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Sacred Heart of Jesus

Header - June: The Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

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Hope of a Hopeless World

If there is an age whose sole hope lies in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is our own. The evils committed by mankind today can scarcely be exaggerated. To mention just a few, these include blasphemy, the destruction of the family through abortion, divorce, euthanasia, widespread pornography, immoral fashions and lifestyles, homosexuality and so on. As Pope Pius XI once said, the contemporary world is so morally depraved that at any moment it could be plunged into a deeper spiritual misery than that reigning in the world when Our Blessed Redeemer was born. In consideration of so many crimes, the idea of divine vengeance naturally comes to mind. When we view this sinful world, groaning beneath the weight of a thousand crises and a thousand afflictions but nevertheless unrepentant; when we consider the alarming progress of neo-paganism, which is on the verge of conquering humanity; and when, on the other hand, we consider the lack of resolve, foresight, and unity among the so-called remnant, we are understandably terrified at the grim prospects of catastrophes that this generation may be calling upon itself.

Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

There is something liberal in imagining that so many crimes do not deserve punishment, that such a widespread apostasy of humanity is merely the fruit of some intellectual error without moral accountability. The reality is otherwise, for God does not abandon His creatures. Rather, He continuously assists and supports them with sufficient grace to aid them in choosing the right path. If they choose to follow a way other than His, the responsibility is theirs.

Behold the grim picture of the contemporary world: on one hand, an iniquitous and sinful civilization and, on the other, the Creator holding high the divine scourge. Is there nothing left for mankind but fire and brimstone? As we begin a new millennium, can we hope for a future other than the scourge foretold by Sacred Scriptures for the final impenitence of the last days? Were God to act solely according to His justice, there is no doubt what we should expect. Indeed, could we even have made it as far as the twentieth century? Nevertheless, since God is not only just but also merciful, the gates of salvation have not yet been shut against us. A people unrelenting in its impiety has every reason to expect God’s rigor. However, He Who is infinitely merciful, does not want the death of this sinful generation but that it “be converted...and live” (Ezech.18:23). His grace thus insistently pursues all men, inviting them to abandon their evil ways and return to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

Sacred Heart of JesusIf an impenitent humanity has every reason to fear every catastrophe, a repentant humanity has every reason to expect every mercy. Indeed, for God’s mercy to be poured on the contrite sinner, his repentance need not have run its full course. Even while still in the depths of the pit, if the sinner but sincerely and earnestly turn to God with a budding repentance in his heart, he will immediately find help, for God never disregards him.

The Holy Ghost says in Sacred Scripture: “Can a woman forget her infant…. And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee” (Isa. 49:15). That is, even in such extreme cases where even a mother gives up, God does not. God’s mercy benefits the sinner even while divine justice cuts him down on the way of iniquity. Modern man cannot lose sight of these two basic concepts of divine justice and divine mercy—justice lest we dare presume that we can save ourselves without merits; mercy, so that we do not despair of our salvation as long as we repent and start anew.


St Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of JesusGod is charity, so the simple mention of the Most Holy Name of Jesus evokes love. It is the infinite, limitless love that drove the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity to become man. It is the love expressed in the utter humiliation of a God Who comes to us as a poor infant, born in a cave. It is the love shown in those thirty years of hidden life spent in the humility of the strictest poverty, in the three grueling years of evangelization, when the Son of Man traveled highways and country roads, climbed mountains, crossed valleys, rivers and lakes, visited cities and villages, walked through deserts and hamlets, spoke to rich and poor, dispensing love and, for the most part, reaping ingratitude. It is the love manifested in that supreme moment of the Last Supper when, after generously washing the feet of His apostles, He instituted the Holy Eucharist. It is the love of that last kiss taken from Judas, of that poignant look at Peter, of those insults received and born patiently and meekly, of those sufferings endured until the last drop of blood was shed. It is the love in that last pardon of Dismas, which enabled the dying thief to steal heaven. Finally, it is the love manifested in the supreme gift of a heavenly mother for a wretched humanity! Each of these episodes has been painstakingly studied by the learned, wondrously reproduced by artists, devoutly contemplated by saints, and, above all, incomparably celebrated in the Divine Liturgy.

In venerating the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Church specially praises the infinite love demonstrated by Our Lord Jesus Christ to men. Since His heart is the symbol of love, by venerating His Heart, the Church celebrates Love.

 

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Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Our Lady of the Sacred HeartMany and beautiful are the invocations used by Holy Mother Church in reference to Our Blessed Lady. Yet, every single one of these clearly underscores her relationship to God’s love. Each celebrates either a gift of God to her, to which she was perfectly faithful, or some special power or influence she has with her Divine Son.

Now, what are God’s gifts but a special manifestation of His love? And what is Our Lady’s power of intercession with God in our favor but a sublime aspect of God’s special love for us? Thus, it is perfectly appropriate to call her Speculum Justitiae, “mirror of justice” on one hand and “omnipotent intercessor” on the other. She is the mirror of justice because God so loved her that He concentrated in her all perfections possible to a human creature. In no other creature is He so well reflected as in her. Thus, she mirrors His justice perfectly. She is the omnipotent intercessor because no grace is obtained without Our Lady and there is no grace she cannot obtain for us. Thus, on invoking Mary as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, we make a beautiful synthesis of all the other invocations; we recall the purest reflection of the Divine Maternity; we simultaneously strike all the chords of love in beautiful harmony, the same chords we strike when we recite her litany or sing the Salve Regina.

Yet, there is one other invocation of Our Lady that I especially wish to recall. It is “Advocate of Sinners.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is our judge, and as great as is His mercy, He nevertheless remains our supreme judge and cannot fail to exercise His judicial duty. But Our Lady is our advocate and does solely what an advocate is supposed to do—defends the accused. Do we not have in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the Advocate of Sinners, an all-powerful advocate before the bar of divine justice whose pleas for mercy will not be refused? To say then, that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is our advocate is equivalent to saying that we have an omnipotent advocate in heaven who holds the golden key to an infinite store of mercy. So, what better solution for a sinful humanity, a humanity that falls deeper into sin if justice is not mentioned but despairs of salvation if it is mentioned? By all means, let justice be mentioned; it is a duty; its omission has produced only sorry fruits. But right alongside justice, which targets the sinner, let us never forget mercy. Mercy helps the seriously repentant sinner to abandon sin and thus be saved as He desires with all His Heart—the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 21, 2019

Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are alway...

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November 21

 

Make friends with the angels, who though
invisible are always with you.
Often invoke them,
constantly praise them, and make good use
of their help and assistance
in all your
temporal and spiritual affairs.


St. Francis de Sales


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

Mary asked if she might have the honor to be the servant of...

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The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

On the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, we celebrate the fact that Our Lady’s parents brought her to the Temple at the age of three and handed her over to live there for a long period as a consecrated virgin where she might exclusively contemplate God.

There is a special beauty to this feast since it highlights the fact that Our Lady was chosen even before time began. She is called the root of Jesse (Isaiah, 11:1) from which Our Lord Jesus Christ would be born. She is introduced to the synagogue, the institution in charge of keeping this promise. Thus, the synagogue receives Our Lady as a first step. In this act, the hopes of ages would soon be fulfilled.

Our Lady, a supremely holy soul, is received in the Temple and entered into the service of God. Despite the corruption of the nation of Israel and the transformation of the Temple into a den of the Pharisees, an incomparable light appeared: the sanctity of Our Lady.

Unknowingly, Our Lady began to prepare herself to become the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In an atmosphere of grace in the Temple, she was set apart from everyone in order to serve God. She increased her love of God until she formed the ardent desire for the imminent coming of the Messiah and asked God if she might have the honor to be the servant of His Mother. She did not know that she was the one chosen for this honor. That is why she was perplexed when the Archangel Gabriel greeted her to ask her permission for the Incarnation.

Our Lady’s magnificent preparation to be the Mother of Jesus Christ began with her Presentation in the Temple, a feast the Church celebrates on November 21. It is fitting that we ask Our Lady to prepare us with the best of Catholic doctrine to serve God by serving her. We should present ourselves before Our Lady, asking her to assist us in taking up the task of our sanctification, as the Holy Ghost did with her in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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