Almost every year, on Sunday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the formation community of Cagayan de Oro invites benefactors from the area for a special Thanksgiving Mass. In this way, the Priests of the Sacred Heart want to say “Thank you” to those who support them spiritually and financially. For benefactors it is always an opportunity to learn more about the spirituality and different projects of the Congregation. This year the celebration of the “Benefactors’ Day” was held on June 5, 2016. The Eucharist scheduled at 10:00 AM was preceded with a short video presentation prepared on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of SCJ presence in the Philippines and was followed by a lunch together. Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, in his homily, based on the Sunday’s Gospel, told the congregation how much God loves and cares for each person on the example of Jesus, who gave back to his mother her son, after raising him up from the dead. “As His followers, we are invited to be like Him, he said, to be people of heart and of compassion, to be concerned and involved. We may not perform miracles as Jesus did, but we can show compassion in various concrete ways like assisting a needy person.” He continued, “Without your support we can do very little, but together we can do a lot. And for all this I want to thank you, for your open and compassionate hearts. Because of this, many people could feel that ‘God has visited His people!’ As someone once said that the money and the riches we give away are the only riches that we bring to eternity.”
The celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cagayan de Oro community was connected with the Thanksgiving Mass of Fr. Ronald Basco, SCJ, who was ordained priest on May 19, 2016, in Tagum City by the Most Rev. Wilfredo D. Manlapaz, D.D.
In the morning, members of the three neighbor SCJ communities, Sacred Heart Formation House, Immaculate Conception Parish and Dansolihon Chaplaincy, met together for a moment of reflection led by Fr. Janusz Burzawa, SCJ, and an hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The concelebrated Mass in the afternoon was presided by the newly ordained priest Fr. Ronald. After the reading of the Gospel, all SCJs renewed their commitment as religious, which was followed by the acceptance of new Postulants. Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, the Regional Superior, accepted six Filipinos and six Vietnamese into the Postulancy Program. The candidates were presented by the newly appointed Master of Postulants, Fr. Patrick L. Gutib, SCJ. The homily was delivered by Fr. Donald S. Longno, SCJ, the superior of the community.
At the end of the Mass, Fr. Ronald gave a special individual blessing to all the participants of the celebration, which was followed by the simple yet delicious supper.
The heart has always been seen as the “center” or essence a person (“the heart of the matter,” “you are my heart,” “take it to heart,” etc.) and the wellspring of our emotional lives and love (“you break my heart,” “my heart sings,” etc.) Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to Jesus Christ Himself, but in the particular ways of meditating on his interior life and on His threefold love — His divine love, His burning love that fed His human will, and His sensible love that affects His interior life.
Pope Pius XII of blessed memory writes on this topic in his 1956 encyclical, Haurietis Aquas (On Devotion To The Sacred Heart).
The Friday that follows the Second Sunday in Time After Pentecost is the Feast of the Sacred Heart which brings to mind all the attributes of His Divine Heart mentioned above. Many Catholics prepare for this Feast by beginning a Novena to the Sacred Heart on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is the Thursday of the week before. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart itself, we can gain a plenary indulgence by making an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart.
From the earliest days of the Church, “Christ’s open side and the mystery of blood and water were meditated upon, and the Church was beheld issuing from the side of Jesus, as Eve came forth from the side of Adam. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that we find the first unmistakable indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Through the wound in the side, the wound in the Heart was gradually reached, and the wound in the Heart symbolized the wound of love.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)
This general devotion arose first in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries of that time, especially in response to the devotion of St. Gertrude the Great, but specific devotions became popularized when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation nun, had a personal revelation involving a series of visions of Christ as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote, “He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart.” Christ emphasized to her His love — and His woundedness caused by Man’s indifference to this love.
He promised that, in response to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart, that:
- He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life
- He will establish peace in their homes
- He will comfort them in all their afflictions
- He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death
- He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings
- Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy
- Lukewarm souls shall become fervent
- Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection
- He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and honored
- He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts
- Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His Heart
- In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment
On Oct. 16, Roman Catholics celebrate the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the French nun whose visions of Christ helped to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout the Western Church. Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in July of 1647. Her parents Claude and Philiberte lived modest but virtuous lives, while Margaret showed herself to be a serious child with a focus on God. Claude died when Margaret was eight, and she suffered a paralyzing illness from the ages of nine to 13. A struggle over her family’s property made life difficult for Margaret and her mother for several years. During her illness, Margaret made a vow to enter religious life. During adolescence, however, she changed her mind. For a period of time she lived a relatively ordinary life, enjoying the ordinary social functions of her day and considering the possibility of marriage. Her life changed in response to a vision she saw one night while returning from a dance, in which she saw Christ being scourged. Margaret believed she had betrayed Jesus, by pursuing the pleasures of the world rather than her religious vocation. At age 22, she decided to enter a convent. Two days after Christmas of 1673, Margaret experienced Christ’s presence in an extraordinary way while in prayer. She heard Christ explain that he desired to show his love for the human race in a special way, by encouraging devotion to “the heart that so loved mankind.” She experienced a subsequent series of private revelations regarding the gratitude due to Jesus on the part of humanity, and the means of responding through public and private devotion. But the superior of the convent she dismissed this as a delusion. This dismissal was a crushing disappointment, affecting the nun’s health so seriously that she nearly died. In 1674, however, the Jesuit priest Father Claude de la Colombiere became Margaret’s spiritual director. He believed her testimony, and chronicled it in writing. Fr. de la Colombiere – later canonized as a saint – left the monastery to serve as a missionary in England. By the time he returned and died in 1681, Margaret had made peace with the apparent rejection of her experiences. Through St. Claude’s direction, she had reached a point of inner peace, no longer concerned with the hostility of others in her community. In time, however, many who doubted her would become convinced as they pondered what St. Claude had written about the Sacred Heart. Eventually, her own writings and the accounts of her would face a rigorous examination by Church officials. By the time that occurred, however, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had already gained what she desired: “To lose myself in the heart of Jesus.” She faced her last illness with courage, frequently praying the words of Psalm 73: “What have I in heaven, and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God?” She died on October 17, 1690, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.