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From the Pastor 06/24/18

Pastoral Council: I would personally like to thank Dwight Stephenson and Diana Adler for the service they have rendered our parish by serving on the Pastoral Council these past three years. Thanks to Dwight for serving as Chair of the Council for one of those years, and to Diana for serving as Co-Chair for the St. Gertrude Feast Day Celebration. Please say a prayer for the Stephenson family who will be relocating out of town at the end of the summer. Also, we wish to welcome two new members to the Pastoral Council: Ben Hoffman and Tish Shefcik. This year I am happy to announce that Mark Kosobud will serve as Chair, Emma Friemoth as Vice-Chair, and Jill Woods as Secretary.

Continuation on my commentary on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart is a powerful metaphor in Sacred Scripture. It signifies the wellspring of life, the totality of one’s being. The prophet Ezekiel, for instance, records God’s promise to change Israel’s “heart of stone” into a “heart of flesh.” Jesus’ heart is the source of living water; it was the place of rest for his Beloved Disciple; of the Church and its sacraments; of doubting Thomas’s faith.

In today’s love-starving world, we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ in his unspeakable love for us. If there is one adjective that describes the modern world, this world is a “loveless” world. This world is a selfish world. This world is so pre-occupied with space and time that it gives almost no thought to eternity and the everlasting joys that await those who have served God faithfully here on earth.

How do we serve God faithfully? We serve him only as faithfully as we serve him lovingly, by giving ourselves to the needs of everyone whom God puts into our lives. No one reaches heaven automatically. The price of reaching heaven is the practice of selfless love here on earth. That is what devotion to the Sacred Heart is all about. It is to act as Christ acts. It is the practice of selfless love toward others who may not love in return. It is giving ourselves to persons who may not give themselves to us in return: to love unconditionally, as Christ loves each of us. Yet nothing seems to be harder for human beings to believe in than unconditional love — love which is neither deserved nor earned.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, aflame with an unquenchable fire, stands today as a powerful symbol of Christ’s unquenchable love for the whole human race.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the year 1672. On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France, and during these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. He asked to be honored in the symbol of His Heart of flesh; he asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour.

When the Catholic Church approved the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she did not base her action only on the visions of Saint Margaret Mary. The Church approved the devotion on its own merits. There is only one Person in Jesus, and that Person was at the same time God and Man. His Heart, too, is Divine — it is the Heart of God.

There are two things that must always be found together in the devotion to the Sacred Heart: Christ’s Heart of flesh and Christ’s love for us. True devotion to the Sacred Heart means devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart represents and recalls His love for us.

In honoring the Heart of Christ, our homage lingers on the Person of Jesus in the fullness of His love. This love of Christ for us was the moving force of all he did and suffered for us — in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in His teaching and healing, in His praying and working. When we speak of the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us His Heart, Jesus all love for us and all lovable.

Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s infinite love. The Human Nature which the Son of God took upon Himself
was filled with love and kindness that has never found an equal. He is the perfect model of love of God and neighbor.

Every day of His life was filled with repeated proofs of “Christ’s love that surpasses all knowledge.” (Eph 3:19) Jesus handed down for all time the fundamental feature of His character: “Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart.” (Mt 11:29) He invited all, refusing none, surprising friends and rivals by His unconditional generosity.

The meaning of love in the life of Jesus was especially evident in His sufferings. Out of love for His Father He willed to undergo the death of the Cross. “The world must know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded Me.” (Jn 14:31)

The love that Jesus bore toward us also urged Him to undergo the death of the Cross. At the Last Supper, He said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13)

The Heart of Jesus never ceases to love us in heaven. He sanctifies us through the Sacraments. These are inexhaustible fountains of grace and holiness which have their source in the boundless ocean of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A blessed week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor