Every time I turn around lately I am confronted with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
A brief survey: The moments that gave birth to the CD project I'm undertaking came while I was playing/praying at Sacred Heart parish in nearby Hopedale. When I was the most stalled-out (thus far) and confused about what God was asking of me about the music, it was the Blue Army song Sacred Heart that revived my love and courage again. (Take a listen... it's great!) In seeking an intercessor for this project, The Saint's Name Generator gave me St. Claude de la Colombiere, the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary. It was through them that the modern devotion of the Sacred Heart came into our world. Even one of the songs I'm recording, written before I was in the Church and even all that aware of the devotion, is written as a call from Jesus for humanity to enter His heart. As I write, we are in the midst of the Divine Mercy novena, yet another call of Jesus to us to approach His Heart and bring Its mercy to others.
Today the connections strike me as overwhelming.
Just this morning a long-forgotten incident came back to mind. During the first few months of 1992, about the same time that I wrote the aforementioned song "Come Into My Heart," I would occasionally visit a popular shrine near Milwaukee called Holy Hill. The shrine is home to a Carmelite monastery with a beautiful basilica, set in park-like grounds in the middle of the countryside. I came to walk and wander and ponder, because I knew God had called me to be a Catholic, and yet I was very much alone. The friends who had been instrumental in my initial moment of conversion were then far away, and I had no one. My mind was anxious and racing with the changes swirling in my heart and soul.
I remember finding a statue of the Sacred Heart in the church (though I only understood it to be a statue of Jesus -- the kind easiest for me to handle, and recognize, then. Such a sea of strangers those statues were at first!) I stood in front of that grey statue and told the Lord of my confused heart. I stared for a long time into those eyes. It was consoling in the sense that the unchanging gaze reminded me that the Lord is constant, while I felt much the opposite. But it was frustrating to me as well, because looking at a lifeless form made me sad. I did not wish for Jesus to be removed from me like this. It was a flicker of longing for true communion with Him rising in my heart.
Today, as I wrote this post initially with pen and paper, I was back in Sacred Heart parish, sitting, literally, under the gaze of a Sacred Heart Statue. Fittingly enough, this one is in full color. When I first approached the statue and gazed into those eyes, I said back to Jesus, "You want to be my love!" I saw the wound in His Heart, and knew it was for me, to make a place for me to be with Him. And I saw that as He points to His heart and extends His hand to me, so He wants me to point to His heart and extend His loving hand for others to hold as well.
Of course I know it's just a statue, lest anyone misunderstand as I once did. It is not a hunk of plaster that I adore and worship, nor do I worship any creature by whom God chooses to make me aware of His reality and presence.
May all that I see and all that I love serve only to make the flame of love in my heart for my Lord burn ever brighter.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever!