June is Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
I'm glad to share this reflection by Deacon Keith Fournier as we begin the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS,MPhil
The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Catholic Church. On the Friday after the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ we even celebrate a Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Church, as mother and teacher, invites the faithful to spend the whole month reflecting on what it means to live our lives in such a way that we reveal the Loving Heart of a Merciful God to the whole world.
The Catholic Church marks time by the great events of the life of Jesus Christ and the Christian Faith. In so doing, she invites Christians to enter more fully into the mysteries of that faith and live differently. She also keeps the truths of the faith ever present before a world which needs to be set free from sin and death.
The early Christians referred to the Church as the world reconciled. They believed that the Church is meant to become the home of the whole human race. She is a seed of the coming Kingdom, making it present even now. Do we believe this?
On May 31, 1992 in Rome, Pope St. John Paul II canonized the Jesuit Priest Saint Claude de la Colombiere, the Spiritual Director of Saint Margaret Mary of Alocoque. She was the religious sister to whom the Lord gave a special revelation of His Sacred Heart, filled with redemptive and merciful love for the world.
The priest shared Margaret Mary's devotion to the Heart of Jesus and helped to spread that devotion. This occurred at a critical time when the culture of Europe was steeped in darkness - and the Church staggered from corruption within - a time very much like our own.
At the Mass of canonization, the late Pope proclaimed: "For evangelization today, the Heart of Christ must be recognized as the heart of the Church: It is He who calls us to conversion, to reconciliation. It is He who leads pure hearts and those hungering for justice along the way of the Beatitudes. It is He who achieves the warm communion of the members of the one Body. It is He who enables us to adhere to the Good News and to accept the promise of eternal life. It is He who sends us out on mission. The heart-to-heart with Jesus broadens the human heart on a global scale."
The heart is the center of a person, the place from which he/she makes the choices which will affect the world within them and around them. The Catholic Catechism summarizes this truth in these words,” The heart is the seat of moral personality.” (CCC# 2517) Devotion to the Heart of Jesus reminds us that it is in the Sacred Humanity of Jesus that we find the pattern for becoming fully human ourselves. In His Incarnation, saving life, death, and Resurrection, we receive both the pattern - and the means - to become more like Him.
The leaders of the Second Vatican Council in their beautifully written Pastoral Constitution on the Mission of the Church in the Modern World wrote, "The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear." (GS #22)
Two years before he became Pope, Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Pope St John Paul II) spoke to the Catholic Bishops of the United States. His frank observation was republished in the Wall Street Journal on November 9, 1978:
"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church must take up."
We are living under what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once called a "Dictatorship of Relativism" Relativism denies the existence of any objective truths which can be known through the exercise of reason and should govern our life together as a society. Divorced from norms to guide the exercise of human choice and govern our behavior, we are rapidly declining as a culture.
When there is nothing objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life then there is no basis for authentic freedom. Instead, we teeter on the brink of anarchy. Marriage is the newest target in the advance of the tyranny of the social and cultural engineers.
We are living in a new Christian missionary age. These very different visions of the human person, human love and the dignity of human sexuality, human flourishing, marriage and the family - and the society founded upon them - are contending for the heart, soul and future of the West. One will lead to true human progress, happiness, flourishing and freedom, the other to continuing human degradation, moral and cultural collapse.
Let us choose to spend the month of June in Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, lifting our Nation, indeed the whole world, to the One in whom we place all of our trust. He will not disappoint; His Heart still beats with Mercy and Love for the whole world. "Sacred Heart of Jesus, We Place our Trust in Thee."