Lent has begun: our journey with Christ in suffering, death and resurrection. This old weathered statue looks over a corner of Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis and reminds us of the gift of his heart. It shows Christ with arms outstretched, fingers broken and heart exposed to the world.
First Friday reflections
Through the centuries, the Christian community has consistently tried to capture its developing understanding of Jesus Christ in word and image. This is a never ending challenge – to portray the Mystery of the love of God made visible in the man, Jesus of Nazareth, who went about doing good and eventually laid down his life for us. Each First Friday of the month, the Society of the Sacred Heart sends an email prepared by an RSCJ, colleague or friend of the Society, with a reflection on the meaning of the Sacred Heart in our lives today. To sign up to receive the First Friday emails, Sign up for e-news here or at the bottom of any page on this site.
During our bicentennial celebration between 2017 and 2018, First Friday emails suspended in place of our Year of Prayer weekly reflections. Click here to access the entire Year of Prayer.
Something I read sixty-six years ago has stayed with me to this day and continues to influence my prayer. The words were in a letter to members of the Society of the Sacred Heart from Reverend Mother de Lescure in preparation for the 150th anniversary of the Society.
One of my uncles once said that the cuteness of a baby is a trait to ensure its survival. There is an impulse to respond to the needs of a baby, to figure out what a baby is trying to tell us. Perhaps that is why God sent us a baby… so that we would hear what we had not been able to hear before.
Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ and through Christ, the Creator of the universe is revealed to all of us. In this moment, Christ invites each one of us to listen more carefully to what God is trying to tell us and to be more aware of the active presence of God in our daily lives.
An Invitation to Say Yes
As we move into Advent, I gaze upon the image of Mary, the Madonna, lovingly holding the Christ Child in her arms. I reflect on perhaps one of her greatest gifts to me, her invitation to be willing to say yes to God.
In October nature confronts us vividly and beckons us to see. In Sacred Heart settings around the world, Mater beckons us to reflect with an inner eye. We are reminded of the world we may not see, the world entrusted to Mater and to us.
“The thoughts of His heart are to all generations to rescue them from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” This is the Introit for the Mass of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and I’ve always loved it as the opening salvo to the Feast and First Fridays. It speaks of the Heart of God being with us, holding us in ever-present consciousness, young and old, all of us, all generations, past and present. And that holding is about “rescuing us from death” and “keeping us alive in famine.” God’s heart knows where we are even when we don’t want to admit it.
A Life in Living Color
The use of color in this computer generated image suggests the spirit of kenosis: Christ empties Himself, from above and below, into the Sacred Heart. Paradoxically, the very creation of the void generates vibrant color. Tears are the engine of change, as the divine and human crash together at the center point, the Heart of the Universe.
This First Friday we offer excerpts from Pope Francis' commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 in which he ponders the joys and challenges of daily loving after the manner of the Heart of Christ.
How can we possibly love that much?
God gifts us with the wide expanse of love made incarnate in Jesus, especially depicted in this sacred image. Jesus’ outstretched arms seem to say to us: “Here is all you need to know, fingertip to fingertip. All of creation receives the embrace of my love. I do not ration my gift of the Spirit. My Spirit I give to you.”
As a Catholic, I was often puzzled by the continued return to heart imagery among our saints and in our art. The "Sacred Heart" of Jesus and the "Immaculate Heart of Mary," where both are pointing to their blazing heart, are images known to Catholics worldwide. I often wonder what people actually do with these images. Are they mere sentiment? Are they objects of worship or objects of transformation? Such images keep recurring because they must have something important, good, and perhaps even necessary to teach the soul. What might that be?