Archive for the ‘Devotions’ Category

“The Rosary Is…”

October 21, 2016

    “My favorite prayer.” ~ Pope St. John Paul II

     “The Bible on a string.” ~ Fr. Ronan Murphy

     “A school for learning true Christian perfection.” ~ Pope St. John XXIII

     “A prayer both so humble and simple and theologically rich in Biblical content.” ~ Pope St. John Paul II

     “A treasure of graces.” ~ Pope Paul V

     “A priceless treasure inspired by God.” ~ St. Louis De Monfort

     “A powerful weapon.” ~ St. Josemaria Escriva

     “The weapon for these times.” ~ St. Padre Pio

     “The scourge [against] the devil.” ~ Pope Adrian VI

     “A powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin.” ~ Pope Pius XI

     “The most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life.” ~ Pope St. Leo XIII

     “A magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world.” ~ Pope St. John XXIII

     “The most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God.” ~ Pope St. Saint Pius X

    “Of the greatest value, not only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history.” ~ Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima

     “The book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next.” ~ Venerable Fulton Sheen

The Blessed Virgin Mary at Prayer

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A Christmas Lessons & Carols Program

December 23, 2014

1st Reading : The Christmas Proclamation
1st Song : “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
2nd Reading : The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem
2nd Song: “Away in a Manger”
3rd Reading : The Shepherds are Heralded by Angels
3rd Song: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
4th Reading : The Shepherds Come to the Manger
4th Song: “O Come All Ye Faithful”
5th Reading : The Shepherds Go Forth Rejoicing
5th Song: “Joy to the World”

Christmas Lessons & Carols Readings & Songs
Christmas Lessons & Carols Songs Only

 

 

Driving Devotions

August 17, 2014

Rearview RosaryHow can your ordinary travel bring you closer to God and greater personal holiness? Here are some Catholic devotions you and your family can practice while driving down the road:

  • When you embark, you can invoke your guardian angel to protect you on your journey.
  • When passing a Catholic Church, you can make a sign of the cross to bless yourself and honor the Real Presence of the Lord inside of the tabernacle.
  • When passing a cemetery, you can say a prayer for any buried there who are still in Purgatory.
  • When you hear a siren, you can pray for a safe and happy resolution to the emergency.
  • When driving alone, you can invite Jesus or Mary to sit beside you to share a prayerful conversation.

Close At Hand — 3rd Sunday of Advent—Year A

December 14, 2010

Today, the third Sunday of Advent, we light the pink or rose-colored candle because today is Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” means “rejoice” in Latin and we hear this call in the opening antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” Now that we are about halfway through this purple, penitential season, the Church is reminding us that Advent is also a time for joy. Though we await Him, “the Lord is near.”

This Guadete Sunday, we have extra cause for joy. As you may have heard, this week, a shrine in Champion, Wisconsin, 10 miles northeast of Green Bay, is now our country’s first Church-approved Marian apparition site. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, this happy news was announced by Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay:

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

151 years ago, a lady clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars around her head appeared to a 28-year-old lay woman named Adele. Adele asked the lady who she was and what she wanted, and the lady answered, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation….”

That was the core of Mary’s message: the need for sinners to be converted and for children to be taught the faith. But Adele hesitated, and asked Mary how she was to teach the young when she knew so little herself. Mary replied, “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.” After that encounter, Adele’s father built a small chapel on the site and Adele went about fulfilling her mission from Mary for the rest of her life.

The Bride of Christ, the Church, teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children. This means that even if your children go to Catholic or public school, you are their first and foremost teacher in the important lessons of life. But how often do our parents talk to their children about Jesus or Mary, or teach their children about what they should know for salvation? I suspect that many parents are intimidated because, like Adele Brise, they feel like they know too little. But Mary reassures us that we can all teach our children simple but important lessons in the faith that will remain with them and bless them forever.

Like Mary said, teach them the sign of the cross and how to approach the sacraments. At Mass, whisper in their ears, “Look, Father is holding up Jesus,” and on the way home in the car, ask them what they learned from the homily. Have interesting conversations with your children about the faith. Ask them, for example, if they think that Jesus likes sports, ask them what they think Mary’s favorite prayer is, or ask them what they think Heaven is like, and then share your answers with each other. And, perhaps most importantly, teach your children how to pray, by praying with them daily.

Though you know enough already to teach your children a great deal, you must always keep learning yourself. As your children mature in age, you must also mature in your understanding of the faith. Explore why we as Catholics do what we do, and learn why the Bride of Christ, our Mother, teaches as she does. For example, why do we make the sign of the cross? We do it at the open and close of our prayers and you’ve done it since you were little, but now consider more deeply what it means.

Its words and gestures encapsulate our faith’s most central mysteries. It confesses the Trinity and trances our redemption through the cross of Jesus Christ. We pray not “in the names,” but the “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” for God is three persons who are one in nature. [†] From the Father descends the Son, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love between them. Tracing the cross on ourselves, [†] we recall how the Father sent the Son to save us, and how the Holy Spirit now acts through our lives with power.

To pray this prayer, for it is a prayer, calls upon God to be powerfully with us. It is to say: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I ask you to be near me, here and now.” In the face of temptation or evil, this sign declares, “I belong to neither to the Devil nor the world, I belong to Jesus Christ.” So much is contained in this simple prayer and gesture. It can be taught to a child, yet meditated upon for a lifetime. And this is just one element of our faith. There is always more to explore.

Let us rejoice today, for the apparition of Our Lady of Champion reminds us, that even in Wisconsin, the Lord is near,  and [†] we can call upon Him at any time. Let us teach the faith to our children, so that they will remain near to Him and call upon His name.

Let Advent Be Advent — 2nd Sunday of Advent—Year A

December 5, 2010

John the Baptist was living quite differently compared to people in his day. What he wore was different, what he ate was different, and what came from his lips was also different. Yet, John shared something in common with us today. Like Christians in this season of Advent, John knew that the Christ, or Messiah, had already been born, years before in the past. Like us, what John was preparing for was the coming of Christ anew.

That’s the reason why in Advent, in this season of awaiting the Messiah’s arrival, John the Baptist is so prominently featured in our Sunday Gospel readings, like today’s. By looking at John we can learn how to prepare ourselves for Christ’s arrival. As I mentioned before, John was rather different from his neighbors in his day. Today I suggest that we in the Church need to be a bit more different from everybody else if we want to prepare better for Christ’s coming this year.

What did John do with all that time alone in the desert, when he wasn’t out preaching or baptizing? Surely, John was praying, asking for grace and contemplating the one who was coming. The desert is a quiet place, free of distractions, and conducive to prayer. The world can make this month before Christmas a very stressful time. This Advent, you must find a desert, a quiet place, free from distractions, where you can pray each day. Create a daily desert space for your own family as well and prayer together as one. You cannot prepare well for Christ’s coming without daily prayer and the peace it gives.

What did John eat in the desert? He ate locusts, or grasshoppers, and wild honey. The wild honey may sound pretty sweet, until you realize that it was guarded by wild bees. John ate simply. Our meals in Advent should be simple too. You know how it is at Easter, when you enjoy what you gave up for Lent again for the first time? You find yourself enjoying what you denied yourself more than ever before. Then just think of how much greater your Christmas feasting will be if you eat more simply in Advent. (Besides, if you fast or diet now, there will less pounds to lose next year.)

John dressed differently than other people in his day. He wore a garment made of camel’s hair and tied a leather belt around his waist. He dressed like the Old Testament prophet Elijah because he wanted people to know that these were special days. You can also dress in ways that witness to the world that these are special days. One way to do this is to dress liturgically. As you can see, the main color of Advent is purple. If you have purple outfits or ties, now is their season.

By the way, this Wednesday, December 8th, is a holy day of obligation and Christ is asking you to attend the worldwide feast in honor of His immaculately conceived mother. On such a day, intentionally wearing blue or white would honor her. Try dressing liturgically and you’ll find that it reminds you and others of what makes these days special.

What came from the lips of John was different, and despite the large crowds, whatever he spoke was not for himself but for Christ. This year, wish people “merry Christmas” instead of “seasons greetings,” and instead of “happy holidays,” say “happy holy days,” for by this you give witness to the true reason for the season.

John knew that he must decrease and that Christ must increase, for John himself was not the light but had come to give testimony to the light. In the world, the Christmas songs have already begun on the radio and the Christmas trees are all up and lit in the malls, but the day after Christmas their songs will stop and their decorations will be taken down. But as the world is packing Christ away for another year, the Church is just beginning its celebration. You know the “twelve days of Christmas?” On Christmas day, the twelve day begin, not end. Like Easter, the Church celebrates not just one day, but for weeks after.

This year, let Advent be Advent, and save Christmas for Christmas. Sing Advent songs for Advent, and (as much as possible) save Christmas carols for their time. I suggest leaving your Christmas lights, on your tree and on your house, unlit during Advent. Then, when you plug-in at last on Christmas Eve, you shall enjoy a joyful sign that the light of the world has come.

St. John the Baptist calls to you through the Scriptures. I encourage you here, before you. And I hope the Holy Spirit is now prompting you, in your hearts and minds, to keep Advent as Advent this year, and to prayerfully prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas more profoundly than you ever have before.

Fatima Rosary Reflections

May 31, 2010

We celebrate May as the month of Mary, but we gather this particular day because 93 years ago Mary appeared to three children outside a small village in Portugal named Fatima. We will now pray the rosary and I will share with you just some of this story of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima.

[Pray the usual introductory Rosary Prayers]

In the year before Mary appeared to them, Lucia age 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta, ages eight and seven, were grazing their sheep in a field. A dazzlingly beautiful young man, seemingly made of light, appeared to them and identified himself as the Angel of Peace. He invited them to pray with Him, and taught them a simple prayer.  I will pray this prayer three times and I invite you to join with me.

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You! I beg pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You. Amen.”

In the 1st Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.” Jesus was not a sinner, He did not need baptism for himself, but He was baptized to become an advocate and intercessor for others. Likewise, let us pray as advocates and intercessors for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, or do not love God throughout the world.

[Pray the First Luminous Mystery]

On another occasion, the Angel of Peace appeared before them holding a chalice in his hands. Above it was suspended a host from which drops of blood were falling into the chalice. The Angel left the chalice suspended in the air, prostrated himself before it, and taught the children this prayer:

“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.”

In the 2nd Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana.” For them, Jesus changed water into wine. For us, He changes wine into His blood. Are we indifferent to this miracle in our midst, or does it really matter to us? Let us pray that the Eucharist would transform us.

[Pray the Second Luminous Mystery]

On May 13, 1917, after lunch on a clear blue day, the children were praying the rosary. Suddenly, they saw two bright flashes. They looked up and saw, in Lucia’s words, “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun…”

The Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from. The Lady pointed to the sky and said: “I come from heaven.” Lucia asked what she wanted. She said, “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour.” They tried to keep it to themselves, word of the children’s encounter with the Heavenly Lady got out. Though they were met with the townspeople’s skepticism and mockery, the children would not deny what they had seen and heard.

In the 3rd Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.” Let us pray to be irresistibly led to proclaim what we have experienced in Christ.

[Pray the Third Luminous Mystery]

On July 13th, the incredibly beautiful Lady appeared to them again. Lucia asked her who she was, and for a miracle so everyone would believe. She answered, “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” And the Lady taught them this prayer:

“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven,  especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.”

In the 4th Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Transfiguration.” Sometimes we look at other people and think that they can’t change what they are. The apostles thought like this, but Jesus opened their eyes with His Transfiguration. Let us pray for the grace of transformation; in our family members, in our friends, and especially among those in most need of God’s Mercy.

[Pray the Fourth Luminous Mystery]

At noon on the 13th of October, 1917, some 70,000 people were gathered in the field. With a flash of light the Lady appeared to the children, and Lucia, for the last time, asked her what she wanted. The Lady answered, “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.” And the Blessed Virgin Mary urged the conversion of hearts, as she had many times before, “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”

What happened next was reported at the time in an anti-religious Portuguese newspaper, by a reporter who had previously written dismissively about the goings-on at Fatima:

“…One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!” Before the astonished eyes of the crowd… the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.”

In the 5th Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Institution of the Eucharist.” What the masses saw in the heavens that day was a great miracle. But what we encounter at every Mass is an even greater wonder. Let us pray that we would always have the eyes to see it.

[Pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, followed by the usual closing Rosary Prayers]

(Primary Source)

A Premature Passion? — Palm Sunday—Year C

March 28, 2010

So why did we just proclaim the Passion?  Isn’t the Passion a bit premature? It’s Palm Sunday, not Holy Thursday or Good Friday. Aren’t we jumping the gun? No, like the two disciples Jesus instructed in our opening Gospel, we’re being told what we are going to see. The Church has us recount the Passion on Palm Sunday to prepare us; to prepare us for encountering Christ’s Passover through the special ceremonies and symbols of this Holy Week.

Now the celebration of the Eucharist actually makes the events of the Pascal mystery present for us every time we come to Mass. Jesus’ Last Supper, His Passion and Death, His Resurrection and Ascension into glory, are all truly presented to us at each and every Mass; but during Holy Week, we unpack and encounter these events in unique and special ways.

Today you have waved palms, an ancient symbol of victory, to Christ, welcoming Him into our city. On Holy Thursday, you can go where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and give company to Christ in his lonely solitude, with Him in His agony before His arrest and with Him as He spends the night awaiting His trial. On Good Friday, you can reverence the crucifix; you can kiss the wood of Jesus’ cross and kiss His body hanging upon it, as He dies for us. And at the Easter Vigil, you can see the sign of the light of Jesus Christ resurrecting out of darkness and death.

And so I invite you to encounter Jesus’ Pascal mystery, at this Mass, at every Mass, and through the special signs and ceremonies of this Holy Week.

The Prodigal Son — 4th Sunday in Lent—Year C

March 14, 2010

If today happens to be your first time coming back to church in a long time, then take today’s gospel as a sign. God our Father is incredibly merciful and He welcomes you home with a loving embrace.

But most of us here, I suspect, came to Mass last week, and the week before that, because you always come every week. If so, then you probably hear this familiar parable of the Prodigal (that is, squandering) Son and wonder where you fit into the story. When you look at yourself I bet you can honestly say that you’re not living a life of great dissipation like the younger son, and the idea of a sinner being reconciled with God makes you genuinely happy, not bitter, like the older son or the Pharisees. So what does this story have to teach those of us who are doing a lot more right than we’re doing wrong?

First, let’s look at the younger, prodigal son. He goes to his father and says, “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.” Here, he is asking for his inheritance while his father is still alive. He is basically saying, “I don’t want to share my life with you,” and then he demonstrates it a few days later by setting off to a distant country. There he squanders his inheritance on a life of dissipation, but after he has freely spent everything, he finds himself in dire need. What he thought would make him happy left him disappointed in the end.

Sure, we’re not professional, all-star sinners like the prodigal son, but we act like him in many little ways in our daily lives. The prodigal son asked his father for something which was not his and which he had no right to take (while his father is still alive.) Whenever we live as if our lives were our own, as if our lives did not come from God and do not belong to God, our Father, we say to Him, “I don’t want to share my life with you.”

Though our small and venial sins only hinder or wound our relationship with God, in every sin we turn our backs and set off for awhile to a distant country. Whenever we insist upon it, God permits us to freely spend our lives in squandering ways, in ways which we think will make us happy but which disappointing us in the end. When we return to our Father, He forgives our sins and welcomes us back, but you and I must learn to stop trying to live our lives without sharing them completely with God.

Why are we afraid of the idea of doing what God wants us to do every moment of our day? I think we are afraid that doing God’s will won’t really make us happy. Maybe we imagine that doing God’s will means we will have to pray ten hours a day at church or walk around wearing a burlap outfit. Of course that’s crazy. God probably wants you to live the same life you are living now, but with some minor adjustments, and more closely to Him.

Maybe we are afraid to give ourselves completely to God because we are a lot like the other, older, more faithful son in the parable. We have served our Father for years without ever asking or expecting much for ourselves. But working hard for God without ever experiencing His good gifts and joys does not make us holy; over time it makes us angry and embittered, like the older son who never asked for anything. We start to think of our Father, not as our father, but as a slave master. But our Father says to us today, “My child, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” as our psalm said. Do not let your face blush with shame at asking for good things for you and your friends to enjoy. When we are poor and call out the Lord hears us, and He will save us from all our distress. So look to God, and be radiant with joy.

We’ve learned important lessons from both of the sons in this parable, and I hope we will put them into practice.

From the faithful but disgruntled son, we learned the importance of asking for good things from God. So today, at this Mass, ask our Father to surprise you today with some good gift that you’ll enjoy. Then watch to see what He does for you.

From the prodigal son we learned the importance of living with and for God every day of our lives. So tomorrow morning, when you wake up and you’re lying in bed, make the sign of the cross and entrust yourself to God for that day, that you may live your life that day always with Him and for Him. Ask you guardian angel to remind you and I bet you will remember.  Try it, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the difference it makes in your day.

Traveling to God — Epiphany of the Lord

January 3, 2010

Today the nations come to Christ, to bring Him their gifts and to worship Him. We see it in the gospel, where great, wise ones called Magi travel afar to Bethlehem of Judea. And we see it in our world today, wherever those honored to be called Christians gather in Christ’s Church throughout the world. Every Sunday is a little Epiphany where, like the Magi, all the nations come to worship the One whom all the world ought not to be able to contain.

Our responsorial psalm prayed, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” In another psalm, Psalm 87, the Lord foretells that every nation on earth would adore Him. The Lord says,

“Babylon and Egypt I will count among those who know me; Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia, these will be her children and Zion shall be called ‘Mother’ for all shall be her children.”

Today there are Christians in all of these places: in Egypt and Iraq, in the Holy Land and Africa.  In fact Christians span entire continents about which the ancients never knew. There are Christians all nations who have entered the Lord’s house and found Jesus with Mary, who is the symbol of Mother Church. She is rightly called mother, for all nations are her children.

In many lands Christians suffer harsh persecution, as in China, where a red dragon like that of Revelation still seeks to destroy the Christ Child and the God-bearing mother. How fortunate we are to be able to safely gather here, to be free to practice our faith without fear, to come to Christ’s house easily and often, not in hiding or in secret, and without having to travel for months across desert expanses like the Magi.

Yet, in our ease, we can take our religion for granted. In our routine, we can be blind to how we are blessed. And in our closeness to Christ, we can overlook Him. So, from time to time, it is important for our faith to be renewed. One way we can do this is to imitate what the Magi did. At least once every year we should make a pilgrimage to Christ and stay to retreat some days with Him.

After spending precious time with Jesus in the heart of their pilgrimage the gospel says the Magi “departed for their country by another way.” Their physical journey changed (for they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,) but their spiritual way changed as well. The Magi were believers even before they came, but after adoring Jesus and giving their gifts, they went away spiritually richer. We too would be spiritually richer if we were to give Christ some gift of our time and treasure to pilgrimage and retreat with Him.

As busy as priests are, the Church requires all of them to go on several days of retreat each year, for she knows how important this is for spiritual renewal and intimacy with Christ. Imagine what difference a pilgrimage to a shrine and a quiet, prayerful weekend on retreat center would have for you.

You must love and care for your children, so show them by your own example the importance of seeking after Christ. Give your spouse the opportunity to spend two days alone with the Lord, or take the whole family along for a trip to a holy shrine. For instance, there is a new, magnificent shire to Our Lady of Guadalupe which everyone should make it a priority to see. If you are looking for destinations or ideas, I’m more than happy to help.

In this year of our Lord, 2010, 51 weekends remain. Let us act now to prepare even just one of those many weekends for a gift-bearing journey. Pilgrimages and retreats are a gift to Christ and a gift to ourselves. Let us follow the Magi and come, let us adore Him this year, with days of pilgrimage and retreat.

October 17 — St. Margret Mary Alacoque

October 18, 2009

Sacred Heart by Margherita. Vatican

Today we celebrate St. Margret Mary Alacoque of France who lived in the latter half of the 1600’s. Throughout her life, Jesus would appear to her and converse with her, but this did not surprise Margret or seem strange to her. She assumed that other people experienced the same sort of things all the time. After she become a nun, Jesus gave her a  mission: to establish devotion to His Sacred Heart.

You’ve seen images of the Sacred Heart before; a red heart, crowned with thorns, pierced along its side, with a cross and flames emerging from its top. If this devotion seems strange to us, its because we do not understand what it means.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

When I was in seminary I heard a story about the Sacred Heart that I not been able to confirm with the internet, but I share it with you as a great illustration, even if it might only be a legend. The story goes that after St. Margret Mary Alacoque died, devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart was spread by the Jesuits, a Catholic religious order, in their missionary work. In one mission territory (it might have been Papua New Guinea) the priests introduced this devotion to the people, but it wasn’t resonating with them.  The people just didn’t seem to get it. As they missionaries learned more about the native culture, they learned that these people did not look at the heart as the organ that symbolizes love and emotion.  For them, some other abdominal organ, the liver I think, was the seat of human love and emotions. In response, these missionaries replaced the Sacred Heart devotion with another, a devotion to the Sacred Liver. The natives people got it, and responded enthusiastically.

When we consider the Sacred Heart today, we can be a lot like the natives in this (possibly fictional) story. We today tend to be a people of science, materiality, and literal interpretations, who look at a heart and see an organ for pumping blood. But the Church in the 1600’s saw the world differently, in a much more poetic way—they saw the Sacred Heart and understood its message.

Jesus’ Heart is aflame with fire, because His love for you is intense and passionate. His Heart is pierced, crowned with thorns, and holding up a cross, because Jesus suffered for you out of love. Jesus presents this devotion to us, because He wants us to remember that He is a human being like us and that He loves us with a human heart. The Sacred Heart is a symbol of His love for us, that He loves us deeply, with a human heart.

Since modern-day Catholics understand and resonate with the Sacred Heart less easily than we used to, Jesus seems to have given the Catholic Church another sacred image to convey very similar message. In the 1930’s, Jesus appeared to another nun and gave a mission to promote a new devotional image. That nun was St. Faustina Kowalska of Poland, and the devotion she was to spread was the Divine Mercy. The two devotions are very much alike. For example, both devotions emphasize Jesus’ humanity.  Both are accompanied by popular prayers devotions.  And both show that Jesus’ abundant loves and mercy for all.  The question is not which devotion is better, the question is which devotion resonates or connects with you in communicating Jesus’ love for you.

Sacred Heart PaintingDivine Mercy

And now I come to my final, and most important point. I’m sure all of you know the right answer to the questions, “Does God love everyone,” and “Does Jesus love you?” None of you would get these wrong on a test. But I suspect that for most of you the concept that God loves you remains just an idea. Have you experienced this truth as a reality? Do you know that Jesus Christ likes you, that He enjoys you, that He is pleased with you? If you’re uncertain about this, then you have not yet experienced His love for you as profoundly as He desires. Personally knowing Christ’s love for you, rather than just knowing about it, makes all the difference in the world.

So here is your assignment… Ask Jesus Christ to reveal to you today, or in the very near future, some palpable sign of how, and how much, He loves you. Then, keep your eyes open. Jesus is clever and powerful, and knows how to reach you. He doesn’t want His love for you to be a secret.