Last month, I offered a three-part Adult Faith Formation series on St. Joseph, a fitting topic given our Holy Father declaring this to be a Year of St. Joseph. In my third and final session, I addressed various devotions to St. Joseph. One of the general points that I made in that presentation was how the Church connects her devotional life to the rhythm of the days of the week and the months of the year. For example, Sunday is a day on which we as Catholics are called to have a greater devotion to the Resurrection, for it was on Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead. The month which we just concluded, May, was given as a time to give special devotion to our Blessed Mother.
As we begin this new month of June, the Church invites us to fix our attention on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart almost always falls during this month (June 11th, this Friday, this year), so it is a fitting time for us to focus on the Heart of Jesus, which burns with love for us. This devotion has been one that I have loved for many years, first having been introduced to it when the pastor of my home parish would have the congregation join in praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart on the First Friday of every month. Throughout this month, I will be reflecting on this beautiful devotion in my bulletin articles.
As the Church celebrates today the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus (also known for it’s Latin title of Corpus Christi), there is an important connection between the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Sacrament, for the Eucharist is the most profound expression of the love of the Sacred Heart. St. Julian Eymard makes this point in a succinct but profound way: “Let us learn to honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate them.”
One part of the devotion to the Sacred Heart is the notion of reparation for how often humanity has rejected the love of Christ, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist. In His revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Apostle to the Sacred Heart, Jesus had these unsettling words to say:
Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself, to prove to them Its love. And in return I receive from the greater part of men nothing but ingratitude, by the contempt, irreverence, sacrileges and coldness with which they treat Me in this Sacrament of Love.
I have never forgotten these words, and it prompted me to confess any times that I had treated the Lord in this way, especially if I had received the Eucharist unworthily. On this Corpus Christi Sunday, I invite all of us to take these words to heart, and to ask the Lord to help us to be aware of the times when we have received Him with irreverence or coldness of heart. In particular, let us be aware of any times we may have received Him unworthily, meaning having committed a mortal sin, then going to Holy Communion without first going to confession. To do so is to commit the sin of sacrilege, and this is one of the greatest offenses to the love of the Heart of Jesus. If we are aware of this, then please go to Confession, and be sure to ask the Lord for forgiveness for receiving Him unworthily. Then, let us promise never to receive the Lord unworthily again, even if it means we refrain from receiving Holy Communion until we make it to confession again.