July 2008 Archives

Today we shall take a few minutes to look at each of these. p0000001320.jpg

 

I am Sr. Cora Lombardo, an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My name is Cora, because of my love for the Sacred Heart. How fitting that the first Blog entry should be on the First Friday of the month, the day dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Though I must confess, as far as I'm concerned every Friday is a mini-Feast of the Sacred Heart just as every Sunday is a mini-Easter!

 

Before we go much further, let us be clear about the difference between devotion to the Sacred Heart and Sacred Heart Spirituality. A devotion is something you or I may choose to do--such as the First Fridays, but a spirituality is our way of going to God, our way of looking at the world, our way of relating to each other. In this blog you will find Sacred Heart Spirituality, simply because I am an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I can't give you anything else. Even when I'm not thinking about the Heart of Jesus, I'm thinking about the Heart of Jesus! An example may help.

 

I remember one hot, summer August afternoon several of us sisters were driving from Conneticut to Pennsylvannia. As we drove the sun took on the appearance of a huge red balloon. It was the kind of sight that causes you to pause and hold your breath! To my eyes, the eyes of my heart, I felt like I was looking into the very Heart of God. The sun was so afire that all I could  think was His Heart is aflamed with love for us! I didn't intend to pray; I didn't intend to think about the Sacred Heart! How could I not? How could I not just hold my breath and watch and pray as the burning blushing sun hung in the sky, giving me a glimpse into the Heart of God?

 

 

22175AF holy family.jpgToday is my mother's birthday!

 

How fitting that on the first day of this blog I honor her memory, for from her I learned that prayer is real. Often I heard her say:

"Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, give me patience with these kids!"

She didn't add: "Right now!" (We were four!) I'm sure that's what she meant. In the very short walkway from our living room to the bedrooms hung a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and our Family Consecration. Growing up I would not have considered my family particularly religious, even though my godfather was a priest (my first cousin) and a second cousin was a sister, but it was my mom and dad who taught us about God's love. They didn't so much talk about it, but they are the ones who enfleshed God's love, just as they enfleshed me! It's not that we did religious things as much as in our home there was an atmosphere, an environment. You didn't have to be around my mom and dad too long to know that they loved each other. Their love for each other wordlessly spoke to me of God's love for us. On my parents' dresser was a statue of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, the Holy Family. We were no holy family, but my parents did the best they could to feed us, shelter us and love us.

 

Why is this section so long? Because we only know God's love through each other. Looking at holy pictures or statues won't do it. Pope John Paul II had  it right!

 

"... the family is a living image and historical representation of the mystery of the Church." Familiaris Consortio #49  

The family is the "domestic church." It's in the family we learn to live, forgive and love.

 

 

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St. Alphonsus Liguori.

St. Alphonsus Liguori had a great love for the Sacred Heart. In the Entrance Antiphon for his feast day we read:

" I will look after my sheep, says the Lord, and I will raise up one shepherd who wil pasture them. I, the Lord, will be their God." (Ezekiel 34:11, 23-24)

 

No where in Scripture will you hear the title Sacred Heart of Jesus. Yet if we look and listen with the eyes and ears of the heart, we see images that give us previews. This passage from the Prophet Ezekiel is an example of that. The term, "Good Shepherd," is not used but the notion is implied, because God said:

"I will  look after my sheep."

These words remind us of the words of Jesus, when he taught: "I am the Good Shepherd; I know mine and mine know me."  (John 10:14)

 

The Communion Antiphon for the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori is:

"You have not chosen me; I have chosen you. Go and bear fruit that will last." (John 15:16)

This is our call, regardless of what station in life we are: mother, father, single person, religious or priest. All of us are called to know:

"You have not chosen me; I have chosen you."

Why are we chosen? We are chosen to be His Friend, because He loves us. It's nothing we've done, we do or what we have. He loves us, because He loves us. His love is a free gift, also known as GRACE! It doesn't all end there! You are I are called to

"Go and bear fruit that will last."

Me writing this blog entry is one way of doing that. You have to decide for yourself how you will "Go and bear fruit that will last." This is our call; this is what the Heart of Jesus asks of us: "Go and bear fruit" by proclaiming His love to others in word and deed.

 

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            "Not rain again!" I inwardly groan as I thought: That means the children won't go outside to play again.

 

            How often are we annoyed at being caught in the rain without an umbrella? More often we take rain for granted. Yet the next time it rains; listen to the falling rain. Listen the pitter-patter as it strikes the ground; listen as it pelts the windows. This is living water, the water of life.

 

            Water is a powerful image. Most of the gospels begin with the Baptism of Jesus. In John's Gospel the first miracle, or "sign," is the changing of water into wine at the Wedding of Cana. Just recently we heard how Jesus washed the feet of the apostles with water. In each of these water is present; yet in each water has a different function or purpose. What might God be trying to tell us about water and about ourselves?

 

            At the Baptism of Jesus water is the instrument of Jesus' baptism. It was after Jesus had been baptized that the presence of the Holy Spirit was seen in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father was heard saying, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."  Water here is a means of experiencing the very life of the Trinity. Could God be telling us more about the power of water?

 

            At the Wedding of Cana Mary notices that the wine is running short. She mentions it to Jesus who says, "My hour has not yet come." Mary then turns to the servants and she turns to us and says: "Do whatever he tells you." The servants then fill the huge jars which usually hold water for foot washing. When they draw the water become wine, the head waiter shockingly states: "You've saved the best wine for last!" What is going on here? Water becomes wine!

 

            At the Last Supper in John's Gospel no bread or wine is present. No institution of the Eucharist occurs instead John shows us Jesus washing the feet of the apostles. Water again becomes a means of experiencing the very life of the Trinity. Remember when Peter objects to Jesus washing his feet, Jesus tells him: "If I do not wash you, you can have no part of me." Something is going on here. Something similar to the use of water at the Baptism of Jesus.

 

            To really understand the power of water we need to visit the scene of the Crucifixion. We see Jesus die on the cross. A soldier approaches and opens Jesus' side with a lance to be sure that he is really dead. At that moment bood and water explode from Jesus' pierced side. Why? On a physical level blood and water flow from Jesus' body because he is, in fact, dead. The red blood cells had already begun to separate from the plasma.

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            On a spiritual level God is trying to tell us something about water and something about us. Water was present at Jesus' baptism; water becomes wine at the Marriage Feast of Cana; Jesus washes the feet of the apostles with water. On the cross at Jesus' death blood and water explode from his side. The key to understanding these images is the last words of Jesus: "Go and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

 

            Are we called to become the waters of Baptism? Are we called to become instruments of others experiencing the very life of the Trinity? Are we called to change? Are we called to allow God to change us as the water became wine? Are we called to be the water of forgiveness, the water that washes away division? Are we called to enter into the very Heart of God and allow his love to explode from us as the blood and water exploded from the pierced side of Jesus? Are we called to be the living water of God?