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The Sacred Heart of Jesus - Bridge and Refuge

Header-Sacred Heart, Bridge and Refuge

By Michelle Taylor

“Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” Matt.11:28

 

Though this age stresses “happy” and “safe,” in reality it has produced a steady diet of dire news, often uncomfortably close to home: teen pregnancies, substance abuse, marriage break-ups, suicides, murder in schools and so on.

One day when sharing with a pastor of many years the news of a friend’s divorce, he sadly retorted; “And how do you think I feel, counseling couple after couple, blessing their marriages, and then watching many of those marriages hit the rocks?…”

The world has sadly turned away from God and it has become in many respects a ferocious river taking with it all that it can engulf and destroy within its torrential waters.

 

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Is there a way out of the torrent?

The great saint and mystic, doctor of the Church Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), while in ecstasy, dictated an amazing book called The Dialogue. Many know it as The Dialogue of St. Catherine.


In this book God the Father describes the world and its ways as a raging torrent, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the “bridge” on which we must climb if we wish to avoid inevitable destruction. By getting out of the river of perdition and standing on the Bridge, we are able to cross over safely from one shore–earthly life–to the other–eternal life.

Wounded and confused by the Original Sin of our first parents, our human nature easily miscalculates the river as more “exciting.” Things, pleasures and people, like water, make their way down stream while holding onto the illusion of standing on firm ground. 

 

Our Good Lord invites us to get off the torrent and onto the safe Bridge, but we fear going against the “current,” and making the effort and the commitment of climbing onto the safe pass.

The Father speaks of this “bridge” as made from the solid virtues and example of His divine Son. This Bridge is STRONG, and SAFE. And though Our Lord Jesus Christ returned to the Father, He left us His life-giving teaching in His Church.

This teaching, says God the Father to St. Catherine, “…has been verified by the apostles, and proclaimed in the blood of the martyrs. It has been lighted up by the doctors, attested to by the confessors, and committed to writing by the evangelists…” 1

“So you see,” continues the Father, “…I have shown you my way, which is truth, and the devil’s way, which is falsehood. These are the two ways, and both are difficult.” 2

But though both ways are indeed difficult, the way of the Bridge has the promise of divine refreshment and final victory, “How foolish and blind,” says the Father, “are those who choose to cross through the water when the road (bridge) has been built for them! This road is such a joy for those who travel by it that it makes every bitterness sweet… and every burden light.” 3

But, again, like children, we are easily seduced by water. And even though the water is icy-cold and destructive, we take the plunge.

 

The “Bridge” as a Burning Heart.  Sacred Heart of Jesus

In the seventeenth century, God Our Lord again appeared to another saint, Margaret Mary Alacoque. He complained to her that “hearts had grown cold.” and, as a remedy, He revealed to her His burning heart.

He spoke to her of His great desire to be loved by men and of diverting souls from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls entire crowds. It was this wish which led Him to reveal His Heart, with all its treasures of love, and grace.

 

To those who practice this devotion to Our Lord’s exposed heart, and enthrone an image of Him thus pictured in their homes, He makes twelve amazing promises:

1.   I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.

2.   I will establish peace in their families.

3.   I will comfort them in their trials.

4.   I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death.

5.   I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings

6.   Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.

7.   Lukewarm souls will become fervent.

8.   Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.

9.   I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10.  I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

11.  The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.

12.  I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion (having previously gone to Confession if aware of mortal sin) on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

 

What’s there to lose?

Let us take the Bridge. Let us enter the Refuge.

Above all, let us show our children the way to the Bridge by teaching them early about Christian virtue, self-discipline and good manners, by igniting in their hearts and minds a thirst for Scripture and Catholic doctrine, by habituating them to prayer (according to their capacity as they grow) and the life-giving Sacraments, and by dazzling them with all that is beautiful in God’s nature, centuries-old Catholic culture and history.

We couldn’t enroll them in a better “Insurance Policy” for happiness and safety. Let’s take the upward “plunge” and do what it takes to climb the bridge and enter the burning Heart of our all-powerful Father. It surely pays–here and beyond.

 


Notes:

1 Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, The Classics of Western Spirituality, p.69
2 Ibid, p.67
3 Ibid, p.68

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“Am I not here who am your mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?”

Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego


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Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

In February of 1519, Hernán Cortéz, a Spanish General, landed in Aztec Mexico with a contingent of armed men. By August of 1521, with the help of native allies, he had conquered the country.

Putting an end to the horrific practice of extensive human sacrifice to satanic idols, he sent for Spanish missionaries to begin the work of evangelizing Mexico. Coming up against the natural obstacles, the work was arduous, and progress slow. The fact that some Spaniards suppressed the natives did not help. As a revolt brewed, the saintly Don Juan de Zumárraga, first bishop of Mexico, appealed to heaven for help.

On December 9, 1531, one of Mexico’s first converts to Christianity, a middle-aged native named Juan Diego, was making his usual way into Mexico City to attend Holy Mass. As he passed a hill called Tepeyac, he heard music, then a sweet voice that called his name, “Juan, Juan Dieguito…”

Following the sound of the voice calling to him, he climbed the hill and came face to face with a beautiful lady in an aura of light who said she was “the ever Virgin, Mother of the true God”. Speaking in Nahuatl, she asked him to convey to the bishop that she wished a church built on the spot where she stood.

Juan Diego obeyed but Don Zumárraga did not believe him. Two more times the lady appeared with the same request, and, finally, the prelate asked for a sign as a proof of the apparition’s authenticity.

On relating the bishop’s request, the Blessed Virgin bid Juan Diego climb to the top of the hill, and to gather the flowers he would find there. Doing so, the good man was amazed at seeing an abundance of Castillian roses, unseasonal in December.

Gathering the blooms in his tilma (a whitish cape), he returned to the lady who re-arranged them with her own hands.

When Juan released the flowers before the bishop and his retinue, a brilliant image of the Blessed Virgin appeared on his tilma before the astonished eyes of all.  On his knees, Bishop Zumárraga contemplated the wonder, also moved at the sight of the Castillian Roses, the sign for which he had secretly asked.

In an apparition where Our Lady healed Juan Diego’s dying uncle, she referred to herself as, “she who crushes the serpent,” in Nahuatl, “Coatlaxopeuh”, interpreted as “Guadalupe”. Though there are other interpretations, the latter seems most plausible as the cult of “Quetzalcoatl”, the “Serpent-god” was prominent in pre-Christian Mexico.

As news of the stupendous miracle spread, so did the Catholic Faith.  As the natives flocked to Juan Diego’s tilma with their sorrows and joys, plaints and petitions, Mary’s silent sweetness, love and purity effectively won over the hearts of the Mexican people.

To them, she was – and is to this day – “their queen”, La Guadalupana.

Not only had the exalted lady appeared to one of them, but she had also adopted their own ruddy semblance, conveying to them that she was queen by wearing the Aztec royal turquoise, yet not divine as her head was bowed. That she was of the faith of the Spaniards they knew by the small black cross at her neck, the same as on Cortéz’ soldiers’ helmets.   So, once more, led by the Mother, all of Mexico came to the Son. In a few years, nine million accepted Baptism.

The sacred tilma is venerated to this day in the shrine built on the site of Tepeyac in Mexico City. The icon has miraculously defied the test of time, as the natural fibers of the cloak normally last twenty years. Not only are image and cloth intact, but other inexplicable facts continue to astonish science.

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Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

Allow me to praise Thee, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.

Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.

Allow me to bring the whole world to Thee.

Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to Thine greatest possible exaltation.

Allow me to give Thee such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.

Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Thine exaltation and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted Thee so indescribably, above all other beings Himself desires.   Amen

By Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

 

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