Thursday, June 18, 2009
Eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart
We often were in retreat for the Feast of the Sacred Heart; we have still the devotional renovation of our vows which we renew with all our hearts. We used to have a day of fasting and prayer to prepare for the Feast.
The Gospel of John gives us two texts that are the chief scriptural foundations for devotion to the Sacred Heart. These texts are John 7:37-38 where Jesus speaks of the "rivers of living water", and John 19:34, "One of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side and immediately blood and water flowed out." Both texts were commented upon by the Fathers of the Church. both are often the texts that lead me into prayer. I like the Ephesian version which has the living water flowing from Christ. "If anyone thirst, let him come to me; let him drink who believes in me; Scripture has it: 'From withing him rivers of living water shall flow." The majority of the early commentaries of the Fathers of the Church depict the Heart of Christ as the source of living water.
St. Gregory the Great (540-604), one of the last of the Fathers in the Western patristic period, related the two fundamental Scripture passages from St. John's Gospel. He saw Christ as the Rock and His wounds as the clefts in the rock. He wrote in his commentary on the Canticle of Canticles: "By the clefts of the rock I mean the wounds in His side made by the lance."
Our lovely Chapel at St. Thomas University has the base of the altar a huge piece of limestone from the Florida Keys and there are "clefts in the rock" and lead me into prayer.
Since tomorrow is the transfer of the "chasse" of St. Madeleine Sophie from Belgium to the church of St. Francis Xavier in Paris, I want to add another bit from the letter written to us for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. (I do hope that all my readers realize that the body of Sophie is still intact since her death in 1865).
Kathy Conan writes: "...it is fitting that Sophie be in the church of Francis Xavier, Apostle to the Nations. She herself dreamed of going to the far reaches of the world, a dream that took flesh in Philippine and her companions and continues today in newer areas of our mission. Beyond geography, she insisted that the education of her sister and of the students reach into the depths of our heritage and be open to the breadth of new worlds being explored in science, in the understanding of the human person, in the awareness of various cultures and their ways of living and thinking." I think that Sophie will like her new resting place, surrounded by God's people.