Dear Fellow Parishioners,
We’ve heard the folk saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” This year, the lamb-like weather has continued ever since, as we just passed almost imperceptibly into summer. In the past, late spring and the early days of summer have been uncharacteristically mild, even cool only to be followed by ripping hot weeks later on, especially after the start of school.
The feast day I most associate with the start of summer is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was celebrated on June 16th this year. While the image of God’s heart is firmly rooted in the Old Testament, the feast day is associated most closely with three saints: St. John Eudes (preacher, reformer, educator of seminarians), St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (visionary), and St. Claude la Colombiere (preacher and confessor). All from France, all from the 17th century. At its height, devotion to the Sacred Heart amounted to a spontaneous Jesus movement in the Church, reflecting specifically on His humanity, as a counterbalance to images of the Jesus of judgment, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
There are three aspects of devotion to the Sacred Heart that are particularly relevant to our parish. First, our present church is effectively a snapshot of the devotions most important to our parishioners 100 years ago when plans for construction were drawn up. The Sacred Heart is one of the few devotions represented in our statuary (by the piano). Second, devotion to the Sacred Heart makes an important distinction between physical pain and emotional and spiritual suffering. (Modern medicine, for all its marvels, can do much to alleviate physical pain, but far less for suffering, which is a sickness of the soul.) Third, while devotion to the Sacred Heart was originally rooted in France, it has taken even stronger root in Latin America, including Mexico and once again, in our parish.
Our Hispanic community organized a Mass last Friday night (which I officiated) and provided exceptionally beautiful flowers and music. Afterwards, there was a sit-down meal in the hall consisting of birria (i.e., pot roast cooked forever in a mild red chili sauce, not unlike Portuguese sopas), rice, beans, tortillas and pot-luck homemade desserts. All were invited free of charge, the hall was packed, and loaded plates of food were passed around with smiling, wordless efficiency. It was a lovely evening, accompanied by hordes of energetic children small enough to roam around or chase each other around the chairs and tables in spaces too small for any adult to catch them. For that time, at least, everything was right in the world; everyone felt safe in a moment of shared, timeless happiness and celebration.
Fr. Bill Donahue