Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale hosted His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto to talk about his pastoral letter on devotion to the Sacred Heart during the month of June, and why it’s so important and necessary for us.
In the first part of Cardinal Collins’ letter to the archdiocese, he writes, “There never was a golden age and we, like each generation of Christians, must serve where God has placed us, battered by the wind and the waves, often afraid, but ready to encounter Jesus…” The Catholic Church never experienced a golden age of universal peace, prosperity, and contentedness.
And how fitting it is that conflict and suffering have always been a part of our history. Not only was suffering the route by which God redeemed humanity, but it is a necessity for us to receive God’s grace and grow in virtue, two things that we need to get to heaven. The Sacred Heart, Cardinal Collins says, is a symbol of God’s love for us as we travel through this “Valley of Tears”, this imperfect vehicle that is taking us to the afterlife.
Some suggest that the Church’s “golden age” was in Acts of the Apostles when everybody was seemingly on the same page as far as Church doctrine. But that was actually one of the most tumultuous times in our history: people were being martyred left and right, crime was rampant, people stole and sold sacred items or the sacraments, there were inter-Church conflicts, and heresy was commonplace. That’s why Peter and Paul wrote their letters to the different Christian communities. So, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is truly a necessary Catholic devotion for all time, not just today when things seem so bad.
Looking at the timeline of the Church’s history, we can point to the different periods where there were pulses of extremely difficult times, and for many, one of those pulses is taking place right now. Cardinal Collins mentioned the oppression going on in China right now, especially in Hong Kong and the many brothers and sisters we have over there. The situation is volatile, to say the least, but the evil being conducted overseas will not ever conquer the power of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the central pillar of hope in these dark times.
Unfortunately, however, the Sacred Heart has almost become invisible, not talked about very much. Cardinal Collins said that part of the reason is that the Sacred Heart has become almost as ubiquitous as a crucifix. It’s so common that sometimes it doesn’t register in people’s minds anymore. But even more than that, His Eminence identified this new-age problem of devout Catholics departing from traditional devotion to find pseudo-spiritualities, an occurrence that never needs to happen.
Cardinal Collins said that really what devotion is is an approach to prayer, and there are three doctrinal approaches to prayer that should more than suffice for any faithful Catholic. The three are devotion to Our Lord’s real presence in the Eucharist, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and devotion to Our Lady, Mother of God. These devotions should be all of the streams of hope and reassurance that we need to catalyze our journey.
As we finish the first week of June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart, Cardinal Collins recalled raising a Sacred Heart flag at De La Salle College to commemorate the devotion. As he looked at the flag, he realized that it was no ordinary Sacred Heart. It was a stylized design from the region of Lavandes in France, the same region in France that remained faithful to the Catholic Faith during the French Revolution. They suffered much persecution and many were martyred in that area. It was very fitting that they are devoted to the Sacred Heart, the devotion most associated with symbolism for the love of Christ.
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