Vatican Radio is one of my favorite Bookmarks. Not only do you find basic texts from Rome, like the pope’s talks at World Youth Day, but some great off-beat material too, like interviews with the delightful Carmelite Latinist for the Vatican, Fr. Reginald Foster. The turns and history of latin words can be fascinating and Fr. Reginald is never afraid to give you his own opinions. He’s a brilliant character.
Periodically, there are interesting short programs on music and the art of Rome too on Vatican Radio. One recent program about English hymns to the Sacred Heart made me aware of what that devotion is all about and how it has changed over the years. I’d also like to hear more from the Australian bishop who spoke recently about St. Paul the Apostle’s attitude towards women. You can download these short audio clips and listen to them again.
For this Sunday’s gospel, on the famous promise that Jesus makes to Peter at Caesaria Philippi you can’t do better than listen to Jill Bevilaqua’s 18 minute commentary. Wonderful blend of good history, music, good exegesis and fresh approach. Besides Bevilaqua, there are some other talented women you hear on Vatican Radio, like Philippa Hitchens and Elizabeth Lev.
Today, the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The feast was deliberately placed on this date because of its associations with the death of Jesus and the mystery of the Eucharist. Statues and symbols of this feast can still be found in so many of our churches and shrines and even our homes. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was a favorite devotion of the generation of Catholics before ours. It was promoted especially by the Jesuits, but the whole church took it up.
I think today of Sacred Heart Church in Springfield, Mass where Theodore Foley grew up. The devotion expressed in that church must of had a profound influence on him.
The devotion was strong in the pre-Vatican II church, but not so strong now. How do I know? I was listening to a little segment on church music from Vatican Radio, which featured popular hymns to the Sacred Heart. Most of them you don’t hear today.
By the way, the Vatican Radio site is a lively place to get little gems of information, like “Was St. Paul a Mysoginist?” Some wonderful stuff on the art and architecture of Rome too.
The devotion, however, points to a mystery that transcends its present expression. Here’s St. Bonaventure, from today’s Office of Readings:
“Take thought now, you who are redeemed, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder.
“By divine decree, one of the soldiers opened his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting. “