Archdiocese of Chicago

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Monday, June 15, 2009

“Such is Christ’s love”

June used to be the favorite month for weddings; and it is still a good time, at the beginning of summer, for celebrating marriage and for arranging a honeymoon during vacation time. The love that the Church celebrates in a special way each June is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast falls on a different date each year because it falls on the Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi. It has become, in recent years, a day to pray for the sanctification of ordained priests.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we see, as if in a snapshot, divine love and human love come together. The Heart is pierced, which reminds us that love is self-sacrifice and that Jesus freely accepted his death for our salvation. The feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord reminds us that his human heart is now part of a risen body and that, when we receive Christ’s body and blood in holy communion, we take to ourselves seeds of immortality. The Heart is surmounted by flames, to symbolize the intensity of Christ’s love, and is surrounded by Christ’s crown of thorns.

My father’s mother was born and raised in Holy Family Parish on what is now Roosevelt Road, when it was a Jesuit parish. (The Society of Jesus has fostered devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus since Christ appeared to St. Margaret Mary in 1673). My grandmother passed on to her children and grandchildren the devotion the Jesuits taught her as a young girl in the years after the Great Chicago Fire. I still have the small red vigil light my grandmother kept before her picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and I use it to remind me to pray to the Sacred Heart, especially during this month of June. Infinite, intense, consuming our sinfulness in forgiveness: such is Christ’s love.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

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