“Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return” this was the anguished complaint of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The second person of the Most Holy Trinity assumed flesh, a human heart in which is found the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ (Pope Leo XIII) the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy (Pope Francis) an abyss filled with all blessings (St. Margaret Mary) a heart that was pierced, not by a lance but rather by our sins and ingratitude.
God became man so that he could alleviate man and make him a god. He took on a heart of flesh, a heart capable of suffering and death, so that by its sacrifice on the cross man could be saved and receive a heart of flesh, a new spirit within him (Ez 36:26). It was not enough for the heart of Jesus to suffer and die on Calvary. He loved us so much that He wanted to remain with us until the end of the age (Mt 28:20) and this He did when He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of His infinite love for us. This most august sacrament, says St. John Paul 2 ‘re-presents’ the Lords passion, meaning it brings back to the present the sacrifice of Calvary. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the Eucharist was so dear to our Lord that he chose to institute it at the last moments of his earthly sojourn because the words of a dying person – ‘do this in memory of me’ are adhered to more ardently by his loved ones than if he were in robust health. This command has been carried out by His bride – the Catholic Church since that first Holy Mass celebrated by her Bridegroom in the upper room two thousand years ago.
This was possible only because the Lord instituted another sacrament on the very day he instituted the Holy Eucharist – ‘the sacrament of the priesthood’ so that our Lord could by means of His priests be present throughout the ages to the members of His mystical Body. His priests are so dear to him, that he chose to give them the singular privilege of partaking in the very first sacrifice of the mass, be the firsts to consume his very flesh and blood and thus be partakers of the new and everlasting covenant. In fact, it was a priest who had the blessing to lay his head upon that Sacred Heart on the night of the Last Supper. That is why the Holy Cure d’Ars calls the priesthood the love of the heart of Jesus.
The priestly ministry flows from the pierced heart of Jesus. In this heart has every priestly vocation been conceived, born, nurtured and brought to fruition. In this heart does every priest find strength to fight his daily battles, confidence in time of trials, consolation and hope in the midst of utter failure and despair, shelter from the snares of the devil, in this heart is a priestly vocation formed to act in Persona Christi, to be an Alter Christus. Without having recourse to the heart of Christ, a priest would fail in his vocation and would be a hireling rather than a shepherd. The only Apostle who stood at the foot of the cross, while the rest were scattered when the shepherd was struck was the one who rested on that Most Sacred Heart. In one of the promises that Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary was to empower those priests devoted to his Sacred Heart to touch the hearts of the most hardened sinners.
In order to draw from this wellspring of Love a superabundance of graces for the perseverance of our priestly and religious vocations and to receive more vocations to our Institute, the priests and seminarians recite a month-long novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every year in June. The feast day of the Most Sacred Heart is celebrated with gaiety and pomp. We began the day with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, sung the Morning prayers followed by a modest breakfast. In the evening we inaugurated our maiden ‘Sacred Heart Cup’. It consisted of a futsal tournament wherein two teams (composed of two brothers per team) were pitted against each other. There was a total of nine games and only one grand prize. One grand prize for eighteen winners? Well that sounds strange buts that’s the catch. Although each winning team would get a small prize for their victory, the grand prize was meant for the entire house and the only way of winning the grand prize was by betting on the team that each house presumed to win.
At the start of the tournament, the captains of each house were given a fixed amount of ‘play money’ and each house would bet with the other houses. The teams were fixed making it difficult to bet. All the players gave their best, trying to get possession of the ball, shooting in every direction, sliding tackles, high leaps, tugging the opposing players and showing some remarkable dribbling skills and one of them even ended up getting a red card for arguing with the referee (Yes, we are serious about our soccer). All the fathers and brothers were on the edges of their seats, cheering for the ones they betted on. Some games ended as supposed while some came as complete surprises resulting in many losing their money. Eventually at the end of the nine games, the house of the seminarians defeated the novitiate and the house of the priests and happily gorged on the grand prize – a bucketload of assorted chips and soft drinks. Thus, the tournament was a very fitting way of ending the feast creating a spirit of camaraderie in the community.
Our Institute has been showered with manifold blessings since its foundation but these blessings have increased a hundredfold in terms of vocations, new houses (some houses being established in countries we weren’t present before), members of the third order, new initiatives like publishing our own books in the province, organizing more apostolates like the family day, etc ever since the entire Institute was consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus by the fathers of the General Chapter in 2016 and later by the priests of the Province in 2017. We are indebted to Our Lord for instilling such a strong devotion to His Heart in our Institute and for allowing us to rest like St. John on his Heart by calling us to this sublime vocation, to the priesthood and religious life which is the love of the Heart of Jesus.
We ask Mary Most Holy who bore this heart in her womb and was the first to hear the palpitations of this heart for love and for souls the grace to spread devotion to the Heart of Jesus to the souls we encounter in our priestly ministry.
Glory to the Heart of Jesus, Our King and our Lord. May he reign in our hearts as he reigns in Heaven.