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June 15 was the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are featuring a quote from Father James Kubicki, S.J – National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.
“St. Augustine and other Fathers of the Church liked to say that Mary first received the Word into her Immaculate Heart and then conceived the Word in her womb. In this new person were joined two natures – human and divine. The loving union of God with humanity had begun in a new and wonderful way, making possible every person’s union with God. He took flesh so that he could give his flesh to save humanity and to unite his flesh with ours. The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) states, “By his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man” (LG, 22).
Cell by cell, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, now uniting himself to our nature and our flesh, began to develop in the womb of his mother. Within 21 days his first organ appeared. His tiny physical heart began to beat under the heart of his mother. Over nine months he grew and developed as every baby does until at last he was born….His entire life on earth was a revelation of the love of God…”
Father James Kubicki, S.J. has a wonderful new book entitled A Heart on Fire – Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Kubicki is an extraordinary priest who is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and television – he is also a popular conference speaker, parish mission speaker and retreat director. Father Kubicki has been a great friend to our apostolate too – giving us support and encouragement.
A Heart on Fire is a book which will help rekindle devotion to the Sacred Heart – arguably the most important devotion for all Christians. Father Kubicki makes the Sacred Heart devotion understandable to the modern mind without downplaying its traditional beauty and power. This is an important book because understanding the love of Christ and its central role in our faith is what each Christian is truly striving to achieve. We highly recommend this book.
“Virgin’s First Communion” Pianist Jacqueline Chew
Olivier Messiaen (December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a devout and well-respected French Catholic composer. Olivier Messiaen wrote Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus , a collection of pieces for solo piano in 1944. The French title translates “Twenty gazes/contemplations on the infant Jesus”. It is considered to be one of the greatest piano works of the twentieth century, and the summit of Messiaen’s keyboard writing. The idea of les regards, the spiritual gazes, came from the devotional book Le Christ dans ses Mystères by the Irish-Belgian Benedictine Abbot Dom Columba Marmion.
The gaze is a profound moment of passionate contemplation, spiritual communication and two-way recognition: an exchange, to use one of Marmion’s favorite words, in which love and knowledge passed in both directions between God and humanity.
Some of Messiaen’s ‘gazes’ on the Infant Jesus include: Gaze of the Father, Gaze of the Star, The Exchange, Gaze of the Son upon the Son, By Him everything was made, The Kiss of the Infant Jesus, Glance of Silence (click here to see all of the pieces)…the piece that touches on our blog’s theme is: ‘Premiere Communion de la Vierge’. (No. 11, “Virgin’s First Communion”) and represents the Virgin on her knees, worshiping the unborn Jesus within her.
Olivier Messiaen wrote notes for each of the glances/regards. Here is what he wrote about the Premiere communion de la Vierge:
“Première communion de la Vierge [First Communion of the Virgin]. A tableau in which the Virgin is shown kneeling, bowed down in the night-a luminous halo around her womb. Eyes closed, she adores the fruit hidden within her. This comes between the Annunciation and the Nativity: it is the first and greatest of all communions. Theme of God, gentle scrolls, in stalactites, in an inner embrace. (Recall of the theme of La Vierge l’Enfant from my Nativity du Seigneur for organ, 1935). Magnificat more enthusiastic. Special chords and durations of two and two in which the weighty pulsations represent the heartbeats of the Infant in the breast of his mother. Disappearance of the Theme of God. After the Annunciation, Mary adores Jesus within her…my God, my son, my Magnificat!-my love without the sound of words.”
Here are two links:
Tuesday, August 19th is the feast of St. John Eudes. I’m not an expert on Eudes, but I know of three pronounced devotions that he had: to the Heart of Jesus Christ, to Mary the Mother of the Lord and to Christ within the womb of Mary. We dedicate this reflection to John Eudes.
Through the words of his prophet Ezekiel, the Lord made a great promise to Israel:
“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you;
and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezek 36:26
It is important to realize that this promise, this prophecy, could not be fulfilled until the Incarnation of Christ the Lord had occurred. It was the heart of flesh within the Body of Jesus that marked the change, for it was also the very Heart of God! Mary’s heart prefigured the heart of Jesus that would be formed within his Body, within her womb, for her heart was tender and full of Grace.
We see, in fact, that during those first nine months of the Incarnation while Jesus was an unborn baby within the womb of Mary, that the three devotions mentioned above are all linked. As one of the invocations in the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus says: “Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit within the Virgin Mother’s womb, have mercy on us.”
So the Incarnation made it possible for Israel and all Christians to take another step forward in God’s Plan of Salvation. Hence the old Catholic prayer: “Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”
John tells us: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:14,16). If the Word had never become flesh within the womb of Mary, Ezekiel’s prophecy would not have been realized.
About three weeks after His conception, the Heart of Christ was physically formed in a rudimentary fashion, pulsing with love for every human being. Although, His spiritual heart was beating thus from the first moment of conception as Pope Pius XII explains: “The Virgin Mary utters that generous word, “be it done”…Immediately the Heart of Jesus, ever to be adored, has begun to pulsate with love, divine and human” (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, #63).
THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!
A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt 11:28-29
Amidst the cultural upheaval of our time, there is a tangible palpable restlessness. It comes in two flavors: 1.) the restlessness of those who are restless precisely because they are foundationless, and 2.) the restlessness of those who are holding fast to their Christian faith and traditional Judaeo-Christian morality and are being assailed on every side, every day, by contrary arguments and messages.
Both variations of restlessness concern the soul, first and foremost. Another way to express it is to say that our human hearts are troubled. St. Augustine’s famous summation is to the point: “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” We can take stock of our spiritual resting heart rate during times of calm reflection, with God’s help especially, as in prayer. Am I restless? In what ways am I restless? What causes me to be restless? When am I most spiritually rested?
These are not trick questions, because in fact, as long as we are humans here on earth we will all have our spiritual “rest” issues. But St. Augustine’s expression is 100% true. Which leads us to the above quote from Jesus. We might say that there is a cure for restlessness, the deep Divine “rest” which we discover within the Heart of Jesus Christ, a heart which He Himself describes as “gentle and lowly”. And the “cure” involves “learning”, as Jesus Himself explains: “…learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” and what? “and you will find rest for your souls”. Christ is recommending a heart-to-Heart spiritual therapy.
One example of a person who learned this lesson well is St John the Evangelist who, at the Last Supper, “was lying close to the breast of Jesus” (Jn 13:23), and who, at the death of Jesus, witnessed the soldier’s spear piercing the Lord’s heart (Jn 19:34-35). We find in John’s writings a profound mystical understanding of God’s Heart and God’s Love.
By observing the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the day of rest, and incorporating times of prayer rest and meditative rest into our daily routines we will also discover the rest that is in God. Just as exercise and oxygen effects the body’s physical resting heart rate, so exercising our faith along with docility to God’s Spirit effects the soul’s spiritual resting heart rate. With spiritual rest comes personal and moral stability – which is greatly needed during our present time of cultural upheaval.
God values your rested heart and peace of soul so much that He gave us a day devoted to spiritual rest and He gave us His own Heart to rest upon! Just what the Divine Physician ordered!
George A. Peate, August 2, 2008
Filed under: Sacred Heart
Today, Friday, May 30, 2008 is the Feast Day of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Speaking on behalf of God, the prophet Samuel described King David as “a man after his own heart”, that is, after God’s own heart (I Sam 13:14). St Paul refers to this also in a sermon in a synagogue at Antioch when he quotes the Lord: “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Act 13:22). Note the link here between God’s heart and God’s will, and David’s disposition to seek both of these.
Now we leap the chasm from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, from David to his distant descendant Jesus, Son of David. One day, Jesus opened up the mystery of God’s heart and will to His disciples, knowing full well that His words would go out to all of us, that is, to the ends of the earth: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:28-29).
What Jesus does here is he invites every human being to be a man or a woman after God’s own heart! And He describes God’s heart: “gentle and lowly” – nothing to be afraid of here, nothing to fear. And He makes a promise: “you will find rest for your souls” here, upon His Heart (as did the apostle John; Jn 13:23-25). If you labor and are heavy laden, then this is the way to follow the Lord, seek His heart and seek His will, as both David and John did.
He first spoke directly of this will from His mother’s womb, probably, as St Alphonsus de Ligouri contends at the first moment of His conception, that is, at the one cell stage of His human development:
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God…'”
At the one cell stage of His life, Christ was focused upon the will of His Father and acknowledges that He has been given a body (and heart) to dedicate to the will of God!
Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical on Reparation To the Sacred Heart, (#2) explained how this devotion helped end the heresy of that time, Jansenism.
“As formerly Divine Goodness wished to exhibit to the human race, as it came from the Ark of Noe, a sign of the renewed covenant between them . . . so in our own troubled times, while that heresy held sway which is known as Jansenism, the most insidious of all heresies, enemy of the love of God and of filial affection for Him – for this heresy preached that God was not so much to be loved by us as a Father as to be feared as an unrelenting Judge – the most kind Jesus manifested to the nations His Sacred Heart .”
Today we need God’s love and help in fighting the most insidious heresy of our time – abortion. That is why Unborn Word of the day is dedicated to honoring the Unborn Christ Child. By honoring the 9 months Christ spent in Mary’s womb we want to show God’s love for and solidarity with each unborn child.
Because He completely identifies with all unborn children, indeed is one of them, when we lift up and exalt Unborn Jesus, in a real sense we lift up all unborn children with Him. Him we honor as God, they we honor as children created in His image and likeness, and for His glory.
We believe that just as the devotion to the Sacred Heard helped end the heresy of Jansensim – devotion to the Unborn Christ Child can help end abortion.
Filed under: Sacred Heart
The Feast of the Sacred Heart – June 15
“This love inflamed His Heart from the first moment of His conception until His last breath and, since His resurrection, has not ceased nor will ever cease doing so.”
St. Peter Julian Eymard, S.S.S. The Real Presence
The first distinctive parts of His Body to be formed would have been the heart and head. At three weeks they were primitively functional, but by six weeks their form is clearly distinctive. Pope Pius XII has stated that from the moment of Our Lord’s conception. “The adorable Heart of Jesus Christ began to beat with a love at once human and divine after the Virgin Mary generously pronounced Her “Fiat”.” Pope Pius XII, “On Devotion To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus” (Haurietis Aquas), 63. The Love of God Incarnate did not wait for a physical human organ to join its urgent surging beat for love of us! But certainly once the physical human organ was in place it too, in perfect unison, took up this pulse of eternal love.
And so we picture the unborn baby Jesus within His mother’s womb, skin almost transparent in these early weeks of human life, and His Heart, not yet hidden by a thicker, more developed skin, but visible, actually throbbing, pulsing with divine love for us! This is the miniature reservoir of that one commodity that could purchase the salvation of the entire human race, the blood of God Himself! This Precious Blood is separate and different from His mother’s. A small delicate vial of heavenly medicine. It is a tiny Heart, but proportionately compared to the rest of its body, during the first and second months it measures up to nine times the size of the adult heart. Appropriately, the Heart of Unborn Jesus (and His head) dominated His Body: for the Incarnation is about God’s Love for us.
Not only was the Heart of Unborn Jesus proportionally large in physical size, but like that of all unborn infants it beat at a much faster rate than the adult heart (roughly twice as fast) as if to leave no doubt as to its quickening desires and designs towards the human family.
Surely Unborn Jesus had – and has – a special place in His most tiny hidden heart for today’s vulnerable unborn children.
Excerpts from Unborn Jesus Our Hope