Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eucharistic, Sacred, and Pure

As the end of June, the month of the Sacred Heart, draws to a close and the Fortnight for Freedom continues, the importance of consecrating oneself to both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary becomes extremely appropriate and relevant.  I have been wanting to write about this for some time, as this special devotion has become very dear to me in the past year.  Previously, I had never felt any attraction to a specific image of Jesus.  Of course, being devoted to Christ does not require one use a certain devotion, but those who choose to use a specific image or apparition can often open themselves up to special graces and many helpful prayer books, images, etc. that go with each devotion (the Divine Mercy, for example, has a plethora of resources available to those attracted to that image of Christ).  I tried to fall in love with one of them, but still the pull, or call, to follow one of them did not surface.  And then, last year, I suddenly began to feel an attraction to the image and message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The beauty of Christ offering His Heart to me, with His pierced hands outstretched as though showering mercy upon those who come to Him, or in the image above, His hands showing that His Heart is where peace for restless souls abides, the great love and forgiveness, united with such bittersweet pain and intense love, called to me and I happily answered.  As the summer continued and my new attraction to this devotion grew, a series of "coincidences" led me to realize this was the devotion Christ had intended for me all along, for it was within Christ's Sacred Heart that I would find the strength, courage, forgiveness, love, and mercy I so desperately needed (and continue to need).
I grew in this love for the Sacred Heart contentedly, and Christ used this devotion to light my soul on fire.  But then I met a dear friend who showed me that I was missing the second half of this special devotion.
In my spiritual life, I have always been more attracted to Christ than to Mary.  Once again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, after all Mary's whole purpose and desire is to direct the faithful towards her Son.  But, Christ also wants His children to love His mother as much as He does.  Keep in mind that Mary is the only person (post-Christ) who has been assumed into Heaven, body and soul, for as John Bannister Tabb says in his Quatrain entitled "The Assumption":

Nor Bethlehem nor Nazareth,
Apart from Mary's care;
Nor Heaven itself a home for Him
Were not His mother there!

Hence, it is important that devotion to Jesus and Mary be combined.  Marian devotion must always, and will always, be closely paired with a love for her Son, for all Marian reflections and  prayers focus upon her as the Mother of God- for it is in this that she finds her great honor.  For ladies, Mary is the perfect role-model, exemplifying the virtues that women most desire to cultivate: humility, kindness, beauty, obedience, and a deep love for Christ (not technically a virtue...).  For men, Mary can serve as an inspiration as they seek out their future wives, or for those discerning the priesthood, she can help them overcome lustful temptations and keep their minds pure and focused.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary does this by exposing the beauty and purity of her soul, signified by the flowers around her heart, but also the pain she experienced as the most devoted follower of Christ, the sword that Simeon foretold, piercing her heart.
The most beautiful way to tie these two images together is in the Eucharist.  The Sacred Heart devotion is practically inseparable from the Eucharistic Heart devotion, for the Eucharist is the ultimate Sacrament of love and mercy- which the Sacred Heart is centered around (hence the First Friday Promise).  But, this also unites one to the Marian devotion, for by receiving Christ into his heart, man becomes a living tabernacle, just as Mary was a living tabernacle for nine months as Christ grew within her womb.  After communion, the faithful can ponder the great gift of having Christ physically within them, and ask Mary for the grace to carry Him in a way that glorifies Him and respects His presence.

This post could be tripled in length and still not touch on all of the beauty, grace, and privileges that come with these devotions.  For now, here are some helpful links that will offer more information, prayers, and tips for increasing or starting these devotions:

Smith Catholic Art - Cameron Smith is the artist who painted the images above.  These images are so strikingly lovely, they will provide the inspiration needed while trying to turn one's mind in the right direction.
New Advent - an exploration of the historical and doctrinal background and facts surrounding  this devotion; a very reliable source.
EWTN: Sacred and Immaculate Hearts - EWTN's page with prayers and devotional information about both the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary; a beautiful resource.
Sacred Heart- Fish Eaters - I love this website, it has incredible articles about various Catholic devotions/practices.  This page is very informative and includes the 12 Promises, Consecration and Enthronement information, and delves into the special acts connected to the Sacred Heart devotion.

May God bless all of you!  Please participate in the Fortnight for Freedom, as this is extremely important for the future of Catholics in this country!  If you are in need of more information about this, go to this link.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.  Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

(I apologize, I do not know why it will not let me enlarge the font...)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sacred Heart Consecration Link

Happy Sacred Heart Sunday!

All time allows me to post at the moment is a link to a Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and a picture.  Later in the week, when things slow down, I will write a more in depth post on the beauty of the Sacred Heart devotion, along the importance of pairing it with a devotion to the Eucharist and a devotion to Mary.

May God bless all of you on this grace-filled day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Double the Consecration, Double the Graces

Below is a simple Act of Consecration to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.  Next Sunday, I will post an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Why do both?  Because a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus goes hand-in-hand with today's devotion.  In the Eucharist, Christ gives us His Heart, thus bringing us into the most beautiful and grace-filled part of Himself.  I encourage all of you to prayerfully recite these acts of consecration with me, for they will bring abundant graces upon you, and assure you of Christ's everlasting presence.

Most Sacred, Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,
Eternal Victim, truly present in the tabernacles of the world,
to You I consecrate my entire being, body and soul.

I place in Your Heart, burning ember of Divine Love,
my every burden and petition.

Take me and use me according to Your need
to bring about the Glorious Reign of Your Eucharistic Heart on earth.

Corpus Christi

"When I am before the Blessed Sacrament I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me. When it is time for me to leave,
I have to tear myself away from His sacred presence"

St. Anthony Claret

May we, on this great feast of Corpus Christi, strive to unite ourselves to Christ in the Eucharist completely, that we might be filled with a holy yearning to have Him always within us, guiding our steps, and filling us with the graces we need to better do His will.

For more inspiration, I suggest Fr. Larry Richard's homily from June 14, 2009, Cycle B.

May God bless all of you on this special day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I'm Sorry God, but I'm Just So Busy...

Lately, I've found myself saying this too often.

I wake up, turn on the computer, check the weather and a few e-mails, shower, study and work through the day, using spare minutes to check my blog roll and more e-mails, eat dinner, then watch TV shows on DVD with my family until I either fall asleep on the couch, or drag myself up to bed, brush my teeth, and collapse.  When I take the time to kneel before crashing, my prayer often sounds like the title of this post: a group of over-used excuses for why I did not spend more time with God in prayer that day.  Now, the day I just described is not entirely accurate, because I honestly do have many important things to do, and often times I am doing them for God.  Violin lessons, pro-life work, baby-sitting, and family time are hardly mindless, selfish activities.  But, it's my spare time that I am not using wisely.

While reading a post on The Catholic Young Woman blog about this same topic, this line struck a chord with me:  "If we cut out some of the mindless entertainment we indulge in (myself included, girls!), would we find that we’re really not as busy as we thought…and perhaps we have more time for prayer, service, and personal growth than it seemed?" (read the rest of this wonderful post here).

I have a feeling that if I took this to heart, I would discover that much of my time has not been used wisely as of late.  One look at where my spiritual life stands right now can tell me that much: my plan to read the Bible this year has (once again) failed, as I said above too many of my days end with excuses instead of simple, peaceful nightly prayers, my days start and end with electronic devices, and I'm just not happy with where I am right now.

An article in the last issue of the National Catholic Register entitled "Pray, Date, Marry" advised women to "' become the woman of your dreams'", meaning- spend this precious time becoming (to use a Matthew Kelly phrase) the best-versions-of-themselves, that way when God brings either a man or a challenge into their lives, they will be ready to handle it in a way that glorifies Him.

This is my Summer Challenge: to take a good look at the way I spend my time, and do my best to spend it in a way that pleases God and also makes me feel at peace with myself.  It's time for boot-camp, to get myself in shape physically, mentally, and spiritually, so that I can better serve my God and my fellow men.

Enjoy this video, which drives the point home in an extremely funny and effective way. 

May God bless all of you as your summer adventures begin!