Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Five

Day Five: Love that unites and binds together into community.

Opening Prayer: Loving Father, when your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high on the cross, He gave His life for us, so much did He love us. From His wounded side flowed blood and water, the fountain of sacramental life in the Church. To His open heart your Son invites all, to draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. Help us to respond generously to His invitation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Eph. 4: 11-16 Through Jesus the whole body grows, and builds itself up in love

John 10: 14-16 There shall be one flock and one shepherd

Reflection: Sin disrupts unity. In sinning we go our own way and disregard the rights of others and our obligations to others. There are too many gaps, divisions in the world, gaps between rich and poor, black and white, Christian and Christian, Christians and Muslims. This is not what God wills or wants!

Jesus came and comes to bring us together into one family. In His vision there will be one flock and one shepherd. Jesus called and gathered his apostles and disciples. His love united them. After the Resurrection, His Holy Spirit kept them together. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that they were of one heart and one soul (Acts 4:32).

We are to imitate the love of the Sacred Heart, and be a source of unity and peace in our family and our community. First of all, in our families. If we truly love our children, and our brothers and sisters, we not only pray for them but with them. The family that prays together, stays together.

There is a story about the father who took his son regularly to football games. This took time and cost money. One day, a neighbor asked him: Do you like football games that much? The father answered, No, but I love my son that much. Love involves sacrificing our own interest for the good of others. Like the Good Shepherd, we lay down our life for others. If we love someone, we want to remain close to that person. In the African proverb, if someone loves you, he or she comes to your home.

Resolution/Practice: 1. Reflect on how you might regularly practice or improve your practice of family prayer.

2. Write or visit a friend whom you have not been in touch with. Jesus prayed that we may be one (John 17: 21-23)

3. Say the Rosary or other prayers for unity among all Christians and among all men and women of good will.

4. Make a special new effort to be reunited, reconciled with someone from whom you are estranged or alienated.

Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day Four

Day Four: Love that is persevering, enduring to the end.

Opening Prayer: Father, by the blood of your own Son, Jesus Christ, you have set us free and saved us from death. Continue your work of love within us, that by constantly celebrating the mystery of our salvation, we may reach the eternal life it promises. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Romans 8: 31-39 Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

John 13: 1-17 Jesus would show His love for them to the end.

Reflection: We see many unfinished buildings, unfinished projects throughout Africa. Sometimes it is just that it is slow, and the funding money is not available. Or, a project is started, and a new governor comes in, and the project is abandoned. On a more personal level, sometimes we fail to follow through on our promises. We get distracted, we move on to something new. We forget, we lose interest.

But God’s love is faithful, enduring to the end. We gain insight into the persevering love of God from the prophet Isaiah. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you (Is. 49:15).

The public life of Jesus is marked by love for His apostles and disciples, marked by love for the crowds. This love would persevere and continue till the end. Our Scripture reading from the gospel of John affirms this as Jesus continues His journey to the city of Jerusalem. There He will meet rejection and death. Jesus realized that the hour had come… He had loved his own in this world, and would show His love for them to the end. He did not turn back, did not slow down, did not shrink from what lay ahead. No, He manifested and practiced His love to the end. This quality of the Heart of Jesus is one we seek and need in our lives.

One beautiful example of love that remains faithful and perseveres to the end comes from Liv Ullman, a film actress. She saw a photograph of an old couple. The wife is in bed, and almost in a coma, living in another world, her eyes are empty. The husband on the bedside with a bowl and a spoon and he is feeding her, and looks at her so lovingly. He is making a quiet statement about his love for her. He is saying that what we once promised each other when we were young – love in sickness or in health – remains strong even today. Liv Ullman would like to make a movie from that picture, and she calls it the strongest and most beautiful statement of love that she had ever seen.

May we imitate the ever-faithful, enduring love of the Sacred Heart.

Resolution/Practice: 1. At the end of each day, resolve to spend five minutes reviewing the day. Thank God for the good. And if there is any unfinished business,= any obligations which I still have to fulfil, ask for the grace and strength to persevere to the end in bringing to completion what I have begun, what I have promised to do, or what I am obliged to do. I pray for a loving heart that follows through, and perseveres to the end, a heart like the Heart of Jesus.

2. Prayer every day for the grace of final perseverance… For example, in the Hail Mary, we say: Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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 Three

Day Three: Love that is Universal, Extending to All 

Opening Prayer: God our Father, in obedience to you, your only Son Jesus Christ accepted death on the cross for the salvation of humankind. We acknowledge the mystery of the cross on earth. May we receive the gift of redemption in heaven. . We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Eph. 3:14-19 …the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love

Matt. 8: 5-13 Many will come from east and west and find a place at the banquet in the kingdom of God.

Reflection: Christian faith, modelled upon the love of God as manifest in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Heart of love, says that we are all brothers and sisters. It affirms that our love must be universal, extended to all, and not only to my own, to my kin, and my group.

In one of the most challenging passages of the Bible, we are given a new command of Jesus: love your enemies; pray for your persecutors (Mt. 5:44). Jesus then explains that his heavenly Father shows this universal love, a love that extends even to one’s enemies: His sun rises on the bad and the good, he rains on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45).

In the Jewish tradition there is a saying: if two persons claim your help, and one is your enemy, help him first. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to be instruments of God’s love. God’s love is universal, and so our love cannot, should not be anything less than universal, extending to all of God’s children.

Resolution/Practice:

1. Think of a particular person, or a particular group of persons that you find it very hard to love. Pray to God for help to learn how to love that person or group.

2. Take a page of paper and write out on it the names of friends, relatives, co-workers, that you would like to pray for. Resolve every few days to read over that page, and entrust all those persons to the love of the Sacred Heart.

3. Pray regularly for the progress of the ecumenical movement, for unity among all God’s people, that they may be one.

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 Two

Day Two: Love that is Sensitive and Responsive

Opening Prayer: Lord God, give us the strength and love of the heart of your Son Jesus, that, by becoming one with him, we may have eternal salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4: 7-12 If God has loved us so, we must have the same love for one another.

Matt. 15: 29-38 My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.

Reflection:  One wise spiritual guide once wrote:

The big day in your spiritual life will come not when you realize how much you might love God or your neighbor, but when you realize how much God loves you. Throughout the gospels, Jesus sets an example of sensitive and responsive love. When two blind men call out, the crowd wants to silence them. But Jesus calls them to come nearer, and moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes and immediately they could see (Mt. 20:34). In our Scripture reading, we see how His Heart is moved with pity at the crowd (Matt. 15:32) They are hungry, so he and his disciples feed them. On another occasion, he hears of the death of his friend Lazarus and goes directly to restore him to life. At Cana, in response to the request of his mother, he changes the water into wine. Rather than acting out of a unchanging and eternal plan, Jesus shows a Heart that responded in love in any situation where there was a need.

We pray for a sensitive and loving heart, like the Heart of Jesus, that is ready and willing to respond where ever love is lacking, where and when ever love is needed.

Resolution/Practice:

1.Take a few minutes each evening to reflect back on the day. Was there any situation, any person who called for your love or care? How did you respond? If your love was weak, at least say a prayer for that person or persons involved, and think of one way that you could show love to that person when you next meet them.

2. Pray to the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit keep you alert, sensitive, open, and responsive to the needs of others.

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.

Sacred Heart of Jesus – Praying with Leonie!

Dear Sisters in Christ,

I do not think it is a coincidence that today, the Birthday of Leonie Martin, is the first day of the Novena to Sacred Heart, leading up to the Solemnity on Friday, June 8th. Leonie was a Visitation Sister, the very same order as Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque who, with the help of her confessor Saint Claude de la Columbiere, helped promulgate the formal devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The devotion to the side of Christ has existed since His side was pierced on the Cross on Good Friday, but the many devotions, prayers, and novenas we pray today came after Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary. These next nine days we will be posting Novena Prayers and praying them for those who have left the convent and all of those who have asked for our prayers.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Servant of God Leonie Martin, intercede for us.