Those of us who need regular boosts to keep our spiritual lives going should be in for a treat in June.
Easter was so late this year that there is a surfeit of Solemnities and Feasts in the month of June, both on Sundays and weekdays. These are the great traditional landmarks which the Church uses to guide us in our growth to holiness.
I love the great Feasts with their solemn liturgy and lots of incense (if I am lucky). Pentecost, Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, and Saints Peter & Paul on the Sundays plus Sacred Heart, John the Baptist, John Fisher and Thomas More, and our own Cathedral on weekdays. It will be a busy time but I do wonder if we are really finding the way for a 21st century spiritual life.
This year the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on the last Friday of the month. This holy concept has, according to a priest friend of mine, produced some of the deepest devotion and worst art in the church. Certainly some of the representations seen in Spain and Italy have never inspired me to pray or worship.
But I am not looking for a new 21st century depiction of the Sacred Heart nor for a clever explanation to suit “today’s world”. The unconditional love poured out from the Cross can bring even me to my knees and I want the world to know that this is the love for today.
The great propagators of this devotion tell us of wonderful promises that are fulfilled for those who open themselves to receive the love of Christ. St Margaret Mary Alacoque gives us twelve promises which can be claimed by those who will show their devotion to this expression of Christ’s love for all mankind.
They include many of the benefits that I would include in general statements about our God of Love, and an intriguing assurance to priests of their “power to touch the most hardened hearts”.
But the overall message is the encouragement to open our lives to receive His Love, with some hints on how to do this. The search for holiness is not for the few but the many. The power of love is for all to transform us into His living body to bring all people to Him. Even today, the Sacred Heart of Jesus offers new life to the world.
Peter spent 15 years as a Methodist minister before European Education and Training projects in Portugal (where he converted), Hungary, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova where he lived and worked for over six years. He was the first permanent deacon ordained in the former Soviet Union in the Diocese of Chisinau, Moldova.
Pictured above is one of the new stained glass windows at St Felix Church in Felixstowe on the theme of The Divine Mercy.