Monday, June 7, 2010

At the Crossroads: In Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

By Father Benjamin Alforque, M.S.C., V.F. Parochial Vicar, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

As we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart and the conclusion of the Year for Priests, let me reflect on this devotion, in light of my being a religious Missionary of the Sacred Heart and priest at the same time.

As MSC (Latin: Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis, English: Missionaries of the Sacred Heart), we see the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a particular way. Our inspired Founder, Jules Chevalier (French), said: “The love of the heart of Jesus is the center where everything meets, the pivot on which Catholicism revolves, the quintessence of Christianity.” Why? Because “In his infinite love for us the Father sent us His Word Whom He drew forth from His own Heart.” For “God has stored all grace, absolutely all, in Jesus and this great source is centered above all in the love of his heart”. And so, for us MSC, "Devotion to the Sacred Heart is the essence of Christianity and contains all other devotions. The Heart of Jesus is the love of God, God himself, incarnate. God is love.

What kind of heart does Jesus have? “The love of the heart of Jesus is essentially merciful. His role on earth was not to condemn but to forgive, not to shun those who suffer but to comfort them.” Yes, “The love of his heart is so kind, so compassionate and he will always respond to our call.” The love of the heart of Jesus is the exact opposite to the spirit of the evils of our times. To the spirit of division he opposes his immense love, his ardent desire for unity.” Indeed, the love of the heart of Jesus is an effective remedy to the modern evils of our time. Our human heart “also experiences the need to be loved. Jesus greatly desires to be our friend, to make us live with his life” and to relate to him love for love!

How do we relate to the heart of Jesus love for love? “Anyone who is involved with the love of the heart of Jesus has to carry the sign of contradiction.” “The poor are the privileged friends of the heart of Jesus. We should see in them the living image of Jesus Christ.” “The infinite mercy that Jesus shows towards sinners and the tender compassion for those who suffer find their source in his heart…and ..”do everything in our power to comfort them.” “The Eucharist is the masterpiece and the ultimate gift of the love of the heart of Jesus. It comes from this heart like a river from its source.”

As MSC and priests, our mission is expressed in our motto “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere, now and forever.” We do so following the spirituality of the heart. “The spirituality of the heart opposes the egoism of our time, its sensuality, its religious indifference by means of the love of a heart that is most self-sacrificing, pure, gentle and compassionate” (Jules Chevalier, La Société des MSC, p. 12-ff.).

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