Last week we celebrated Corpus Christi and many parishes had a Eucharistic Procession. In this week’s Bishop’s Blog – I offer a reflection on the Sacred Heart!
We have just celebrated, Friday past, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a popular and much loved devotion among Catholics. The origins of this devotion are to be found in the revelations of Our Lord to the French nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), in which the Lord speaks to her of his heart as the symbol of his infinite love for the human race.
Familiar practices, such as the Nine Fridays and Holy Hour derive from the mystical encounters of St. Margaret Mary with Our Lord. Many of our churches are dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and images of the Sacred Heart are widespread throughout the Catholic world.
When we contemplate the figure and person of our divine Lord, our minds struggle to strike the right balance between his divinity and his humanity, as the Son of God and at the same time the Son of Mary. Prayer and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can assist us to grasp the reality of his human nature, for his heart beats with love and affection for his brothers and sisters of every time and place.
The Evangelist John relates how one of the Roman soldiers pierced the side/heart of Jesus as he hung on the cross, showing the extent to which his love led him. Little wonder that the figure of Christ on the cross is such a dominant symbol in every Catholic church, chapel or oratory.
At a simple level when we look at an image of the Sacred Heart we can realise he was human just like you or I, and that his heart is large enough to embrace us and understand our own personal situation and the problems we face.
The hymns and prayers surrounding the feast and devotion to the Sacred Heart are an invitation to enter with faith into the Lord’s heart and find there rest and repose. The gospel passage for the Mass contains the wonder words of invitation and reassurance from the Lord Jesus that when we do come to him he will give us relief from the burden and heat of the day.
The utterly unique and ever valid invitation of the Lord to come to him for rest and respite from the cares of daily life has found an echo in the lives of faithful souls ever since he uttered them.
This lovely and consoling feast of the Sacred Heart stands as a reminder that there is One we can turn to in the troubled and uncertain times in which we find ourselves. Only he could extend such an invitation to come to him and find rest and peace.
So dear brothers and sister; let us draw near to that Sacred Heart, and in the words of the time- honoured invocation say, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you!
With every good wish and prayer from the Diocese of Lancaster,
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster