Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s post on the Bishop’s Blog!
The recently merged parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Carlisle, celebrated its titular feast of the Sacred Heart yesterday evening in St. Margaret Mary’s church in grand liturgical style with a solemn Mass, the proper parts of which were sung to the music of the composer Rheinberger.
The Mass, at which I was the celebrant, given the musical setting, went on somewhat longer than our congregations are accustomed to nowadays, but the uplifting music sung by a fine choir allowed time for quiet prayer reflection on the feast itself, and the wonderfully consoling thought of the heart of Jesus embracing each one of us in a love which transcends words. The fine homily, suitable for the occasion, also provided us with much to think about.
The pleasing comments of the congregation afterwards to me suggest that devotion to the Sacred Heart still strikes a deep chord with Catholics, especially with an older generation who recall the devotion with affection from their younger days.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy which the Church is currently celebrating and devotion to the Sacred Heart may be described as two sides of the one coin. Christ, Pope Francis, often repeats, is the human face of the divine mercy, and the pierced heart of Jesus reveals the extent to which Christ went to prove God’s love and mercy to the human race.
The elevated and devotional nature of yesterday’s celebration of the Mass of the Sacred Heart brought home to me how a well-prepared and executed liturgy can usher us into another sphere, that of grace and the animating presence of the Spirit.
The unity and togetherness that the liturgy creates out of a diverse body of believers, and something so easily overlooked, is a wonderful gift from God and a clear manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The music of composers such as Rheinberger, sung at last evening’s Mass, is an example of the superb treasury of sacred music the Church possesses, especially in the plainchant tradition and the great classical composers. Such music and compositions, used on the appropriate occasions, try to capture and reflect the beauty and grandeur of God. They can assist us in our duty as human beings to reverence and worship the divine majesty of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The ample refreshments on offer afterwards allowed the priest and parishioners of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to mingle and continue in another way the wonderfully uplifting Mass of celebration for their titular feast – and solemnity – in St. Margaret Mary’s church.
Until next week – let us pray for one another.
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster