Tomorrow is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where we recall Jesus’ everlasting love for all of humanity depicted by his most Sacred Heart. This devotion, acknowledging God’s love for each of us, is symbolised by the Sacred Heart of Jesus and can be traced back to the earliest centuries of the Church. In the 12th century, the Sacred Heart was influential in the spirituality of St Bernard of Clairvaux. In the 17th century, the devotion to the Sacred Heart grew following the experiences of St Margaret Mary Alacoque and her spiritual director, St Claude la Colombiere SJ.
Saint Margaret Mary was living in a convent in a small French town called Paray-le-Monial. In her prayer, she experienced a call from Jesus to make known his love for all of humanity through the devotion to his Sacred Heart. Fr Claude arrived in Paray-le Monial and became Sr Margaret Mary’s spiritual director. Together they discerned that this was a genuine movement from God and celebrated mass on 21 June 1675, the first mass in honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus flourished in the following centuries through its promotion by the Society of Jesus, especially through the work of the Apostleship of Prayer. This ministry has evolved in recent years to become known as the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and includes a different prayer intention for each month. In June, the intention involves the beauty of marriage, with the Pope inviting us to “pray for young people who are preparing for marriage with the support of a Christian community: may they grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness and patience.”
The Feast of the Sacred Heart is usually celebrated on the Friday following Corpus Christi Sunday. Last Sunday, as a Catholic community, we recalled in a deliberate and particular way our belief that Jesus is truly present through the gift of the Eucharist and how the bread and the wine we offer in praise to God, are then transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. When we gather as a community of believers, we are nourished and challenged by listening to the Word of God. We also gain strength and nourishment through receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. In turn, our communal celebration of God’s love is intended to empower us to go out into the world to be the Body of Christ in action, sharing God’s love, compassion, and mercy with our neighbours. The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Rose Garden is a visual reminder each day of God’s love for each one of us and, in turn, God’s invitation for us to share this love with others.
Given there are no classes tomorrow, we celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart yesterday, with masses for Years 9-12 and Years 5-8. As part of our celebration, we were joined by our friends from Cana Communities, who spoke about their experience at the mass for Years 9-12. The College has had a long standing relationship with Cana Communities, a not-for-profit organisation that supports and employs people who have lived on the margins and been severely disadvantaged. Over the years, both staff and students have been fortunate to have retreat and service experiences working at the Cana Farm. We have also benefited from the fruit of their labour with their monthly deliveries of organic veggie boxes (pictured right).
As we recall the love embodied in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is helpful to acknowledge that the people who first teach us what it means to love and to be loved are our parents. It is through our experience of our parents’ love that we come to know what it means to be loved by God. When we experience love within our homes and our community, a strong sense of belonging and safety accompanies this. It enables us to make ourselves vulnerable and to risk being hurt by another person. It also enables us to grow and to develop the gifts and talents that God has given us. But the love we experience is not just for ourselves, but rather it sets our hearts on fire empowering us to more fully live out Jesus’ command to “love one another as I have loved you”.
Wishing you every blessing and safe travelling over this long weekend.