Retiro Mensual de la Guardia de Honor (Introducción a esta Devoción)

Introducción a esta Devoción

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Al Pie de la Cruz- Las Escritoras Juaninas

El apóstol San Juan

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Retiro Mensual de la Guardia de Honor. Epifanía y Luz pt 1

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Epifania

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St. John the Apostle

St. John the Beloved

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AL PIE DE LA CRUZ: San Esteban y el Martirio Cristiano

Stoning of St. Stephen

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Al Pie de la Cruz-O Raíz de Jesé (12/19/17)

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Facing our Fears with the Sacred Heart

Come Lord and Help your People

Here in the monastery we pray the Divine Office five times a day.  This is the official prayer of the Church comprised of Psalms and Canticles taken from the Bible, along with various scriptural and spiritual readings, and ending with intercessions on behalf of the people of God.  One gets familiarized with the sentiments of these prayers after praying them continually day after day, but there is also something strikingly fresh and relevant in their ancient pleas and praise of the Creator.  Most of the time it seems that the Psalmist is in need, dire need, I would say, as he cries out for God’s help in some situation that is pressing down upon him, be it an army of invaders at his door or the weakness of his own puny human resources.  There is that realization that without God’s assistance, he just can’t do it alone.  So whenever he is in crisis, he does the only logical thing:  he lifts up his hands in prayer and cries out to God for help.

Somehow along the line of human history, this simple direct method of unburdening ourselves has been replaced by so many other sophisticated processes.  Our knowledge of the human person has expanded in so many directions that asking for God’s help has often been left out of the picture.  Indeed, it has frequently been looked upon as an escape or defense mechanism to subvert the true way to get to the real answers to our human dilemmas.  So we see how minimally it is called upon in our modern world and tossed aside as an “out-grown” garment would be.  There is just no need for it any longer.

Then comes the “uncontrollable” situation.  With all our advances and “know-how to’s,” something emerges which is utterly inconceivable and incomprehensible to everything which we have carefully created contingencies for.  Again, we are in a jam and that “jam” can be a precious moment of truth or consequences.  Does God purposely delight in confounding our best laid plans to teach us that reliance upon Him is what is most important?  Surely He does not want to leave us crippled by an unhealthy dependency. His gift of free will to us, as we Christians understand it, leaves the ultimate choice up to us.  We can turn to Him when the going gets tough or we can go it on our own.  The beauty and the terror are all there in their raw potential.  However, should we choose to go the path of trust… well, that is another matter.  We must in any case be prepared to travel the road less traveled because nobody gets anywhere without the courage to face up to the fears that surround us on all sides.  As someone has phrased it:  “Not just fear, but THE fear – the fear that limits the possibilities of human life – fear of death, fear of self, fear of the universe.”  Reading the Psalms we encounter this world of distress, fear, annihilation, and taste the inner conflicts of human existence.  And what do we learn from such an engagement?  We learn true wisdom, if we are open to it and ready for it.

Here are a few proffered morsels of reflection that come from reading the Psalms on a daily basis:

  1. God hears our pleas even if we don’t get an immediate response.  This may be hard to believe when day by day goes by and nothing changes, or seems to get worse.  The Psalmist cries out for deliverance and then bemoans “my one companion is darkness!”  We are tempted to think that God is immovable and intransigent, untouched by our paltry problems; we give up and take the way of least resistance (which is often the way of the Evil One).   Yet we must expect to engage God “ongoingly.”
  2. God needs our consent to enter our sacred spaces.  It is not for sheer poetry that we say and sing “Come Lord Jesus, or O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  We must really invite the Lord into our hearts and lives by telling Him so, every day.  This is what the Psalmist does with almost every breath.  There is unction in his voice, if we were to hear him speak.  Nothing blasé comes from the mouth of the Psalmist.  It is all intensity, all heartfelt.  God is a consuming fire and loves “burning” hearts and “inflamed” spirits.
  3. God is God of the impossible.  Anything is possible where God is concerned.  He is the ultimate in resourcefulness and is undaunted by our waywardness and sometimes catastrophic blunders, though leaves us free to suffer their consequences.  However, the divine heart is merciful and kind, willing to give us another chance if we sincerely turn back to Him.

As I continue writing this, I encounter a relevant message during Midday Prayer:

“When I fear, I will trust in you, in God whose word I praise.  In God I trust, I shall not fear: what can mortal man do to me?”   [Ps 56]

Ah, the good God seems to be right on track with sound advice given at the right moment.  Then at Evening Prayer, it continues:  “I trusted, even when I said:  ‘I am sorely afflicted,’ and when I said in my alarm:  ‘No man can be trusted.’”  God knows our fears just as He knew the psalmist’s.  God assures us just as He assured the psalmist that the time of sorrow will pass and that we can count on Him when all else fails.

The barriers of fear that hem us in due to our human brokenness do have an “escape hatch”:  it is the grace that comes from drawing close to the Heart of our Redeemer.  Christ is the healer of all our wounds and will aid us in the restoration that we all need.  His Divine Heart is a wellspring and when we look to Him and place Him at the center of our lives, spiritual waters of rejuvenation begin to flow over us, helping us to change our fearful hearts into trustful ones.

Recently I’ve become acquainted with the life of Father George Calciu who is a good example of someone whom Christ’s grace slowly transformed into a pillar of fearlessness.  Father George was of Romanian birth and Orthodox faith and became enmeshed in the communist crackdown which began to take place in his country around 1944.  He was imprisoned in 1948 and mercilessly tortured until he became helpless in body and spirit.  “They wanted our souls, not our bodies,” he later confessed.  While in captivity he made a vow to become a priest, if he survived his ordeal.  His prayer was heard and upon his release in 1964, he entered into the academic world, married, and was secretly ordained in 1973.  As time went on he began to speak out more vehemently against the oppression which still gripped his country until he was imprisoned for a second time.  This time, however, he did not waver despite beatings and torture and years of solitary confinement (all tolled he spent twenty-one years in prison).  Here is a story which he later recounted after his miraculous release and exile to America.  It occurred one night when he began to hear the peal of church bells at Easter.  “Early the next morning, the worst guard in the prison ‘who delighted in torture’ entered the priest’s cell.  He should have turned his face to the wall.  Instead, Fr. George looked his tormenter boldly in the eye and proclaimed, ‘Christ is risen!’ Rather than delivering a blow, the guard paused, and blurted out, ‘In Truth He is Risen!’ and nervously backed out of the cell.”*  It was then that Fr. George experienced what in the Orthodox faith is known as the Uncreated Light.

He shut the door and I was petrified, because of what he had said.  And little by little, I saw myself full of light.  The board against the wall was shining like the sun; everything in my cell was full of light.  I cannot explain in words the happiness that invaded me then.  I can explain nothing.  It simply happened.*

Fr. George lived out his days in freedom but deposited his bad memories in the heart of the merciful Redeemer.  It is said of him:  “He had a beaming smile.  He was often amused by life, and ready to laugh… he was joyful… he was naturally affectionate and would hold hands with others… just beaming with a radiant smile.”*

In the Salesian tradition of our founder St. Francis de Sales there is also a great emphasis on confidence in God.  We probably all have heard the rather famous prayer which Francis composed:

“Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow.  The same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and everyday.  Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace then.”

William Barclay, the renowned scripture scholar reiterates why this is so:  “Because God is love, his creating act is followed by his constant care.”  Francis truly believed this.  God’s constant care, his providence, is always at work, and the more we trust in that providential care, the more we lean into His love, thus lessening our fearfulness.  Of course, Francis had many suggestions as to how this could be done.   As one current writer noted:  “Little consoling phrases pepper Francis’ texts; for instance, “‘we must not fret over our own imperfections’;  ‘let us be of good heart’;  ‘God will help us’;  ‘we will do better’;  ‘have great courage and confidence in his mercy’;  ‘do not be solicitous and worried’;  ‘you will receive countless blessings’”…**

There is a poignant aspiration in this month’s Magnificat magazine which prays:

“Father of all, I am rough, unfinished, and immature.  But, however I am, I want to be all yours.” 

Surely the fears that lurk in all our hearts can find their consolation in the caring heart of the Eternal One who came as a small babe to assure us and to assuage our fears.  The proclamation of good news which the heavens echoed on the first Christmas night of peace to all of good will is something that we need to ponder because only hearts that carry “good will” shall know the absence of fear.  Only when the shadows within us are brought into the light will we begin to sweep away the unnamed fears that haunt us and block real peace from happening.  The saints tell us that it is only through the trusting embrace of the cross of Christ that we come to understand what true peace is and this doesn’t guarantee the elimination of all fear, but it does give us a supernatural entry into God’s heart.  Come what may, then, we have the presence of grace to aid us in our hour of need.  So let us look to the Sacred Heart for strength and courage in the days ahead, believing in His immense love for each of us, praying the final words of the Church’s Te Deum:  “Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.”  AMEN.†

*   quoted from the online article in First Things “ Fr. George Calciu:  First Century Christian in the Twentieth Century” by Wesley J. Smith, April 21, 2011.

**  quoted from the online article in Crisis Magazine “Trusting in God with St. Francis de Sales” by Christopher J. Lane, December 30, 2013.

This talk on Sacred Heart Spirituality was given onDecember 3rd, 2017 by one of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary at the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, Massachusetts.  The next talk will be held on Sunday, February 4th, 2018 at 4:00 pm.  All are invited to attend.

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Sacred Heart of Jesus: Take Care of Things

  For the past few days, I have been thinking of some adverse things in life that I would like resolved.  Some of these are small difficulties and some of them are bigger and their solution and outcome sometimes generates within me pangs of anxiety and concern.  (Just think of the recent news coming out of North Korea and its new development of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could even reach the eastern shores of the U.S.)  So I have been turning over in my mind a phrase I read not too long ago in a spiritual book and simply saying throughout the day, “Jesus, take care of things.”  Do you think the Lord heard me?  Well, I was somewhat taken aback as I was looking for an article relevant to this talk.  One of the comments at the end of this particular article made an impression on me and I copied it down.  The person wrote:  “I had a dream—I think it was a dream—but I thought I had woken up…  I saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by thorns.  Just beside it I saw an image of Jesus’ face.  I had started praying the Novena of Surrender to Jesus a few days before and have a great sense of peace.”  I said to myself, “What is the Novena of Surrender to Jesus?” 

Fr. Don Dolindo

When I looked it up, I was amazed.  Now this novena was compiled by Father Don Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest who died in 1970, and whose cause for beatification has been introduced.  This holy priest used to go around constantly commending his concerns and the concerns of his people to the Lord by saying, “Jesus, you take care of this.”

Do we really believe that the Sacred Heart of Jesus can help us with our own concerns and dilemmas?  Do we believe in his love, his power and his special care for us?  Will we trust him enough to help us resolve our own problems and those of our world as well?

To appreciate the infinite capacity of the love and goodness of Christ’s Heart, just listen to St. Margaret Mary as she tries to describe her visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“Once, when I happened to have a little more time to myself than usual, and I was spending it in front of the Blessed Sacrament, God’s presence seemed to envelop me completely.  I forgot all about myself, and where I was, it was so intense; I simply gave myself up to the Spirit of God—my heart, a willing prey to the violence of his love.  For a long time he kept me leaning on his breast, while he revealed the wonders of his love and the mysterious secrets of his Sacred Heart.” 

She goes on to use descriptions like—“this divine breast was like a furnace which he opened to disclose his utterly affectionate and lovable heart; he revealed to me the indescribable wonders of his pure love for us; I felt saturated with God; Our Lord still kept bestowing graces on me… it seemed the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity appeared to me and filled me with indescribable happiness.”

These brief excerpts from St. Margaret Mary give us an idea of the tremendous love of the Sacred Heart for each of us.   He knows our deepest concerns and hears our prayers.   As the Lord tells us, “I receive your petitions and your prayers and take them into my Sacred Heart, the burning furnace of charity and the wellspring of every grace and blessing” (see In Sinu Jesu, p. 167).   But being weak humans who have an innate propensity to do our own thing, it is often hard to let go—even of our problems—to the Lord.  We may be tempted to think we know better than Almighty God and frequently phrase our prayers in ways that tell God what to do.  The following poignant thoughts (from In Sinu Jesu) are quite enlightening.  Here is what the Lord has to say to us:

So much time and energy is wasted in futile worrying and in endless discussions about what is needed and how to go about getting it.  Simply present your needs to Me with a trusting heart and I will show you that I am a lavish provider for those who let Me take charge of their needs.  The obstinate desire to control all things and to obtain by purely human means the things necessary to My work is an affront both to My merciful love and to My infinite generosity.  Has this not been My message all through sacred history:  “Trust Me, and you shall see wonders.”  (p. 101)

Then the Lord asks:  “How does one come to that degree of trust?  By entrusting to Me very little things, day by day, as they arise, and by leaving them to Me.  This was also the wisdom of My priest Don Dolindo.  ‘Jesus,’ he used to say to Me, ‘you take care of this.’  And then he went his way lighthearted and confident that I would honor the confidence he placed in Me” (see In Sinu Jesu p. 101).  Ostensibly, viewing this advice seems so genuine and simple.  Yet, it requires on our part a deliberate, profound act of trust in God’s wisdom and providence over us.  Can we do this?  Will we do this?

Here is another pertinent passage from In Sinu Jesu in which the Lord exhorts us to give him all our heartfelt concerns:

I am here—really present—available to you at any hour of the day or night.  I wait for you.  I want to listen to the cares and preoccupations that you carry like a heavy burden.  Give them all to Me.  Trust in Me and I will act.  I have told you this before:  for me nothing is insignificant.  No detail of your life is too small and no sin of yours too shameful to be brought to Me and to be abandoned at My feet.  Yes, this is how My saints acted.  They were certain that any difficulty entrusted to My Heart would find there the best of all possible solutions.  Tell Me that you trust in My merciful love by letting go of the things that burden and oppress you.  I am the Lord of all things in heaven and on earth, and to Me nothing is impossible. (p. 100).

To understand how this works in real life, consider what happened in Juarez a city located in northern Mexico with a population of 1.4 million.  From 2008-2010 Juarez was considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.   In 2010, the number of homicides in the city was nearly 3,766; in 2015 it had dropped dramatically to 256.  What had happened?  Although there was an improvement in the work of local authorities, there was another “behind the scenes development” at work.  At the peak of its criminal drug activity, forty people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the U.S.  Houses were being burned down and there were hostile clashes all over the city.  Out of desperation, one of the local parishes asked that a perpetual adoration chapel be opened because they declared “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”  Within two months after the chapel was opened, there had not been one gang-related death in Juarez.  Beside that, at this same time the seminary was scheduled to close because only eight seminarians remained.  After the adoration chapel opened, the number of seminarians shot up to 88—many of whom had participated in the Holy Hours at the chapel.  Father Patrico Hileman, the priest responsible for establishing the perpetual adoration chapels, declares that the real reason for the changes is Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  “When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” he says.  And emphasizes, “If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you.”

This very real and practical example illustrates so well the efficacy of prayer over mere human solutions.  These powerful words (taken from the Lord’s messages in In Sinu Jesu) clearly delineate how God likes to work:

Chapels of adoration are not mere refuges for the devout.  They are the radiant, pulsating centers of an intense divine activity that goes beyond the walls of the place where I am adored to penetrate homes and schools, and hospitals; to reach even those dark and cold places wherein souls are enslaved to Satan; to penetrate hearts, heal the infirm, and call home those who have wandered far from me.  (p. 169)

My presence in the Blessed Sacrament preached, and confessed, and surrounded by adoration, love, and heartfelt reparation is the single greatest remedy for the evils that afflict my Church…  My ways are not your ways, nor do I act according to the principles of worldly success.  I act in the silent, humble, hidden reality of My Eucharistic presence.  Adore Me, and the radiance of My Eucharistic Face will begin to change the face of the earth, even as it heals My priests, calls sinners home to My Heart, and enlivens the hearts of those grown weary and sad… (p. 170)

We may feel it is a waste of time to sit before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer or to pray quietly in our own rooms, but this so-called waste is the fuel that propels all active undertakings for the Lord.  The modern trend toward pastoral efficiency has made deep inroads into the priority of prayer and contemplation over works of the active life.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (i.e., Pope Benedict XVI) frequently wrote about this problem of activism which he considered symptomatic of a loss of confidence in the reality of Jesus Christ and the primacy of His kingdom.  He says, “Activism—the will to be productive and relevant, come what may—is the constant temptation of modern man…  It is the product of a Church in which there is no longer any room for mystical experience…  All methods are empty without the foundation of prayer.”

During this very busy time of year, let us keep in mind that the Heart of Christ wants to be part of all we do and are.  He is not suggesting that we fall into a sort of quietism by ceasing to perform the necessary duties of our state in life or to lessen our good works.  But He is saying that we must make Him the principle and fountainhead of all we do and say and that everything we do should be referred back to Him.  Taking time out for prayer, even in small doses during the day, is absolutely essential for our spiritual health.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus is always there to help us and is patiently waiting for us to invite Him into our lives where He will take care of everything, if we let Him.  †

*After Sister’s Talk, she read the following article: “Today, Jesus Scolded me while I celebrated Mass”

This talk on Sacred Heart Spirituality was given onDecember 3rd, 2017 by one of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary at the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, Massachusetts.  The next talk will be held on Sunday, February 4th, 2018 at 4:00 pm.  All are invited to attend.

 

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Love Letters from the Sacred Heart

As many of you are aware, our Sisters have been involved in giving talks on the Sacred Heart (on a monthly basis) for many years now.  We have a compilation of these talks outside our chapel entrance which anyone can help themselves to.  We try to make a variety of different talks available that have been given throughout the years and as portress I’ve replenished these talks many times.  Since the topics are so varied, I’ve come to see which ones are “always” taken and which ones seem to go a bit more slowly.  Now it has been my observation that any talk which has the word “suffering” in its title is bound to be left alone and usually is taken far less frequently than the others.  Perhaps it is just my imagination but I sense that suffering is not a subject that most people want to read about, no matter how enlightening the reflections may be.  Should we ourselves be suffering, just reading about it can sometimes have an aggravating effect.

Our Monastery Meadow

Instead, most of us value “respites” from the hard times of oppression and would much prefer the cool waters of a calm lake to sit by, or the soothing breezes of a peaceful meadow to relax in.  When a recent issue of Reader’s Digest came into my hands, I realized how a new therapy called “nature cure” was helping frazzled humankind cope with their all too hectic lives.  It highlighted the proven fact that being close to nature (even if only viewing it out of windows) has a significant healing effect upon people’s health.  I certainly could relate to this finding as one of my favorite outdoor activities is taking our golf cart and driving to our lower meadow to watch the sky and the trees.  While I’m engaged in doing this I’m thinking about nothing in particular, just taking in the presence of what I believe to be the goodness of God and His mysterious hold upon our universe.

As idyllic as this experience can be and as refreshing to our spirits, we are all called to mission.  This is what our faith orients us to if we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  As surely as Jesus had a mission to pass on the Truth He received from the Father, so we also, each one of us have a similar mission to embrace.  Those moments of refreshing retreat do not last forever, but are meant to re-energize us for the demanding parts of our lives that have become our “responsibility” or our “inevitability.”  However, knowing what we are to do sometimes encompasses a mystery that we do not always hold the keys to unlocking.  I remember as a young college student, saying to myself, what am I to do with my life?  At the time I found great solace in a saying from the little book on Jonathan Livingston Seagull:  “Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.”  After pondering this saying, I found a direction that seemed right for the moment and bit by bit the way opened into new possibilities.  However, I wanted to do it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It was not just my determination that was important, but how God was mysteriously leading me forward, always with the element of holy fear and trust.

And so little by little the way became clearer, though not without surprises that were unexpected.  All of us have a journey to make and sometimes that journey will make us or break us.  However, with God each step can be taken with the assurance that there is purpose even when we fall into the darkness of uncertainty.  Our Faith tells us that God has always broken through this darkness by sending us messages and messengers of light.  In other words, God has, as it were, written love letters from his Sacred Heart, calling us back to Himself when we were in the midst of chaos.  This has been so compellingly illustrated for me by a recent book entitled Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed.  Its author Roger Buck is a convert whose life-changing direction resulted from his visits to the shrine of Paray-le-Monial in France.  At this sacred place he and his wife were given new awareness to re-commit themselves to the Catholic Church and to one of its enduring devotions:  that of the Sacred Heart.  He writes:

Mosaic of the Sacred Heart at Paray le Monial

Paray-le-Monial, what does it mean for the world today?  The postcards on sale there speak of the ‘Coeur spirituel de l’Europe’ – the spiritual heart of Europe! When first I saw these, I imagine I laughed.  A bit over the top, I must have thought! But now, after more than twenty visits, I am no longer as skeptical, as once I was. Once in Mulhouse, a great French city, hundreds of kilometers from Paray, I was praying in a church – when a complete stranger, an elderly Frenchwoman, interrupted me.  We had a little conversation, which turned to Paray.  She exclaimed:  ‘Paray! One can feel the Heart of Jesus there.’  I had to say I felt exactly the same thing. He goes on to quote a lovely passage from Bishop Bougaud’s Life of Saint Margaret Mary describing the Chapel of the Apparitions:   Our humble Margaret Mary now rests… under the very spot upon which Our Lord appeared to her… The pilgrim on his arrival pauses, involuntarily moved.  The sweet  mysteries accomplished in this place;  on the one side, virginity, tenderness, thirst for immolation, heavenly detachment; on the other, condescension, mercy, infinite love… all that speaks to the soul.  He forgets himself for hours in mute contemplation.   There have been places more highly venerated on this earth, but there are very few more august or more sweet. *

It is amazing to think that a contemporary person wrote what he did in this book, living in a culture which has practically no regard for such things as “virginity, tenderness, thirst for immolation, heavenly detachment.”  Buck purposely italicizes those words which emphasize his own reaction:  “involuntarily moved… forgets himself for hours…” Something has taken hold of his heart and has drawn him again and again back toward the Heart of Christ at Paray-le-Monial, as he humbly admits:

“Truly, the presence in these two chapels transformed my life.  I could never have written this book without them.  Yet this presence also extended beyond these chapels.  Waking in my bed at night, I felt struck;  It is different here in Paray.  Yes, around the clock in Paray, a very special presence could be felt bathing me, cleansing me, working on my soul.  I confess there were times in Paray, where I endured real suffering.  But how I felt succored and strengthened there, like nowhere else on earth.  In my agony, I knew I was being held” [p. 341].

What comes shining through the pages of this book is the author’s extreme sincerity.  It is a quality, I think, of great value in today’s world where so many of our encounters only get a half-hearted nod.  But in our intimate relationship with the Heart of Jesus we acquire the wholesomeness of what “reality” is all about.  That is why there is a spiritual renewal that takes place with every genuine encounter with the Sacred Heart, one that converts our baser tendencies into the finer qualities of virtuous living.

Can there be anything more inviting than to meet another heart whose sole purpose is to reflect the divine heart of Jesus?  Our constant immersion into our “dog eat dog” society of manipulation and distrust is overwhelming at times.  Its invisible prison sets traps for us every day, and we must look to the pure heart of Jesus to gain the fortitude and wisdom to move forward in peace and joy and trust.  We must try to keep our eyes constantly on Jesus, placing Him front and center in our hearts.

Toward the end of his book, Roger Buck sums up his thoughts for other spiritual travelers.  We can all harken to its simple and sincere advice:

“Modern society is overflowing – as never before – with a thousand hypnotic forces that would lull us all to sleep.  How to remain awake?  Prayer, devotion, examinationof conscience, loving attention to the needs of others.  All these things are indispensable as they are to every religious and spiritual discipline, that is, Protestantism and Buddhism. But we are neither Protestants nor Buddhists.  As Catholic we acknowledge these common religious disciplines are not enough.  Rather, we must add something else to these – union with Jesus Christ and His Church through the Holy Sacraments. Thus, throughout this book, I issue a call.

“Let your soul be fortified by the Sacred Heart who pours Himself out to us daily in the Mass!  Go to Mass as frequently as possible  for you will certainly find there fire to sustain you amidst the deadening forces of modern culture.  Also, let your sins be regularly washed away by Absolution’s merciful grace.  Immerse yourself in both these Holy Sacraments and others that are appropriate to your situation.  Pray your Rosary and harken to the things Our Lady calls for, including, for example, a medal worn around your neck.  Avail yourself, too, of the healing stillness of His Real Presence in Eucharistic Adoration.  And of course, in this book dedicated to the Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, I urge devotion to the Heart of Jesus. Recall the Holy Hour and practice it; observe the First Fridays; help revive the annual feast to His Most Sacred Heart.” [pp. 445-446].

Let us pray that our desires to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus will intensify each day and that our attentive hearts will draw down  from heaven the graces we need to witness to Christ and to be faithful messengers of His truth and love. †

* quotes taken from Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed by Roger Buck;  Kettering, OH, Angelico Press, 2016.

This talk on Sacred Heart Spirituality was given on November 5, 2017 by one of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary at the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, Massachusetts.  The next talk will be held on Sunday, December 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm.  All are invited to attend.

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Our Indifference: Finding Our Way Back to the Heart of Christ

People are more concerned about ghosts and goblins, spiders and monsters than they are about Godly symbols that remind us of heaven, God, the angels and the saints

On a recent trip that I had to make, I was—during this particular time of year—made very conscious of the decorations a lot of people chose to surround their houses and yards.  Living in a monastery and accustomed to the liturgical seasons, I have grown used to our Catholic traditions and the ambience that we create to enhance each feast day of the Church.  Seeing the displays for the secular days of Halloween and the upcoming solstice made me aware that many, many people are more concerned about ghosts and goblins, spiders and monsters than they are about Godly symbols that remind us of heaven, God, the angels and the saints.  Would that all those houses I passed with so-called “Halloween” decorations spent as much time, effort and money displaying their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the saints.  Wouldn’t our world be quite a different place if that really happened!

This may seem like a far-fetched dream but, actually, it is something that the Heart of Jesus wants from all of us.  Yes, the Lord is yearning that we change our indifference toward Him and His holy ones, often revealed by the things we surround ourselves with, and instead put Him and all that points to Him first in our lives.  This is very clearly manifested in the revelation that the Sacred Heart of Jesus gave to Saint Margaret Mary.  I would like you to listen carefully to the words of this saint as she described what happened to her one day while she knelt before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar.  She writes:

St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart

One day while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, I was experiencing an unusually complete state of recollection.  My senses and faculties were utterly withdrawn from their surroundings when Jesus Christ, my kind Master, appeared to me.  He was a blaze of glory, his five wounds shining like five suns.  Flames issued from all parts of his human form, especially from his divine breast which was like a furnace, and which he opened to disclose his utterly affectionate and lovable heart, the living source of all those flames.  It was at this moment that he revealed to me the indescribable wonders of his pure love for all of us, the extravagance to which he’d been led for those who had nothing for him but ingratitude and indifference.  ‘This hurts me more,’ he told me, ‘than everything I suffered in my passion.  Even a little love from them in return and I should regard all that I have done for them as next to nothing, and look for a way of doing still more.  But no, all my eager efforts for their welfare meet with nothing but coldness and dislike.’”

How many people there are living in our vast world who are totally indifferent toward God and God’s love for them.  So, so many of us—even those in rectories and in religious houses—are overwhelmingly preoccupied with our own concerns and interests that we sometimes go through the motions of giving homage to God when deep down inside we are really absorbed with our own plans and desires.

If you think that this indifference toward God, toward the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is just a minor thing that really shouldn’t bother us, I’d like to recommend to you a new book that recently came out entitled, In Sinu Jesu (translated:  In the Bosom of Jesus).  Its author—simply identified as “A Benedictine Monk”—subtitles this work:  “When Heart Speaks to Heart / The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.”  With an imprimatur dated October 11, 2016, this book relates the conversations of Our Lord and Our Lady who began to speak to the heart of a priest (in 2007) who was very much in need of their intervention.  Impelled to write down what he heard, initially for his own spiritual welfare, it became evident that others (that is, priests, consecrated souls and lay people) would also benefit from these words and receive light and strength from them.  Its monk-author explains that the style is his own, but the substance of what he wrote came during prayer, without any effort or prior reflection of his own.  He says that “there would be an inner movement to write, and I would write until the inspiration stopped.  After writing, there would be a grace of quiet union with Our Lord or with Our Lady.  On a few occasions, there were words from saints or from holy people.”

With the onset of these interior messages from Jesus and Mary, this priest has been given a strong attraction to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and to making reparation for priests in particular.  As the unnamed  Benedictine Oblate writer of the book’s Introduction wisely observes:

“We know from the history of approved private revelations that Our Lord and Our Lady intervene in special ways in times of ecclesial crisis, worldliness, lukewarmness, infidelity, intellectual confusion, or spiritual anguish.  They speak to us of truths that have become obscured, neglected, or contradicted; they instruct us in attitudes, virtues, and practices that are forgotten, despised, misunderstood, or poorly cultivated.”

To get an idea of how the Lord is still very much lamenting our present-day indifference to Him, listen to these excerpts drawn from the book.  These are the words Jesus spoke to the heart of this priest while he was at adoration:

“It is enough for Me that you are here.  I do not ask anything else of you.  It is your adoring loving presence that My Heart wants from you.  In this way, you will console Me and make reparation for so much coldness, ingratitude, and indifference.  I am here for you.  Be here for Me.  Seek My Eucharistic Face.  Know that My Eucharistic Heart is open to receive you, to comfort you, to strengthen you, and to purify you in the Blood and Water that ever flow from My pierced side.”

“When My love is spurned, when the gift of My Body and Blood is not discerned, when it is not received worthily and adored by loving and grateful hearts, I suffer a divine affliction.  That is to say, I am wounded in love, wounded in My Heart.  I look to My beloved priests to console Me and to make up for the coldness, the cruel indifference, the ingratitude, and the irreverence that I suffer, hidden in the Sacrament of My love.”

These words from Our Lady express similar sentiments:

“Know that my maternal Heart suffers and grieves over the irreverence, the coldness, and the ingratitude of so many souls towards the Sacrament of my Son’s undying love.  It is in this Sacrament that He loves His own, loving them to the end… His Eucharistic love surpasses all the laws of perishable nature:  there is no greater miracle on the face of the earth than the real presence of my Son in the Sacrament of the Altar.  Even so, He is forsaken, neglected, and handed over to sinners to be betrayed, again and again…  How is He betrayed?  His priests, my own sons, betray Him when they fail to make Him known, when, by not teaching the mystery of His real presence, they leave souls in the darkness of ignorance, without fire or light.  They betray my Son when, by their example, they discourage reverence, and adoration, and a loving attention to His presence.  They betray Him when they offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass unworthily, and when they hand Him over to sinners who have no intention of giving Him their hearts and seeking His mercy and His pardon for their sins.  They betray Him when they leave Him alone in locked churches and when they make it difficult or impossible for souls to approach His tabernacles and rest in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face.  They betray Him when they allow His churches to become places of noise and worldly chatter, and when they do nothing to recall souls to the living mystery of His love, that is, His presence in the tabernacle.”

A continued reading of St. Margaret Mary’s revelation that was referred to earlier enlightens us further as to the Lord’s response to the indifference to His love shown by many.  He tells St. Margaret Mary (and through her to us), “Do me the kindness, then, of making up for their ingratitude, as far as you can.”

Do we care about our family members who have wandered from the faith?  Or how about our parish members who espouse a worldly morality and mentality?  Or how about other Catholics who want to convince us that we should adjust the perennial teachings of Christ to the trends of the times?  To effect a change in these errant patterns, we are called to make up for these deficiencies by our own acts of love and reparation.  Small and insignificant though they may seem, the Sacred Heart of Jesus can use them to bring straying souls back to His Heart.  The Lord reminds us in the messages of In Sinu Jesu,“Love Me, for those who do not love Me; adore Me, in reparation for those who have set up false gods; hope in Me alone, in reparation for those who trust in their own strength.”  The Sacred Heart of Jesus assures us that He hears our every prayer and uses them and our sacrifices for His mysterious work in redirecting souls to His heavenly kingdom.

Let us point others to the Heart of God

Lately, I have read an interesting article detailing the ministry of Fr. Jeremy Davies.  This London priest, former physician and leading exorcist for many years emphasizes that combating the forces of evil is an on-going struggle in which every soul is engaged.  He specifically states that “all society is subject to demonic deception in so far as it accepts an unbelieving point of view.”  He says we need to wake up to the reality of evil, especially in its more subtle forms, because hidden in the ordinariness of our existence are serious threats to the life of the soul.  One of the most telling characteristics of those who fall prey to Satan’s antics, he has observed, are those who seek self-centered happiness which leads them to make unenlightened decisions that gradually move them away from Christ.  In so doing, he says, they subtly change from being a child of God to living a lie.

There is an old saying that goes, “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.”  We have all heard the Gospel admonition of Christ:  “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Lk 11:23).  Indifference toward the One to whom we owe all our love, adoration and thanksgiving is neither honest nor reasonable.  It can easily degenerate into confused thinking and contempt.  For those around us who have deviated from God’s love and truth, let us turn to the Sacred Heart and earnestly entrust to Him these souls, begging for them the light and help they need.  †

This talk on Sacred Heart Spirituality was given on November 5, 2017 by one of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary at the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, Massachusetts.  The next talk will be held on Sunday, December 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm.  All are invited to attend.
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