Feast of the Sacred Heart

It is true that saints and devotions chose us. For someone who hates pink, Valentines Day, and all things frilly and girly, it is an unlikely devotion for me to be called to embrace. That is how I know it is the work of God. He often reveals His Love through this devotion, most of the time when I am convincing myself that all things are lost.

This particular story reminds me of the line from Saint Paul that “Love never fails,” and I would agree except I would add to this … “even when it seems like it already has.”

About six years ago when I was studying abroad in Rome I made plans to meet my sister in Capri with her friends, who were visiting on Spring Break. I got up early and went to my favorite Church, the”Gesu,” (where there was a sweet little Sacred Heart Chapel) for early morning Mass before going to the train. I got there with plenty of time and was excited to see my sister after being tied down to school work because of midterms.

There were only a few minutes until the departure but there was still no track number. After inquiring about this I was told that this train was canceled. (Only in Italy!) Devastated, I walked around the train station and wandered into a nearby Church to wait for the next one which would shorten my excursion significantly.

Surprisingly, I felt much peace after praying for a few minutes and wondered which Church this was. I went to find a bulletin and found out it was a minor basilica…of the Sacred Heart. I felt much better, jumped on the next train, and got to where I was supposed to take a ferry to get to the island.

When I got to the ferry I realized that I had just missed the one I was trying to make. Frustrated even more I walked around and found a little Chapel almost hidden in the rocks of the rocky coast. I felt better again after prayer and looked up to see large banners hanging from the ceiling, images of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Mary.

I was being cared for, I wasn’t alone!

Soon after I hopped on the ferry, )which happened to be an express!) I eventually got to Capri and met up with my sister, and as we were taking the ferry back to Rome I realized that it was Friday, and not just any Friday, but First Friday.

Just when I feel everything falling to pieces around me, when I feel like my life itself is a failure, this is the moment when the Love of God touches us. It doesn’t prevent us from missing trains or getting lost but it gives us the assurance that we belong to the Heart of Jesus.

The devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus isn’t always (or isn’t usually) a romantic “feeling” but it is the great privilege of being Sons and Daughters of God, or “co-heirs with Christ.” May the Lord reveal to you His great love this day.

Almighty God and Father, we glory in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Your beloved Son, as we call to mind the great things His love has done for us.

Fill us with the grace that flows in abundance from the Heart of Jesus, the source of heaven’s gifts.

We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

A beautiful hymn to the Sacred Heart, “Jesus, In Your Heart We Find”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe86bmolKas

Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Nine

Day Nine: love that brings rest, peace, and joy.

Opening Prayer: Father, we rejoice in the gifts of love we have received from the Heart of Jesus your Son. Open our hearts to share His life and continue to bless us with His love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Romans 5: 5-11 God proves his love for us: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Matt. 11: 25-30 Come to me, I will refresh you; I am gentle and humble of heart.

Reflection: There are many reasons to be troubled and worried. It could be one’s health, a problem in the family, economic difficulties, unemployment. It could be a problem in a relationship or some fault or failing that we cannot get rid of. We are anxious and worried, rather than peaceful and joyful.

Precisely when we feel these difficulties, we should turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He invites us, He calls us to receive and feel His love and peace. Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, I will refresh you. The love of Jesus Christ is the anchor, the polestar, the rock we need. He is our refuge and our strength. He is our peace and our joy.

Resolution/Practice: 1. Every morning or evening, resolve to take five minutes of quiet in which you recall and thank God for His blessings of God to you and your family. These blessings are signs of God’s love.

2. When something troubling or worrying occurs, try to get into the habit of saying prayerfully: Sacred Heart of Jesus, Your Kingdom Come.

3. Reflect on your practice and frequency of receiving Holy Communion. As Jesus is ready and willing to come and be with us, so we must prepare well to receive Him and His love.

Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Eight

Day Eight: Love that reaches out to the poor and needy.

Opening Prayer: Father, we honor the Heart of your Son broken by our cruelty, yet the symbol of love’s triumph, the pledge of all we are called to be. Teach us to see Jesus Christ in the lives we touch, to offer Him fitting worship by love-filled service to our brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: James 2: 14-18 Faith that does nothing in practice is thoroughly lifeless.

Luke 4: 16-21 He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

Reflection: The world is not even. It does not seem to be fair. There are the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, the healthy and the sick. Even if we are poor and powerless and ill, there are always many who are worse off, who are more needy. The Christian attitude, in imitation of the love of the Sacred Heart, is to go out in a special way to the poor, the sick, the lonely, the weak.

Why? This was the attitude of Jesus. In the Scripture reading, Jesus tells us that this is precisely why he was sent. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to those in captivity. Later in the gospel of Luke, when the disciples of John came to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, He told them to tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind recover sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, and the poor have the good news preached to them (Luke 7: 22). The sign of Jesus, and the sign of his followers should be love – a love that reaches out in very special ways to the most needy.

The Catholic Church now speaks of a preferential or special love for the poor. This is love at its best when there is no hope of reward or return of love. Love consists in sharing, in giving what we can to one who has less or has no one who loves him. As the Heart of Jesus went out to the blind, to the widow whose child died, to the deaf, to the crowds, so our love should extend not only to those we know, not only to those who love us, but especially to those who need our love.

Resolution/Practice: 1. If you know someone who is widowed, visit that person, and bring a small gift of food or something to share with him or her.

2. Next few times that you meet a beggar on the street, instead of ignoring the person and passing by, accept their greeting, greet them, and if you can, give them something small so they can buy some food.

3. Inquire in your parish if you can assist with the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society or an equivalent society that reaches out and helps the poor.

Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Seven

Day Seven: Love that is patient and forgiving.

Opening Prayer: Father, we have wounded the heart of Jesus your Son, but He brings us forgiveness and grace. Help us to prove our grateful love and make amends for our sins. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Romans 12:9-21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

Luke 23: 32-34 and 39-43 Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing

Reflection: There are some persons we can’t seem to get along with. Tension more than peace comes between us. Perhaps they annoy us and get on our nerves. Our efforts to be kind and friendly to them never seem to succeed. We seem unable to change the situation, we are frustrated and tempted to give up. As a matter of fact, each situation varies; there is no one simple, single solution to solve problem cases.

But one thing is true. In every situation, the Christian is called upon to imitate the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This means we must be patient with others, and must be ready to forgive, not seven but seventy times seven (Mt. 18:21). In spite of his agony and suffering on the cross, the loving Heart of Jesus reached out even to those who hung him there. Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing. That same love reaches out to the good thief and promises him eternal life in paradise.

Be merciful as you heavenly father is merciful (Luke 6:36). True, this is easier said than done, but this is the challenge Jesus puts before us his followers. St. Francis of Assisi once wrote to a superior who had trouble with some of the young men: Love those who disobey you. Don’t ask more of them than the Lord does. Love them exactly as they are, don’t ask them to be better Christians first… Let there be no single person who, however much he may sin, goes away without first looking into your eyes and finding there mercy. And if he does not look for mercy, offer it to him anyway.

Resolution/Practice: 1. Every time we recite the Our Father, we pray for this spirit of mercy and forgiveness. Next time you recite the Our Father, think concretely of someone you have had difficulty with. Pray for that person, that God will bless him or her, and that will be patient and more forgiving too.

2. If you have recently had a quarrel with someone, think of some one way that you might show that you really love and care for that person and want to be at peace with him or her.

3. Resolve to frequent the Sacrament of Penance at least monthly and recall that penance calls for reconciliation not only with God but with all of God’s people.

This Novena in Honor of the Sacred Heart was written by Rev. Peter Schineller S.J. for the Apostleship of Prayer/League of the Sacred Heart.

Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Six

Day Six: Love that is active, practical, and effective.

Opening Prayer: Father, for Your glory and our salvation, You appointed Jesus Christ eternal High Priest. May the people He gained for your by His blood come to share in the power of His cross and resurrection. This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 3: 14-18 Let us love in deed and in truth, and not merely talk about it

John 21:15-17 If you love me, feed by lambs, tend my sheep

Reflection: Who really imitates the love of the Sacred Heart? Who is really devoted to the Sacred Heart? The person who talks about love but doesn’t show it? Or the person who may not talk much about it, but quietly performs deeds of love? The answer is obvious. Jesus told us a story about the two sons (Matt. 21:28-31). The son who did go out and work in the vineyard is the one that Jesus admired and loved. He did what the father wanted. Our love too is to show itself in action, in deeds of love.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter gives a very brief and beautiful description of Jesus. He is the one who went about doing good works (Acts 10:38). His Sacred Heart was filled with love and compassion, and He constantly showed this love by His many deeds of healing and teaching.

One cold night, a man saw a child hungry and cold, without much clothing. He became angry and said to God: Why do you permit this? Why don’t you do something about this? For a while God said nothing. Then the conscience of the man spoke to him. It was the voice of God. God said, I did do something. I created you to help that child.

Resolution/Practice: 1. We commit not only sins by bad actions, but by omitting good actions. Think of how I may have, and should have helped someone, but was too tired or too busy.

2. Give something extra this week to the poor, through the St. Vincent de Paul Society or through your local parish.

3. Think of an elderly person who may be lonely and would enjoy a visit. Perhaps you could bring some small food or drink when you visit that person.

This Novena in Honor of the Sacred Heart was written by Rev. Peter Schineller S.J. for the Apostleship of Prayer/League of the Sacred Heart.