This is such a special year, isn’t it, and my spirit is telling me that graces will abound as we celebrate the feastdays of the Sacred Heart of Jesus today and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary tomorrow.
In the June edition of the Magnificat, Fr. James M. Sullivan, O.P., tells us that Easter 2011 falling on April 24th is something that never happened before in any of our lifetimes – that it is the second latest possible date for Easter and will not happen again until 2095. Because the date of Easter affects the dates that other feastdays are celebrated, this year the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very unusually not in June, but on July 1st, which means that Our Lady’s feastday of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, always the following day, also very unusually does not fall in the month of June this year. And that this should happen along with these important feastdays falling on the First Friday and First Saturday of the month just highlights for me the extra-special significance of these feastdays for our world this year, in God’s timing. I believe it is a sign for the times from God, and to strengthen us for what is to come.
One of the main focuses of the devotion to the Sacred Heart is reparation. In his book, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Promises of the Sacred Heart, Msgr. Leon Cristiani writes: “Let us point out right away that the idea of reparation, which is at the core of devotion to the Sacred Heart, implies a deep solidarity among all members of the Mystical Body, a solidarity so all-embracing that everything the saints do in the Church, in union with Jesus Christ their Model and Master, compensates before God for the offenses of sinners and obtains for them the graces of conversion and salvation.”
Today, we Canadians are celebrating our national holiday, Canada Day. Also, Prince William and his new bride Kate [the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge] arrived here in Ottawa yesterday for their first official trip. The city is inundated with tourists and with reporters from all parts of the globe; they say we might have a half-million people on Parliament Hill today to celebrate Canada Day and catch a glimpse of the royal couple. The Americans’ special holiday, the 4th of July, is right around the corner. Amid all these festivities, there will be many Catholics who, busy with family and shopping and BBQs and visitors over the next little while, may not even have a thought for Jesus or Mary on their feastdays. I say this not in judgement, for there have been many feastdays over many decades that escaped my notice, my celebration, and my thankfulness as well; and I am still guilty of missing some, not noticing the days/weeks flying by and from lack of planning ahead. But for those of us who this year are able to go to confession, to celebrate Mass and receive Holy Eucharist, to spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, who are able to keep the First Friday and the First Saturday of the month to the best of our ability and to offer up our Masses, Holy Communions, rosaries, and perhaps small sacrificial acts in reparation to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, let us try to remember that we do so in solidarity with other members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Let us take these graces seriously, for the Lord is using them for others, others who have not asked for them, perhaps will never ask for them, but are in great need of them. As Msgr. Cristiani tells us: “…the same passage of Scripture [re the parable of the talents] also says that he who does not use his talents to make them bear fruit will have them taken away, and they will be given to those who have the most…. Can we perhaps deduce from this that the graces wasted by sinners are given to the great saints? For to the saints devolves the great and mysterious task of making reparation and compensation for others.”
When we look at ourselves, our lives, failings, shortcomings, and sins we can’t see ourselves in the same category as the saints, but despite our failings we are on a path of holiness, growing in holiness, aware of the graces available to us and strong in the knowledge of the power of God’s grace. In the earthly realm, we would not think of asking someone to give us a gift. Not so with the heavenly realm – all these graces are gifts from God, and He wants us to ask for them – every single day, all throughout the day, for ourselves and for others. In solidarity with the Mystical Body of Christ, let us ask, receive and bless others with these graces today and tomorrow, in union with the Two Hearts United and in reparation for the world.