02 June 2008

The Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The month of June is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion has its origin in the Middle Ages but became more known with the appearance of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. During his Angelus message on Sunday Pope Benedict encouraged all Christians to rediscover this 'centre' of faith, hope and charity.

"The Heart of Christ", the pontiff explained, "expresses in a simple and authentic way the 'good news' of love, summarising in itself the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Redemption . . . From the infinite horizon of his love, in fact, God wished to enter within the limits of history and the human condition, he took on a body and a heart, so that we can contemplate and encounter the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable Mystery in the human Heart of Jesus, the Nazarene".

Benedict XVI recalled that his two encyclicals have also been inspired by the mystery of the Sacred Heart: "In my first encyclical, on the theme of love, the point of departure was precisely the contemplation of the pierced side of Christ, of which John speaks in his Gospel (cf. 19:37; Deus Caritas Est, 12). And this centre of the faith is also the source of hope in which we have been saved, the hope that I made the object of the second encyclical".

"Every person ", the pope continued, "needs a 'centre' for his life, a source of truth and goodness to draw upon in various situations and in the struggle of everyday life. Each of us, when we pause in silence, needs to feel not only the beating of his own heart, but more profoundly the pulsing of a trustworthy presence, which is sensed through faith but nonetheless is much more real: the presence of Christ, the heart of the world."

This image of the Sacred Heart was commissioned and used in the consecration of Equador to the Sacred Heart by the President Garcia Moreno in 1873. Two years later he was murdered by his enemies on August 6, 1875 after leaving the Cathedral in Quito where he had gone for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Faustino Rayo, the leader of the band of assassins, suddenly attacked the President with a machete while his comrades opened fire with revolvers. Recalling his previous words, García Moreno shouted "Dios no muere" ('God does not die'). Still concious, he was brought back into the Cathedral and was laid before the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows. There he received the Last Rites and finally expired.

On his person at the time of his death were found a relic of the Cross, a Scapular, and his copy of The Imitation of Christ, which he read from every day. His body lay in state for three days to accomodate the crowds of mourners wishing to pay their respects to their fallen leader. A draft was found of an upcoming address to Congress which was read out to that body a number of days after his funeral. In it, he proclaimed:

"If I have committed faults I beg your pardon a thousand and a thousand times, and this forgiveness I beg of all my countrymen with very sincere tears, begging them to believe that my desire has ever been for their good.. If on the contrary, you think I have succeeded in anything, attribute it in the first instance to Almighty God, and to the Immaculate Dispensatrice of the treasure of His Mercy, and then to yourselves, to the people, the army and to all those who in the various branches of government have helped me with so much intelligence and fidelity to fulfill my difficult duties."
In the twentieth century, the saintly Pope Pius XII reflected on García Moreno, calling him "a brilliant statesman, loyal son of the Church and Martyr of the Faith."

1 comment:

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Wow. I've never heard this story before. When I read things like this I realize just how pitiful my faith is. It makes me strive to do so much better. I don't give the Lord credit for my every victory. I am so selfish. I've got some work to do!


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