The Sacred Heart of Jesus

O wounded heart, whence sprang
The Church, the Saviour’s bride;
Thou door of our salvation’s ark
Set in its mystic side.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began in the Middle Ages, when the devotion to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord gained in prominence, in the consideration of the Sacred Wounds He suffered for us during His Passion. The Church puts on the lips of her children the words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in the hymn for the Office of Lauds: “Who is there who does not love a Heart so wounded? Who can refuse a return of love to a Heart so loving?” For indeed, “How good and pleasant it is to dwell in the Heart of Jesus!” For the piercing of His side has revealed the goodness and charity of His Heart.

This feast, extended to the whole church in the reign of Pope Pius IX, thus has a long history. From Saints Gertrude and Mechtilde and St John Eudes and finally St Margaret Mary Alocoque, God has chosen privileged instruments of His mercy to spread devotion to the love He bears us, as imaged in the fire that burns but does not consume – that burning furnace of charity that the Church has us recall in the Litany to the Most Sacred Heart.

Jesus revealed Himself to St Margaret Mary Alocoque while she was in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, showing her His most Sacred Heart, and complaining that in return for His unbounded love, He met with nothing but outrages and ingratitude from mankind. He asked for the establishment of a new feast, on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, on which his Heart should be venerated with due honour, and that the insults offered him by sinners in the Sacrament of love should be expiated by worthy satisfaction.

Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is thus intimately linked to devotion to the Holy Eucharist – for it is the Holy Eucharist that can be said to be the very consummation of the love of God for His creatures – even to the point of becoming a Victim upon our altars, and humble bread as nourishment for our souls. In fact, the Thursday after the feast of the Sacred Heart is dedicated to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus: this Heart which, ignored by men, still pleads for our love, an unending source of new graces.

Fr Elias OSB arrived in Wanganui on Saturday, June 5th. Earlier in the week, we had bid a solemn farewell to Fr Albert OP, who returned to his native Canada after a longer-than-expected stay here in New Zealand with the Sisters.

What then, should our return be, to Jesus, outraged by so much indifference? May the following consideration taken from Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., spur our souls on to greater fidelity in the service of our Blessed Lord.

When we think of Christ’s love for us, we should suffer agonies at the sight of souls turning away from His heart, from the source of His precious blood. He shed His blood for them all, far removed as they might be from Him, even for the Communist who blasphemes and wishes to extirpate His name from the earth.

May our Lord, who does not will the death of the sinner, grant through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass a new effusion of His Heart’s blood, as it were, and of the blood from His sacred wounds. There have been saints who at the moment of the elevation during Mass have seen the precious blood overflow the chalice, spill over the arms of the priest as if it would flow into the sanctuary, and be caught up in gold cups by angels who then carried it over the whole world, particularly to lands where the Gospel was little known.

This was a symbol of the graces flowing from the Heart of Christ upon the souls of unfortunate pagans. It is for them, too, that He died on the cross. The practical consequence of this truth is that the Eucharistic heart of Jesus is by no means the object of an affected devotion. It is the supreme model of the perfect gift of self, a gift which in our own lives should become more generous with each passing day. Each new consecration should mark for the celebrant progress in his faith, trust, and love of God and of souls.

For the faithful, each Communion should be substantially more fervent than the preceding one, since each Communion should increase the charity in our hearts and make them resemble our Lord’s more closely and thus dispose us to receive Him more fervently on the morrow. As a stone gathers momentum in its fall toward the earth which attracts it, so should souls tend toward God with increasing speed as they come closer to Him and are more powerfully attracted to Him.

The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus yearns to attract our souls to itself. This Heart is often humiliated, abandoned, forgotten, scorned, outraged, and yet it is the Heart that loves our hearts, the silent Heart that would talk to souls to teach them the value of the hidden life and the value of the ever more generous gift of self.

The Word made flesh came among His own, and “His own received Him not.” Blessed are those who receive all that His merciful love deigns to give them and who do not by their resistance reject the graces which should radiate through them upon other less favoured souls. Blessed are they who after they have received follow the example of our Lord and give themselves ever more generously by Him, with Him, and in Him.

The annual St Anthony’s Procession was held on Sunday, June 13th. Marching in beat with the Scottish pipe band were the various sodalities of the parish, together with the girls from St Dominic’s College and also the Sisters.

Leading the way just behind the altar boys were the angels and flower girls.
The flags of the world accompany the papal crest, led by the Vexillum Regum: our crucified Lord.
We wound our way around the neighbourhood, with Fr Prior carrying the relic of St Anthony before bier bearing his statue.
The Girls’ School and the Sisters made up part of the procession too.
Back at the front of the church once more, the New Zealand flag was raised to the tune of the National Anthem accompanied by a bagpipe, and then the Papal flag, while Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus, Christus Imperat was chanted in a loud voice.

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