Tag Archives: friday

Feast of the Sacred Heart

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The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi because  the Eucharist comes from the loving heart of Jesus.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart has influenced generations of Catholics. I think today of the beautiful church of the Sacred Heart in Springfield, Mass, where Father Theodore Foley, the saintly Passionist whose cause for canonization was recently introduced, grew up. That church surely had a profound influence on him.

The devotion was strong in the pre-Vatican II church, but is it as strong today? I ask that question because as I listened on the internet to a short segment on church music from Vatican Radio featuring popular hymns to the Sacred Heart I realized you don’t hear them much in church today.

The devotion, however, has a long history and is deep significance. Here’s an excerpt from St. Bonaventure for today’s Office of Readings  on the heart of Jesus:

“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.”

“Sweet Savior, bless us ere we go
thy words into our minds instill
and make our lukewarm hearts aglow
with lowly love and fervent will.
Through life’s long day and death’s dark night,
O gentle Jesus be our light.”

Sacred Heart

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. “

Love on a Friday

Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

We  should expect to hear about love on a lenten friday. Believers, of course, recall the passion of Jesus on all the fridays of the year, but the lenten fridays are special days to prepare for the Friday called Good. That was a day of love.

On that day the great commandment Jesus preached was fulfilled in a striking way. Historians, scholars, artists approach the mystery of his passion and death from so many perspectives. The gospels and Christian tradition dwell on it in great detail. It is a fascinating conclusion to a fascinating life.

But the question Why did Jesus suffer such a death? can only be answered by  recognizing it as his response to the command of love. Jesus accepted the cross with love for his heavenly Father and love for us, who were there when he was crucified.

The cross was not something Jesus endured, he embraced  it with his whole heart, his whole mind and all his strength. At his cross, we stand before Love.