Heart Thoughts

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart. I will admit that until quite recently, the Sacred Heart struck me as an old-fashioned and "pious" devotion. I chalked it up to one of those things that just didn't "work for me." But then, in God's infinite sense of humor in my life, the imagery of the Sacred Heart seemed to pop up everywhere I looked last year. It's almost like I was being haunted!

Last year
on the blog I shared an experience I had praying with this icon of the Sacred Heart by Robert Lentz that really broke open this devotion for me:
"I prayed with an icon of the Sacred Heart by Robert Lentz, but it is a Sacred Heart like none I've seen before. No groovy Jesus pointing to his valentine shaped heart, but Jesus as an earthy Mayan burning with love and passion for the entire universe. Something cracked and it was as if I finally got it. God's love for, through and in all, everything, me. Jesus, the son, like the sun, bringing the light and fire of his passion to the universe. Wow."
These days I'm less haunted by the Sacred Heart, but continue to be growing in my understanding. I've also discovered that the Sacred Heart was also important for our founder, Margaret Anna Cusack! During our morning prayer today here at the Novitiate, we discussed how the Sacred Heart is really an implicit part of our charism - which makes sense considering Margaret Anna's devotion. So, on this feast day, I share with you some of her reflections on the Sacred Heart.
  • "Consider how you may console the Heart of Jesus ... Let it be by the tenderest charity towards all who are in any affliction, from the poor half starved wailing infant to the much tried parent who must have so many and such anxious cares."

  • "Sanctity does not wither up the heart and deaden it to all interest in and love for others. Rather does it deepen our tenderness for those around us as to increase the trials of life ... Many persons hide a deep selfishness under the pretext of practicing perfection. They care not for the sorrows and have no sympathy for the joys of others. Perhaps they thus save themselves an hour's grief but to do they please the heart of Jesus?"

  • "How may we best worship and glorify the Risen Heart of Jesus? Let us run with the holy women to his tomb ... Let us return with the women to declare what we have seen; let us tell the "brethren" of his risen love; let us manifest to all that his resurrection is also ours."
My prayers and reflections have made me realize that this call to an active response to God's love is mirrored in our Constitutions today:
The call to live community for mission
comes to us from Jesus
whose Spirit is the source of our unity.
Our sensitivity to this call
is heightened by the needs of poor and oppressed people,
by the joys and sorrows of our sisters and brothers,
and by our confidence
that the saving action of Jesus
continues in and through humankind. (CSJP Constitutions 13)
The words "Sacred Heart" aren't mentioned, but it's there all the same. God loves us so much - how else are we to respond to that love than by sharing it with others in action. In this way, we in turn bring God' s saving love to the world and the cycle continues.

By the way, did you know that on June 11, 1899 Pope Leo XIII consecrated every human to the Sacred Heart? He called this the "great act" of his pontificate. I find this especially interesting, because Margaret Anna received his approval for her new order in a private audience with Pope Leo XIII 15 years earlier!

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