June 6, 2024

An excerpt from Archbishop Leo’s letter on Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus


An excerpt from Archbishop Francis Leo’s letter on Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus during June.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May Jesus and Mary be in your souls.

Our life in Christ, as believers & disciples, witnesses & missionaries, takes on a particular dimension during themonth of June as, in Catholic devotional life, we honour the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I invite the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto to join in celebrating Our Lord with this venerable devotion throughout the month and especially on June 7, the liturgical celebration of the Solemnity. At home and in parishes, schools, and different communities let us draw closer to Christ and adore Him with deep faith and devotion.

The history of devotion to the Sacred Heart is long and varied, some dating it back to the Middle Ages where it began as a private devotion while others point to the Patristic age. Through the centuries, saints and mystics have contributed to understanding and promotion of this devotion. As the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgystates: “Of all devotions, devotion to the Sacred Heart…remains one of the most widespread and popular in theChurch. Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term "Sacred Heart of

Jesus" denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential….”

Taking a close look at Sacred Scripture…two verses come to mind:

 First, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” – Matthew 11:29. Jesus defines himself as gentle/meek and humble in heart. Gentle (or meek) points to Jesus' attitude towards others; it is the horizontal dimension whereby he interacts with persons with a courageous but non-violent approach, a truly merciful demeanour, always ready to forgive, but also demanding and challenging as true, authentic love is. Humble indicates the vertical plane, the obedient and docile attitude vis-à-vis the Father'swill; an interior, free, generous and authentic quality of the heart which is lifegiving and which brings about peace. We would do well to consider how exactly are we living out these two prime virtues of Jesus’ heart and how we (are) challenged by His love by growing in these same virtues. Am I truly meek and humble? Are my relationships based on the gentle love of Christ? Is my ministry humble and therefore audacious, lifegiving and open to the work of transformative grace?

Second, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” – Matthew 5:8. This beatitude is from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and intimates the heart as a symbol of spiritual and moral interiority; it designates the profound andpersonal dimension of our faith relationship with God and with others as opposed to mere superficiality and exteriority. The pure of heart…know how to accept the teachings of Christ, the very Person of Christ, which requires full adherence to the Gospel. The vision of God promised to the pure of heart includes the ultimate salvation in Heaven where they will see God "face to face" (1Cor 13:12). As we journey through this month, perhaps it would benefit us to look at our heart and see how pure it really is. Does my heart yearn for the living God? How precious is it for me to do His will over and beyond all others?

Am I attached in unhealthy and slavish ways to my own idols, ideas and ways of doing that are not of God? Is purityof mind, heart, and body what I strive for daily? Only in possessing this spiritual quality we will be able to generate reality that includes healthy change and which in turn will impact our world with real and lasting effect….

Dear Faithful of the archdiocesan family, in this month of June, let us be reminded that the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus represents our public witness of love, care, acceptance and redemption; it is the only symbol we need in reaching out and assisting our contemporaries – men, women and children – in better understanding and deeply experiencing the life-giving power of Christ’s personal love for them. I wholeheartedly appeal to you all, Catholics throughout our blessed archdiocese: Let us prefer Christ to politicization, devotion to guile, grace to odium, truth to ideology. May we endeavour to sincerely reflect the love of Christ in all that we do and with all those whom we encounter.

Blessed be His most Sacred Heart!

Toronto, June 2024

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