The following beautiful and interesting presentation on Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is from Sr. Merle Salazar, fdnsc. Merle is well know to many of you through her work with Cor Novum and now Cor Vitae. She is a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart from the Philippines and is currently serving as a member of the FDNSC General Leadership Team of the FDNSC in Rome. Merle has a refreshing and scholarly approach to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The text is an itinerary through the slides of Merle’s original PowerPoint made available to you for viewing here. We hope you enjoy this presentation.
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening to all. Welcome to the last module of this series of Cor Vitae Webinars. Before we go to our topic for today – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart – let us put ourselves first in the context of this series of webinars. This is a series that ran for 6 months – it started last July and Cor Vitae, through an invited speaker, offered one module every first Saturday of the month. First, the title of this series – what is it? (we receive this information also every month when we get the reminder) –
Title: Christ before our eyes: The Spirituality of the Heart and the Human Heart of the 21st Century
Now, let me just check how many of us were present in the sessions of the last 5 months (in this series) …launch the poll
Cor Vitae, in their monthly reminder to us – give us the objectives of this series.
The 21st Century Human Heart
- The course seeks to discover who is the human person/human heart of the 21st Century (July 3 – The human Heart in the 21st Century by Fr Mick McGuire)
Do you remember one thing that you took away with you from that module? (get volunteers – say or write in the chat – introduce yourself first)
- Focusing on the human heart, it seeks to understand how the 21st century heart deals with its own emotions; how it functions within a 21st Century community life (August 7 – Dealing with emotions in community life – Fr Chris Chaplin)
Do you remember one thing that you took away with you from that module? (get volunteers – say or write in the chat – introduce yourself first)
- How it (i.e. human heart) manages differences and resolves conflicts (September 4 – Managing Differences and Conflict Resolution – Fr Arsie Lumiqued)
Do you remember one thing that you took away with you from that module? (get volunteers – say or write in the chat – introduce yourself first)
- How could it (the human heart) live for, with and among others in this change of an era (October 2 – Life for, with and among others – Sr Sophy Francis)
From these modules, what have you learned or discovered about the 21st century human heart? (getvolunteers – say or write in the chat – introduce yourself first)
Slide 3 – The Spirituality of the Heart
Cor Vitae in the course description continues…
It will conclude with reflections on the openness/readiness of the heart of the 21st Century to be imbued with the Spirituality of the Heart. This will be done through presentations of St. Joseph, Model and Patron of those who love the Sacred Heart (November 6 – Fr Ben Alforque), and of Mary, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (December 4 – Sr Merle Salazar).
How open or ready is the 21st century human heart to be imbued with the Spirituality of the Heart?
As I was preparing for this module, I decided to google “21st century heart” and one of the things that google gave me is a book called – Lead from the Heart: Transformational Leadership for the 21st Century.” I got curious. I looked for the book, listened to a podcast, looked at a review. This is a non-religious book, from America, and the author (Mark C. Crowley), makes the case that “treating others with humanness and care” works for business! He argues that the 21st century human being is motivated, not so much by his mind, but by his heart. He says “it’s all about feelings and emotions. We think we’re rational people, but feelings and emotions are what drive people and motivate them to do work and not to do work, to be engaged and not to be engaged.” And so he says …”If we’re caring and supportive of people and truly empathetic and really and genuinely compassionate about what’s going on in their lives, people can feel that and they want to work hard for you.”
He even goes on to recommend four business practices of a heart-centered leader:
- Hire people with heart
- Connect with your people – heart to heart
- Empower the heart
- Inspire the heart
Well, reading that I thought, if we, the members of the Chevalier Family, do not preach and live our spirituality of the Heart, others would. Crowley, for me, is saying that the 21st century human heart is not only open to a spirituality of the heart, it is craving for it.
And so we approach the end of this series of webinars, confident that this charism, spirituality and mission we received through Fr Chevalier is not only relevant but needed/essential in our world today.
The question really is “how can we become more authentic and more effective missionaries of God’s compassion in our world today?”
And, for me, this is where Mary comes in – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Mother-Disciple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She is Mother who intercedes for us, points us to the Heart of Her Son, she is also Disciple who accompanies us on our journey and models for us how to live as people of Heart.
Now, let me begin with three preliminary points:
First, let us remember that the topic of this module – is the topic of the whole series of webinars – our topic is “The Spirituality of the Heart and the Human Heart of the 21st century.” Through this series, our goal is to get a better understanding of the Spirituality of the Heart on the one hand and the Human Heart of the 21st century on the other hand. What for? Because we want to know how the human heart can be imbued with the spirituality of the heart. We want to know how we can effectively form the 21st century heart in the spirituality of the heart – such that we will then see a heart spirituality “in action”- in the way we handle our emotions, in the way we deal with conflict situations, in the way we live in community, in the way we do our mission.
And today we focus on Mary, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, because we believe in the power of “models” – flesh and blood examples, people whose hearts are imbued with the spirituality of the heart. We look to Mary as a model, someone who can show us what the spirituality of the heart looks like. We also want to see (again) how our devotion to her can make us more like her….and more like Jesus, her Son. (Christ before our eyes)
So we are not speaking about a Spirituality of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, there is no such thing. For us, it is clear, it is a Spirituality of the Heart and devotion to OLSH is an integral part of this spirituality.
The second preliminary point concerns my understanding of the charism that our founder, Fr Chevalier received. Here in Italy, groups like us are called “Famiglie Charismatiche” (or charismatic families) meaning groups united around and animated by the same charism. So it is important that this charism that unites and animates us as a “family” is clear to each one of us. What is it really? Oh we have a beautiful charism. Oh yeah, what is it? Oh its beautiful!!!
Everyone, I presume, is familiar with this book (Jules Chevalier: A man with a Mission, by Fr Cuskelly). On page 110, he tells us that “a “charism” may be described as ‘a gift of the Spirit to an individual for the good of others…it brings him (the founder) to focus on some particular aspect of Jesus’ life, leading him to follow Jesus and to serve others for his love in a particular way’.”
How will you explain the charism received by our founder to others?
Back in 2008, during the International Assembly of the Laity of the Chevalier Family in the Dominican Republic, one of our lay members asked this question to Fr Nick Harnan. Nick answered with a story… A story I will never forget…a story I like retelling because for me it shows simply and clearly what our charism means and what it implies for us. So for those who have heard Nick’s story already (maybe more than once before, please excuse me, you will hear it one more time)…
Fr Nick Harnan’s story (my version):
After Jesus died and before he ascended into heaven, he wanted to find a way to keep his memory alive and effective in the world. So he went up the mountain and called his followers to him. They came from all times and places. He began saying – when I was living here on earth, I was a great teacher. I gave sermons and taught like no Rabbi did. It is essential that this part of me be continued after I go. A man from Spain whose name was Dominic raised his hand and said, Lord I will continue that part of you. I will begin an order of preachers and together we will go to the ends of the earth teaching and preaching like you did. The Dominicans were born. Jesus continued – here on earth, I was a poor man. I had no home of my own. I lived simply like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. In my poverty, I had a personal and intimate relationship with creation. A young man from central Italy stood up, took off his clothes, dropped his mantle and said eccomi, io sono Francesco! I will continue that part of you and will gather men and women in a life of poverty and love and respect for creation. The Franciscans were born. And Jesus went on and on and for every part of him, someone stood up and volunteered to keep that part of his memory alive. Finally Jesus said, in becoming a human being, I was the incarnation of God who is Love. Any form of pain or suffering moved my heart with compassion. I treated everyone, especially the poor and the marginalised, with kindness and mercy. My love was the answer to the ills of society. Who would like to keep this part of my memory alive? A parish priest from a small French town called Issoudun raised his hands and said I will. Lord, I have seen and believed in the greatness of your love and I wish to share this with all. I will gather men and women, lay, religious and priests, who will join me in keeping this part of your memory alive, everywhere and forever! And so we were born!
So, our charism is “Jesus, the love of God incarnate” – and to keep this part of his memory alive is our spirituality and mission.
Preliminary point number 3 –
So how does this charism become a spirituality (a way of life for us). This leads me to the “Four movements of a Spirituality of the Heart” from Fr Cuskelly (pages 128 and 129). We have seen these 4 movements in the presentation of Fr Chris Chaplin last August 7. I look at them in a slightly different way. I look at them as giving us a practical guide in living a spirituality of the heart:
- We go down to the depths of our own hearts and there we see our profound need of life, love and meaning (My key word for this is awareness);
- We go to the Heart of Christ and there find the answer to our own questioning (Key word: encounter);
- We allow our hearts to be fashioned by the Heart of Christ (key word: formation). Our own heart will become an understanding heart, open to, feeling for, and giving to our brothers and sisters in Christ; and
- We follow Christ who loved with a human heart (key word: mission). Rooted in his love, we are not dis-heartened or discouraged in the face of difficulties.
So how does the charism turn into a spirituality? Fr Cuskelly’s 4 movements – Awareness – Encounter – Formation – Mission.
As we have already seen, the 21st century human heart is not only open to a spirituality of the heart, it craves for it but for it to be imbued with this spirituality – it needs formation and accompaniment – it has to be guided/ accompanied through these 4 movements of awareness – encounter –formation- and mission! We will now reflect on how Our Lady of the Sacred Heart models for us these four movements.
The first movement – We go down to the depths of our own hearts – Awareness
The evangelist Luke gives us the image of Mary “going down to the depths of her heart.” I know you can guess what I am referring to – the short text that we find in Luke 2:18 to 19. When the shepherds went to see the new born child, they told his parents what the angel said to them. Then the evangelist Luke says “and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” Then again, at the end of that same chapter (verses 50 to 51), when Jesus was found by his parents in the temple after searching for him in great anxiety for three days, the evangelist notes “But they did not understand what he said to them…His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” We have the image of Mary “pondering things in her heart.”
These short texts give us a picture of Mary, who, in the face of amazement, confusion, lack of understanding, “ponders” and “treasures” “all these” in her heart. Let me dwell on two points. Two key phrases – “pondered/treasured in her heart” and “all these”.
What does the evangelist mean when he says “she pondered” or she “treasured” things in her heart. According to exegetes, it does not mean keeping it a secret. It also does not just mean thinking about it. It means something more like “struggling with it”, “making sense of it”, pondering it in order to hear what God is saying, to know where God is leading the person who ponders. There are other references in the Bible that use a similar formula. For example Gen 37:11. We are in the story of Joseph the dreamer. He tells his family about his dreams which seem to say that all his family will bow to him sometime in the future. Gen 37:10 says “But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him: ‘What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother, and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?’ So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” Jacob pondered, what his son was sharing, in his heart. The parents among you will probably understand this more than I ever could. It does not mean Jacob kept what his son said a secret, all of them heard his stories, his dreams, but Jacob kept it in his heart to make sense of it. He probably said to himself, what does this mean? What will become of my son? How will this affect my family? What is God saying to him, to me, to my whole family with these dreams?
The same with Mary, when she heard the story of the shepherds, she was amazed, and pondered in her heart what was said. What are they saying? What will become of this boy of mine? How will this affect me and my whole family? What is God telling us? How do I feel about this? How is this affecting me? And when the boy Jesus told his parents “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” She treasured all these things in her heart. Mary, pondered, maybe struggled, with this in her heart and waited…waited for the time when things were revealed, when these words became clear, when they began to make sense.
Now, let us go to the second key phrase – all these. What do we ponder on? What do we treasure in our hearts? ALL THESE! Anything and everything that is happening to you, around you, inside of you. Mary teaches you to ponder all these (whatever these maybe) – especially these things that amaze you, that confuse you, that you do not understand – all these.
This attitude of “pondering” before reacting, before responding, is an attitude we learn from Mary – it is the first movement in a spirituality of the heart – it is going down into the depths of one’s heart – it is becoming “aware”. And in truth, it is an attitude of prayer…for it eventually leads us to asking …What is God saying to me in this situation? What is God asking me to do? And because we believe that God, in the Incarnation, became flesh, became material creation, became one of us, a part of this earth, an element of the cosmos, then we also believe that there is nothing outside of God, or beyond God’s interest or God’s concern. We can and must bring to prayer anything and everything.
So this first movement of awareness, of going down to our own hearts, of “pondering all these” in our hearts, inevitably leads us to the second movement – that of encountering the Heart of Christ.
Second movement – We go to the Heart of Christ and there find the answer – ENCOUNTER
This time we go to the Gospel of John, chapter 2, the story of the wedding feast at Cana.
We all know the story. Even with our eyes closed, we can recite the words that Mary utter … “they have no wine” and the controversial response of Jesus “Woman, what is that to you or to me, my hour has not yet come.” We all know what Mary says next “Do whatever he tells you” … and we all know how the story ends…the water turned into the best wine…”and his disciples began to believe in him.”
In this story, we see Mary as someone who is sensitive to the needs of others. The couple did not have to go to her and beg for her help. We can imagine her observing, then pondering in her heart what she was seeing. And then, she went to Jesus – the second movement, “we go to the Heart of Christ and there find the answer.” Scripture says that when the wine has run out, she went to Jesus and said to him, “they have no wine.” Not only was she sensitive to the need of the newlyweds, she also had the courage to find a solution to the need she saw. She went to Jesus. To make the story more exciting, Jesus “rejects” her implied request. She obviously was asking Jesus to do something about it. In the face of this apparent rejection, she does not give up but she responds in a really wise way. She insists but still gave Jesus the freedom to respond in whatever way he deemed appropriate…she turns to the servants and says “Do whatever He tells you.” She did not only go to the Heart of Christ, she also led others to it…she told them to go to Jesus and to do whatever Jesus tells them.
In a book on Mary entitled Truly Our Sister, the author, Sr Elizabeth Johnson, reads the Cana story and allows it to speak to us today. She says, Mary is addressing us, the conscience of the body of Christ today. She draws our attention to the needs of people and of creation today…they have no wine, no food, no shelter, no homes, no freedom, no education, no future, no safety, no peace…and this is not “for your information only.” This is an “implied request”…we, members of the body of Christ today, are being asked to do something about it! The Cana imperative!
The Cana story is one of the texts in the biblical triptych of OLSH of Fr Jan Bovenmars (page 354 and following). In it we see a sensitive, courageous, persevering woman who is speaking to us today, challenging us to open our eyes, our ears, our hearts…she tells us to go to Jesus and like Jesus be “moved” by every form of suffering…be moved to the point of doing something about the situation of need that we see.
We go to the Heart of Christ and what do we find? Our FDNSC Constitutions says (#7) we are called to be like Jesus “whose heart was moved with compassion by suffering and distress of any kind.” The Heart of Christ is one that associates with the lowly ones. The love of Jesus is one that works for justice challenges one to action.
We see these confirmed in the words and actions of Pope Francis.
In EG 39 he says “before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”
Once I attended a lecture of Cardinal Walter Kasper and he was sharing with us what he saw was the movement in the message of St JPII and Pope Francis. He said JPII told us to open our hearts and to let Jesus in. Pope Francis is telling us to open our hearts and let Jesus out to those in need of his compassion, to those in the margins.
The Pope further says “God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself ‘became poor’.” (EG 197) “This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us.” (EG #198)
**** pause — go to the Heart of Christ — what do you see? ****
When we go to the Heart of Christ, we experience a powerful encounter, one that changes us.
In this encounter, “We allow our hearts to be fashioned by the Heart of Christ. Our own heart will become like His – an understanding heart, open to, feeling for, and giving to our brothers and sisters in Christ” – the third movement – FORMATION.
Let us stay in the Gospel of John and now we go to chapter 19, the Central Panel of the Biblical tryptich of OLSH. This is the Biblical image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Jesus whose heart is open, Jesus whose heart is pierced. This is the biblical image of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the woman at the foot of the cross who looks on him whom they have pierced.
More than 10 years ago now, when I was doing research on Mary, I came across a book on the gospel of John written by an Australian theologian, Dorothy Lee. In the book she speaks about “Motherhood” in the Gospel of John. Let me share with you some of her ideas. She says the obvious character that comes to mind is “the Mother of Jesus.” But she says – to understand what the motherhood of Mary means, we need to understand what “Motherhood” means in this gospel and we can only truly understand it if we look at Jesus, the “motherhood of Jesus.” Lee looks at our text John 19 and relates it to John 6, the bread of life discourse. Lee tells us that Jesus is in fact the primary symbol of motherhood in the gospel. In John 6 Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (verses54-56). What is the image that Jesus is evoking? Who gives her flesh and blood so that the other may have life, and both of them live? It is the image of a mother.
Then in John 19, we see his side pierced and “blood and water” flowing out. Again, what image is being evoked? When does blood and water flow out together in a person…during childbirth. Even Jules Chevalier saw this and said – from his side pierced on Calvary a new world is being born. Jesus giving birth to the Church!
What is the meaning of Jesus’ motherhood? Is it a motherhood of power and privilege? No, it is a motherhood that gives its own flesh and blood so that the other may have life, and have it to the full. The Mother of Jesus in the Gospel of John takes on this meaning of motherhood. When we call Our Lady Mother, the mother we are invited to see is the one who was told “this is your Son,” the Mother who following the example of her Son, is invited to a life of loving service, to give her own flesh and blood that others may have life. We, as daughters and sons of this mother, are challenged to do the same…to give our flesh and blood that others may have life.
As she stands at the foot of the cross and looks on Him whom they have pierced, her heart becomes like His – a heart that gives its own flesh and blood to give life to the other. As she stands there and points to Jesus, she invites us to stand with her. She invites us to also allow Christ to form our hearts so that they become like His – ready to give of itself to give life to the other.
We now go to the 4th movement – MISSION. “We follow Christ who loved with a human heart. Rooted in his love, we are not dis-heartened or discouraged in the face of difficulties.”
We go back to the evangelist Luke. This time we proceed to the second volume of his work, the Acts of the Apostles. There we meet Mary for the last time, at the Cenacle. This is the story in the last and 3rd panel of the Biblical Tryptich of OLSH.
The disciples, together with Mary the mother of Jesus, are gathered in the upper room praying. And then, the spirit descended upon them. Elizabeth Johnson calls Mary a spirit-filled woman and she is. The evangelist Luke made that very clear. In chapter one of Luke, the angel tells her “the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” In Acts, we read “…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Today, I invite you to notice that up in the cenacle, Mary was not alone. She was one among many, she was in a community of disciples of Jesus. It was not only Mary who was filled with the Holy Spirit, all of them were, they were a community filled with and empowered by the Spirit…and they “began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
We are proud to say that OLSH is never alone, OLSH is always with Jesus. I would like to add that OLSH is also always within the community of the followers of Jesus. She was part of a community. I believe one of the things that this panel teaches us is this: we are called to be disciples within a community of believing disciples and it is in this community that we are empowered by the Spirit. Community is the context of our discipleship. It is in community where we live our spirituality, it is from a community that we are sent out to mission, it is with our community that we do mission.
We hear the Cana imperative as the body of Christ today, not so much as individuals but as communities of faith. We respond to the call to love not so much as individuals but as communities, as Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, as Daughters of Our Lay of the Sacred Heart, as members of the wider Chevalier Family. We do mission as communities.
So, indeed, Fr Chevalier is right, Mary is the first missionary of the Sacred Heart modelling for us our charism, spirituality and mission in action.
**** pause, small group sharing…what is speaking to you? ***
In conclusion, let me just quickly go through some elements of our devotion to OLSH that I believe, will help us live our charism, spirituality and mission, more authentically and more effectively today.
Slide 13 – First: Gratitude (Spirit)
The reason behind the naming of Mary as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart – that is GRATITUDE. As we all know, it is as an expression of Fr Chevalier’s gratitude to Mary for having made the foundation of his congregation a reality that he gave her a new name. Chevalier wanted to honor her in a special way. The spirit behind the title Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is the spirit of thanksgiving. In invoking Mary by this title, we keep Fr Chevalier’s gratitude alive.
We are called to be grateful people and because we are grateful, we are joyful.
The basic attitude that is expected of us is gratitude – Gratitude for the gift of our lives,
Gratitude for the gift of our vocation, Gratitude … for in God’s generosity and goodness, He has decided to share with each one of us his mission to love! Our special prayer to OLSH, the Memorare, begins with thanksgiving – REMEMBER, OLSH, the great things the Lord has done for you! Even in the most difficult circumstances (like this time of pandemic), we are still invited to remember the great things the Lord has done for us and give thanks.
Slide 14 – Second: Scripture (foundation)
Second, the importance of Scripture in our devotion. We know that Fr Chevalier spent years studying and reflecting on scripture, studying and reflecting on the role and person of Mary as he saw it both from the old and the new testaments. And it is through this prayerful reflection on scripture that the title and the devotion to OLSH was born.
For our part, I am convinced that the only way by which we can truly understand the title and live the devotion is through prayerful reflection on scripture. If we read the book of Fr Chevalier on OLSH we see so many references to scripture, it is impossible to miss his point – Go to Scripture! If you want to know who Mary is, go to the source, go to scripture. If you want to grow in your relationship with Mary, go to Scripture. And that is what we have tried to do in the first part of this module.
Slide 15 – Third: The Object of the Devotion – The Love of God
We have three official images of OLSH, they all have the same meaning.
In the mind of Jules Chevalier, Jesus’ Sacred Heart is the source of graces (the heart is the “purse”). Mary, OLSH, (the “treasurer” who holds the purse) is one blessed by the Heart of a Loving God, she is Mother of all whose only desire is to lead all to the Heart of Her Son. Chevalier called her intercessor and dispenser of graces.
So what is the object of the devotion to OLSH, is it Our Lady? In the mind of Chevalier, it is not. Fr Hans Kwakman says “only one devotion was central in Chevalier’s mind, the devotion to the Sacred Heart.” So NO, Mary is not the object of the devotion. The object of the devotion is the bond of love between Jesus and Mary….and what or who is this Love? God himself. Deus caritas est…God is love! Love incarnated in the Heart of Jesus. The object of the devotion to OLSH is still the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Devotion to OLSH has as its foundation and end Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is a devotion to the love of God
Slide 16: Fourth: How do we see OLSH today?
In 2007 (14 years ago now), I was asked to present a paper on OLSH here in Issoudun. At that time, I made a proposal that OLSH be understood and proclaimed today as Mother-Disciple rather than as intercessor and dispenser of graces. I am not saying that she is not intercessor and dispenser of graces as Fr Chevalier saw her. She was and still is. What I am proposing is a change of focus for our time. The object of the devotion will still be the indissoluble bond of love between Jesus and Mary.
Remember Cuskelly’s 4 movements – Awareness – Encounter – Formation – Mission!
Today especially, a spirituality of the Heart, a spirituality of God’s love, does not end in awareness of my needs and encountering the heart of Christ, it demands formation and mission, active participation in the building of God’s kingdom of compassion, justice and peace, here and now.
Proclaiming her as mother-disciple, I believe, has the potential of challenging one to action. As mother, one sees in her a woman who continues Jesus’ motherhood, one who gives flesh and blood that others may live. In seeing her thus, one is reminded that as a member of the Christian community, we also have the responsibility to continue this motherhood function, we too are asked to give flesh and blood that others may live.
As a disciple of the sacred heart, one sees in Mary the many who are doing something about the situations of injustice in our society today. One sees her and hears her say – they have no wine, no food, no drinking water, no homes, no families – do something about it.”
OLSH, Mother-Disciple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is hope of the hopeless, she brings hope to seemingly hopeless situations, communicates that something can still be done, and accompanies the devotee in the struggle for a just and peaceful world.
Finally, In summary – the call to prayer and action
OLSH, our mother, is also our model of Christian discipleship, as members of the Chevalier family, like her, we are enjoined to hear the word of God, ponder it in our hearts, and live out what we hear and ponder on.
OLSH, Mother-Disciple, calls us to prayer – to go down to our own hearts and the go to the Heart of Christ, to contemplate Jesus. And as we contemplate Jesus, we see in his body pierced on Calvary, the faces of suffering humanity and creation.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Mother-Disciple also calls us to action. To do whatever he tells us. This brings us to the last point of our reflection – the reminder that in our devotion to OLSH, prayer is accompanied by action and action is founded on prayer.
Remember this famous quote from Pope Francis: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty, because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security”(EG # 49 ).
***** final short pause…what is your “take away” from today’s session? ****
Keeping in mind this call to prayer and action, let me end with a little message for Advent.
Last Sunday, to open the advent season, we had Mass here in our General House with Fr Andre Claessens, MSC from Belgium, a member of the MSC General Council. And I would like to share with you part of what he said in his homily…
Referring to the gospel reading last Sunday, Fr Andre said “Like the prophets long before him, Jesus is painting a grim picture of the future in order to influence what is happening now. He doesn’t want to paralyze people with fear, but to energize them to action….Aware of our responsibility, we should remind ourselves that the future starts from where we are today. What is happening today should bother us if we expect a better future for the coming generations…(Jesus) encourages us to do two things that are difficult to hold together: to be realistic about the way the world is going and, at the same time, not to lose hope in the future.”
And ADVENT teaches us how to do this…Fr Andre continues…
“The 3 following Sundays of Advent will again turn our attention to the first coming of Jesus, to his Incarnation…We have to remember the story of Jesus again, and that memory of love becomes the ground of our hope….We all need to be reminded of God’s love. Only when we keep gazing at Jesus, the incarnate love of God, can we keep hoping” and act/labor towards a better future.
So let us always have Christ before our eyes…a walk to the future with HOPE.
A blessed advent to everyone.
Sr Merle Salazar, fdnsc
4 December 2021