the Apostle, like Saints Bernard, Lutgarde, Gertrude, Mechthilde, and countless others before and after her, the humble Visitandine of Paray-le-Monial was compelled by the Holy Spirit to look upon Jesus' pierced Side. "They shall look on Him whom they have pierced" (Zech 12:10, Jn 19:37).

A Priest, A Friend

In the Jesuit priest, Saint Claude La Colombière, Margaret Mary found a friend, one capable of standing with her at the Cross, of listening with her to the murmurings of the Holy Spirit, of gazing with her at the pierced Side of Jesus, and of entering with her to dwell in his Heart. The words of the apostle Paul seem to be those of Saint Claude to Margaret Mary: "It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; He has put his seal upon us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Cor 1:22)

The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

In contemplating the pierced Side of the Crucified, Saint Margaret Mary discovered what many had forgotten: "the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ" (Eph 3:18). It was given her to "know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" and fills "with all the completion God has to give" (Eph 3:19). She discovered, moreover, that the open Side of Jesus beckons to all from the adorable Sacrament of the Altar, and that His Eucharistic is, at every moment, ablaze with love.

"Behold this Heart," He said, "which, not withstanding the burning love for man with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from the generality of Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference, and ingratitude, even in the Sacrament of my Love. But what pierces my Heart most deeply is, that I am subjected to those insults by persons specially consecrated to my service."

Reparation

Reparation, Saint Margaret Mary understood, is an imperative of love. The Side of Jesus remains open in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and men pass it by -- some with a cold indifference, others with a merely formalistic token of acknowledgement, and still others without the slightest indication of grateful adoration -- and among these, alas, are priests and consecrated souls.

In this age of locked churches, of tabernacles forsaken from one Sunday to the next, of the Sacred Species so often handled casually and without reverence, and in the wake of public sacrileges perpetrated against the Blessed Sacrament, reparation to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus is, more than ever, necessary.

The Cenacle, the Cross, the Altar

Saint Margaret Mary invites us to re-discover the Heart of Jesus ablaze with love in the Most Holy Eucharist. The Eucharistic Christ, the Christus Passus, abides in our midst as Priest and Victim. There He perpetuates the oblation made first in the Cenacle, and then from the altar of the Cross.

In every age souls, like Saint Margaret Mary, have been polarized by the mysteries of the Cenacle and of the Cross actualized in the Most Holy Eucharist. In some way, the Holy Spirit continually reproduces Saint John's icon of the Church contemplating the pierced Side of Jesus on Calvary: "Standing by the Cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. . . . and the disciple whom He loved" (Jn 19:25-26).

I Look Round for Pity

The Sacred Heart is at the center of the Most Holy Eucharist both as sacrifice and as sacrament. The sacred action of the Mass perpetuates the Sacrifice of Calvary by which Christ, obedient unto death, hands Himself over to His Father and to those who partake of His Body and Blood. The priestly Heart of Jesus that beats with love in the Sacrifice of the Mass where He offers Himself as Victim, lives and burns with the same fire of love in the Sacrament of the Altar. From the tabernacle, as once from the Cross, He seeks souls to console Him, saying in the psalmist's words: "I look round for pity, where pity is none, for comfort where there is no comfort to be found" (Ps 68:21).

The Burning Furnace of Love

One cannot look long at Jesus Crucified without "the eyes of the heart" (Eph 1:18) being drawn to His pierced Side, and without entering, drawn on by the Holy Spirit, through the door of His pierced Side, into what men and women of every age have experienced as a "burning furnace of love." The "unsearchable riches" (Eph 3:8) of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, contemplated "for now, as in a mirror darkly" (1 Cor 13:12), are given us, until the return of the Lord in glory, in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. And so, we go to the altar and to the tabernacle again and again to taste "with all the saints" (Eph 3:18), the "perfect love that casts out fear" (1 Jn 4:18).

Forgiveness and Reparation

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Every now and then, I find it necessary to return to the Prayer of Forgiveness and Reparation that Our Lord inspired me to write several years ago. This is not a prayer that one says once and for all; it bears repeating in the changing circumstances of life simply because it is a response of obedience to Our Lord's commands in the Gospel. A psychologist to whom this prayer was presented said that if his clients said this prayer sincerely and from the heart, he would effectively find himself out of business.

Many people have made this prayer their own and experienced the healing and blessings that begin to flow when one takes to heart Our Lord's command that we are to pray for those who persecute us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. Is not this kind of prayer integral to true devotion to the Sacred Heart?

Lord Jesus Christ,
Who revealed the infinite mercy of Your Sacred Heart
in saying: "Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5:44)
and again, "Bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you" (Lk 6:28),
give me, I beseech You,
grace to obey these commandments of yours,
and to persevere in praying daily
for those who, in any way,
have abused, cursed, hurt, or rejected me.

I pray for those who hate me,
for those who resent me
and for those who have spoken ill of me.
I beg you to bless them abundantly
and to pour into their hearts
such a profusion of healing mercies
that in them and around them
love will triumph over hatred,
friendship over resentment,
sweetness over bitterness,
meekness over anger,
and peace over enmity.
I further ask you to extend these graces
to their families and to all whom they hold dear.

In particular, I pray today for N. (and N.).
I present him/her/them
to Your Eucharistic Face,
asking You to envelop him/her/them in Its healing radiance,
dispelling whatever shadows of sin
may have darkened his/her/their mind(s)
or hardened his/her their heart(s)
in anger, hatred, or the refusal to forgive.

For my part,
with deep sorrow I confess
that I have sinned grievously against others,
causing them pain and even endangering their souls.
I pray you, O Merciful Jesus, to repair the evil I have done to others
and to heal the hurt I have inflicted on them.
In particular, I acknowledge my sins against N. (and N.)
imploring You to heal and repair the harm I have done him/her/them.

I ask you so to penetrate my heart
with the charity of Your Pierced Heart
that I will be able to forgive
those who have offended me,
to love them sincerely,
and to desire for them all that will contribute to their true happiness
in this life and in the next.

By means of a permanent intention,
I desire to renew this prayer
in every offering of Your Holy Sacrifice.
Let the light of Your Eucharistic Face
shine in the hearts of all who harbour
hatred or resentment toward me,
to bring them healing and peace.
Let Your Precious Blood
triumph over evil
in those against whom I have sinned
and in those who have sinned against me,
so that, delivered from the shadows
of this valley of tears,
we may one day praise Your Mercy together
in the sweetness of a boundless charity.
Amen.


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I preached this homily to the Reverend Fathers of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, to mark the closing of the Year of the Priest on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, 11 June 2010.

And now, already, we have crossed the threshold,
not only of Your feast, but also of Your mystery,
O Pierced One.
For four days we, Your priests, have been in pilgrimage to Your Heart.
It was the light of Your Eucharistic Face that drew us on,
compelling us, impelling to seek in its radiance
the wound in Your side.

Now before us lies the door
opened not by the turn of a key
but by the thrust of a lance,
and beyond the door the abode of love.
"He has brought me to the banqueting house,
and is banner over me was love" (Ct 2:4).

We opened our breviaries to First Vespers
and found there not the mere form of words
but the traces of a burning, blazing Word
-- Your Heart --
and beneath the text
embers glowing
waiting to be fanned again into flame
by a mingling of Spirit-Breath with ours,
breath well spent in the chants of Your Church.

The Spirit came again to the help of our weakness,
loosing our tongues for the praise of Love wounded and wounding,
teaching Love's own language:
strange to those in exile from Your Heart
but now become -- O wonder!--
our native tongue.

Strange and blessed
this language of Your Church,
spilling fire in antiphons
and rivers of light in psalms,
infusing Your prayer, O Christ, Eternal Son, Eternal Priest
-- nothing less than that --
into all of us who know not how to pray as we ought.

Your Heart's prayer
poured into every aching emptiness of ours.
Your Heart's song
rising in our silence.
Your Heartbeat
making us bold
by a gift of words not of our making.
And in those words Heart speaks to heart.

In them
Your Heart speaks to the Father;
and the Father's heart to yours.
In them Your Heart sings to Your Church, Your Bride;
and her heart sings to yours.
This is Love's exchange,
hidden from the learned and the clever
but revealed to little ones,
splashed like pure water on the lips of children
to delight the Father
and to fall all shining onto the cracked and dusty face
of a world grown old in thirst.

You stood up once
as you stand before us now,
-- it was the last day of the feast, the great day --
and cried out, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink;
out of His heart shall flow rivers of living water" (cf. Jn 7:37-38).
You said this about the Spirit
that blazes from Your face --
and rushes from Your open side
in water and in blood.

Where is the heart held aloft,
the heart become a chalice to catch the torrent in its flow?
Where are hands to press that chalice
to the lips of those who, with weary step,
return from empty cisterns?
My heart?
For this I give it
and for this I give my hands.
My heart to cup the flow of love,
my hands to tip the chalice.

It is Your Face, O Christ, that we came seeking,
the Face that sought us first,
Your Eucharistic Face seen now as through a glass darkly,
a polished monstrance crystal cut by faith.
And we all, with unveiled face,
beholding Your glory veiled here,
are being changed into Your likeness (cf. 2 Cor 3:18)
and drawn beyond the threshold wound,
Your Heart's pierced portal.
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away." (Ct 2:13-14).

It is time for us to be like the nesting dove
time for us to spread our wings
and, lifted by the Spirit, to hide in the cleft of the rock.
There, "they shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat" (Rev 7:16).
Pass through the narrow gate.

Priests, apostles of the Sacred Heart,
sent out from that secret place,
be a dove made white in the Blood,
and like the dove, after every mission far-flung or near
to it return to be silent and adore.

Adorers of the Sacred Heart
we will all of us be in the end
for adoration will have the last word
as it must have the first.
"The hour is coming and now is,
when the true adorers shall adore the Father
in spirit and in truth,
for such the Father seeks to adore Him" (Jn 4:23).

Adoration then will be the only word,
an ocean of light dissolving every other discourse
and bathing a broken world
in the healing water and the cleansing blood.
"And He who sat upon the throne said,
'Behold, I make all things new'" (Rev 21:5).

"And they shall see His face,
and His name shall be on their foreheads.
And night shall be no more;
they need no light of lamp or sun,
for the Lord God will be their light" (Rev 22:4-5).
O Eucharist, Sun of Life,
radiating the Heart's flame of fire!
O Host burning and yet not consumed!

"And Moses hid his face,
for he was afraid to look at God" (Ex 3:6)?
Gentle Christ, humble hidden Bread,
to look at you is all refreshment.
Irresistible God.

"After this I looked,
and lo, in the heaven an open door!
And the voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said,
'Come up hither'" (Rev 4:1).

And I looked and looked
and looked at Him whom they have pierced (cf. Zech 12:10).
"And the angel who talked with me came again,
and waked me, like a man that is wakened out of his sleep.
And he said to me, 'What do you see?'" (Zech 4:1-2).
"A Eucharistic Face," I said,
"and an Open Heart."


Reparation

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Prayer of Reparation to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus


O Lord Jesus Christ present in this wonderful sacrament,
I desire at this hour to make reparation to Thy Eucharistic Heart
and to open myself to Thy Love
for the sake of priests grown lukewarm in Thy friendship
and for those who refuse or ignore it.

Increase Thou my faith,
that I may believe firmly
in the truths and mysteries Thou hast revealed to Thy Church,
for the sake of those who do not believe.

By my attention to Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I desire to make up for indifference to Thy Love,
for coldness, and for irreverence in Thy sacramental presence.

By my gratitude to Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I desire to make up for ingratitude toward Thee
Who remainest hidden and forgotten
in the tabernacles of so many locked churches.

By my trust in Thy Eucharistic Heart,
permit me, sinner though I am ,
to make up for those who do not trust Thee,
for those who are afraid to trust Thee, and for those whose trust in Thy Love
has been weakened by sins of scandal,
by the weight of life's hardships,
or by the painful losses they have endured.

By my hope in Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I desire to help those tempted to despair of Thy Mercy.
Allow me, I beseech Thee,
to hope for those who have no hope
and, because Thou didst pour out Thy Blood for them,
let not one of them be lost (cf. Jn 17:12).

In spite of my weakness and inconstancy,
I desire, by this humble act of reparation
to obtain for all who yearn for Thy friendship,
a share in the unspeakable sweetness
experienced by Thy beloved disciple Saint John
when he rested his head upon Thy Heart
on the night before Thy Sacred Side was opened by the soldier's lance.

By surrendering myself to the Love of Thy Eucharistic Heart,
grant that I might serve to repair
the brokenness of those who, among Thy priests,
are the most wounded and fragile.

By the mysterious workings of Thy Holy Spirit,
and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
let the prayer of reparation and adoration
Thou hast inspired me to offer in Thy presence
bring reconciliation to those alienated from Thy Church,
healing to souls in need of Thy mercy,
and choice graces to all Thy priests. Amen.

On Purification of the Memory

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I was happy today to return to the lesson at Matins for the feast of Saint Raphael the Archangel: Saint Bonaventure's mystical exegesis of the Book of Tobit. The Seraphic Doctor presents the Archangel Raphael's three remedies for the soul made sick by sin: tears of repentance, the burning Heart of Christ, and greater earnestness in prayer.

The following section treats of the burning Heart of ΙΧΘΥΣ, that is, Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Saviour.

The Heart of the Fish


Raphael would deliver us from the devil's bondage by putting us in remembrance of the Passion of Christ. This is set forth in Chapter six of the Book of Tobit under a figure of the heart of the fish which, when it is burning, driveth away all kinds of evil spirits.

The Heart on Fire


And again in Chapter eight, where we are told that Tobias placed the heart on live coals and the evil spirit fled into the utmost parts of Egypt, and the Angel bound him. What is this? Could Raphael bind an evil spirit only when the heart of a fish is set on fire? Did the Angel need a fish to enhearten him with great strength? Not at all. There is nothing worthwhile here except we take it mystically.

The Heart of Christ Burning With Love


Now the fish is a long-used symbol of Christ, because its letters in Greek are the initials of these words: Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Saviour. And so we may understand by the heart of the fish that there is nothing today to free us from the bondage of the devil except the passion of Christ, which same proceedeth from the depth of Himself, namely His Heart burning with love. For the heart is the fervent fountain of all life.

Place the Heart of Christ Within Thee


The Heart of Christ, whence His passion proceeded, is the source of a charity which burneth with love, and so is the cause of devotion in us. But thy memory is often to thee coals of fire. If therefore thou will place the Heart of Christ within thee, upon the dead coals of thy memories, and let them burn with the flames of that Heart, at once the devil will leave thee. Yea, he will be rendered harmless, as though he were bound.

Saint Bonaventure, De Sanctis Angelis, Sermo V

Temptation

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Saint Romuald Delivered From Evil

Guercino painted this scene from the life of Saint Romuald in 1640-41. The holy abbot is kneeling in prayer in his grotto, having just been delivered from a fierce diabolical temptation. One sees the devil, in the form of a swarthy, naked youth with pointed ears and long pointed fingernails and toenails. The Angel of the Lord, armed with a sturdy stick, is driving the tempter away. The face of the Angel is illumined by the same divine radiance that shines on Saint Romuald in prayer. The devil averts his face from the light and turns his back on the presence of God.

The Crucible

The greatest saints were subject to violent temptations and diabolical molestations. One has only to read Saint Athanasius' Life of Antony to get a clear perspective on the subject. The crucible of temptation is indispensable to holiness. It makes one aware of one's utter dependence on the grace of Christ. It obliges one to persevere in prayer. It exercises the theological virtues, especially that of hope. It is humiliating: that is, it makes one humble.

Keeping Souls from the Sacred Heart

Satan adapts his temptations to our particular weaknesses and circumstances. This is why people without a good self-knowledge (the ground of humility) so often fall prey to his strategies. That being said, one of Satan's classic ploys, always and with everyone, is to try to bar the way to the pierced Side of Christ. The Accuser seeks to intimidate, discourage, or distract souls from the Sacred Heart. This is one of the reasons why Satan, the original iconoclast, so hates representations of the Sacred Heart and of the Wounds of Christ, particularly of the Wound in His Sacred Side.

The Eucharist

The glorious Heart of Jesus, opened by the soldier's lance on Calvary, remains open in the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist. By keeping souls from the Most Holy Eucharist, the Evil One keeps them from the Heart of Jesus, the fornax ardens caritatis, the burning furnace of charity. Separated from the Eucharistic Heart of Christ, souls grow lukewarm, then cold. Those who are deceived into remaining far from His Eucharistic Heart will find themselves frozen in their sin.

The grace of prayer, in all its forms, is an approach to Our Lord's wounded Side. All prayer has a Eucharistic finality. It is in the Eucharist, as on the Cross, that Christ is lifted up in His oblation to the Father. It is in the Eucharist, as on the Cross, that from His pierced Side flows the blood and water of redemption. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself" (Jn 12:32). The saints are those who, having yielded to the sacramental embrace of the Crucified, drink from His open Side and find refuge in His Sacred Heart. It is not by happenstance that souls devoted to the Sacred Heart are drawn to Eucharistic adoration.

One Who Prays Is Saved

Satan's first and last temptation will always be to keep one from praying. One who prays is saved. One who stops praying will be lost. One who prays is never far from the pierced Side of Christ. One who prays will experience the mysterious and sweet attraction of His Sacred Heart. One who stops praying will become cold and indifferent to the Eucharist and, by the same token, alienated from Our Lord's wounded Side.

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

This is where consecration, or entrustment, to the Blessed Virgin Mary comes in. I have never known a soul consecrated to Mary who has altogether abandoned prayer. Even if, at certain moments, prayer is interrupted or ceases materially, during those moments the prayer of the Mother supplies for the weakness of the child; the outstretched mantle of her ceaseless intercession covers those who have entrusted themselves to her Immaculate and Merciful Heart. Souls consecrated to Mary are not spared temptation, but they are assured of mercy and "find grace in seasonable aid" (Heb 4:16).

The Intercession of the Spirit and the Bride

The Blessed Virgin Mary presents to the Sacred Heart all who present themselves to her. "Likewise the Spirit, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary His Spouse, also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because He asketh for the saints, through Mary, Mediatrix and Mother, according to God" (Rom 8:26-27).

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The Open Side of Jesus Crucified

Look at this remarkable painting of Jesus Crucified. The focus of the composition is the wound in His Sacred Side. An angel holding a chalice is hovering just beneath it to receive the outpouring of His Blood. There are also angels stationed beneath His wounded hands. A fourth angel stricken with astonishment and grief looks on.

Saint Francis of Assisi

At the foot of the Cross, close to the wounded feet of Jesus, kneels Saint Francis of Assisi, embracing the saving wood. Saint Francis is closest to the feet of Jesus because he was called to walk in lowliness, poverty, and humility, in imitation of the Son of Man who "had no where to lay His head" (Mt 8:20).

Saint Benedict

On the left is Saint Benedict with his hands crossed over his breast. This is the ritual gesture of the monk when, on the day of his profession, he sings the second part of the Suscipe me, Domine: "Let me not be confounded in my expectation" (Ps 118:116). Saint Benedict is gazing at the Face of the Crucified with an extraordinary intensity of compassion and love. One could draw a direct line from the Face of Jesus to the face of Saint Benedict. This is what he means when he says in his Rule that one desiring to become a monk must "truly seek God" (RB 58:7).

Saint Romuald

On the right one sees Saint Romuald, whose feast we celebrate today. He is seated -- rather like Mary of Bethany in Luke 10:39 -- with his hands hidden in the sleeves of his cowl. These are subtle allusions to the hidden life in which Saint Romuald sought the Heart of Jesus, not by much doing (the hidden hands) but, rather, in much listening (the "Marian" posture). You will notice that Saint Romuald is not looking at the Face of the Crucified; he is focused on the wound in Jesus' Sacred Side. Therein he seeks to hide himself like the dove in the cleft of the rock.

Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant

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Where His Treasure Was, There Was His Heart

Among Cistercians and Trappists, June 17th marks the memorial of Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Sainte-Marie-du-Désert beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 2004. Father Marie-Joseph died on June 17, 1903; he was twenty-five years old. Solemnly professed for three years, he had been a priest for only nine months. From childhood he wanted nothing else. “Where your treasure house is, there is your heart also” (Mt 6:21).

The Greatness of the Priesthood

In his last letter to his family, he wrote, “For such a long time we hoped against hope to be able to have the whole family together after my ordination so as to share the joy of being present and receiving Communion together at my first Mass. The good Lord heard our deepest wishes. It now remains to us to thank Him and to enter more and more deeply into the greatness of the priesthood. Let us never dare to equate the Sacrifice of the Mass with earthly things.”

An Intercessor

Since 1903 more than 2200 persons from thirty different countries have attested to favours received through the intercession of Father Marie-Joseph. The catalogue of graces attributed to the young monk is impressive: conversions, reconciliations, cures, and comfort in uncertainties and doubts. My friend Father Jacob and I went in pilgrimage to his tomb in 1982 and prayed that both of us might become priests. I was ordained four years later.

Towards La Trappe

Father Marie-Joseph’s road to the priesthood was not an easy one. His parish priest judged him intellectually inadequate for theological studies. After tutoring him for fifteen months in French and Latin, he saw that the young Joseph was not suited for the diocesan seminary. He directed him instead to the Trappe of Sainte-Marie-du-Desert where the monks were ordained to the priesthood after a simpler course of studies, given that they had no pastoral responsibilities or outside ministry.

June 17th is the dies natalis of Marie-Adèle Garnier, Mother Mary of St. Peter, Foundress of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Tyburn, O.S.B. In 1913 Blessed Columba Marmion wrote to one of her spiritual daughters, saying, "The special characteristic of your Mother is heroic confidence in the midst of impossibilities."

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Monastic Roots

Marie-Adèle Garnier was born in France on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 1838. She was baptized on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, September 12. Marie-Adèle’s native Burgundy is the land of Cluny, of Cîteaux, and of Paray-le-Monial. Her life was marked, from the very beginning, by an environment shaped by the Rule of Saint Benedict, by the ardour of Saint Bernard, and by the mystery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist

As a young woman, Marie-Adèle grew in awareness of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Priest and Victim: the Sacred Heart truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar where ceaselessly He glorifies the Father and intercedes for all men. Marie-Adèle was impelled by the Holy Spirit to seek a life wholly illuminated by the Sacrifice of the Mass, and marked by perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Happy, So Happy

In 1872, Marie-Adèle, after having read an article on the proposed basilica of Montmartre, heard an inner voice saying to her: “It is there that I need thee.” “At the same moment,” she writes, “I saw an altar raised on high and sparkling with lights, dominated by the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance. I felt so overcome by this that I had to lean against the door to save myself from falling. And then I felt so happy, so happy, that I could make nothing of it.”

Like many of her contemporaries drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Marie-Adèle heard the interior summons to a life of reparation and doxology. “I felt Jesus speaking to my heart, illuminated by a light of surpassing brightness; He told me that it was His Will that His Heart present in the Holy Eucharist should be the object of the worship of Montmartre, and that the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed there night and day.”

Salutary Failure

Marie-Adèle first attempted to respond to her vocation by living in solitude on Montmartre, close by the site of what would become the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. God allowed her to experience a salutary failure without, however, withdrawing the attraction to a life of reparation and adoration at Montmartre. Her first sojourn at Montmartre ended on the feast of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 15, 1876.

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Beginnings

In 1898, having returned to Montmartre with a companion, Marie-Adèle began a hidden life of adoration, reparation, and intercession for the Church under the special protection of Saint Peter the Prince of the Apostles, and Saint Michael the Archangel. From the beginning the Rule of Saint Benedict inspired and guided the new monastic family. On June 9, 1899, Marie-Adèle, now known as Mother Mary of St. Peter, and her first daughters, made their profession in the crypt of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the altar of Saint Peter. Two days later, June 11, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the whole human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Tyburn

The anti-clerical laws of 1901 obliged the fledgling community to leave Montmartre for England. Mother Mary of St. Peter and her daughters established themselves at Tyburn in the heart of London on the site of the cruel torments and death of England’s glorious Catholic Martyrs. Her companion, Mother Agnes, wrote, “And we ourselves, little as we were, but supporting our littleness on the Heart of Jesus, we, too, were coming to labour, within the limits of our vocation, in the great work of the conversion of England.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

From 1908 onward, Mother Mary of St. Peter was under the direction of the Benedictine Abbot Blessed Columba Marmion. It was to Abbot Marmion that she wrote on December 23, 1909: “In spite of this humiliating burden of misery and worries, my soul dwells in her God, because He supports her, holds her up, carries her, sustains her in a life of faith, of love, of confidence, not sensibly consoling, but supremely happy!”

Happy With God and With My Children

Abbot Marmion died in 1923, leaving Mother Mary of St. Peter and her daughters to mourn his passing and, at the same, to live in gratitude and joy from his spiritual patrimony. The following year on June 17, after much suffering, Mother Mary of St. Peter died. Her last intelligible words were: “I am so happy with God! And with my children.” Today Mother Mary of St. Peter's Benedictine Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart has monasteries in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia, and Rome, Italy.


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Feast Instituted by Benedict XV

On 9 November 1921, Pope Benedict XV instituted the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart with a Proper Mass and Office. The feast continues to be celebrated in some places and by some communities, notably by the Redemptorists who maintain it in their Proper Calendar. In instituting the feast, Pope Benedict XV wrote:

The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.

Even to the Consummation of the World

The adorable mystery of the Eucharist sums up, contains, and communicates to us the entire mystery of Christ: His incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If you seek the open Side of the glorious ascended Christ, you will find it in the Eucharist. If you seek the pierced Heart of Christ, beating with love for the Father and with mercy for sinners, you will find it in the Eucharist. The Communion Antiphon of the Mass of the feast is meant to be repeated and treasured. It is, at once, a promise and an invitation: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20).

Here, apart from the Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, and Gospel, is my own translation of the Proper of the Mass of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, together with (optional) General Intercessions.

Introit

SCIENS Jesus quia venit hora ejus ut
transeat ex hoc mundo ad Patrem:
cum dilexisset suos, qui erant in
mundo, in finem dilexit eos. Alleluia,
alleluia. Ps. 97. 1. Cantate Domino
canticum novum: quia mirabilia
fecit. Gloria Patri.

Jesus, knowing that His hour had come
to pass out of this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world,
loved them to the end (Jn 13:1).

Collect

DOMINE Jesu Christe, qui divitias
amoris tui erga homines effundens
Eucharistiæ Sacramentum condidisti:
da nobis, quæsumus; ut amantissimum
Cor tuum diligere, et tanto
Sacramento digne semper uti valeamus:
Qui vivis.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Who in pouring out the treasures of Your love for mankind,
instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist,
grant us, we beseech You,
always to cherish Your most loving Heart,
and worthily to avail ourselves of so great a Sacrament.
Who live and reign with God the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Epistle: Ephesians 3. 8-12, 14-19
Brethren: To me, the least of all the Saints, is given the grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: and to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, Who created all things: that the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the Church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord: in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom all paternity in Heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man, that Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts: that being rooted and grounded in charity, you may be able to comprehend with all the Saints, what is the breadth and length, and height and depth: to know also the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge. That you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.

Gradual

EXSULTA et lauda, habitatio Sion,
quia magnus in medio tui Sanctus
Israel. Notas facite in populis adinventiones
ejus.

Exult and praise, O abode of Sion, for
great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst
of thee. Among the people make known His
works.

Alleluia

ALLELUIA, alleluia. V. Quid bonum
ejus est, et quid pulchrum ejus, nisi
frumentum electorum, et vinum
germinans virgines. Alleluia.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. What is His good and
what is His beauteous thing, but the wheat of
the elect, and wine bringing forth virgins?
Alleluia.

Gospel: Luke 22:15-20
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer. For I say to you that from this time I will not eat it, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And having taken the chalice, He gave thanks and said: Take and divide among you. For I say to you that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God come. And taking bread, He gave thanks and brake and gave to them, saying: This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of Me. In like manner, the chalice also, after He had supped, saying: this is the chalice, the new testament in My Blood, which shall be shed for you.

General Intercessions

That the Church may more worthily celebrate, adore, and contemplate
the Sacrament that reveals the Face of Christ shining for all peoples
and the Sacrifice that presents to all His Pierced Side
flowing with living water,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That the leaders of nations
may turn from every temptation
to greed, violence, and the abuse of power,
and seek the things that make for peace,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those who are enemies of the Cross may find
reconciliation and healing in its embrace;
that the sick may find strength in the Body and Blood of Christ;
and that those tempted against hope
may find comfort and peace in the Sacrament of the Altar,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That families broken by divorce,
divided by misunderstandings,
or wounded by the refusal to forgive and be forgiven,
may be repaired and healed
by the love that ever streams from the Eucharistic Heart of Christ,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That by offering our adoration to the Eucharistic Heart of Christ today
we may in some way make reparation
for those who fail to recognize in the Sacrament of the Altar
a mercy ready to forgive every sin,
a love capable of healing every wound,
and a joy surpassing all joys,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God, who, in the Heart of Your Son, wounded by our faults,
have opened for us the treasures of Your infinite love,
grant that, with all the saints, we may contemplate this mystery
and, in the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist
recognize the wedding feast of the Lamb,
the sacrifice that saves the world,
and the abiding presence of Him who with great desire
longed to share the paschal meal with His disciples
before He suffered.
Who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Offertory Antiphon

QUAM magna multitudo dulcedinis
tuæ, Domine, quam abscondisti timentibus
te. Alleluia

O how great is the multitude of Your sweetness, O Lord,
which You have hidden away for them that fear You, alleluia (Ps 30:30).

Prayer Over the Oblations

TUERE nos, Domine, tua tibi holocausta
offerentes: ad quæ ut ferventius
corda nostra præparentur, flammis
adure tuæ divinæ caritatis. Qui
vivis.

Look upon us, Lord,
as we offer You this Your holocaust;
and to prepare our hearts for offering it more ardently,
make them burn with the flame of Your divine charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

Preface

VERE dignum et justum est, æquum
et salutáre, nos tibi semper, et ubíque
grátias ágere: Dómine sancte,
Pater omnipotens, ætérne Deus per
Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui
pridie quam pro nobis immolaretur
in ara crucis, dilectionis suæ in homines
divitias velut effundens, de
Cordis sui thesauro Eucharistiæ
prompsit mysterium. In quo credentium
fides alitur, spes provehitur,
caritas roboratur, et futuræ gloriæ
pignus accipitur. Et ídeo cum Angelis
et Archángelis, cum Thronis et
Dóminatiónibus, cumque omni
milítia coeléstis exércitus, hymnum
glóriæ tuæ cánimus sine fine dicéntes:

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Who on the day before He was sacrificed
on the altar of the cross,
desiring to pour out upon men the riches of His love,
brought forth from the treasury of His Heart
the mystery of the Eucharist.

In this mystery the faith of believers is nourished,
their hope increased,
their charity strengthened,
and they receive the pledge of future glory.

And therefore with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominations,
and with all the hosts of the heavenly army,
we sing a hymn to your glory,
ceaselessly saying:

Communion Antiphon

ECCE ego vobiscum sum omnibus
diebus, usque ad consummationem
sæculi, dicit Dominus. Alleluia.

Behold I am with you all days,
even to the consummation of the world (Mt 28:20).

Postcommunion

DIVINIS donis Cordis tui satiati:
quæsumus, Domine Jesu, ut in tui
semper amore permanere et usque
in finem crescere mereamur. Qui vivis.

Filled with the divine gifts of Your Heart, Lord Jesus,
we pray that we may be found worthy
ever to abide in Your love
and to grow therein unto the end.
Who live and reign forever and ever.

Draw Me to Thy Piercèd Side

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The feast of Saint Lutgarde, a Cistercian, and one of the first mystics of the Sacred Heart, occurs on June 16th. Some years ago I was given a piece of her wooden choirstall: one of my most treasured relics!

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Wounded by Love

Saint Lutgarde was a contemporary of Saints Francis and Clare. She was born in 1182, just one year after the little Poor Man of Assisi. Both were destined to share in the Passion of Christ; both would bear the impression of Christ’s wounds. Saint Lutgarde is often depicted -- as are both Saint Bernard and Saint Francis -- held in the embrace of Jesus Crucified, and invited to drink from the wound in His Sacred Side.

Mother of Preachers

The prolific multiplication of Cistercian-Benedictine monasteries of women in the Low Countries obliged the White Nuns to turn to the newly founded friars, disciples of Francis and Dominic, rather than to their brother monks, for spiritual and sacramental assistance. Lutgarde was a friend and mother to the early Dominicans and Franciscans, supporting their preaching by her prayer and fasting, offering them hospitality, ever eager for news of their missions and spiritual conquests. Her first biographer relates that the friars named her mater praedicatorum, the mother of preachers.

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I was remiss in not posting something about the beatification of Father Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, S.J., which took place this past April 19th.

Because of My Love for You

On July 11, 1726 a not quite fifteen year old Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos y Seña crossed the threshold of the Jesuit novitiate of the Province of Castile. Straightaway he chose the Flemish Saint John Berchmans as his model and intercessor. At his profession on July 12, 1728, he heard Our Lord say to him: "From today on I will unite Myself more intimately to you because of my love for you." Our Lord, His Virgin Mother, Saint Ignatius, Saint Teresa of Avila and other celestial visitors manifested themselves to the young Jesuit, conversed with him, counseled him, and encouraged him.

A Consoler of the Heart of Jesus

On August 10, 1729, the Saviour, covered with His Precious Blood, appeared to Bernardo, and showing him the wound in His Side, said, "Rejected by humanity, I come to find my consolation with chosen souls." Bernardo's experience closely resembles that of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque fifty-three years earlier in the Visitation Monastery of Paray-le-Monial in France.

Priest

Bernardo was ordained a priest on January 2, 1735. Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Francis de Sales, mystically present at the ordination, served as his "godfathers" in the priesthood. In that same year he wrote:

Hitherto I had great confidence in my prayers and petitions, depending on the intercession of the Heart of Jesus; at present I have no doubt about obtaining whatsoever I ask, if it is for the greater glory of God. I am convinced that at the altar the Eternal Father can refuse me nothing . . . I find myself with views like that of Venerable Father La Colombière concerning the greatness of this sacrifice. Here I am as if I were triumphant, for it seems to me not only that I am making reparation for myself and for the whole world, but that the Eternal Father is my debtor.
Now and again, during Mass . . . a word of the Eternal Father has assured me of the satisfaction He takes in His Son and in His Heart, and how this satisfaction may embolden me, even at the sight of my sins and ingratitude, to presume as much as I fancy, for all is contained in the merits of Jesus, whose minister I am and whose place I take.

Death

Father Bernardo de Hoyos died on November 29, 1735 at the age of twenty-four. He left behind the memory of his brief but fruitful ministry as a priest; the reputation of a charism for delivering souls from the vice of impurity; his book, The Hidden Treasure, published under the name of Father John de Loyola; and a wealth of detailed accounts of his mystical experiences of the Heart of Jesus.

Beatification

On January 17, 2009, the Holy Father met with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. The Pope authorized the promulgation of a number of decrees, among them the recognition of a miracle attributed to the Servant of God Bernardo Francisco Hoyos.

On April 19, 2010, Father Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos was beatified in Valladolid, Spain. The ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In addition to nearly a 1,000 priests and more the 20,000 faithful, approximately fifty bishops and cardinals attended the ceremony. The new Blessed's liturgical memorial will be celebrated on November 29th, the anniversary of his death.


Doctor Zelantissimus

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Siamo Napoletani

Given that grace builds on nature, my Neapolitan ancestry may, in some way, account for my spiritual affinity with Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori. For the long lazy days and hot nights of August I recommend a a fascinating biography of the saint: Alphonsus de Liguori, Saint of Bourbon Naples, by Frederick M. Jones, C.Ss.R.

Reparation Then and Now

Meditate the following text written by Saint Alphonsus Maria, and translated by Norman J. Muckermann, C.Ss.R. It is astonishingly relevant to the need for reparation, when one considers the current proliferation of so many outrages against the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The Sorrowful Heart of Jesus

It is impossible for us to appreciate how greatly afflicted the Heart of Jesus was for love of us and at the same time not be filled with pity for Him. . . . The principal sorrow affecting the Heart of Jesus was not so much knowing the torments and insults His enemies were preparing for Him. Rather, it was seeing how ready we would be to reject His immense love.

Desecrations of the Sacred Host

Jesus distinctly saw all the sins which we would commit even after His sufferings, even after His bitter and ignominious death on the cross. He foresaw, too, the insults which sinners would offer His Sacred Heart which He would leave on earth in the Most Holy Sacrament as proof of His love. These insults are almost too horrible to mention: people trampling the sacred hosts underfoot, throwing them into gutters or piles of refuse, and even using them to worship the devil himself!

The Pledge of His Love

Even the knowledge that these and other defamations would happen did not prevent Jesus from giving us this great pledge of His love, the Holy Eucharist. Jesus has an infinite hatred for sin; yet it seems that His great love for us even overcomes this bitterness. Because of His love, He allows these sacrileges to happen in order not to deprive us of this Divine Food. Should not this alone suffice to make us love a Heart that has loved us so much?

Jesus Forsaken on the Altar

What more could Jesus do to deserve our love? Is our ingratitude so great that we will still leave Jesus forsaken on the altar, as so many are wont to do? Rather, should we not unite ourselves to those few who gather to praise Him and acknowledge His divine presence? Should we not melt with love, as do the candles which adorn the altars where the Holy Sacrament is preserved? There the Sacred Heart remains burning with love for us. Shall we not in turn burn with love for Jesus?

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The Sacred Side of Jesus in the Redemptorist Church of Sant'Alfonso in Rome
Home of the Miraculous Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help


On this Octave Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: the Vatican's English translation of the Holy Father's homily at Vespers in Saint Peter's Basilica on June 19. My comments are in italics.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In a little while, we shall be singing in the Antiphon to the Magnificat: "The Lord has welcomed us in His Heart Suscepit nos Dominus in sinum et cor suum". God's Heart, considered to be the organ of His will, is mentioned 26 times in the Old Testament.

What a brilliant opening! Pope Benedict XVI goes straight to the Magnificat Antiphon, the mystical key that unlocks the most solemn moment of Vespers. Then he presents the biblical understanding of the heart: the organ of the will.

Man is judged according to God's Heart. Because of the pain His Heart feels at the sins of man, God decides on the flood, but is subsequently moved by human weakness and forgives.

Yes, the Heart of God can feel pain. The Heart of God grieves over the sins of men.

Then there is an Old Testament passage in which the subject of God's Heart is expressed with absolute clarity: it is in chapter 11 of the Book of the Prophet Hosea in which the first verses describe the dimension of the love with which the Lord turned to Israel at the dawn of its history: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos 11: 1). Israel, in fact, responds to God's tireless favour with indifference and even outright ingratitude.

The message of Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary echoed the Reproaches of the Good Friday Liturgy and, beyond them, the indifference and ingratitude of Israel to a Bridegroom God. "In return for My love," He said to Saint Margaret Mary, "I receive from most nothing but ingratitude, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness, and scorn. . . . Look how sinners treat Me. They have nothing but coldness and disdain for all My eagerness to do them good."

"The more I called them", the Lord is forced to admit, "the more they went from Me" (v. 2). Nonetheless he never abandons Israel to the hands of the enemy because "my Heart", the Creator of the universe observes, "recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender" (v. 8).

Speaking through His prophet, God bares His Heart: He reveals that, even in the face of coldness, indifference, and betrayal, He remains compassionate and tender.

The Heart of God throbs with compassion! On today's Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Church offers us this mystery for contemplation, the mystery of the Heart of a God who feels compassion and pours forth all His love upon humanity. It is a mysterious love, which in the texts of the New Testament is revealed to us as God's immeasurable love for the human being. He does not give in to ingratitude or to rejection by the People He has chosen; on the contrary, with infinite mercy He sends His Only-Begotten Son into the world to take upon Himself the burden of love immolated so that by defeating the powers of evil and death He could restore the dignity of being God's children to human beings, enslaved by sin.

The translation is a little awkward, but the message is overwhelming. It is Love Crucified. It is the Heart of the Only-Begotten Son opened by the soldier's lance so that sinners might be drawn through the awful gaping wound into the bosom of the Father.

All this comes about at a high price: the Only-Begotten Son of the Father is sacrificed on the Cross, "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (cf. Jn 13: 1).

The Holy Father quotes the beginning of Saint John's account of the Cenacle and of the Lord's final discourse: in finem dilexit. He loved them to the end. I read chapters 13 through 17 of Saint John every Thursday; it is an abyss of love, an inexhaustible mystery. It is the Heart of Jesus forming His first priests.

A symbol of this love which goes beyond death is his side, pierced by a spear. In this regard, the Apostle John, an eye-witness, says: "one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water" (cf. Jn 19: 34).

Yes, the Sacred Side of Jesus is opened after His death so that even the roseate blood and water remaining in His Heart might be poured out for sinners.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you because, in response to my invitation, you have come in large numbers to this celebration with which we begin the Year for Priests. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops, in particular the Cardinal Prefect and the Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy with their collaborators, and the Bishop of Ars. I greet the priests and seminarians of the various seminaries and colleges of Rome; the men and women religious and all the faithful.

I address a special greeting to H.B. Ignace Youssef Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for Syrians, who has come to Rome to meet me and to acknowledge publicly the "ecclesiastica communio" which I have granted him.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pause together to contemplate the pierced Heart of the Crucified One. We have heard again, just now, in the brief Reading from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, that "God, Who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ... and raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2: 4-6). To be in Jesus Christ, is to be already seated in heaven.

This, Fathers, is how to preach at Vespers! The Holy Father began with the Magnificat Antiphon (not yet sung at this point, therefore creating a certain anticipation), and then quotes the Short Reading, explaining what Saint Paul means when he speaks of being "in Jesus Christ."

The essential nucleus of Christianity is expressed in the Heart of Jesus; in Christ the whole of the revolutionary newness of the Gospel was revealed and given to us: the Love that saves us and already makes us live in God's eternity.

The Heart of Jesus is the essentIal nucleus of Christianity! Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an immense gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We have not yet begun to probe its inexhaustible richness. The point of departure in any such attempt is the liturgy of the Church: the Proper of the Mass, the Lectionary, and the Divine Office with its antiphons, responsories, hymns, and orations.

The Evangelist John writes: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (3: 16). His Divine Heart therefore calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to abandon our human certainties to trust in Him and, following His example, to make of ourselves a gift of love without reserve.

To abandon our human certainties to trust in Him! How many of you learned to say as children, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee"? I learned that aspiration as a small boy and it has never left me. Children need to learn such prayers from the heart at an early age, because they will need them later on in life's moments of crisis.

If it is true that Jesus' invitation to "abide in my love" (cf. Jn 15: 9) is addressed to every baptized person, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Day for priestly sanctification, this invitation resounds more powerfully for us priests, particularly this evening at the solemn inauguration of the Year for Priests, which I wanted to be celebrated on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d'Ars.

What does the Sacred Heart of Jesus say to His priests? "Abide in my love" (Jn 15:9). The school of this abiding is, without any doubt, prolonged daily prayer in front of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, close to His Open Heart, hidden in the Sacrament of His Love. A priest who has learned to tarry in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament will progress from tarrying there to abiding in His Heart, that is, in His Love.

One of his beautiful and moving sayings, cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, immediately springs to my mind: "The Priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus" (n. 1589).

How is it possible not to remember with emotion that the gift of our priestly ministry flowed directly from this Heart? How can we forget that we priests were consecrated to serve humbly and authoritatively the common priesthood of the faithful?

Priestly ministry flows from the Heart of Jesus, from His pierced Heart.

Ours is an indispensable mission, for the Church and for the world, which demands full fidelity to Christ and in unceasing union with him this to remain in His love means that we must constantly strive for holiness, this union, as did St John Mary Vianney.

In case you had any doubts, Fathers: ours is an indispensable mission both for the Church and for the world! With priests the fecundity of the Church would dry up; she would become barren. And the world would become a wasteland.

In the Letter I addressed to you for this special Jubilee Year, dear brother priests, I wanted to highlight certain qualifying aspects of our ministry, with references to the example and teaching of the Holy Curé d'Ars, model and protector of all of us, priests, and especially parish priests.

We are to spend this year in the company of Saint John Mary Vianney, that is in the real experience of his companionship, made possible by the Communion of Saints.

May my Letter be a help and encouragement to you in making this Year a favourable opportunity to grow in intimacy with Jesus, who counts on us, his ministers, to spread and to consolidate his Kingdom, to radiate his love, his truth.

Intimacy with Jesus.

Therefore, "in the footsteps of the Curé of Ars", my Letter concluded, "let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!" (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, see p. 5).

Enthralled by Jesus.

To let oneself be totally won over by Christ! This was the purpose of the whole life of St Paul to whom we have devoted our attention during the Pauline Year which is now drawing to a close; this was the goal of the entire ministry of the Holy Curé d'Ars, whom we shall invoke in particular during the Year for Priests; may it also be the principal objective for each one of us.

And totally won over by Christ.

In order to be ministers at the service of the Gospel, study and a careful and continuing pastoral and theological formation is of course useful and necessary, but that "knowledge of love" which can only be learned in a "heart to heart" with Christ is even more necessary. Indeed, it is He who calls us to break the Bread of His love, to forgive sins and to guide the flock in His name. For this very reason we must never distance ourselves from the source of Love which is his Heart that was pierced on the Cross.

Study is necessary and useful, but "cursed be the study that leadeth not to love." The priest must never distance himself from the Heart pierced on the Cross; this of course, is why he will offer Holy Mass daily. If a priest is comfortable letting a single day pass without offering the Holy Sacrifice, his priesthood is in danger. He may continue going through the motions for a tIme, but a certain spiritual lifelessness will betray the distance he has taken from his First Love. The faithful will notice it.

Only in this way will we be able to cooperate effectively in the mysterious "plan of the Father" that consists in "making Christ the Heart of the world"! This plan is brought about in history, as Jesus gradually becomes the Heart of human hearts, starting with those who are called to be closest to him: priests, precisely.

Christ is the Heart of the priest's heart. If He is not, other loves will move in to occupy the void.

We are reminded of this ongoing commitment by the "priestly promises" that we made on the day of our Ordination and which we renew every year, on Holy Thursday, during the Chrism Mass. Even our shortcomings, our limitations, and our weaknesses must lead us back to the Heart of Jesus.

Yes, yes. Even our shortcomings, our limitations, and our weaknesses must lead us back to the Heart of Jesus. This is why I practice and recommend frequent -- very frequent Confession. Every Confession is a return to the Heart of Jesus. We priests need to avail ourselves very frequently of the restorative grace of sacramental absolution. It makes an enormous difference in the fruitfulness of our sacred ministry. Weekly? you ask. Yes. Weekly is not too often. I once heard the confession of a saintly Jesuit (!) who approached the sacrament daily with the most touching compunction and humility.

Indeed, if it is true that sinners, in contemplating Him, must learn from Him the necessary "sorrow for sins" that leads them back to the Father, it is even more so for holy ministers. How can we forget, in this regard, that nothing makes the Church, the Body of Christ, suffer more than the sins of her pastors, especially the sins of those who are transformed into "a thief and a robber" of the sheep (Jn 10: 1 ff.), or who deviates from the Church through their own private doctrines, or who ensnare the Church in sin and death?

The sins of priests horribly disfigure the face of the Church, the Bride of Christ. Reparation for the sins of priests is not the unfashionable product of an overheated 19th century piety. It is a compelling call to plunge oneself into the Fire and the Blood. It is the means by which priests themselves are restored to spiritual health, and by which the most the unspeakable damage to souls, caused by the sins of priests, is repaired.

Dear priests, the call to conversion and recourse to Divine Mercy also applies to us, and we must likewise humbly address a heartfelt and ceaseless invocation to the Heart of Jesus to keep us from the terrible risk of harming those whom we are bound to save.

This is phenomenally powerful: "We must likewise humbly address a heartfelt and ceaseless invocation to the Heart of Jesus to keep us from the terrible risk of harming those whom we are bound to save."

I have just had the opportunity to venerate in the Choir Chapel the relic of the Holy Curé d'Ars: his heart. It was a heart that blazed with divine love, that was moved at the thought of the priest's dignity and spoke to the faithful in touching and sublime tones, affirming that "After God, the priest is everything! ... Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is" (cf. Letter, Year for Priests, p. 3).

Sobering and humbling: after God, the priest is everything. If anything should keep us prostrate and faces to the ground before the Blessed Sacrament, it is this, dear Fathers.

Dear Brothers, let us cultivate this same emotion in order to carry out our ministry with generosity and dedication, or to preserve in our souls a true "fear of God": the fear of being able to deprive of so much good, through our negligence or fault, those souls entrusted to us, or God forbid of harming them.

The Holy Father asks us to cultivate the fear of God: the fear of not doing good, the fear of harming souls, the fear of not corresponding to grace.

The Church needs holy priests; ministers who can help the faithful to experience the merciful love of the Lord and who are his convinced witnesses.

Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes the experience of the merciful love of the Sacred Heart. A priest cannot communicate what he has not experienced.

In the Eucharistic Adoration that will follow the celebration of Vespers, let us ask the Lord to set the heart of every priest on fire with that "pastoral charity" which can enable him to assimilate his personal "I" into that Jesus the High Priest, so that he may be able to imitate Jesus in the most complete self-giving.

"The most complete self-giving": this is the victimal or oblative dimension of priesthood. A priest cannot stand at the altar without placing himself on the altar.

Also, a liturgical note: Exposition, adoration, and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament properly follow Vespers. This is the Roman practice. Vespers "coram Sanctissimo" poses the same theological problem as celebrating the Mass of the Catechumens (or Liturgy of the Word) "coram Sanctissimo." It is not something one would do. Pope Pius XII recognized the unsuitableness of it.

Vespers, being a complete Liturgy of the Word (even as it ascends in the sight of the Divine Majesty as a Sacrifice of Praise) calls for its Eucharistic complement in the exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The paradigm remains the "Liturgy of the Word" on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27-32). So moved were the two disciples by Our Lord's revelation of Himself in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, that they pleaded with Him, "Mane nobiscum, Domine -- Stay with us, Lord." He acceded to their prayer, and going in, they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. This is why the centuries old practice of the Roman Church has been to celebrate Vespers first, and then procede to the recognition and adoration of the Lord in the adorable Sacrament of the altar.

May the Virgin Mary, whose Immaculate Heart we shall contemplate with living faith tomorrow, obtain this grace for us. The Holy Curé d'Ars had a filial devotion to her, so profound that in 1836, in anticipation of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he consecrated his parish to Mary, "conceived without sin".

Pope Benedict XVI does not tire of expressing his filial devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Here he relates the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Parishes consecrated to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart thrive and prosper. The Curé d'Ars knew that.

He kept up the practice of frequently renewing this offering of his parish to the Blessed Virgin, teaching the faithful that "to be heard it was enough to address her", for the simple reason that she "desires above all else to see us happy".

How wonderful! The Blessed Virgin desires above all else to see us happy! Happy, of course, in the sense of the Beatitudes preached by her Son. It is a happiness with no alloy of bitterness, satiety, or boredom. It is the bliss of her own Immaculate Heart communicated to the hearts of her children.

May the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, accompany us during the Year for Priests which we are beginning to day, so that we are able to be sound and enlightened guides for the faithful whom the Lord entrusts to our pastoral care. Amen!

And so, the Year for Priests is entrusted to the Blessed Virgin, our Mother! Holy Mary, behold your sons! Sons, behold your Mother.

[Translation Libreria Editrice Vaticana]

The Year of the Priest

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Hosea 11:1.3-4. 8-9
Isaiah 12:2-6
Ephesians 3:8-12. 14-19
John 19:31-37

I preached this evening to the Spiritual Mothers of Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa, gathered for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the opening of the Year of the Priest. Here is my homily:

When Israel Was a Child

"Thus says the Lord: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos 11:1). This is the very voice of God pouring out His Heart to us: the story of how every vocation to the holy priesthood began, begins, and will begin until the end of time. The priesthood is not a career one chooses: it is a mystery into which one is called. "You did choose Me," says the Lord, "but I chose you."

Chosen by the Heart of Jesus

Where are life's truest and deepest choices made, if not in the heart? We are created in the image of a God whose divine choices are formed in His Heart and whose designs from age to age reveal that Heart as Love. The call to the priesthood is a choice of the Heart of Jesus. Looking upon a given man, Our Lord sets His Heart upon him and, at length, guides his steps to the altar to enter there into the life-giving Mysteries of the Open Heart.

The Indelible Character of Priesthood

In the context of the Year of the Priest, the First Reading may be heard as the account of a priestly vocation. The names of Israel and Ephraim, designating the Chosen People, also represent every man destined by the Father to bear in his soul the character of the priesthood of the Son, indelibly engraved there by the incandescent incisions of the Holy Spirit.

I Bent Down to Him

"When John -- or Mark -- was child, I loved him, and out of Egypt -- that is to say, out of the world insofar as it is the realm of sin -- I called my son. Yet it was I who taught him to walk; I took him up in my arms. I led him with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to him as one who raises an infant to his cheeks, and I bent down to him and fed him" (Hos 11:1).

Sin and Grace

There is, of course, the question of sin in the life of one so chosen. How can weaknesses and betrayals be reconciled with the irrevocable choice of God? Once, in prayer a certain priest put this question to Our Lord: "Why didst Thou call me to the priesthood, knowing in advance all my weaknesses, sins, and betrayals of Thy friendship." The Lord answered him, "I saw all the sins that you would commit and these grieved My Heart that so loves you, even as they outraged My Divine Majesty, but I also knew the mercies that my Heart held in store for you and the future full of hope into which My merciful Love would bring you, and this was for My Heart an immense joy. Where sin abounded grace has abounded all the more."

Pleading and Hoping

You, Spiritual Mothers, are called to plead for priests with the Heart of Jesus, believing in their call even when they, in hours of doubt, struggle to believe in it. You are called to obtain for priests, by your intercession, an abiding confidence in the unchanging choice of God, a choice that reveals the Heart of Jesus. This perhaps is why Saint Jean-Marie Vianney said, "The priesthood is the Heart of Jesus." And when the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to extinguish the flame of hope in the soul of a priest, you must be there to cup your hands around it. Hope on behalf of that priest on the edge of despair until, helped by Our Lady's prayers and by yours, he regains confidence in the mercy of God and begins to breathe freely once again.

The Wounds of Christ

In the Responsorial Psalm we heard these exultant and mysterious words: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Is 12:3). What are the wells of salvation if not the five glorious wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ: those in His Sacred Hands, in His Sacred Feet, and in His Sacred Side? The joy of the priest, the joy that he communicates to the faithful entrusted to him, the joy that will never fail him or cease to quicken the Church, flows from the wounds of Christ. Where does the priest go to draw the living water of this joy? To the altar. Ancient liturgical tradition prescribes that the mensa of the altar should be engraved with five crosses representing Our Lord's five glorious wounds. So often as the priest ascends to the altar, greeting it with a kiss, he finds himself at the very wellspring of eternal joy.

God Who Giveth Joy to My Youth

You, Spiritual Mothers of Priests, are charged with obtaining for every priest a copious participation in the fresh, ever-youthful joy that flows from the altar. Saint Jean-Marie Vianney said, "How we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine." Routine is, in fact, the death knell of joy. Pray then that every priest may say in truth, even fifty or more years after his ordination: "Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam. I will go in unto the altar of God, unto God who giveth joy to my youth" (Ps 42:4).

The Prayer of the Priest

In the Second Reading, Saint Paul shows us how every priest is to pray for souls entrusted to his spiritual paternity: "For this reason," the Apostle says, "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph

Partners in Prayer

Spiritual Mothers, you are partners of the priesthood in prayer for the Church. Just as your prayer leans on the prayer of the priest for the Church and relies on it, so too will the priest lean on your prayer for him, knowing that you are praying so that he will persevere in prayer and never lose heart.

Calvary

Finally we come to the Gospel, the very Gospel that we heard on Good Friday. Today, in the light of the Resurrection, Ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we return to Calvary with the Virgin Mother of Jesus, with Saint John the Beloved Apostle, and with the other holy women.

The Open Heart

The centurion -- tradition calls him Saint Longinus -- seeing that Jesus was already dead, opened His side with a spear. The verb "opened" is used here designedly": the pierced Side of Jesus is the open door in the ark of salvation. We know that at this moment, John and undoubtedly the Sorrowful Mother were looking on attentively. John calls himself "he who saw it," adding that he speaks as an eyewitness. Then, demonstrating that the thrust of the centurion's lance fulfills Zechariah's ancient prophecy, he adds, "They shall look on Him who they have pierced" (Zech 12:10).

Gazing on the Heart of the Crucified

John gazing at the pierced Heart of Jesus is the image, the prototype, the model of every priest. The priest is a man who lives with the eyes of His heart fixed on the open Heart of Jesus. Therein is the assurance of the eternal love of Christ from which nothing can separate him and those entrusted to his mystical paternity. You, Spiritual Mothers, stand with the Mother of Sorrows and, together with the priest, look on the Heart of Jesus in order to witness to the Blood and the Water that gush from its deep wound.

Into the Sacred Heart

The priest is essentially a man who, in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, witnesses day after day to the mystery of the Heart of Jesus, opened by the soldier's lance and never closed. Your role, Spiritual Mothers, is not to look at the priest; it is, rather, to look with Him at the pierced Side of Jesus until, by the force of Love's irresistible attraction, the priest, and you with him, are drawn across the threshold of that wound, into the inner sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. This more than anything else will make this Year of the Priest fruitful for our Diocese of Tulsa and for the Church throughout the world.

Cogitationes Cordis Ejus

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The thoughts of His Heart
are to all generations;
He will save their souls from death
and give them to eat in time of famine.
(Psalm 32:11, 19, Introit of the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).

To All Generations

The thoughts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are to all generations, touching all, excluding no one. By His death, He rescues us from death; by the mysteries of His Body and Blood, He feeds every hungry heart.

All Priests

On the threshold of this Year of the Priest, we recall that the thoughts of the Heart of Jesus embrace all priests from the first ones assembled with him in the Cenacle on the night before He suffered to those who will welcome Him when he returns in glory.

Beset by Sin and Repaired by Love

What are priests if not weak men beset by sin and repaired by love? The Heart of Jesus sends out his priests for the healing, reconciliation, and restoration of those who, like themselves, stand at every moment in need of mercy. Speaking to a priest, Our Lord said:

"There has never been in all of history a single priest whom I have not destined for a great holiness. My Heart has suffered much because so many of my chosen ones have refused my gifts and, preferring their own ways to mine, gone into the outer darkness where it is night.

My Heart burns to see my priests all ablaze with Eucharistic holiness. The altar is the source of priestly holiness. The kiss given to the altar at the beginning and end of Holy Mass means that the priest recognizes this. By kissing the altar, he makes himself vulnerable to my piercing love. By kissing the altar he opens himself unreservedly to all that I would give him and to all that I hold in the designs of my Heart for his life. The kiss to the altar signifies total abandonment to the priestly holiness that I desire and to the fulfillment of my desires in the soul of my priest.

The holiness to which I call my priests, the holiness to which I am calling you, consists in a total configuration to me as I stand before my Father in the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil. Every priest of mine is to be with me both priest and victim in the presence of my Father. Every priest is called to stand before the altar with pierced hands and feet, with his side wounded, and with his head crowned as my head was crowned in my passion. You needn’t fear this configuration to me; it will bring you only peace of heart, joy in the presence of my Father, and that unique intimacy with me that I have, from the night before I suffered, reserved for my priests, my chosen ones, the friends of my Heart."

My Heart Thirsts for You

Mother Marie des Douleurs, writing for priests in the 1930s,
placed these words in the Heart and mouth of Our Lord:

“I have need of this body of priests
who continually will live their Mass,
who will continue my Passion.
My immolation must go on until the end of time;
I must find priests who will hand over to me
their bodies, their souls, their whole being so that in them,
I may be the one whom nearly no one accepts to recognize,
the Crucified.
You whom I have chosen
and marked for this mission glorious above all others,
will you not understand, will you too go away?
My Heart thirsts for you.
Do you not see all the souls torn away from me?
If my priests do not continue me, I am alone and powerless.”

Priests Passionately Loved

Mother's text, like the message of Our Lord to a priest cited above, is almost frightening in its lucidity and crushing in its implications, but it is meant to inspire today in each one a more ardent prayer for all priests, chosen and passionately loved by the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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We have crossed the threshold,
not only of Your feast, but also of Your mystery,
O Pierced One.
We have been in pilgrimage to Your Heart.
It was the light of Your Eucharistic Face that drew us on,
compelling us, impelling to seek in its radiance
the wound in Your side.

Now before us lies the door
opened not by the turn of a key
but by the thrust of a lance,
and beyond the door the abode of love.
“He has brought me to the banqueting house,
and is banner over me was love” (Ct 2:4).

We opened our books to First Vespers
and found there not the mere form of words
but the traces of a burning, blazing Word
-- Your Heart --
and beneath the text
embers glowing
waiting to be fanned again into flame
by a mingling of Spirit-Breath with ours,
breath well spent in the chants of Your Church.

The Spirit came again to the help of our weakness,
loosing our tongues for the praise of Love wounded and wounding,
teaching Love’s own language:
strange to those in exile from Your Heart
but now become -- O wonder!--
our native tongue.

Strange and blessed
this language of Your Church,
spilling fire in antiphons
and rivers of light in psalms,
infusing Your prayer, O Christ, Eternal Son, Eternal Priest
-- nothing less than that --
into all of us who know not how to pray as we ought.

Your Heart’s prayer
poured into every aching emptiness of ours.
Your Heart’s song
rising in our silence.
Your Heartbeat
making us bold
by a gift of words not of our making.
And in those words Heart speaks to heart.

In them
Your Heart speaks to the Father;
and the Father’s heart to yours.
In them Your Heart sings to Your Church, Your Bride;
and her heart sings to yours.
This is Love’s exchange,
hidden from the learned and the clever
but revealed to little ones,
splashed like pure water on the lips of children
to delight the Father
and to fall all shining onto the cracked and dusty face
of a world grown old in thirst.

You stood up once
as you stand before us now,
-- it was the last day of the feast, the great day --
and cried out, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink;
out of His heart shall flow rivers of living water” (cf. Jn 7:37-38).
You said this about the Spirit
that blazes from Your face --
and rushes from Your open side
in water and in blood.

Where is the heart held aloft,
the heart become a chalice to catch the torrent in its flow?
Where are hands to press that chalice
to the lips of those who, with weary step,
return from empty cisterns?
My heart?
For this I give it
and for this I give my hands.
My heart to cup the flow of love,
my hands to tip the chalice.

It is Your Face, O Christ, that we came seeking,
the Face that sought us first,
Your Eucharistic Face seen now as through a glass darkly,
a polished monstrance crystal cut by faith.
And we all, with unveiled face,
beholding Your glory veiled here,
are being changed into Your likeness (cf. 2 Cor 3:18)
and drawn beyond the threshold wound,
Your Heart’s pierced portal.
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.” (Ct 2:13-14).

It is time for us to be like the nesting dove
time for us to spread our wings
and, lifted by the Spirit, to hide in the cleft of the rock.
There, “they shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat” (Rev 7:16).
Pass through the narrow gate.

Apostle of the Sacred Heart,
sent out from that secret place,
be a dove made white in the Blood,
and like the dove, after every mission far-flung or near
to it return to be silent and adore.

Adorers of the Sacred Heart
we will all of us be in the end
for adoration will have the last word
as it must have the first.
“The hour is coming and now is,
when the true adorers shall adore the Father
in spirit and in truth,
for such the Father seeks to adore Him” (Jn 4:23).

Adoration then will be the only word,
an ocean of light dissolving every other discourse
and bathing a broken world
in the healing water and the cleansing blood.
“And He who sat upon the throne said,
'Behold, I make all things new’” (Rev 21:5).

“And they shall see His face,
and His name shall be on their foreheads.
And night shall be no more;
they need no light of lamp or sun,
for the Lord God will be their light” (Rev 22:4-5).
O Eucharist, Sun of Life,
radiating the Heart’s flame of fire!
O Host burning and yet not consumed!

“And Moses hid his face,
for he was afraid to look at God” (Ex 3:6)?
Gentle Christ, humble hidden Bread,
to look at you is all refreshment.
Irresistible God.

“After this I looked,
and lo, in the heaven an open door!
And the voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said,
'Come up hither’” (Rev 4:1).

And I looked and looked
and looked at Him whom they have pierced (cf. Zech 12:10).
“And the angel who talked with me came again,
and waked me, like a man that is wakened out of his sleep.
And he said to me, 'What do you see?’” (Zech 4:1-2).
“A Eucharistic Face,” I said,
“and an Open Heart.”

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This lengthy entry is not entirely new, but it does contain some new autobiographical elements. I decided to share with you, dear readers, the development of my call to live under the Rule of Saint Benedict, in Eucharistic adoration, while offering spiritual support to my brother priests and deacons here in the Diocese of Tulsa.

A continuity with the earliest glimmers of my Benedictine vocation is evident to those who have learned to read events -- even when they are marked by suffering, twists, and uncertainties -- with the eyes of the heart. There is much here that I would have preferred to keep as "the secret of the King," but there are also details that may well redound to His glory and, at the same time, respond to the queries and (not always accurate) speculations of those who want to know the details of my mission as it unfolds.

The Beginning of a Friendship

How did I first come to know Marie-Adèle Garnier? (See the previous entry for details about her life.) I was introduced to her by Blessed Columba Marmion! In order to reconstruct the genesis of our “friendship” -- for one can have a friendship with the saints in heaven -- I must return to my first exposure to monastic life in 1969.

Young Men and the Books They Read

I discovered Abbot Columba Marmion’s writings when I was fifteen years old. I was visiting Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. Father Marius Granato, O.C.S.O., charged at that time with helping young men -- even very young men -- seek God, put Christ, the Ideal of the Monk into my hands. He even let me take the precious green-covered volume home with me. With all the ardour of my fifteen years I devoured it. No book had ever spoken to my heart in quite the same way.

My Spiritual Father

I read and re-read Christ, the Ideal of the Monk. At fifteen one is profoundly marked by what one reads. The impressions made on a soul at that age determine the course of one’s life. As I pursued my desire to seek God, I relied on Dom Marmion. I chose him not only as my monastic patron, but also as my spiritual father, my intercessor, and my guide.

Dom Denis Huerre, O.S.B., in his biography of Père Muard, the founder of the Abbey of La-Pierre-Qui-Vire, discusses Père Muard's extraordinary spiritual kinship with Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. (She is, in fact, the secondary patron of La-Pierre-Qui-Vire.) Dom Denis concludes that it is not we who choose the particular saints with whom we desire to cultivate a special friendship; it is, rather, these particular saints who choose us. This, I am convinced is part of God's plan for the holiness of each one.

Spiritual Affinities

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I became an avid reader of everything written by or about Abbot Marmion. In one of these books I encountered Marie-Adèle Garnier, Mother Mary of St. Peter, the foundress of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Tyburn, O.S.B. The little bit I read about her was very compelling: her focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, her love of the Mass and the Divine Office, and her profound attachment to the Church. We were, without any doubt, united by a certain spiritual affinity.

Dom Marmion's Letters

Blessed Marmion's Letters of Spiritual Direction, edited by Dom Raymond Thibaut under the title Union With God, contain several pages of the Abbot's correspondance with Mother Mary of St. Peter. Among other things, Dom Marmion wrote:

"The very real imperfections which you confess to me do not make me doubt the reality of the grace you receive. God is the Supreme Master, and He leaves you these weaknesses in order that you may see that these great graces do not come from you, and are not granted to you on account of your virtues, but on account of your misery. You are a member of Jesus Christ, and the Father truly gives to His Son what He gives to His weak and miserable member. Do not be astonished, do not be discouraged when you fall into a fault, but draw from the Heart of your Spouse -- for all His riches are yours -- the grace and virtue that are wanting to you."

Saint Luke Kirby and Mother St. Thomas More Wakerley

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In 1972, during my frightfully precocious initial experience of traditional Benedictine life, I wrote to the Tyburn Benedictines for the first time. (In photos from that period I am a very thin bespectacled 20 year old, looking rather like a young Pius XII in a Benedictine habit!) My purpose in writing to Tyburn was to learn more about Mother Mary of St. Peter, and also to request information on Saint Luke Kirby, one of the Tyburn martyrs whose surname I bear. I received a lovely reply written in what appeared to be a frail and trembling hand: a letter from Mother M. St. Thomas More Wakerley. Mother St. Thomas More sent me the information I had requested on Saint Luke Kirby as well as the red-covered biography of Mother Mary of St. Peter by Dom Bede Camm, O.S.B. The book was re-edited in 2006 by Saint Michael's Abbey Press.

Friends of the Sacred Heart

I read and re-read the book, finding that Marie-Adèle Garnier and I moved, so to speak, within the same constellation of mysteries: the Heart of Jesus, the Eucharist, the Sacred Liturgy, the Priesthood, and the Church. Blessed Abbot Marmion’s writings continued to nourish me, as did those of Saint Gertrude the Great and other Benedictine and Cistercian friends of the Sacred Heart. Dom Ursmer de Berlière’s book (in the “Pax” Collection) on the Sacred Heart within the monastic tradition added kindling to the fire. At about the same time, I read the life of other Benedictine mystics of the Sacred Heart: among them were Père Jean-Baptiste Muard, founder of La-Pierre-Qui-Vire, Mère Jeanne Deleloë, and Blessed Giovanna Bonomo.

Stability in the Heart of Jesus

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In 1975, having wisely taken time out from the cloister, I made a pilgrimage to the cradle of Benedictine life at Subiaco. There I met a wise old monk who had been Master of Novices at La-Pierre-Qui-Vire. When I asked him for counsel concerning my monastic journey, he said to me, “Frère, tu dois faire ta stabilité dans le Coeur de Jésus -- Brother, you must make your stability in the Heart of Jesus.” These words were to sustain me in the years ahead. I know that Marie-Adèle Garnier would have understood them perfectly.

The Open Heart of Jesus Crucified

On August 4, 1979, together with Father Jacob, now a Dominican, and another brother, now a Franciscan, I went on pilgrimage to Montmartre in Paris. There, in the crypt of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, at the altar of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and trusting in her intercession, we consecrated ourselves to the Heart of Jesus and to His designs on our life. Within me the desire was growing for a simple Benedictine life, characterized by the worthy celebration of the Divine Office and by adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist. The wounded Side of Our Lord exercised a supernatural power of attraction over me. The text of our Act of Consecration was printed on a leaflet with a drawing depicting a monk being drawn to the open Heart of Jesus Crucified. The attraction to the pierced Heart of Jesus and to His Holy Face was constant and undeniable.

Life Together

For several years I lived with Father Jacob and others in a small monastic community where, every evening after Vespers, we had adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In the end it was decided that we should be absorbed by the monastery that was sponsoring and guiding us: the Cistercian Abbey of Notre Dame de Nazareth in Rougemont, Québec. It was a painful detachment for all concerned. Again, Mother Mary of St. Peter would have understood.

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I am preparing for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by repeating each day the Prayer of Forgiveness and Reparation that Our Lord inspired me to write several years ago. This is not a prayer that one says once and for all; it bears repeating in the changing circumstances of life simply because it is a response of obedience to Our Lord's commands in the Gospel. A psychologist to whom this prayer was presented said that if his clients said this prayer sincerely and from the heart, he would effectively find himself out of business.

Many people have made this prayer their own and experienced the healing and blessings that begin to flow when one takes to heart Our Lord's command that we are to pray for those who persecute us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. Is not this kind of prayer integral to true devotion to the Sacred Heart?

Prayer of Forgiveness and Reparation

Lord Jesus Christ,
Who revealed the infinite mercy of Your Sacred Heart
in saying: "Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5:44)
and again, "Bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you" (Lk 6:28),
give me, I beseech You,
grace to obey these commandments of yours,
and to persevere in praying daily
for those who, in any way,
have abused, cursed, hurt, or rejected me.

I pray for those who hate me,
for those who resent me
and for those who have spoken ill of me.
I beg you to bless them abundantly
and to pour into their hearts
such a profusion of healing mercies
that in them and around them
love will triumph over hatred,
friendship over resentment,
sweetness over bitterness,
meekness over anger,
and peace over enmity.
I further ask you to extend these graces
to their families and to all whom they hold dear.

In particular, I pray today for N. (and N.).
I present him/her/them
to Your Eucharistic Face,
asking You to envelop him/her/them in Its healing radiance,
dispelling whatever shadows of sin
may have darkened his/her/their mind(s)
or hardened his/her their heart(s)
in anger, hatred, or the refusal to forgive.

For my part,
with deep sorrow I confess
that I have sinned grievously against others,
causing them pain and even endangering their souls.
I pray you, O Merciful Jesus, to repair the evil I have done to others
and to heal the hurt I have inflicted on them.
In particular, I acknowledge my sins against N. (and N.)
imploring You to heal and repair the harm I have done him/her/them.

I ask you so to penetrate my heart
with the charity of Your Pierced Heart
that I will be able to forgive
those who have offended me,
to love them sincerely,
and to desire for them all that will contribute to their true happiness in this life and in the next.

By means of a permanent intention,
I desire to renew this prayer
in every offering of Your Holy Sacrifice.
Let the light of Your Eucharistic Face
shine in the hearts of all who harbour
hatred or resentment toward me,
to bring them healing and peace.
Let Your Precious Blood
triumph over evil
in those against whom I have sinned
and in those who have sinned against me,
so that, delivered from the shadows
of this valley of tears,
we may one day praise Your Mercy together
in the sweetness of a boundless charity.
Amen.


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I am very blessed to have been born in the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today, June 2, is my 57th birthday and the 6th birthday of my nephew Michael Colin Kirby. I am in New Hampshire with my brother and his family at the moment and will be returning to Tulsa tomorrow. When Michael Colin, a child of the sea and surf, was asked what he would like for his birthday supper, he replied, "Lobster and steamers!"

I will try during the month of June to continue the meditations on the Litany of the Sacred Heart that I began two years ago. They can be found in the Sacred Heart archives of Vultus Christi.

One of my favourite prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is this one, written by Cardinal Newman. It is as theologically precise as it is tenderly human. I am especially moved by Newman's allusion to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus: "Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist and thou beatest for us still."

My God, my Saviour, I adore Thy Sacred Heart,
for that heart is the seat and source
of all Thy tenderest human affections for us sinners.
It is the instrument and organ of Thy love.
It did beat for us. It yearned over us.
It ached for us, and for our salvation.
It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us.
It is the channel through which has come to us all Thy overflowing human affection,
all Thy Divine Charity towards us.
All Thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and our Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes,
in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart.
O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fulness,
Thou didst save me by Thy divine strength, and Thy human affection,
and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith Thou didst overflow.
O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus,
Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.
Now as then Thou savest,
Desiderio desideravi--"With desire I have desired."
I worship Thee then with all my best love and awe,
with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will.
O my God, when Thou dost condescend to suffer me to receive Thee,
to eat and drink Thee, and Thou for a while takest up Thy abode within me,
O make my heart beat with Thy Heart.
Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual,
all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, of all disorder, of all deadness.
So fill it with Thee, that neither the events of the day
nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it,
but that in Thy love and Thy fear it may have peace.

The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

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Fifth Monday of Paschaltide

Acts 14:5-18
John 14:21-26

And I Will Love Him

I am grateful to the Apostle Saint Jude for the marvelous dialogue recounted in today's Gospel. Our Lord reveals what it means to love Him and to be loved by Him. He declares that anyone who loves Him will be loved by the Father. He promises to love the one who loves Him and to manifest Himself to him. "He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (Jn 14:21).

The Way of Love

Saint Jude doesn't immediately grasp what Our Lord is saying. He cannot conceive of a way of knowing Christ apart from the obvious way given to all. Jude seems to think that it is enough to observe Jesus: something that everyone can do. That there should be a higher way of knowing, a more intimate way, the way of love, completely eludes him. "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" (Jn 14:22).

We Will Make Our Home With Him

Our Lord explains that the manifestation of Himself to His disciples will be inseparable from His Father's love for them. He promises a mysterious indwelling: "We will come to him and make our home with him" (Jn 14:23). He declares that anyone who loves Him will hold fast to His words. Those who let go of His words, those who fail to store them up in their hearts, will not enjoy the manifestation reserved to His friends. They will remain strangers to the joy of the indwelling of the Father and the Son.

The Heart of Jesus

How can we not relate this Gospel to the tender love Our Lord revealed in manifesting Himself to the friends of His Sacred Heart over the centuries. To each one of them He said in a unique way, "Behold, I love you and manifest Myself to you, even as I promised."

The Virgin Mother and the Virgin Disciple

I am thinking above all of the Virgin Mother beneath whose own Pure Heart His Sacred Heart of flesh first began to beat. I am thinking of Saint John the Beloved Disciple who, inflamed by his experience of the Heart of Jesus, was compelled to write: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it" (1 Jn1:1-2).

Lovers of the Sacred Heart

I am thinking of Saint Bernard, Saint Gertrude, Saint Mechthilde, Saint Lutgarde, and Saint Bonaventure. I am thinking of Saint Margaret Mary, of Saint Claude la Colombière, of Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny, of Sister Josefa Menendez, of Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, Father Jean du Coeur de Jésus d'Elbée, and of so many others. For each one of these men and women Our Lord fulfilled the promise he makes in today's Gospel: "He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him" (Jn 14:21).

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Christ's Gift to Us

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, before being a gift of ours offered to Christ is a gift that He offers us. "If you but knew the gift of God!" (Jn 4:10). This is the clear teaching of Pope Pius XII in Haurietis Aquas: "We are perfectly justified in seeing in this same devotion . . . a gift without price which our divine Saviour . . . imparted to the Church, His mystical Spouse in recent centuries when she had to endure such trials and surmount so many difficulties" (HA, art. 2).

The Holy Spirit, Gift of the Heart of the Son

For Pope Pius XII, the Holy Spirit is the first Gift from the Heart of the risen Christ. This too is announced in today's Gospel: "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14:26). The work of the Holy Spirit is threefold. (1) The Holy Spirit is our Advocate with the Father, "interceding for us with sighs too deeps for words" because "we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26). (2) The Holy Spirit is sent to teach us all things, that is, to make clear for us "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8). (3) The Holy Spirit is sent to quicken the memory of the Church, to bring to remembrance all that Christ said, lest any word of His be neglected or forgotten.

Advocate, Teacher, and Prompter

The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, our Teacher, and our Prompter. As Advocate, the Holy Spirit aligns us with the prayer of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Father; "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8:27), that is, according to the Heart of Christ. As Teacher, the Holy Spirit gives us "the power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" (Eph 3:18); in a word, the Holy Spirit teaches us the Heart of Christ. As Prompter, the Holy Spirit calls to mind the words by which Christ communicates to us all "the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3) hidden in His Sacred Heart.

Mine It Is to Save

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"Of the sins cast into the fire of my Heart nothing remains -- they are completely annihilated -- not reduced to ashes -- but utterly destroyed and forgotten. Love makes me do this. When a soul laden with sin . . . comes to me with a repentant and broken heart, my Love envelopes that soul and purifies her in my Blood.
I am the Saviour. I abhor sin and its ravages in my creatures. Sin given to me ceases to exist; it is forever lost in the infinite ocean of my Mercy, but sin clung to and held close to oneself becomes a poison, a cancer that spreads, destroying the spiritual organism that I designed for holiness and for eternal beatitude.
I want my priests to give me their sins. I want all their sins because I have already paid the price for them. . . . Every sin given to me disappears, and in exchange for every sin given to me I will give a grace in return. This is the exchange I propose to souls. . . . It is enough to surrender your sins to me: in return I bestow an abundance of graces, precious graces that sanctify the soul and cause virtues to spring up where formerly there was nothing but a wasteland inhabited by the shadows of vice.
I want my priests to be the first to experience the immensity of my Mercy. I want them to be the first to experience this exchange of sin for grace, of darkness for light, of sickness for health, and of sadness for joy. Let them come to me in the Sacrament of my Mercy, and then let them seek me out daily, even hourly, in the Sacrament of my Love, the Most Holy Eucharist. There I wait for them, there they will find everything their hearts desire.
I am Jesus. Mine it is to save, to heal, to vivify, and to make lovely in the sight of my Father the souls that consent to the operations of my Mercy and to the secret action of the Holy Spirit. . . . Confidence opens the door to all the treasures of my Kingdom. To one who has confidence in my Merciful Love, I can refuse nothing."

For All the Priests of the World

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An Inspired Prayer

Yesterday, being Thursday, the day of adoration and reparation for priests, I posted a passage pertaining to the priesthood from the writings of Sister Josefa Menendez of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Today, I want to share with the readers of Vultus Christi the prayer for priests that Josefa received from Our Lord. The translation from the French is my own.

O Jesus, by Your loving Heart, I beg You to inflame with the zeal of Your Love and of Your Glory all the priests of the world, all missionaries, and all those charged with announcing Your Divine Word, so that set ablaze with a holy zeal they may rescue souls from the demon and lead them all to the shelter of Your Heart where they will be able to glorify You ceaselessly. Amen.

Fire Upon the Earth

Josefa's prayer resonates with the Magnificat Antiphon sung at First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur? "I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be set ablaze?" (Luke 12:49). This profound harmony with Sacred Scripture and with the liturgy of the Church is one of the indications that a particular inspiration comes from God.

Catholicity

Another favourable indication is the catholicity of the text; there is nothing narrow about it, nothing that looks towards self. The prayer embraces "all the priests of the world, all missionaries, and all those charged with announcing the Divine Word." The triple repetition of all attests to the catholic horizons opened in Josefa's soul by her intimacy with the Sacred Heart.

Zeal

Twice in her prayer Josefa uses the word zeal. The virtue of zeal is radically incompatible with sloth, pusillanimity, and lukewarmness: vices that, at certain hours, tempt every priest. She speaks of rescuing souls from the demon; like the great Saint Antony of Egypt, the little domestic sister of Poitiers had no illusions about the machinations of the Evil One and the reality of spiritual combat. The rage of the Evil One was, according to the testimony of her superiors, something Sister Josefa experienced in the most disconcerting ways.

Into the Shelter of the Sacred Heart

Josefa Menendez calls the Sacred Heart of Jesus an asile, that is to say, a safe place, a shelter. The mission of priests, as she presents it, is to lead souls into the shelter of the Sacred Heart where, says Josefa, "they will be able to glorify You ceaselessly." Once a soul has crossed the threshold of Our Lord's pierced side, everything in that soul turns to thanksgiving and praise.

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The hymn at Vespers of Christ the King evokes both the feast of Corpus Christi and that of the Sacred Heart. This is consonant with the thought of Pope Pius XI who, in instituting the feast of Christ the King in 1925, situated it in the lineage of the two other later Christological feasts. Here are two the two pertinent stanzas:

Ad hoc cruenta ab arbore
pendes apertis bracchiis,
diraque fossum cuspide
cor igne flagrans exhibes.

For this Thou hangedst on the Tree
With arms outstretched in loving plea;
For this Thou shewedst forth Thy Heart,
On fire with love, pierced by the dart.

Ad hoc in aris abderis
vini dapisque imagine,
fundens salutem filiis
transverberato pectore.

And yet that wounded side sheds grace
Forth from the altar's holy place,
Where, veiled 'neath humblest bread and wine,
Abides for man the life divine.

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"We institute the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ to be observed yearly throughout the whole world. . . . We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day."
Quas Primas, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, December 11, 1925.

The mandate of Pope Pius XI to recite publicly the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has never been rescinded. It was customary in the past to renew the Act of Consecration at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on the afternoon or evening of the feast of Christ the King. Failing that, could it not be presented in the homily, and then recited at the end of Mass? In how many cathedrals and parish churches will the Act of Consecration be recited publicly today? Read it attentively. It is extraordinarily relevant to the current and coming situation of the Church in the United States.

Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before thy altar.  We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but to be more surely united to Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself / today to Thy Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known Thee; Many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee.  Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart.
Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful children / who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children / who have abandoned Thee; Grant that they may quickly return / to their Father's house / lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be Thou King of those / who are deceived by the erroneous opinions / of whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth / and unity of faith, so that soon there may be / but one flock and one shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound / from pole to pole with one cry; praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; To it be glory and honor forever.  R. Amen.

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There have been more than 40 million abortions in the United States since 1973.

HEART OF JESUS,
formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
have mercy on the nations soaked in the blood of the innocent.

May that vast army of infants slaughtered mercilessly in their mothers' wombs
raise their voices and plead before Thy throne in glory
for an end to the crime of abortion
that has so rightly merited Thy Father's wrath
and caused the nations to become an abomination in His sight.

Do what Thou must, O merciful Heart of Jesus,
to reveal to all the horror of this sin
and to bring us to repentance.

Immaculate Virgin Mary,
thou who didst bear Thy Son for nine months
in the inviolate sanctuary of Thy womb,
intercede for all who, confident in thy maternal protection,
seek to defend the life of unborn children.
Amen.

A Fruitful Love

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Saint Daniel Comboni

Today is the liturgical memorial of Saint Daniel Comboni, founder of two missionary institutes, tireless worker for the abolition of slavery, and zealous apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope John Paul II canonized him on October 5, 2003.

Friendship in the Heart of Jesus

It often pleases Our Lord to bring chosen souls together in friendship and in mutual support. This was the experience of Saint Daniel Comboni (1831-1881) and Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny (1841-1884). Before founding the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus, Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny propagated the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart, a movement of reparation and of perpetual adoration of the Heart of Jesus present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

Marie du Sacré-Coeur, a Visitandine of the monastery of Bourg-en-Bresse had launched the Guard of Honour on March 13, 1863. The following year the bishop of Belley recognized the movement as a confraternity, and in 1878 Pope Leo XIII elevated it to the rank of an archconfraternity in France and Belgium.

In the beginning, the Guard of Honour obliged its members to spend an hour in adoration and reparation to the Heart of Jesus before the tabernacle. The hours of the day and night were so distributed among the members as to offer the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus an uninterrupted presence of reparation and adoring love. Later on, the manner of carrying out one's assigned hour was modified: no longer was a physical presence before the tabernacle required. One could participate in the Guard of Honour without interrupting one's daily activities, simply by offering an hour of one's day in the spirit of adoration and reparation to the Sacred Heart.

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Offering of the Hour of Presence


O Lord Jesus, present in the Tabernacle,
I offer Thee this Hour
to glorify Thy Heart with my love and reparation.
Accept to this end my thoughts, my words, my actions,
my joys and my sorrows.
Receive, above all, my heart.
I give it to Thee without reserve,
and beg Thee to consume it in the fire of Thy pure love.

Most Precious Offering of the Blood and of the Water


Eternal Father, receive as a sacrifice of propitiation
for the needs of the Church
and in reparation for the sins of the world,
the precious Blood and Water that flowed from the Heart of Jesus,
and have mercy upon us.

Saint Daniel Comboni and Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny met at the Visitation Monastery of Bourg-en-Bresse in June 1865. Inspired to make of covenant of mutual support, Father Comboni became the promoter of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart in Africa, and Mother Marie de Jésus became the hidden root of the immense Combonian apostolate. A remarkable correspondence ensued.

In 1865, Saint Daniel Comboni wrote to Mother Marie de Jésus:

Love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I read your dear letter of 13th June during my journey from Bourg to Geneva. It expresses so vividly the tender love you have for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is only now that I can answer because as soon as I reached Verona I had to go to Vienna in Austria and then to Rome, which I reached on the eve of the feast of St Peter, and then on to Naples. In that period I had too many things to do, which prevented me from writing to you. In the first place I am extremely grateful for the kindness with which you sent me in several parcels one large and one small Cadron, the "Notizia", some news sheets, holy pictures and a few medals of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and above all for having granted me the diploma of Special Director of the Association.

The Centre of Communication Between Us: the Heart of Jesus

I must tell you the joy it gave me to find in you a worthy Sister who bestowed upon me the high honour of promoting the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the countries of Central Africa, and also the joy I feel at corresponding by letter with you regarding the interests of the glory of the Sacred Heart which is the centre of communication between us, which must be burning for the salvation of these souls. Providence seems to have chosen me for the most difficult and dangerous apostolate to the Africans. I shall try to respond to this high mission with every possible effort. I am prepared to sacrifice my life for the salvation of Africa. But what good fortune you bring me, my dear Sister, with the help of the Society of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart! It is with ineffable joy that I admire the pious instigator of the beloved Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart whose glorious apostolate is the powerful strength which encourages me in the huge undertaking with which the great God of Israel has charged me, his unworthy servant.

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Africa Consecrated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

The Work I am about to found, and that I hope to start already this year with the erection of two great Apostolic Vicariates in Central Africa, which the Holy See will open following my Plan for the Regeneration of Africa, and that I will consecrate to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, links up closely with the Society of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of which you are the fervent instigator. You see, dear Sister what an intimate union there must be between you and me. It is for this reason that I shall keep you informed of all the progress made by this great Work which must also be yours, as yours is mine. Recommend this Work to the members so as to propagate prayer for the conversion of Africa, as I shall promote the Society of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart, not only in Africa, but in the whole world. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be with us and may we be faithful and joyful in consecrating our lives for the sake of his Glory.

Fear Not

As soon as I have had my Plan for the Regeneration of Africa printed in French I shall send it to you: I want you to know it to multiply the prayer intentions. His Eminence Cardinal De Angelis, Archbishop of Fermo relegated to Turin, who at the 1846 Conclave received the most votes, after Pius IX, in the Papal election, told me: "If you have placed your Work under the protection of the Sacred Heart, fear not: you will succeed". The ardent love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will burn up the paganism and the fetishism of the African race and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ will be built. However, hoping to introduce the Society of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart in the Slav countries, please send me in Rome a diploma of Special Director of the Society for the Very Reverend Fr Vicenzo Basile of the Society of Jesus, a famous missionary who has spent 25 years in the Slav countries, so that he may introduce the devotion and the Society in those vast lands.

A Mission to Fulfill

On December 3, 1867 Mother Marie de Jésus wrote to a Visitandine of Bourg-en-Bresse:

When Don Comboni went to take leave of the Pope and asked of him a special blessing for the Zelatrice of the Sacred Heart, the Holy Father said, "Oh! Tell her that I bless her with all my heart!"

In the same letter, Mother Marie de Jésus writes:

On Friday, November 29th Don Comboni came to say goodbye to me; he said to me these singular words: "Propagate the Guard of Honour. I tell you this because I sense something in my soul about this. You have a mission to fulfill; you must always consider yourself unworthy of it; but you have a mission and you have begun to fulfill it by propagating the Guard of Honour.

Remembering Montmartre

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Twenty-nine years ago today, a few young men prayed this Act of Consecration together in the crypt of the Basilica of Montmartre in Paris. I was among them. Our Lord is faithful, faithful even in the face of all our weaknesses, and infidelities, and betrayals. In the end, if we persevere in believing in His fidelity, His merciful love will triumph in our lives, and He will do in us and for us all that we, of and by ourselves, were unable to do.

Lord Jesus, we come to this holy place, to this Mount of Martyrs,
as so many saints have done,
to adore Thee, to thank Thee for the wonders of Thy love,
to implore Thy mercy and, above all,
to offer ourselves to Thy Heart. . . .

Lord Jesus, we seek Thy Face;
we consecrate ourselves to Thy Sacred Heart,
praying Thee so to unite us to Thyself
that Thou wilt live, and suffer, and pray
in us and through us
for the glory of the Father and the salvation of the world.

Lord Jesus, unite us to Thy faithful and perfect "Yes" to the Father,
that was consummated upon the Cross.
Thus wilt Thou unite us to the Holy Sacrifice offered throughout the world,
and give us to discover anew the hidden fecundity of the Cross.

Lord Jesus, we are certain of being heard
because we come to Thy Sacred Heart through the Heart of Mary
whom Thou didst give us from the Cross to be our Mother.
Mary is the faithful Virgin, Our Lady of Compassion,
standing with Thy Beloved Disciple at the foot of the Cross.
Let us know how close to us she is, and how present in our life.


Looking Round for Pity

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Heart-broken with that shame, I pine away, looking round for pity where pity is none, for comfort where there is no comfort to be found.
They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
(Psalm 68, 21, Offertory of the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

The Sufferings of a Love Wounded and Spurned

Our Lord, when He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, foresaw outrages and sufferings: the sufferings of a Love wounded and spurned. He still waits for a little compassion from priests, from His priests. Today more than ever, Jesus is looking for priest consolers, that is to say, priest adorers who will make reparation. To one priest He said:

I Want Priest Adorers and Reparators

I want priests who will adore for priests who do not adore, [I want] priests who will make reparation for priests who do not make reparation, not for themselves, nor for others. I want priest adorers and reparators.

All Heaven Weeps

My Father, too, is grieved by the coldness and indifference with which I who am His Beloved Son, His Eternal Priest, His Immaculate Victim ceaselessly offered in the sanctuary of heaven, am treated on earth. This comes not from strangers, but from my very own, from those whom I chose, out of love, to share in my priesthood, to abide in my presence, to nourish my people with the mysteries of my Body and Blood. All heaven weeps over the sins of my priests. For every sin there is mercy in the Blood and Water that flow from my wounded Side, but the sins of my priests call for reparation. Make reparation for your brother priests by adoring me, by remaining before my Eucharistic Face, by offering the love of your heart purified by my great mercy.

I Love My Priests

My Sacred Heart is divinely sensitive to the coldness and indifference of my priests. I ask you to make reparation to me for them. Allow me to love you as I would love each of them. Allow me to heal you, to comfort you, to sanctify you, just as I would heal, comfort, and sanctify any one of my priests. I love my priests -- but few of them believe in my love for them. You, believe in my love for you. I am your Friend. I have chosen you to be in life and in death the privileged friend of my Sacred Heart.

Console Me

I ask you to console me by remaining before my Face. I ask you to console me by staying close to my Heart, pierced for love of you and for all sinners. Be my priest adorer. Console me and make reparation for those who spurn my love, for those who mock my wounds, my Blood, my sacrifice.

Time Before My Eucharistic Face

I want you to learn to remain before my Eucharistic Face, silent, adoring, listening to me, and loving me for those who do not adore me, those who do not listen to me, those who never express their love for me in this way. If only my priests would spend time before my Eucharistic Face, I should heal them, purify them, sanctify them, and change them into apostles set all ablaze with the Living Flame that consumes my Heart in the Blessed Sacrament. But they stay away. They prefer so many other things, vain pursuits and things that leave them empty, bitter, and weary. They forget my words, "Come to me . . . and I will refresh you." My priests will be renewed in holiness and in purity when they begin to seek me out in the Sacrament of my Love.

The Desires of My Heart

How it grieves my Heart when the unique love I offer a soul is spurned, or ignored, or regarded with indifference. I tell you this so that you may make reparation to my Heart by accepting the love I have for you and by living in my friendship. Receive my gifts, my kindnesses, my attention, my mercies for the sake of those who effuse what I so desire to give them. Do this especially for my priests, your brothers. I would fill each one of my priests with my merciful love, I would take each one into the shelter of my wounded Side, I would give to each one the delights of my Divine Friendship, but so few of my priests accept what I desire to give them. They flee from before my Face. They remain at a distance from my open Heart. They keep themselves apart from me. Their lives are compartmentalized. They treat with me only when duty obliges them to do so. There is no gratuitous love, no desire to be with me for my own sake, simply because I am there in the Sacrament of my Love, waiting for the companionship and friendship of those whom I have chosen and called from among millions of souls to be my priests and to be the special friends of my Sacred Heart. Would that priests understood that they are called not only to minister to souls in my Name, but even more to cling to me, to abide in me, to live in me and for me, and by me and no other. I want you to tell priests of the desires of my Heart.

A Company of Priest-Adorers Making Reparation

Oh, how my Heart longs to raise up a company of priest-adorers who will make reparation for their brother priests by abiding before my Eucharistic Face. I will pour out the treasures of my Eucharistic Heart upon them. I want to renew the priesthood in my Church, and I will do it beginning with a few priests touched to the quick by my friendship, and drawn into the radiance of my Eucharistic Face.

I am indebted to my friend, Father Scott Bailey, C.SS.R. for this poignant image of the Eucharistic Face and Heart of Jesus.

Pro Affligentibus Nos

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Commanded from the Heart

“I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Lk 6:28). These are not suggestions; they are not pious recommendations. They are clear precepts of Christ: commandments conceived in His merciful Heart and addressed to each of us without exception.

The Prayer From the Cross

It is no coincidence that this Gospel passage should be given us in this month of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. One cannot receive the Forgiving Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist and persist in refusing anyone forgiveness. One cannot approach the Pierced Heart of Jesus and not be drawn into His prayer to the Father from the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

Obedience

The prevalent culture of options and of personal choices has all but rendered us impermeable to the commandments of Our Lord. We prefer to think of them as suggestions or as “talking points.” Contemporary sensibilities in the world and, alas, even in the Church, resent the objective precept, the non-negotiable commandment, the mandate coming from above. A combination of the effects of original sin and actual sins of pride has conditioned us to want to discuss everything, to debate everything, to argue the value of any law coming from above us or outside of us. Our Lord presents us with just such a commandment. It is not a suggestion. It is not open to discussion. It is not the subject of debate. It is a divine commandment. In obeying it, we obey God. In neglecting to obey it, we neglect to obey God.

Blessings and Prayer

Insofar as we consider ourselves disciples of Christ, we are bound to bless those who curse us, to pray for those who speak evil against us. We are commanded to do good to those who hate us. This good that we are commanded to do is, first of all and above all, prayer.

The Prayer of Christ

There is no greater force for good than prayer. There is no better way to do good to those who hate us than by asking the light of the Face of Christ to envelop them and penetrate them. There is nothing more beneficial to those who afflict us than confident recourse to the pierced Heart of Jesus. There is no more powerful blessing of those who curse us than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered on their behalf. For those speak evil against us there is no prayer more powerful than the prayer of Christ the High Priest who, in every Mass, stands before His Father, pleading and interceding for those who approach God through Him.

To Damage, Crush, Break, Ruin, or Vex

Mother Church, with her ancient experience of human nature, provides us with the means of obeying this commandment of our Lord. The Roman Missal contains a Mass specifically for this purpose. It is entitled Pro Affligentibus Nos, “For Those Who Afflict Us.” The title of the Mass speaks volumes. Opening my Latin dictionary to the entry for affligo, I see that it means to throw down, to afflict, damage, crush, break, ruin; humble, weaken, or vex. If you have ever felt thrown down, if you have ever felt afflicted, damaged, crushed, broken, ruined, humbled, weakened, or vexed, you need to enter wholeheartedly into the Mass Pro Affligentibus Nos.

The Power of Prayer

There is a mysterious power in praying for those who have hurt us, in interceding wholeheartedly
— for those who have spoken ill of us,
— for those who have damaged our reputations,
— for those who have incited others to think less of us,
— for those who have hurt us emotionally, physically, or spiritually,
— for those who have been abusive toward us,
— for those who have cursed us,
— for those have broken our hearts, betrayed us, or rejected us.

Our Lord commands us to pray for them, not only for their sakes, but also for our own. Our own spiritual liberation, our own inner healing from resentment, hatred, and lingering bitterness is contingent upon our persevering obedience to the commandments of Christ in the Gospel.

The Root of So Much Suffering

Prayer for those who afflict us has, at times, immediate and astonishing results. Persons suffering from physical complaints — chronic illnesses, pains, and weaknesses — have been completely healed after praying sincerely for those with whom they are at enmity. Persons suffering from emotional illnesses — depression, chronic jealousy, addictive patterns of behaviour, and irrational fears — have been liberated from these after obeying Our Lord’s commandment to pray for those at the root of their suffering.

Conquerors Through the Sacred Heart

Prayer for those who afflict us sets in motion concentric circles of reconciliation and healing. In praying for those who have hurt you, place no limits on the munificence of God. Ask boldly. Beg God to overwhelm them with His choicest blessings, to make them profoundly and truly happy in this world and in the next. This kind of prayer, made in obedience to the commandment of the Lord, radiates an invisible but supremely efficacious love: the very charity of God “poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which He has given us” (Rom 5:5). “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37)., conquerors, that is, through the Sacred Heart.

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On June 9, 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The eighty-nine year old Pontiff was prompted to do this by two letters written to him "upon the order of Our Lord" by a Religious of the Good Shepherd named Mother Mary of the Divine Heart (Droste zu Vischering), the first on June 10, 1898, and the second on January 15, 1899. Here is an extract from her second letter:

"When, last summer, Your Holiness was suffering from an indisposition which, given your great age, filled the hearts of your children with cares, Our Lord gave me the sweet consolation [of knowing] that He would prolong the days of Your Holiness, so as to bring about the consecration of the entire world to His Divine Heart. . . .

On the eve of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lord gave me to know that by means of this new impetus given to the worship of His Divine Heart, He would make a new light shine upon the whole world . . . . I seem to see this light (interiorly), the Heart of Jesus, this adorable sun, sending down its rays upon the earth, at first narrowly, and then more widely, and finally illumining the entire world. I recognized the ardent desire He has to see His adorable Heart more and more glorified and known, and to spread abroad His gifts and blessings upon the whole world.

And He said: 'By the brightness of this light, peoples and nations will be illumined, and by its ardour they will be warmed again'. . . . One might find it strange that Our Lord should ask for this consecration of the entire world and not content Himself with [that of] the Catholic Church. But His desire to reign, to be loved and glorified, and to set ablaze all hearts with His love and His mercy is so ardent that He wants Your Holiness to offer Him the hearts of all those who belong to Him by Baptism to facilitate their return to the true Church, and the hearts of those who have not yet received spiritual life by Holy Baptism, but for whom He has given His life and His Blood, and who are equally called to be one day children of the Holy Church, to hasten by this means their spiritual birth."

Mother Mary of the Divine Heart died in her cloister in Portugal as the Church was singing First Vespers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 8, 1899. The following day, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the following prayer:

Contra spem in spem credidit

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Many years ago, as I was standing in the rain in front of the grotto at Lourdes on a cold February morning, a saintly old priest, the Chanoine Croset, told me that it was time for me to pass from having hopes to having hope. Passer des espoirs à l'espérance. This came back to me this morning as I meditated the text from Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans given as today's Second Reading: "In hope Abraham believed against hope" (Rom 4:18–25). I cannot help but relate this word to the magnificent Act of Hope written by Saint Claude La Colombière:

An Act of Hope and Confidence in God

My God, I believe most firmly that Thou watchest over all who hope in Thee, and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon Thee in all things; therefore I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties, and to cast all my cares upon Thee.

People may deprive me of worldly goods and of honors; sickness may take from me my strength and the means of serving Thee; I may even lose Thy grace by sin; but my trust shall never leave me. I will preserve it to the last moment of my life, and the powers of hell shall seek in vain to wrestle it from me.

Let others seek happiness in their wealth, in their talents; let them trust to the purity of their lives, the severity of their mortifications, to the number of their good works, the fervor of their prayers; as for me, O my God, in my very confidence lies all my hope. "For Thou, O Lord, singularly has settled me in hope." This confidence can never be in vain. "No one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded."

I am assured, therefore, of my eternal happiness, for I firmly hope for it, and all my hope is in Thee. "In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; let me never be confounded."

I know, alas! I know but too well that I am frail and changeable; I know the power of temptation against the strongest virtue. I have seen stars fall from heaven, and pillars of firmament totter; but these things alarm me not. While I hope in Thee I am sheltered from all misfortune, and I am sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon Thee to sustain this unfailing hope.

Finally, I know that my confidence cannot exceed Thy bounty, and that I shall never receive less than I have hoped for from Thee. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most furious assaults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness to triumph over my most powerful enemies. I hope that Thou wilt never cease to love me, and that I shall love Thee unceasingly. "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded."

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I was compelled to write this prayer a few years ago. Last February, while preaching a retreat at the Franciscan Convent of Perpetual Adoration in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, Ireland, I proposed it to the wonderful local people who came every evening to Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On the final evening of the retreat we recited it together before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Our Lord responded with the customary divine largesse of His Heart.

Prayer of Reparation to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

O Lord Jesus Christ present in this wonderful sacrament,
I desire at this hour to make reparation to Thy Eucharistic Heart
and to open myself to Thy Love for the sake of those who refuse or ignore it.

Increase Thou my faith,
that I may believe firmly in the truths and mysteries Thou hast revealed to Thy Church,
for the sake of those who do not believe.

By my attention to Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to make up for indifference to Thy Love,
for coldness, and for irreverence in Thy sacramental presence.

By my gratitude to Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to make up for ingratitude toward Thee
Who remainest hidden and forgotten in the tabernacles of so many locked churches.

By my trust in Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to make up for those who do not trust Thee,
for those who are afraid to trust Thee, and for those whose trust in Thy Love
has been weakened by sins of scandal, by the weight of life’s hardships, or by painful loss.

By my hope in Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to help those tempted to despair of Thy Mercy.
Allow me, I beseech Thee, to hope for those who have no hope
and, because Thou didst pour out Thy Blood for them, let not one of them be lost.

In spite of my weakness and inconstancy, I desire, by this humble act of reparation
to obtain for all who yearn for Thy friendship,
a share in the unspeakable sweetness experienced by Thy beloved disciple Saint John
when he rested his head upon Thy Heart
on the night before Thy Sacred Side was opened by the soldier’s lance.

Let my desire to be open to the Love of Thy Eucharistic Heart
serve to repair the brokenness of the most wounded and fragile members of Thy Mystical Body.

By the mysterious workings of Thy Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
let the reparation and adoration Thou hast inspired me to offer in Thy presence
bring reconciliation to those alienated from Thy Church,
healing to souls in need of Thy mercy,
and choice graces to Thy priests. Amen.

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The Father’s love was shown to us
In Christ our Saviour’s open Heart;
Now we are drawn to share his Cross
And in his Passion take our part.

We are the Father’s gift to Christ;
He loved his own until the end.
His burden light we bear with joy
and to his yoke we gladly bend.

Where captive sinners cry for help
The Servant-King will always be;
The strength of mercy’s arm to show;
Love’s Captor leaves the captive free.

His Heart is open to receive
All who a home and refuge seek;
The lance has pierced an open door;
Behold Love’s hospitality!

Lord, open wide to us your Heart;
Let restless hearts find rest in you.
Healed by your love, by love renewed,
Now make us wounded healers too.

Give us to gaze upon your Heart,
That we by faith therein may dwell
Until we see you face to face
Eternally your love to tell.

O Heart of God the Father’s joy,
O Heart of Christ, the Spirit’s lyre,
Receive our evening sacrifice,
Like incense, we await your fire. Amen.


A Hymn for Vespers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
M.D.K., O.Cist.
8. 8. 8. 8.

Focusing On That Face

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I am overwhelmed by this letter from the Congregation for the Clergy. It expresses all that I have tried to say on Vultus Christi and elsewhere. The subtitles in boldprint are my own. I will be returning to the text of the letter in order to meditate its content. I took the photo of the Altar of the Holy Face in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City.

Vatican City, April 22, 2008
Here is the message published by the Congregation for Clergy for the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. The day will be celebrated May 30, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

Focusing On That Face

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness.

Hearts Wounded By His Love

We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence. "In the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch" (Psalm 5).

Healed By His Flesh

The Sacred Liturgy leads us once again to contemplate the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, the origin and intimate reality of this company which is the Church: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed himself in Jesus Christ. "No one could see his Glory unless first healed by the humility of his flesh.... By dust you were blinded, and by dust you are healed: flesh, then, had wounded you, flesh heals you" (St. Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel according to John, Homily, 2, 16).

Mercy That Embraces Our Limitations

Only by looking again at the perfect and fascinating humanity of Jesus Christ -- alive and active now -- who revealed himself to us and still today bends down to each one of us with his special love of total predilection, can we can let him illumine and fill the abyss of need which is our humanity, certain of Hope encountered and sure of Mercy that embraces our limitations and teaches us to forgive what we ourselves do not even manage to discern. "Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts" (Psalm 42[41]).

Close to the Heart of Jesus

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Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil Martiny was the "First Zelatrice", or promoter, of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart. The Work was founded at the Visitation Monastery of Bourg-en-Bresse in 1863. The above photo shows Daughters of the Heart of Jesus at adoration in their chapel in Rome.

The Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart
or Association of Presence to the Heart of Jesus

The Aim of the Guard of Honour

"I look round for one that would console Me, and I found none" (Psalm 68:21)

The Guard of Honour was established to respond to this sorrowful complaint of Our Lord. Its members seek, by the conscious dedication of their activities, to offer love and reparation to the Heart of Jesus, outraged by the ingratitude and the sins of men. The wounded Heart of Jesus is, therefore, the Object of the Guard of Honour. Love and reparation are its aim. The practices of the Work are the means.

Anyone may belong to the Association of Presence to the Heart of Jesus (the Guard of Honour) because it imposes no obligation incompatible with one's own state in life. It helps one to live one's own vocation with greater fidelity.

Conditions for Membership:

1) Be enrolled at one of the Association's approved Centres. (See the Enrollment Form given below.)
2) Choose an hour out of each day or night, and offer it to the Heart of Jesus, without changing one's ordinary activities. Unite the offering of one's daily life with the offering of the Blood and Water that flowed from the Wound in the Heart of Jesus.

Offering of the Hour of Presence

O Lord Jesus, present in the Tabernacle,
I offer Thee this Hour
to glorify Thy Heart with my love and reparation.
Accept to this end my thoughts, my words, my actions,
my joys and my sorrows.
Receive, above all, my heart.
I give it to Thee without reserve,
and beg Thee to consume it in the fire of Thy pure love.

Most Precious Offering of the Blood and of the Water

Eternal Father, receive as a sacrifice of propitiation
for the needs of the Church
and in reparation for the sins of the world,
the precious Blood and Water that flowed from the Heart of Jesus,
and have mercy upon us.

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I pray thee, O Most Holy Virgin Mary,
that I might hear the Heartbeat of redeeming Love,
and that with Thee
I might adore the Heart of Jesus
formed in Thy womb by the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Spirit,
by whose power and overshadowing Thou didst become
the living tabernacle of the Heart of God,
may my soul rejoice in Thy every visitation
and leap in recognition of Him
who through Thee deigns to come to me.

Through the Holy Spirit
by whom Thou wert illumined by faith,
quickened by hope,
and inflamed with charity,
grant that I may believe all that the Sacred Heart of Jesus has revealed,
never despair of His boundless Mercy,
and burn with the fire He came to cast upon the earth.

In the Holy Spirit,
Thou adorest the Heart of Thy Son as the Heart of Thy God;
in that same Holy Spirit,
grant that I may adore the Heart of my God
as the Heart that, hidden in Thy womb, once beat beneath Thy own:
the same Sacred Heart that, pierced upon the Cross,
fills the heavens with glory
and the earth with mercy.
Amen.

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O Lord Jesus Christ present in this wonderful sacrament,
I desire at this hour to make reparation to Thy Eucharistic Heart
and to open myself to Thy Love
for the sake of those who refuse or ignore it.

Increase Thou my faith,
that I may believe firmly in the truths and mysteries Thou hast revealed to Thy Church,
for the sake of those who do not believe.

By my attention to Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to make up for indifference to Thy Love,
for coldness, and for irreverence in Thy sacramental presence.

By my gratitude to Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to make up for ingratitude toward Thee
Who remainest hidden and forgotten in the tabernacles of so many locked churches.


By my trust in Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to make up for those who do not trust Thee,
for those are afraid to trust Thee, and for those whose trust in Thy Love
has been weakened by sins of scandal, by the weight of life’s hardships, or by painful loss.

By my hope in Thy Eucharistic Heart, I desire to help those tempted to despair of Thy Mercy.
Allow me, I beseech Thee, to hope for those who have no hope
and, because Thou didst pour out Thy Blood for them, let not one of them be lost.

In spite of my weakness and inconstancy, I desire, by this humble act of reparation
to obtain for all who yearn for Thy friendship,
a share in the unspeakable sweetness experienced by Thy beloved disciple Saint John
when he rested his head upon Thy Heart
on the night before Thy Sacred Side was opened by the soldier’s lance.

Let my desire to be open to the Love of Thy Eucharistic Heart
serve to repair the brokenness of the most wounded and fragile members of Thy Mystical Body.

By the mysterious workings of Thy Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
let the reparation and adoration Thou hast inspired me to offer in Thy presence
bring reconciliation to those alienated from Thy Church,
healing to souls in need of Thy mercy,
and choice graces to Thy priests. Amen.

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. . . Having completed His sacrifice, and giving up His spirit, the side of Christ is pierced and out flowed blood and water. It is as if this heart of Christ, having spent itself totally in compassion for sinful man, has one last treasure to give in death. This is the final act, the completion of Christ’s total gift to us and to the Father.

Be sure to visit Rationabile Obsequium, the splendid new blog of a recently ordained priest whom I am privileged to count among my friends. Don't miss the homily of Father B's First Mass of Thanksgiving on the mystery of the pierced Heart of Christ. Bravo, dear Father!

Woundedness

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Terry's commentary on Jacob's struggle is magnificent. Read the whole text at Abbey–Roads2.

This wrestling in the night can also suggest the spiritual combat involved in overcoming temptation and sin - perhaps even our unconscious resistance to God’s grace.

Ultimately, the fight Jacob engaged in can inspire in a soul who struggles with temptation and sin an abiding hope, thus encouraging the soul to persevere in the spiritual combat that is the Christian life. God allows this wrestling to test the soul, enjoying the intimacy of man pressing against His Sacred Heart in the battle. . . .

It is something few of us ever realize, this intimate contact with God amidst our greatest struggles; in the experience of our deepest, darkest, and most painful moments. Oftentimes we cannot perceive His presence, much less His plan for us - while our human nature seeks desperately to repel the experience. And our Lord seems reluctant to give us any evidence of His love during these times, except that which Jacob received, the painful dislocation of his hip. Again, for me, this image suggests that in and through our woundedness, we thus enter into a deeper humility, with less confidence in our own devices and a greater dependence and confidence in the mercy and love of God.

The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

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On 9 November 1921, Pope Benedict XV instituted the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart with a Proper Mass and Office. The feast continues to be celebrated in some places and by some communities, notably by the Redemptorists who maintain it in their Proper Calendar. In instituting the feast, Pope Benedict XV wrote:

The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.

The adorable mystery of the Eucharist sums up, contains, and communicates to us the entire mystery of Christ: His incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If you seek the open Side of the glorious ascended Christ, you will find it in the Eucharist. If you seek the pierced Heart of Christ, beating with love for the Father and with mercy for sinners, you will find it in the Eucharist. The Communion Antiphon of the Mass of the feast is meant to be repeated and treasured. It is, at once, a promise and an invitation: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20).

Here is my own translation of the Proper of the Mass of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, together with invocations for the Act of Penitence and General Intercessions. The lessons, Gradual, and Alleluia can be found in most older missals in the section entitled "Local Feasts."

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Come With Confidence

The Church of Sant'Alfonso on the Via Merulana is one of my favourite neighbourhood pilgrimages. It enshrines the original precious and wonderworking icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Even on ordinary days the church is visited by pilgrims from all over the world. During the annual novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, multitudes converge on the church to kneel in prayer before the miraculous image and present their petitions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Seeing this demonstration of faith, I am reminded of Adeamus, the Introit of the Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: "Let us come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and may find grace for a timely help" (Heb 4:16).

Christ the Redeemer

The original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is enthroned on the "high altar." Immediately above it, in the apse of the church, is a mosaic of Christ the Redeemer in the company of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph. The mosaic depicts the risen and ascended Christ. He is seated in majesty and clothed in the crimson mantle that represents the outpouring of His Precious Blood. "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra? This Beautiful One in His robe?" (Is 63:1).

When I first began visiting the Church of Sant'Alfonso, I was so taken by the icon of the Our Mother of Perpetual Help, that I didn't notice the mosaic of Christ the Redeemer. Had I looked, and seen, I would have asked with the prophet, "Why then is Thine apparel red, and Thy garments like them that tread in the wine-press?" (Is 63:2). Had I looked, and seen, I would have been drawn immediately to the open wound in the Redeemer's Sacred Side.

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An Opening Onto the Kingdom of God

It was only after several visits to the sanctuary of Our Mother of Perpetual Help that I looked, and saw, and understood the significance of the mosaic in the apse. The apse of a church generally symbolizes an opening onto the Kingdom of God. An apse is, in some way, more window than wall, even when it is solid. This explains the meaning of the images traditionally found in the apse of our churches: Christ in glory; Christ in majesty; Christ seated on a rainbow and on the clouds of heaven. Looking closely at the image in the Church of Sant'Alfonso, I see that, at the heart of the apse that symbolizes the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, there is another opening: the wound in the Sacred Side of Christ.

Pilgrimage to the Heart of Christ

The iconography of the Church of Sant'Alfonso suggests that every pilgrimage to the image Our Mother of Perpetual Help becomes, by her maternal mediation, a pilgrimage to the wounded Side of Christ and — through the wound in His Side — into the Holy of Holies that is His Sacred Heart. I think that my Redemptorist friend, Father Scott, would agree.

The Open Side of Christ

The Child held fast in His Mother's embrace is the "Beautiful One" (Is 63:1) "clothed in a robe sprinkled with blood, and His Name is called the Word of God" (Ap 19:13). Just as His Mother's Heart was open to receive Him in His littleness and weakness, so is His wounded Side open to receive us in our littleness, in our weakness, and even in our sin. So is His Blood poured out to cleanse, to refresh, and to heal. The way to the Heart of Jesus passes through the Heart of His Mother.

Special thanks to Redemptorist Father Luis Roballo for the photo of Christ the Redeemer in the apse of the Church of Sant'Alfonso.

Diversities of Graces

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The Open Side of Jesus Crucified

Look at this remarkable painting of Jesus Crucified. The focus of the composition is the wound in His Sacred Side. An angel holding a chalice is hovering just beneath it to receive the outpouring of His Blood. There are also angels stationed beneath His wounded hands. A fourth angel stricken with astonishment and grief looks on.

Saint Francis of Assisi

At the foot of the Cross, close to the wounded feet of Jesus, kneels Saint Francis of Assisi, embracing the saving wood. Saint Francis is closest to the feet of Jesus because he was called to walk in lowliness, poverty, and humility, in imitation of the Son of Man who "had no where to lay His head" (Mt 8:20).

Saint Benedict

On the left is Saint Benedict with his hands crossed over his breast. This is the ritual gesture of the monk when, on the day of his profession, he sings the second part of the Suscipe me, Domine: "Let me not be confounded in my expectation" (Ps 118:116). Saint Benedict is gazing at the Face of the Crucified with an extraordinary intensity of compassion and love. One could draw a direct line from the Face of Jesus to the face of Saint Benedict. This is what he means when he says in his Rule that one desiring to become a monk must "truly seek God" (RB 58:7).

Saint Romuald

On the right one sees Saint Romuald, whose feast we celebrate today. He is seated — rather like Mary of Bethany in Luke 10:39 — with his hands hidden in the sleeves of his cowl. These are subtle allusions to the hidden life in which Saint Romuald sought the Heart of Jesus, not by much doing (the hidden hands) but, rather, in much listening (the "Marian" posture). You will notice that Saint Romuald is not looking at the Face of the Crucified; he is focused on the wound in Jesus' Sacred Side. Therein he seeks to hide himself like the dove in the cleft of the rock.

June 17th is the dies natalis of Marie–Adèle Garnier, Mother Mary of St. Peter, Foundress of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Tyburn, O.S.B. In 1913 Blessed Columba Marmion wrote to one of her spiritual daughters, saying, "The special characteristic of your Mother is heroic confidence in the midst of impossibilities."

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Monastic Roots

Marie–Adèle Garnier was born in France on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 1838. She was baptized on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, September 12. Marie–Adèle’s native Burgundy is the land of Cluny, of Cîteaux, and of Paray–le–Monial. Her life was marked, from the very beginning, by an environment shaped by the Rule of Saint Benedict, by the ardour of Saint Bernard, and by the mystery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist

As a young woman, Marie–Adèle grew in awareness of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Priest and Victim: the Sacred Heart truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar where ceaselessly He glorifies the Father and intercedes for all men. Marie–Adèle was impelled by the Holy Spirit to seek a life wholly illuminated by the Sacrifice of the Mass, and marked by perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Happy, So Happy

In 1872, Marie–Adèle, after having read an article on the proposed basilica of Montmartre, heard an inner voice saying to her: “It is there that I need thee.” “At the same moment,” she writes, “I saw an altar raised on high and sparkling with lights, dominated by the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance. I felt so overcome by this that I had to lean against the door to save myself from falling. And then I felt so happy, so happy, that I could make nothing of it.”

Like many of her contemporaries drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Marie–Adèle heard the interior summons to a life of reparation and doxology. “I felt Jesus speaking to my heart, illuminated by a light of surpassing brightness; He told me that it was His Will that His Heart present in the Holy Eucharist should be the object of the worship of Montmartre, and that the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed there night and day.”

Salutary Failure

Marie–Adèle first attempted to respond to her vocation by living in solitude on Montmartre, close by the site of what would become the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. God allowed her to experience a salutary failure without, however, withdrawing the attraction to a life of reparation and adoration at Montmartre. Her first sojourn at Montmartre ended on the feast of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 15, 1876.

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Beginnings

In 1898, having returned to Montmartre with a companion, Marie–Adèle began a hidden life of adoration, reparation, and intercession for the Church under the special protection of Saint Peter the Prince of the Apostles, and Saint Michael the Archangel. From the beginning the Rule of Saint Benedict inspired and guided the new monastic family. On June 9, 1899, Marie–Adèle, now known as Mother Mary of St. Peter, and her first daughters, made their profession in the crypt of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the altar of Saint Peter. Two days later, June 11, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the whole human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Tyburn

The anti–clerical laws of 1901 obliged the fledgling community to leave Montmartre for England. Mother Mary of St. Peter and her daughters established themselves at Tyburn in the heart of London on the site of the cruel torments and death of England’s glorious Catholic Martyrs. Her companion, Mother Agnes, wrote, “And we ourselves, little as we were, but supporting our littleness on the Heart of Jesus, we, too, were coming to labour, within the limits of our vocation, in the great work of the conversion of England.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

From 1908 onward, Mother Mary of St. Peter was under the direction of the Benedictine Abbot Blessed Columba Marmion. It was to Abbot Marmion that she wrote on December 23, 1909: “In spite of this humiliating burden of misery and worries, my soul dwells in her God, because He supports her, holds her up, carries her, sustains her in a life of faith, of love, of confidence, not sensibly consoling, but supremely happy!”

Happy With God and With My Children

Abbot Marmion died in 1923, leaving Mother Mary of St. Peter and her daughters to mourn his passing and, at the same, to live in gratitude and joy from his spiritual patrimony. The following year on June 17, after much suffering, Mother Mary of St. Peter died. Her last intelligible words were: “I am so happy with God! And with my children.” Today Mother Mary of St. Peter's Benedictine Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart has monasteries in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia, and Rome, Italy.


Draw Me to Thy Piercèd Side

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The Saturday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This year it happens to coinicide with the June 16th memorial of a great Cistercian, one of the first mystics of the Sacred Heart: Lutgarde of Aywières. Some years ago I was given a piece of her wooden choirstall: one of my most treasured relics!

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Wounded by Love

Saint Lutgarde was the contemporary of Saints Francis and Clare. She was born in 1182, just one year after the little Poor Man of Assisi. Both were destined to share in the Passion of Christ; both would bear the impression of Christ’s wounds. Saint Lutgarde is often depicted — as are both Saint Bernard and Saint Francis — held in the embrace of Jesus Crucified, and invited to drink from the wound in His Sacred Side.

Mother of Preachers

The prolific multiplication of Cistercian-Benedictine monasteries of women in the Low Countries obliged the White Nuns to turn to the newly founded friars, disciples of Francis and Dominic, rather than to their brother monks, for spiritual and sacramental assistance. Lutgarde was a friend and mother to the early Dominicans and Franciscans, supporting their preaching by her prayer and fasting, offering them hospitality, ever eager for news of their missions and spiritual conquests. Her first biographer relates that the friars named her mater praedicatorum, the mother of preachers.

Cor Jesu, Templum Dei Sanctum

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Heart of Jesus, Holy Temple of God, have mercy on us.

The temple built by Solomon is a figure of the mystery of the Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart is at once the temple from which our prayer rises to the Father, and the Holy of Holies from which it pleases the Father to hear and answer us. The Heart of Jesus is the temple of God's encounter with man, and of man's encounter with God. The Second Book of Chronicles gives us a vivid image of prayer made in and from the Heart of Jesus, the Holy Temple of God:

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands. Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had it set in the court; and he stood upon it.

Then he knelt upon his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven; and said, 'O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven nor on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart. . . . (2 Chr 6:12-14).

Ultimately, Solomon's prayer is fulfilled in the Heart of Jesus:

But will God dwell indeed with man on earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, hearkening to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee; so that Thy eyes may be open day and night toward this house, the place where Thou hast promised to set Thy Name, that Thou mayest hearken to the prayer which Thy servant offers toward this place; yea, hear Thou from heaven Thy dwelling place; and when Thou hearest, forgive (2 Chr 618-21).

The Temple Open to All

Now, "in these last days" (Heb 1:2), God dwells with man on earth: the Heart of Jesus, concealed and revealed in the Most Holy Eucharist, is the temple open to all. "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:16). The eyes of the Father are open day and night toward the Heart of the Son; therein the Father has set His Name: the pledge of His unfailing presence and readiness to hear all who approach Him as sons. "If you abide in me," says Jesus, "and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you" (Jn 15:7).

The Temple of Adoration in Spirit and in Truth

One abides in Jesus by entering the temple of His Sacred Heart, through the portal of His open Side. For this was the Side of Jesus pierced by the soldier's lance on Calvary: that we might abide in the temple of His Heart. One who abides in the temple of the Sacred Heart finds therein the Altar, the Priest, and the Victim of "adoration in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:19).

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Spotless Victim and Eternal Priest,
after the consummation of Thy sacrifice on the Cross,
Thy Side was opened by the soldier's lance,
that with confidence in the outpouring of Thy Blood
we might enter Thy Sacred Heart,
the sanctuary of adoration in spirit and in truth.

How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longeth and fainteth for the wound in Thy Side,
for better above thousands elsewhere
is one day on the threshold of Thy Heart.

Thou hast opened for us a new and living way
through the veil, that is, through Thy flesh.
Unite us now to Thyself in that mystic temple
and in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
that we may praise Thee forever
and from Thy Sacred Heart
offer ceaseless adoration to the Father in the Holy Spirit
now and unto the ages of ages.
Amen.

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Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us

I cannot pray this invocation without recalling the Prophet Daniel's vision of the Son of Man in His majesty:

And I lifted up my eyes, and I saw: and behold a man clothed in linen, and his loins were girded with the finest gold; and his body was like the chrysolite, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as a burning lamp: and his arms and all downward even to the feet, like in appearance to glittering brass: and the voice of his word like the voice of a multitude" (Dn 10:5-6).

The Heart Revealed

There is no mention of the heart in Daniel's description; the heart remains hidden. And yet, the heart is revealed in the face having "the appearance of lightning" and in "the eyes as a burning lamp."

The Sacred Heart Speaks

The words of the Son of Man to Daniel announce the messages of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to souls of desire down through the centuries:

He that looked like a man touched me again, and strengthened me. And he said, "Fear not, O man of desires, peace be to thee: take courage and be strong." And when he spoke to me, I grew strong, and I said: "Speak, O my Lord, for thou hast strengthened me" (Dn 10:18–19).

Prayer

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty,
Thou art the dispensation of the mystery
which hath been hidden from eternity in God,
who created all things;
Thou art the mystery hidden from the sons of men
in other generations,
but now revealed to Thy holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Thou art the mystery hidden for ages and generations
but now made manifest to Thy saints.
Prostrate before Thee, I offer my own heart
in adoration of Thy splendour,
in submission to Thy wisdom,
and in surrender to Thy designs.
Speak Thou to me
as once Thou spokest to Daniel Thy Prophet,
that the desires of my heart
may be lifted up even to the majesty of Thine,
and that Thy words
may establish my faltering soul
in the strength of Thy grace
and the peace of Thy strength.
Amen.

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Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God, have mercy on us

From all eternity, God desired to love man divinely with a human heart, and so, "when the time had fully come" (Gal 4:4), "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14). In the breast of the Word Made Flesh there beats a human Heart that is nothing less than the Heart of God. The Divine Person of the Word expresses His filial love for the Father and His redeeming love for man through this Sacred Heart.

Behold this Heart

The Heart of the Word, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin's womb, pierced by the soldier's lance on Calvary, touched by the Apostle Thomas after the resurrection, and concealed in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, is the abiding symbol of the infinite love with which the Son loves the Father and loves every man. Thus did Jesus say to Saint Margaret Mary in the "Great Revelation" that occurred during the Octave of Corpus Christi in June 1675: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men." "In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins"(1 Jn 4:10).

Love, Mercy, and Meekness

To behold is to look upon, to contemplate, and to consider. The desire of Our Lord is that we should look upon His Heart, fulfilling in every generation the words of the prophet Zechariah repeated by Saint John: "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19:37; Zech 12:1). One who looks upon the Heart of Christ discovers the redeeming love of the Heart of God. One who contemplates the Heart of Christ is drawn into the infinite mercy of the Heart of God. One who considers the Heart of Christ learns the meekness and humility of the Heart of God.

To Know and Believe in the Love God Has For Us

The value of images of the Sacred Heart derives from this: that the pierced Heart of Jesus sets before our eyes the whole mystery of the merciful love of God, softens our resistances to that love, and invites us to grown in confident surrender to it. One understands just why Our Lord said to Saint Margaret Mary: "I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated."

Enthronement of the Sacred Heart

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Ap 3:20). The enthronement of an image of the Sacred Heart in one's home is a way of opening family life to the merciful love of Christ. Those who introduce an image of the Sacred Heart into their homes express their desire to say with the Apostle John, "So do we know and believe the love God has for us" (1 Jn 4:16). God who inspires that desire will also fulfill it.

Prayer

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I adore Thee beating in the breast of the Word Made Flesh.
I adore Thee, moved with Divine Compassion
at the sight of the multitude like sheep without a shepherd.
I adore Thee burning to set the world ablaze
with the fire of Thy Godhead.
I adore Thee desiring with a great desire
to feed us with Thyself.
I adore Thee broken with sorrow
and lifted to the Father in Gethsemani.
I adore Thee opened for me by the thrust of the soldier's lance.
I adore Thee in the stillness of the tomb.
I adore Thee in the glory of Thy resurrection.
I adore Thee with the Apostle Thomas, saying,
"O Heart of my Lord and Heart of my God!"
I adore Thee in the majesty of Thy ascension.
I adore Thee present in the tabernacles of the world.
I adore Thee revealed in glory at the end of time
for the glory of Thy Father
and for the joy of all Thy Saints.
Amen.

Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
have mercy on us.

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Et Homo Factus Est

The second invocation of the Litany of the Sacred Heart is the only one to mention the Holy Spirit, and the only one to name the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this, the Litany echoes the Nicene Creed: Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary; and was made man. When these words occur in the liturgy, the Church instructs us to bow profoundly (or to kneel) in adoration of the mystery of the Incarnation. So often as we perform this liturgical action, it unites us, in some way, to the first act of adoration offered by the Virgin Mary to the Sacred Heart.

The Sound of Redeeming Love

After twenty–four days, the Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, began to have regular beats or pulsations. The human Heart of God began to beat beneath the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was the sound of redeeming love. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father' " (Gal 4:6-7).

Keeper of the Mystic Portal

It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary that the Sacred Heart of Jesus enters the world. It is through her that the world will be brought to the Sacred Heart. I have never known anyone to have loved Mary without loving the Heart of Jesus, and I have never known anyone to have loved the Heart of Jesus without loving Mary. Mary is the Keeper of the Mystic Portal; she stands at the foot of the Cross drawing souls to the pierced Side of her Son, and guiding them over the threshold of His Pierced Side into the secret abode of His Sacred Heart.

Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil–Martiny writes: "In this life of union with the Heart of Jesus, of imitation of the Heart of Jesus, their excellent model is the Heart of Mary, for the Mother cannot be separated from the Son. It is through Mary that every soul goes to Jesus. Having once given His only Son through Mary, it is still through her that ceaselessly God gives Him to us."

Prayer

I pray thee, O Most Holy Virgin Mary,
that I might hear the Heartbeat of redeeming Love,
and that with Thee
I might adore the Heart of Jesus
formed in Thy womb by the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Spirit,
by whose power and overshadowing Thou didst become
the living tabernacle of the Heart of God,
may my soul rejoice in Thy every visitation
and leap in recognition of Him
who through Thee deigns to come to me.

Through the Holy Spirit
by whom Thou wert illumined by faith,
quickened by hope,
and inflamed with charity,
grant that I may believe all that the Sacred Heart of Jesus has revealed,
never despair of His boundless Mercy,
and burn with the fire He came to cast upon the earth.

In the Holy Spirit,
Thou adorest the Heart of Thy Son as the Heart of Thy God;
in that same Holy Spirit,
grant that I may adore the Heart of my God
as the Heart that, hidden in Thy womb, once beat beneath Thy own:
the same Sacred Heart that, pierced upon the Cross,
fills the heavens with glory
and the earth with mercy.
Amen.

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Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father

My project for the month of June is to offer something of a commentary on the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is perhaps presumptuous of me to try to do this. Others have done it before me, and among them were great saints and mystics such as Pope John Paul II. This is, nonetheless, something I want to do, something that I feel I must do this month. If it brings souls closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so much the better!

Over the years I have come to savour the Litany of the Sacred Heart more and more. Instinctively and not in any systematic way, I have approached each invocation following the "ladder of monks," the classic pattern of lectio divina:
lectio, each invocation heard;
meditatio, each invocation repeated;
oratio, each invocation prayed;
contemplatio, each invocation held in the heart.

The Little Bag of Saint Thérèse Couderc

I often think of Saint Thérèse Couderc who copied out the thirty–three invocations of the Litany of the Sacred on little slips of paper and kept them in a small cloth bag in her apron pocket. As she went about her work, she would pick an invocation out of the bag at random. She would repeat it and meditate it, allowing it to nourish her interior prayer. She would repeat this as often as necessary throughout the day.

Thou Art My Son

The first invocation of the litany draws us into the ageless mystery of the Son's relationship with the Eternal Father. I hear the sublime Introit of the Mass of Christmas During the Night, Dominus dixit ad me. The Word Himself, the Son, repeats to us what the Father says to Him from all eternity: "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee" (Ps 2:7). The divine affirmation of our sonship by adoption is something that we all need to hear. In an age when so many suffer from the absence of the father or from a father's silence, there is healing in receiving the testimony of the Heart of the Eternal Son: "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee" (Ps 2:7).

In Principio

The sonship of the Word is at the wellspring of life: the Father gazing with delight upon His perfect and coequal Image; the Son returning the gaze of the Father in a ceaseless rapture of filial love; the Holy Spirit sealing the communion of the Father with the Son, and of the Son with the Father. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God — that is, turned toward Him — and the Word was God" (Jn 1:1).

The Heart of the Son

It was, from the beginning, the will of the Most Holy Trinity that a human heart, a perfect heart, a heart pulsating with filial love, should be introduced into their most intimate and ineffable exchange of love. The Father desired that His Son should love Him with Adam's heart, that is, with a heart of flesh and blood. The Son desired that His love for the Father should be enfleshed, that the heartbeat of His love for the Father might become the very rhythm of the cosmos. The Holy Spirit desired to produce a perfect human heart capable of an exquisitely divine sensitivity to the love and to the glory of the Father, and to the sin and misery of man. And so, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14).

Sons in the Son

The work of our conversion and sanctification is this: that our hearts should be conformed to the Heart of the Firstborn Son. "You did not receive the the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, the heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Rom 8:15–17).

The fundamental fruit of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is growth in the grace of adoptive sonship. The more closely one's heart is united to the Heart of Jesus, the more perfectly does one become "a son within the Son." One who knows the Heart of Jesus knows the Heart of the Father also (cf. Jn 8:20). Souls privileged by the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are called to filial boldness in prayer, to a limitless confidence in the merciful goodness of the Father, and to serene abandonment to His will. "I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me — in my Heart — you may have peace (Jn 16:32).

Praying With the Sacred Heart

Sooner or later, true devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus becomes a participation in His filial prayer to the Father: "Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son that the Son may glorify Thee" (Jn 17:1); and again, from the Cross, "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46).

Prayer

Come, Thou Holy Spirit,
draw me to the Sacred Heart of the Son,
that by entering that wounded Heart
and by passing through its flames,
I may approach the Eternal Father
and be held safe in His embrace.

Let me hearken to the voice of the Son
and incline my ear to His promise:
“All that the Father giveth me will come to my Heart;
and him who cometh to my Heart I will not cast out.
He who loveth me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and manifest my Heart to him.”

Come, Thou Divine Consoler sent by the Father.
Whisper to me the secrets of the Heart of the Son
and bring to my remembrance all that He hath said.

Help Thou me in my weakness
for my prayer is timid and faltering
— that of a slave and not yet that of a son —
and I know not how to pray as I ought.

Let me not fall back into fear
but, rather, go forward in boldness.
Bear Thou witness within my heart
that while I am yet at a distance,
the Father seeth me through the pierced Heart of Jesus,
and hath compassion,
and runneth,
and kisseth me with the Kiss of His Mouth
bestowed on none save sons in the Son.
Amen.

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Cast into the furnace of love, the Heart of Jesus,
all your anxieties,
your trials, your fears,
so that He may burn them away.
— Mother Clelia Merloni


Mother Clelia Merloni founded the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Viareggio, Italy on May 30, 1894, 113 years ago today. The photo is not of Mother Clelia but of one of the first Sisters sent from Italy to America. With one little orphan in her arms and another holding her hand, she is the perfect image of the Apostle called to be a spouse of Jesus Christ and a mother to those dearest to His Sacred Heart: the little, the vulnerable, the poor.

The daughters of Mother Clelia make reparation to the Sacred Heart by means of their life of adoration and apostolic service to the Church. For every "No" to the love and mercy of the pierced Heart of Christ, the Sister Apostle offers her own unconditional "Yes."

The Generalate of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is located within the parish confines of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, a mere five minutes from the basilica.

Damien, A Priest Adorer

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I find my consolation in the one and only companion who will never leave me, that is, our Divine Saviour in the Holy Eucharist. . . .

It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength necessary in this isolation of ours. Without the Blessed Sacrament a position like mine would be unbearable. But, having Our Lord at my side, I continue always to be happy and content. . . . Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends with souls who seek to please Him. His goodness knows how to proportion itself to the smallest of His creatures as to the greatest of them. Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations, to tell Him of your miseries, your fears, your worries, of those who are dear to you, of your projects, and of your hopes. Do so with confidence and with an open heart.

Blessed Damien de Veuster, SS.CC.

A Priest–Icon of the Suffering Christ

The saints, all of them, are living illustrations of the power of the Holy Spirit. The saints are the masterpieces of the Divine Iconographer who, in every age, writes in souls the whole mystery of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Finger of God’s Right Hand tracing on hearts of flesh the likeness of the Heart of Jesus. In Blessed Damian of Molokai the Church sets before us a priest fashioned by the Holy Spirit in a special way into the image of the suffering Christ, “despised and rejected by man, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3).

The Entire Plan of God

Father Damien could have said to his beloved people of Molokai what Saint Paul said to the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus : “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came . . . I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me . . .. I did not shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. I earnestly bore witness . . . to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus . . .. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace . . .. I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God” (cf. Ac 20:17-27).

Eucharistic Adoration

The words are Saint Paul’s but the sentiments — all of them — are those of Blessed Father Damien of Molokai. Where did Father Damien discover “the entire plan of God” (Ac 20:27) or, as another translation has it, “the whole counsel of God”? In the contemplation of the Heart of Jesus. And where did he contemplate the Heart of Jesus? In the adoration of the Eucharist.

Knowledge of the Pierced Side of Christ

The full title of Father Damien’s religious family is a very long one but it expresses completely the charism given them: “The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.” Father Damien’s compassionate devotion to those suffering from leprosy was the fruit of his intimate knowledge of the riches hidden in the pierced Side of Christ. That knowledge came to him in long hours of adoration before the tabernacle.

Lepers Adoring the Hidden Face of Christ

It is a little known fact that Father Damien laboured to established perpetual adoration of the Eucharist among his dear lepers. In this there is something astonishingly beautiful; the sight of lepers adoring day and night the Suffering Servant who, disfigured in his Passion, became, “as one from whom men screen their faces” (Is 53:3), the “Lord of Glory” (1 Cor 2:8) whose face is "all the beauty of holy souls” (Litany of the Holy Face).

The Prayer of the Sacred Heart to the Father

It was in Eucharistic adoration that Blessed Father Damien found himself drawn into the priestly prayer of Christ given us in the seventeenth chapter of Saint John. That prayer did not end with the Last Supper in the Cenacle. It is the prayer of the risen and ascended Christ who stands all-glorious in the sanctuary of heaven, showing the Father the wound in His side, the opening made by love, never to be closed. It is the prayer of the priestly Heart of Jesus in the sacrifice and sacrament of the Eucharist. It is the prayer that, from the tabernacle, rises ceaselessly like incense before the Father. Only those who linger there know this prayer; it becomes their prayer, inhabits them, changes them, and impels them to imitate the self-giving love of the Sacred Heart.

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Thirty–Seven Years of Mass

I am dedicating this special entry to my friend Monsignor Arthur Burton Calkins on the 37th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood or, as we say in Italian, “after 37 years of Mass.” Monsignor Calkins is more familiar than anyone else I know with the writings of the Servant of God Louise–Marguerite Claret de la Touche. I ask her to intercede for him today.

A Find at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli

I am becoming increasingly sensitive to the little manifestations of Divine Providence — God’s “gentle leadings with bands of love” — on a daily basis. Last Saturday a dear friend invited me to visit the Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli with her. After making our devotions and spending a moment before the church’s famous Santo Bambino, we stopped for a moment in the gift shop to look at its impressive display of icon reproductions. All of a sudden I was drawn to this particular image. It look vaguely familiar to me. I found the Face of Christ, the pierced Side, and the inscription, “It is mercy that I desire,” strangely compelling. I also felt that the little image was destined for my friend. She went home with it. Later that day, after some searching, I identified it as the image painted by Louise–Marguerite Claret de la Touche (1868–1915), one of the last century’s most notable mystics of the Sacred Heart and a spiritual advocate for priests.

The Painting

Mother Louise–Marguerite Claret de la Touche was fond of drawing and painting: a popular pastime in Visitation monasteries of the last century. She left a number of pictures of landscapes, animals, flowers, and still–lifes. It is, however, her inspired painting of the Merciful Jesus, that continues to touch hearts and move them to prayer.

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Father Charrier, S.J., Louise–Marguerite’s confessor, ordered her to execute the painting after she related to him a vision in which Our Lord manifested Himself revealing His wounded side. (The similarities with the experience of Saint Faustina Kowalska are striking.)

Meekness and Majesty

Louise–Marguerite painted the image at the end of 1902 and the beginning of 1903. It is unlike other pictures of the Sacred Heart dating from the same epoch. The Face of Christ resembles that of the Holy Shroud of Turin. The eyes of Christ seem to search the soul of the one meeting His gaze. Around the head of Christ the artist painted a double halo: the first represents a crown of thorns; the second, adorned with three stylized lilies, bears the inscription, Misericordiam volo, “It is mercy that I desire” (Mt 9:13).

Contemplating the image, one discovers at the same time the meekness of Jesus and His majesty. Meekness and majesty are inseparable in Him. Gesturing with His hand, Our Lord indicates His pierced Side. The opening in His tunic has, in effect, the shape of a heart.

The Sacred Side

The image represents the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy: “They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (Jn 19:37). The pierced Side of Christ reveals the infinite love of His Heart; it is the wellspring of His mercy.

Call Me Mercy

Mother Louise–Marguerite’s own writings tell of what inspired her in painting the image:
“One day, prostrate at the feet of Jesus, I was calling Him my soul’s one and only Good, the sovereign love of my heart, the infinite treasury of all riches. In the end I said to Him, ‘My Jesus, how do You want me to address you?’ And He answered, ‘Call me Mercy!’ O my sweet Mercy, O Jesus who died of love upon this Cross, grant that, brought back to you by the appeal of Your Mercy, we may live from Your love and for your love’! (Diary, Good Friday, 13 April 1900)

Priest, Temple, and Door

Notice that the image represents the majesty of the “Eternal High Priest,” of the “Divine Sacrificer” Who, from His open Side, continues to pour out “life–giving torrents of Infinite Love” upon humanity and, in particular, upon priests. The lanced pierced His right side: an evident allusion to the vision recounted in Chapter 47 of the prophet Ezekiel. Christ is, at once, the “High Priest” (Heb 4:14) and the Temple (Jn 2:21). Saving water streams out from below the right side of the Temple, and swells to become “a river” producing life in abundance wherever it flows. In this light, the wound in the Side of Christ is revealed also as “the door” (Jn 10:7) through which one enters the Holy of Holies to “obtain mercy and gind grace” (Heb 4:16).

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Fifth Monday of Paschaltide

Acts 14:5–18
Psalm 113B:1–2, 3–4, 15–16 (R.1ab)
John 14:21–26

Grateful to Saint Jude

We are grateful to the Apostle Saint Jude for the marvelous dialogue recounted in today’s Gospel. Our Lord reveals what it means to love Him and to be loved by Him. He declares that anyone who loves Him will be loved by the Father. He promises to love the one who loves him and to manifest Himself to him. “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21).

The Way of Love

Saint Jude doesn’t immediately grasp what Our Lord is saying. He cannot conceive of a way of knowing Christ apart from the obvious way given to all. Jude seems to think that it is enough to observe Jesus: something that everyone can do. That there should be a higher way of knowing, a more intimate way, the way of love, completely eludes him. “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” (Jn 14:22).

The Divine Indwelling

Our Lord explains that the manifestation of Himself to His disciples will be inseparable from His Father’s love for them. He promises a mysterious indwelling: “We will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14:23). He declares that anyone who loves Him will hold fast to His words. Those who let go of his words, those who fail to store them up in their hearts, will not enjoy the manifestation reserved to His friends. They will remain strangers to the joy of the indwelling of the Father and the Son.

Friends of the Sacred Heart

How can we not relate this Gospel to the tender love Our Lord revealed in manifesting Himself to the friends of His Sacred Heart over the centuries. To each one of them He said in a unique way, “Behold, I love you and manifest Myself to you, even as I promised.”

I am thinking above all of the Virgin Mother beneath whose own Pure Heart His Sacred Heart of flesh first began to beat. I am thinking of Saint John the Beloved Disciple who, inflamed by his experience of the Heart of Jesus, was compelled to write: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it” (1 Jn1:1–2).

I am thinking of Saint Bernard, Saint Gertrude, Saint Mechthilde, Saint Lutgarde, and Saint Bonaventure. I am thinking of Saint Margaret Mary and of Saint Claude la Colombière, of Mother Marie Adèle Garnier of Tyburn, Mother Clelia Merloni, and Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil–Martiny; of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and of Blessed Marie–Joseph Cassant. For each one of these men and women Our Lord fulfilled the promise he makes in today’s Gospel: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21).

A Gift Without Price

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, before being a gift of ours offered to Christ is a gift that He offers us. “If you but knew the gift of God!” (Jn 4:10). This is the clear teaching of Pope Pius XII in Haurietis Aquas: “We are perfectly justified in seeing in this same devotion . . . a gift without price which our divine Saviour . . . imparted to the Church, His mystical Spouse in recent centuries when she had to endure such trials and surmount so many difficulties” (HA, art. 2).

The Holy Spirit, First Gift of the Heart of Christ

For Pope Pius XII, the Holy Spirit is the first Gift from the Heart of the risen Christ. This too is announced in today’s Gospel: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). The work of the Holy Spirit is threefold. (1) The Holy Spirit is our Advocate with the Father, “interceding for us with sighs too deeps for words” because “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26). (2) The Holy Spirit is sent to teach us all things, that is, to make clear for us “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8). (3) The Holy Spirit is sent to quicken the memory of the Church, to bring to remembrance all that Christ said, lest any word of His be neglected or forgotten.

Advocate, Teacher, and Prompter

The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, our Teacher, and our Prompter. As Advocate, the Holy Spirit aligns us with the prayer of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Father; “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom 8:27), that is, according to the Heart of Christ. As Teacher, the Holy Spirit gives us “the power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18); in a word, the Holy Spirit teaches us the Heart of Christ. As Prompter, the Holy Spirit calls to mind the words by which Christ communicates to us all “the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3) hidden in His Sacred Heart.

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Yesterday morning, together with Leonard and Mark, my friends from the U.S., I visited the Carceri or hermitages hidden on the wooded slopes of Mount Subasio above Assisi. In a chapel that is part of the small monastic complex built there by Saint Bernardino of Siena in 1400, I discovered this beautiful fresco of the Precious Blood flowing from the pierced side of Jesus Crucified into a chalice held by an angel. I am always spellbound by depictions of the Holy Face of Jesus and of His Open Side. Here in Italy I find them everywhere.

Note that in this image Jesus is living. His eyes are open; He offers His Blood consciously, willingly, and with infinite love. The fresco is situated just above and behind a stone altar where Holy Mass would have been celebrated; it represents the very mystery that is actualized so often as the Eucharistic commandment of the Lord is carried out: "Do ye this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11:24).

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Here at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, I have the privilege of living just a few steps away from the Chapel of the Sacred Relics where one can venerate the finger of Saint Thomas the Apostle, that very finger that probed the pierced side of Our Lord. Today's Gospel takes on a special meaning when one lives under the same roof as so sacred a relic.

The finger of Saint Thomas came to be enshrined here through a revelation to Saint Birgitta of Sweden; it was by means of an intervention of Saint Birgitta that the relic was found and brought to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The relic has been venerated by numerous other saints, blesseds, and servants of God; among them, Saint Philip Neri, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Saint Vincent Pallotti, Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and Cardinal Newman.

O Blessed Wound!

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On the occasion of the Holy Father's 80th birthday and in response to his invitation to contemplate the wounded Side of Christ, I offer again my own translation of a prayer "Alla Piaga Del Costato di Gesù," To the Wound in Jesus' Side, composed by the Servant of God Father Eustachio Montemurro (1857–1923). The Venerable Eustachio of Jesus and Mary, a physician and a civic leader, a man of noble ideals and courageous initiatives, became a priest at forty–five years of age, desiring to bringing healing to souls as well as to bodies. Shortly thereafter he founded two religious congregations: The Little Brothers of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Sisters Missionaries of the Sacred Side.

The holy founder was accused of "an excess of zeal" and, for the good of the institutes he had established, chose to exile himself from his spiritual sons and daughters. With the permission of the Pope, he moved to the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Rosary of Pompei, founded by Blessed Bartolo Longo, to devote himself selflessly to the service of souls. Father Montemurro died at Pompei on January 2, 1923, loved by all, and leaving a reputation for holiness.

O painless thrust of the spear
forever awaited with passionate love by my Saviour
that thou shouldst repair in the Father's sight
the terrible wound opened by the sin of Adam
in the heart of humanity!

O glorious wound,
gushing forth life, love, and peace!
I adore thee inexhaustible wellspring of salvation,
the womb of new children
born of the water and of the blood of the Bridegroom.
Thou art for me an ever open refuge,
the door giving access to the nuptial chamber,
the vestibule of the banquet of the Lamb.

The living water that, at every moment, springs from thee,
invites me with the language of love
to enter, through thee, into the heart of my Saviour
that therein I might take the regenerating rest of new life
and spread it all about me
just as the bride coming forth from the nuptial chamber
radiates among her friends the signs and the sweetnesses of love.

Be thou for me, then, O blessed wound,
my blissful abode.
May I be drawn always to thee,
that in thee I may live and die.
In thee may I find the splendid riches
which eye has never seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart experienced.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
glory of my mind, joy of my eyes,
melody of my ears, gladness of my heart,
and peace of my soul.

I am Thine for time and for eternity;
nothing shall ever separate me from Thee,
for Thou hast espoused me,
drawing me with bands of goodness to Thy open side
and pouring out of Thy heart into mine
the joys of the Spirit
and the mercy of the Father who always hears Thee.

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Ah, awful Face of Love, bruised by my hand,
Turn to me, pierce me with Thine eyes of flame,
And give, me deeper knowledge of my sin.
So let me grieve and, when I understand
How great my guilt, my ruin, and my shame,
Open Thy Sacred Heart and let me in!

R.H. Benson

The Embrace of Saint Francis and the Crucified, Murillo, 1668
This is a very significant image for me. When I first saw this painting as a little boy of eleven or twelve years, maybe younger, I was smitten by it. My Dad went out and bought me a beautiful framed reproduction that I treasured. The soul of a child is formed (or deformed) by the images to which he is exposed.

Later in my life I discovered that the theme of the amplexus (embrace) of the Crucified originated in depictions of Saint Bernard. Saint Francis' remarkable affinity to Saint Bernard is demonstrated in that the motif of the amplexus was widely transferred from the Abbot of Clairvaux to the Little Poor Man of Assisi. The recurring motif of the Face of Christ and of His Pierced Heart is linked to the spread of the Cistercian and Franciscan Orders, each with its own iconography of the amplexus.

Gazing on Christ's Open Heart

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Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Ezechiel 47:1-9, 12
Psalm 45:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
John 5:1-16

All You That Thirst

Today’s texts are just waiting to be developed into a pre-baptismal catechesis. “All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money come, and drink with joy” (cf. Is 55:1). The Entrance Antiphon is addressed to all who thirst; there is nothing to purchase. The waters flow freely. The last phrase of the antiphon — “drink with joy” — is not found in the biblical text. It is the Church’s word, making clear for us here and now, the prophecy of Isaiah.

Flowing Waters

The Responsorial Psalm sings of the river that irrigates the Church, the new Jerusalem: “The city of God enriched with flowing waters, is the chosen sanctuary of the Most High” (Ps 45:5). The Communion Antiphon praises Christ the Shepherd who, in the Eucharist, “leads us by refreshing waters” (cf. Ps 22:1-2). In the Gospel we see the waters of Bethesda, a bath of healing stirred by an Angel of the Lord. All around the pool of Bethesda lie the diseased, the blind, the lame, and the disabled seeking to recover from the infirmities that oppress them. Bethesda is an image of the baptismal pool of regeneration, the bath from which in a few weeks the catechumens will emerge clean, healed, and altogether new.

Vidi Aquam

The centerpiece of today’s Mass is the reading from the prophet Ezekiel. The title printed in red above the text in the lectionary is most unusual. It reads: “I saw water flowing from the temple, and all who were touched by it were saved.” It adds, “See Roman Missal.” Where in the Roman Missal are we to look? Go to the antiphons sung at the Rite of Sprinkling with Holy Water: the Asperges me, taken from Psalm 50, and used outside of Paschaltide; and the Vidi aquam, taken from Ezekiel 47, and sung at the Paschal Vigil and on the Sundays of Paschaltide.

Look for a moment at the text of the Vidi aquam. The prophet Ezekiel, in a mystical rapture, sees the Temple as the wellspring of an immense river irrigating the whole country and making stagnant waters fresh. The Temple is the abode of the Glory of God (Ez 43:1-12). It is the source of a river, teeming with fish, and on both sides of its banks grow fruit bearing trees because the water for them flows from the sanctuary.

The glorious body of the of the crucified and risen Christ is the new and indestructible temple of which he himself said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19). At the death of Christ, the veil of the Temple was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Mt 27:51); Saint John, by recounting how the side of Jesus was pierced by the soldier’s lance, translates the same mystery. Out of the pierced heart of Jesus flows blood and water (Jn 19:34), recalling the water from the rock struck by the rod of Moses in the desert (Num 20:2-13), the fountains of salvation prophesied by Isaiah (Is 12:3), and the great river of Ezekiel’s vision.

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Just as one learns what is in the heart of one’s dearest friend by looking at his face, just as a wife can know what her husband carries for her in his heart by reading his face, so too does the Church look to the Eucharistic face of Christ to discover there all the secrets of His Sacred Heart for her. The connection between face and heart is something deeply inscribed in the human person. Face and person are, in fact synonymous, not only because in Greek the same word denotes both but even more because there is nothing more personal, nothing more precious, nothing dearer than the face of a loved one.

The psalmist’s cry, “I long to see your face” (Ps 26:8), is the cry of every lover to his beloved, the cry of child to parent, of parent to child, and of friend to friend. The most poignant moment in the rites of Pope John Paul II’s death and burial came when a veil was laid over his face. We cherish photographs of those we love, but what is a photograph without a face? The relationships that we call “heart to heart” never tire of the “face to face to face.”

The more one is drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the more one experiences the need to seek His Face — and to seek it in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. The heart is a secret organ, a thing not visible to the eye. The “thoughts of the heart” are transmitted to the face. It is true that some persons try to dissimulate what they hold in the heart by putting on a plastic face, a professional face, or a face of stony indifference, but all of that dissimulation is related to sin. In Jesus Christ, the Lamb without stain, there is no disconnection between face and heart.

All that Jesus holds in his Sacred Heart for us and for his Father is revealed on His Face. If you would know His Heart, seek His Face, and seek it in the Eucharist. It is in the contemplation of the Most Holy Eucharist that, fulfilling Zechariah's ancient prophecy, we “look upon Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37).

Draw Me to Thy Open Side

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In response to the Holy Father's invitation to contemplate the wounded Side of Christ, I offer my own translation of a prayer "Alla Piaga Del Costato di Gesù," To the Wound in Jesus' Side, composed by the Servant of God Father Eustachio Montemurro (1857–1923). The Venerable Eustachio of Jesus and Mary, a physician and a civic leader, a man of noble ideals and courageous initiatives, became a priest at forty–five years of age, desiring to bringing healing to souls as well as to bodies. Shortly thereafter he founded two religious congregations: The Little Brothers of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Sisters Missionaries of the Sacred Side.

The holy founder was accused of "an excess of zeal" and, for the good of the institutes he had established, chose to exile himself from his spiritual sons and daughters. With the permission of the Pope, he moved to the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Rosary of Pompei, founded by Blessed Bartolo Longo, to devote himself selflessly to the service of souls. Father Montemurro died at Pompei on January 2, 1923, loved by all, and leaving a reputation for holiness.

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O painless thrust of the spear
forever awaited with passionate love by my Saviour
that thou shouldst repair in the Father's sight
the terrible wound opened by the sin of Adam
in the heart of humanity!

O glorious wound,
gushing forth life, love, and peace!
I adore thee inexhaustible wellspring of salvation,
the womb of new children
born of the water and of the blood of the Bridegroom.
Thou art for me an ever open refuge,
the door giving access to the nuptial chamber,
the vestibule of the banquet of the Lamb.

The living water that, at every moment, springs from thee,
invites me with the language of love
to enter, through thee, into the heart of my Saviour
that therein I might take the regenerating rest of new life
and spread it all about me
just as the bride coming forth from the nuptial chamber
radiates among her friends the signs and the sweetnesses of love.

Be thou for me, then, O blessed wound,
my blissful abode.
May I be drawn always to thee,
that in thee I may live and die.
In thee may I find the splendid riches
which eye has never seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart experienced.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
glory of my mind, joy of my eyes,
melody of my ears, gladness of my heart,
and peace of my soul.

I am Thine for time and for eternity;
nothing shall ever separate me from Thee,
for Thou hast espoused me,
drawing me with bands of goodness to Thy open side
and pouring out of Thy heart into mine
the joys of the Spirit
and the mercy of the Father who always hears Thee.

First Friday of Lent

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I heard a frightful amount of banging about outside my cell during the work period this morning. "The postulants are moving furniture again," I thought, "or doing some serious housecleaning." When I left my cell for Sext what did I see in our corridor? An immense 19th century statue of the Sacred Heart!

The statue was retrieved from a storage room where it shared space with enormous portaits of dead abbots. (That often happens in monasteries. Portraits of long dead abbots and other things are put in storage for years, sometimes for generations, and then reappear. At the same time other things disappear.)

I am pleased to be living now in the corridoio del Sacro Cuore: a suitable surprise on this First Friday of Lent.

I did not forget about the birthday of the Venerable John Henry Newman on Wednesday of this week. I just didn't have time to post anything about it. Cardinal Newman was born on February 21, 1801.

As I have mentioned before on Vultus Christi, Newman, in 1847, lived here at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in the rooms just above me, and descended into the basilica by the very staircase I now use several times a day. Given the arrival of the Sacred Heart on our corridor, I think it fitting to present Newman's exquisite prayer to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus:

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O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus,
Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.
Now as then Thou savest,
Desiderio desideravi—"With desire I have desired."
I worship Thee then with all my best love and awe,
with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will.
O my God, when Thou dost condescend to suffer me to receive Thee,
to eat and drink Thee,
and Thou for a while takest up Thy abode within me,
O make my heart beat with Thy Heart.
Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual,
all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity,
of all disorder, of all deadness.
So fill it with Thee, that neither the events of the day
nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it,
but that in Thy love and Thy fear it may have peace.

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The coincidence of the Holy Father's Lenten Message with the liturgical memorial of Saint Claude La Colombière prompts me to post an article that I wrote in May 2005. In June of the same year, it was published in the Italian, English, and Portuguese editions of L'Osservatore Romano.

Toward A Theology of the Sacred Heart

“Knowing the Mystery of God in the Pierced Heart of the Crucified”

“In the pierced heart of the Crucified, God’s own heart is opened up — here we see who God is and what he is like. Heaven is no longer locked up. God has stepped out of his hiddenness. That is why St. John sums up both the meaning of the Cross and the nature of the new worship of God in the mysterious promise made through the prophet Zechariah (cf. 12:10). ‘They shall look on him whom they have pierced’ (Jn 19:37).”

Pope Benedict XVI: Theologian of the Heart of Christ

In July of 1985, I was standing in the bookstore of the Abbey of Sainte-Cécile of Solesmes in France when, by a wonderful providence of God, I met the Benedictine scholar, Mother Elisabeth de Solms. The encounter remains unforgettable. I had long studied and used her admirable translation of the Life and Rule of Saint Benedict, as well as her Christian Bible, a series of volumes setting the commentaries of the Church Fathers line by line alongside the Scriptures. The simplicity of so great a woman was a marvel. She engaged me in conversation, asking if I had read the works of Cardinal Ratzinger. I admitted that I was familiar with certain writings of his, surely not with everything published. “Read him,” she said. “You will see. God will make of him a great gift to his Church.” That was twenty years ago.

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In 1925 Pope Pius XI decreed that the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus first carried out by Pope Leo XIII on 11 June 1899 should be renewed yearly on the Feast of Christ the King. The text of the Consecration follows together with the commentary on it given by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
on the Feast of Christ the King

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race,
look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar.
We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be,
but, to be more surely united with Thee,
behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today
to Thy most Sacred Heart.

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In honour of Saint Margaret Mary whose liturgical memorial occurs on October 16th, I want to offer this Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. So few understand that reparation begins when we allow ourselves, shattered and deformed as we are by sin, to be "repaired," that is, restored to wholeness and beauty by the love of the Heart of Christ and by the virtue of His Precious Blood.

Lord Jesus, I desire today to open myself to the Love of Your Sacred Heart,
to the Love that others refuse or ignore.

By my attention to Your Heart,
I desire to make up for indifference to Your Love.

By my gratitude to Your Heart,
I desire to make up for ingratitude toward You
and toward the gifts of Your Heart,
especially that of the Most Holy Eucharist.

By my trust in Your Heart,
I desire to make up for those who do not trust You,
are afraid to trust You, or whose trust in Your Love
has been weakened by personal sin or by the sins of others.

By my hope in Your Heart, I desire to help, in some way,
those tempted to despair of Your Mercy.

Finally, in spite of my weakness and inconstancy,
I desire, by my love for Your Sacred Heart, to obtain for myself
and for all who yearn for the sweetness of divine friendship
something of what Your beloved disciple Saint John experienced
when he rested upon Your Heart at the Last Supper on the night before You suffered.

Let my desire to be open to the Love of Your Sacred Heart today
serve in some way to repair the brokenness
of the vulnerable, wounded, and fragile members of Your Mystical Body,
and, by the mysterious workings of Your Holy Spirit,
bring healing to those most in need of your mercy,
and especially to priests. Amen.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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