Category Archives: Devotional Prayer

365 Days with Christina Rossetti–Day 4

ChristinaRossettiEditors’ Note: Christina Rossetti wrote a devotional entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for the Days of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874). We will be featuring one of her prayers for the next 365 days. 

Day 4

Genesis 28:13: I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac.


O Lord Jesus Christ, God of Isaac, grant, I entreat Thee, that as at Thy Word he willingly gave himself up to die, so we may after his example offer to Thee a willing obedience, eating and drinking and doing all things to Thy Glory: and that, having lived unto Thee, we may die unto Thee. Amen.

 

365 Days with Christina Rossetti–Day 3

ChristinaRossettiEditors’ Note: Christina Rossetti wrote a devotional entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for the Days of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874). We will be featuring one of her prayers for the next 365 days. 

Day 3

Genesis 26:24

The Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee.


O Lord Jesus Christ, God of Abraham, Who of stones canst raise up unto him children, give us, I entreat Thee, hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone; and make us partakers of his faith, that we may be numbered among his children in the true Israel.

 

365 Days with Christina Rossetti–Day 2

ChristinaRossettiEditors’ Note: Christina Rossetti wrote a devotional entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for the Days of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874). We will be featuring one of her prayers for the next 365 days. 

Day 2

Genesis 15:1

I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great Reward.


 

O Lord Jesus Christ, our exceeding great Reward, make, I pray Thee, earth and her treasures exceedingly small in our eyes: that we may long for Thee most of all, and labour to obtain Thee first of all, and that where Thou art there may also Thy servants be. Amen.

 

365 Days with Christina Rossetti–Day 1

ChristinaRossettiEditors’ Note: Christina Rossetti wrote a devotional entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for the Days of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874). We will be featuring one of her prayers for the next 365 days. 

Day 1

Genesis 3:15

I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.


O Lord Jesus Christ, Seed of the woman, Thou Who hast bruised the serpent’s head, destroy in us, I entreat Thee, the power of that old serpent the devil. Give us courage to resist him, strength to overcome him; deliver the prey from between his teeth, bid his captives go free; for his kingdom, set up Thy kingdom; and for the death he brought in, bring Thou in life everlasting. Amen.

365 Days with Christina Rossetti–Introduction

ChristinaRossetti

Editors’ Note: Christina Rossetti wrote a devotional entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for the Days of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874). We will be featuring one of her prayers for the next 365 days. Today, we begin with the opening poem in her corpus. 

Opening Poem

Alas my Lord,/How should I wrestle all the livelong night/With Thee my God, my Strength and my Delight?

How can it need/So agonized an effort and a strain/To make Thy Face of Mercy shine again?

How can it need/Such wringing out of breathless prayer to move/Thee to Thy wonted Love, when Thou art Love?

Yet Abraham/So hung about Thine Arm outstretched and bared,/That for ten righteous Sodom had been spared.

Yet Jacob did/So hold Thee by the clenched hand of prayer/That he prevailed, and Thou didst bless him there.

Elias prayed,/And sealed the founts of Heaven; he prayed again/And lo, Thy Blessing fell in showers of rain.

All Nineveh/Fasting and girt in sackcloth raised a cry,/Which moved Thee ere the day of grace went by.

Thy Church prayed on/And on for blessed Peter in his strait,/Till opening of its own accord the gate.

Yea, Thou my God/Hast prayed all night, and in the garden prayed/Even while, like melting wax, Thy strength was made.

Alas for him/Who faints, despite Thy Pattern, King of Saints:/Alas, alas, for me, the one that faints.

Lord, give us strength/To hold Thee fast, until we hear Thy Voice/Which Thine own know, who hearing It rejoice.

Lord, give us strength/To hold Thee fast until we see Thy Face,/Full Fountain of all Rapture and all Grace.

But when our strength/Shall be made weakness, and our bodies clay,/Hold Thou us fast, and give us sleep till day.

 

Our Guadalupe

unnamedAustin Cruz

University of Notre Dame, ’16

Master of Theological Studies (History of Christianity)

Contact Author

Given both my Mexican-American descent and my strong devotion to Mary, it may come as a shock to some when I say that I have not always loved Our Lady of Guadalupe. Indeed, there was a time when her image was nothing more to me than a pious painting, an image that had been taken up ad nauseam by my ancestral people. It probably goes without saying that the Mexican people have a great love for Our Lady of Guadalupe. They hang her image on the walls of their churches and place her in their homes and businesses. They light candles, which bear her image, and place decals of her image on the back of their trucks. A great number of men and women have even gotten tattoos of Our Lady of Guadalupe placed somewhere on their bodies. And just to give one recent example of how inextricable she is from Mexican culture, her image was briefly used a few times in last year’s animated film The Book of Life, a film that is centered on the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos. yet makes no reference to God or Christianity throughout. All of this is to say that the Mexican people have a special love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and she herself is inseparably linked to Mexican religious and cultural identity.Granted, it is easy to understand why they love her. In December of 1531, she appeared to the humble, Nahuatl Indian, Juan Diego, at Tepeyac, a hill right outside of what is today Mexico City. Her mission to him was rather simple; she wanted him to go to the bishop and tell him to build a hermitage dedicated to her right there at Tepeyac. She wanted it built so that all people could come to it and receive her love, compassion, help and protection. Being only a lowly Indian, Juan Diego knew that his task would be difficult, but at the Virgin’s request he took up her mission. After he had twice failed to convince the bishop of the truth of the Virgin’s request, Our Lady of Guadalupe sought to aid him through the provision of a sign: Juan Diego was to go up the hill and pick the Spanish flowers, which had miraculously grown there in the middle of winter, place them in his tilma, in order to carry and to show them to the bishop. He did as was told. And when he had showed them to the bishop she provided him with another miracle as a sign of the abundance of her love: as he released the flowers, her image miraculously appeared on his tilma. The fact that she herself had provided her own image (that is to say, that it was not painted by human hands) and that the image has miraculously been preserved to this day has led the Mexican people to exclaim: “She has not done so for any other nation.”
It is a beautiful story, to be sure. And even though I heard that story many times in my life, (for several years my older brother had played Juan Diego in our parish play), I could not bring myself to embrace Our Lady of Guadalupe in any particular way.

OLofGuad5Perhaps it was because she was so uniquely tied to one particular people, even if it was a people that I am descendant from, that I felt that she lacked a universal quality that I imagined  Our Lady of Lourdes or an Our Lady of Fatima had. How can a devotion that seemed so limited, so incarnated within a very distinct culture be considered so great?

Or perhaps my aversion to her was more precisely based on the fact that, even though I am of Mexican descent, I do not speak Spanish, have no rhythm, and do not identify with many characteristics of popular Latino culture, and thus, felt that I could not connect with such a figure as Our Lady of Guadalupe. I thought that to claim her would be to claim for myself an identity that I struggled to fully own.

So, what changed? Why is it that in the past year and a half I have probably talked more about Our Lady of Guadalupe than any other image of Mary?

I do not know that I can describe it any other way than to say that she began to call out to me. I began to feel compelled to look at her image, an image that had so many times before left me unimpressed. The more I beheld her image, the more I found myself drawn to contemplation of it. And thus, I began to realize that what I had taken to be a simple rendition of the Virgin Mary within a primitive culture was in reality an icon of the universal mystery of a mother’s love.

Struck by this realization, I desired to return to the narrative of the Guadalupan events, to see if there was anything within the story itself that I had dismissed as unsophisticated. And, of course once again I had found so much beauty and depth in what appeared to be a simple text, much more than the purposes of this post would allow me to reflect on. But there is one thing that I wish to share, something which each time I read it moves me to my core, and it is Our Lady of Guadalupe’s mission as stated in her own words. She says:

“I very much want and ardently desire that my hermitage be erected in this place. In it I will show and give to all people all my love, my compassion, my help, and my protection, because I am your merciful mother and the mother of all nations that live on this earth who would love me, who would speak with me, who would search for me, and who would place their confidence in me. Their I will hear their laments and remedy and cure all their miseries, misfortunes, and sorrows.”[1] (emphasis mine)

It is particularly this message that makes Our Lady of Guadalupe so special. It is a message that could perhaps more simply be restated in the form of a question: “Will you let me be your mother?” It is a question she asks to all people, to all nations. She places no restrictions and she makes no conditions. Despite her appearance within a particular culture and within a particular time, it is a question that requests a universal response.

If perhaps, like me, you have ever had trouble growing close to Our Lady of Guadalupe because she came incarnated within a particular culture you do not recognize as your own, I encourage you to spend time with her in prayer this advent season. Though she may have done for the Mexican people what had not been done for any other nation, take comfort in the fact she did this as a sign of the depth of her love for her children of all nations. Join in the celebrations at your parish, contemplate her image, which she left on Juan Diego’s tilma. And rejoice in the fact that we have a mother who, like her Son, is no stranger to our own particular needs.

[1] This quotation is taken from verses 23-25 of the Nican Mopohua, the foundational text for the traditional Guadalupan events written in the native Nahuatl. For more an English translation and more on this text, see Mother of the New Creation by Fr. Virgilio Elizondo.

The Advent of Divine Mercy

GraceGrace Mariette Agolia

Undergraduate Fellow

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I often do not know what to think during Eucharistic Adoration.  Sometimes, I’m just too tired and want to fall asleep.  Other times, I think too much, preoccupied with the details of the service.  What is the priest doing?  I hope he doesn’t trip over his vestments when he stands up.  Should I be kneeling or sitting?  I hope nobody notices how off-key I am when I sing.  Oh, shoot, I wasn’t supposed to say that response yet – how embarrassing.  Person behind me, please stop shuffling and making all that noise.  Wow, look at that incense cloud wafting up to the ceiling.  Incense smells so good, but I hope no one here is allergic to it.   I wonder if I can translate this Latin text of the Tantum Ergo.  Oh no, my stomach is growling so loudly… I hope the music comes on soon.  I don’t like this song; I wish they’d stop playing and just let there be silence.  Why can’t there be a prettier-looking monstrance?  Gosh, that person looks so holy and focused in prayer.  I wish I could be, too.

holyhour

I try to close my eyes to stop taking in so much external stimuli.  But then, images from the course of the day or fantasies I conjure up enter in, and my mind wanders even more, dwelling on things that I probably shouldn’t be thinking about.  Why can’t I concentrate?  I then try to think about theological ideas that I’ve learned, such as Eucharistic Real Presence, the Incarnate Word of God, transubstantiation, and the Trinity in an attempt to help me focus.  Okay, so this is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose from the dead.  He’s the second person of the Trinity, the Word of God who was present before all creation and through whom all creation came into being.  He became incarnate in human flesh at a particular moment in history.  I’m looking at the Body of Christ, the Eucharist that I receive at Mass, the transubstantiated element of bread, now no longer the substance of bread, even though the accidents are still there, but now the substance of the risen Jesus himself.  He is really present…but it looks like bread, and I still don’t really feel anything.  Or perhaps I’m touched by the light shining on the monstrance, which makes it seem like Jesus is radiating his light on all of us, but is that just aesthetics?  And so my thoughts keep spiraling.

Grace, stop.  Don’t think so much.  Just pray.

But… I don’t know how.  What do I do?  How is prayer different from thinking?  I stare at the white disc in the monstrance, trying to keep my thoughts at bay, and trying to think of things to say to God, to Jesus, who should be my most intimate friend and with whom I should be able to share the desires of my heart, my sorrows, and my moments of happiness and gratitude.  I’m mostly unsuccessful, however, because my thoughts have just turned to the historical and theological exegesis that my theology classes have been doing on the Lord’s Prayer.

I sigh, and I try to think of simpler things.  I know that I am waiting for something – an encounter with a Person, whom I know also seeks me, but infinitely more so than I seek Him.  My heart, however, seems as if it is unresponsive to the great wonder of the Lord’s real presence before me, and I begin to give up on finding some disposition of prayer before the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is over for the evening.  Will I ever be able to be open, still, and humble enough to allow God’s advent into my heart?  Finally, a short and simple prayer comes into my mind:

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

This is the “Jesus Prayer.”  The Jesus Prayer is often associated with The Way of the Pilgrim and Other Classics of Russian Spirituality and the hesychast tradition of illumination and transfiguration of the human person in the Taboric light, with a special emphasis on mercy and penance.  But of course, you don’t need to know that in order to realize the power of the Jesus Prayer and the mercy of God.

What’s truly important is this:  In the resonant silence of adoration, mercy seeps in.  In a quiet, humble town in Israel, an infant was born.  God makes the first move, but it is often unnoticed.  I had never thought of Jesus before as Mercy itself, and I had not begun to recognize God’s subtle but powerful act of mercy in my life until now.

faustina
Sister Maria Faustyna Kowalska, O.L.M.

Saint Faustina, a Polish nun, was a person who recognized the importance of this divine mercy and its advent in the human heart.  The Divine Mercy Chaplet is a well-known devotional prayer that arises out of her contemplation of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and her encounters with him in visions.  The chaplet essentially has three simple prayers:

“Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and the Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”
“For the sake of Your sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.”
Throughout her conversations in prayer with Jesus, St. Faustina took to heart the vital message of the mercy of God made incarnate in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Mercy itself entered into history and radically interrupted the course of human existence with the indescribable gift of his self-giving love.  The mercy of God was outpoured in the Incarnation and on the Cross; the mystery of blood and water in his flesh and gushing out of his pierced side reveals to us the extraordinary love of God.   What happens when we are the recipients of mercy?  Oftentimes, we are incredulous because we feel that it is mercy we don’t deserve.  That sort of freely given and unmerited gift shocks us.  It demands a response, but there is no adequate response that we can give, other than by offering back to God the gift given to us in the Eucharist and trusting in His great mercy.  Thus, mercy also inspires gratitude; it forms in us a disposition of thanksgiving.
Kazimirowski_Eugeniusz,_Divine_Mercy,_1934
The original image of the Divine Mercy, painted by Eugene Kazimirowski from 1934-35 under the guidance of Saint Faustina, who was not completely satisfied with the work. She later prayed to Jesus, “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” Jesus replied, “not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush is the greatness of this image, but in my grace.”

Mercy transforms, and we enter into transfiguration.  Mercy inspires conversion, and it allows us to enter into an authentic freedom of the heart, freedom to receive and to give to those who are our sisters and brothers in Christ. For St. Faustina, love and mercy unites the Creator with his creation, and this is ultimately expressed in the Incarnation and the Redemption, as she explains through her experience at Eucharistic Adoration one day:

“When I was in Church waiting for confession, I saw the same rays (that is, as those depicted on the revealed image of the Divine Mercy) issuing from the monstrance and they spread throughout the church. This lasted all through the service. After the benediction (the rays came forth) on both sides and returned again to the monstrance. Their appearance was bright and clear as crystal. I asked Jesus that He deign to light the fire of His love in all souls that were cold. Beneath these rays a heart will be warmed even if it were like a block of ice; even if it were as hard as rock, it will crumble into dust.

And I understood that the greatest attribute of God is love and mercy. It unites the creature with the Creator. This immense love and abyss of mercy are made known in the Incarnation of the Word and in the Redemption [of humanity], and it is here that I saw this as the greatest of all God’s attributes.”
Another painting of the Divine Mercy was made by Adolf Hyła, as an expression of gratitude for the survival of his family during World War II. This second original is called the "Kraków Divine Mercy Image" because it is kept in the Divine Mercy Shrine near Krakow, Poland.
Another painting of the Divine Mercy was made by Adolf Hyła, as an expression of gratitude for the survival of his family during World War II. This second original is called the “Kraków Divine Mercy Image” because it is kept in the Divine Mercy Shrine near Krakow, Poland.

The Word that He is and the Word that He speaks is mercy.  And so, the silence we experience at Eucharistic Adoration is a silence pregnant with meaning.  It is the advent of this mercy in the human heart for which we try to prepare; it is this mercy that we come to adore at Christmas.  We must cultivate humility to ask for and receive this mercy.  We may have nothing to offer, except for swaddling clothes to hold him, but over time, we can let the cradle of our hearts in which we hold him become the monstrance of our hearts.

O, come, let us adore Him.  Let us prepare him room and allow Him to enter in and warm us.  His is the light that we radiate to the world from our inner monstrance – rays of divine mercy, of redeeming blood and water, that transform our vision and the world.   Does your soul feel cold or unfeeling?  Has the night of loneliness been too long?  Come, be warmed in the rays of Divine Mercy, be enkindled in the fire of His love.

Jesus, I trust in you.

Sermons in the Cemetery

Leonard DeLorenzoLeonard DeLorenzo, Ph.D.

Director, Notre Dame Vision and Student Engagement

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I like to spend time in cemeteries where the dead preach to me, where the sermon is always the same: “Yield”.

When the wind has not been too punishing in late October,
the trees that line the graves still hold their leaves
in early November,
here in Northern Indiana.

The sighing breeze
passing from some place to some other place
flatters the trees and speaks to their leaves,
persuading them to release their grip
and flutter to the ground,
sometimes alone and sometimes not.

These leaves come to rest upon the grass resting upon the soil that rests upon the precious remains of lives once lived and now at rest.

There these leaves thus wait upon
the force of breeze or wind or rake
to tell them what’s next.

Otherwise they wait for frost.

And all the while below the soil the precious remains of lives once lived and now at rest uphold in silence the tiny drama unfolding above, where trees sprout new leaves for the breeze to persuade to flutter down to meet the grass in early November, provided the winds of October mind their manners.

And all the while in the passing of time, each thing below says to each thing above: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”

Follow Leonard DeLorenzo @leodelo2.

Heavenwards: ascending to God through prayer

 Danielle Peters-cropDanielle M. Peters, S.T.D.

Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt, Sisters of Mary

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame
Contact Author

Fall is a time to enjoy a colorful Indian summer, to be grateful for another rich harvest, and perhaps there is even the opportunity to fly a kite. There is something fascinating about seeing planes or kites soaring “up to the highest height … up through the atmosphere.” Just like Mary Poppins, we too, may have experienced that “when you send it flying up there, all at once you’re lighter than air, you can dance on the breeze over houses and trees, with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite.” I like the image of the kite: firmly and tightly held it ascends, entrusting its course to the power of the wind.

Some students at a Catholic school in Wyoming had a similar experience recently. Their principle had the inspired idea to teach the children that, like kites in the wind, our prayers, too, ascend to God. During October, the month of the rosary students and teachers prayed the Rosary together. For this special event, however, they held more than the traditional beads in their hands; they also surrounded a chain of 59 balloons strung in the shape of a rosary, complete with a cross that they released at the end of the prayer service. Watch the spectacle for yourself! As we near the end of this month of the rosary, we can hold this delightful image in our minds and the moment may also give us a new incentive to persevere in praying our daily (decade of the) rosary.

History teaches us some mighty lessons about the rosary’s importance. Above all we are reminded of the Battle of Lepanto, the last battle at sea confronting Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria with the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force employing thousands of Christian slaves as rowers. Distraught by the disadvantage of the Christian party, St. Pope Pius V called upon all the faithful of Europe to pray the rosary for victory! We know today that the triumph of October 7, 1571 prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, thereby evidencing the Hand of God working through Our Lady.

History catches up with us! Today, Europe and the USA are challenged by an enormous emigration of nations as never before. Anti-migration fences are built to stem the influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty. Innate angst is reactivated: “These people are different, they belong to a different culture and religion,” we often think to ourselves. “Some come from countries where Christians are persecuted. They move in our neighborhood and who knows how this will affect us. Will it work out? How much will this demand of us, not the least being financially demanding. Will we be safe?”

Yet our conscience reminds us that they are human beings who have left everything behind, who have risked everything to save their children and themselves. They became refugees in the hope of a better life, of (religious) freedom, and safety? As in the parable, they are our neighbor. We must respond with charity. Even if their values and religion do not entirely match ours, we can have compassion and understanding for the desperate family that was betrayed by a faulty raft, leaving a baby, seemingly asleep in the surf, still wearing his little shoes and red shirt.

Is it not time to take the rosary beads in our hands asking Our Lady to meet this challenge with love and mercy? Perhaps we need the childlike faith of the school children who took it for granted that their prayers in the sign of the rosary went straight before the throne of God.

Perhaps, autumn’s shorter days give us chance for introspection: am I on the right track? Are adjustments needed? Do I have my life’s goal in mind and do my actions reinforce it? Meditating on the mysteries we are directed heavenwards from where the world and each individual are best valued and understood. The Our Father, the ten Hail Marys, and the Glory be…center us on the stations of our redemption and remind us that our own lives are a re-enactment of Jesus’ life on earth. Aware of the tremendous gift of our election as children of God, helps us to let go of our own biases and, like a kite or balloon rosary, fly in the merciful embrace of God where all will be well!

Musical Mystagogy: St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart

Carolyn PirtleCarolyn Pirtle

Assistant Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

Contact Author

Today marks the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–90), a Burgundian nun who experienced a series of visions from 1673 to 1675 that ultimately resulted in her petitioning Church authorities to institute a feast in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Because of her role in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Margaret Mary's visions feature prominently in the stained glass windows of Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Because of her role in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Margaret Mary’s visions feature prominently in the stained glass windows of the Lady Chapel in Notre Dame’s own Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

In addition to the feast itself, St. Margaret Mary promoted acts of devotion in honor of the Sacred Heart, chief among which was the reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month, a devotion many still practice to this day. It is for her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and her untiring efforts to spread that devotion to others that Margaret Mary Alacoque is honored as a saint, and so today’s musical piece will focus not on the saint herself, but on the object of her unwavering devotion: the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart is twofold: on the one hand, we honor the physical heart of Jesus, the pulsing heart of muscle and blood with its valves and chambers whose very existence encapsulates the mystery of the Incarnation—the heart that testifies that “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14); the heart that was pierced by a lance and poured forth the precious lifeblood of Him who loved unto the end. On the other hand, we also honor what the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizes: the sheer, unmerited gift of God’s unsurpassable, unfathomable love and mercy, offered without reservation to all who would receive it into their own hearts.

Today’s musical piece, the motet Improperium Expectavit by 18th-century Italian composer Giovanni Battista Casali, is a setting of the Offertory text for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, taken from Psalm 69 [68]:21–22b. Translated from the Latin, the text reads:

My heart expected reproach and misery
and I desired one who would grieve with me
and there was none:

I sought one to console me, and I found none:
and they gave me gall as my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

The text of today’s piece draws attention to both the physical and the symbolic elements of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From the symbolic standpoint, the heart of the one proclaiming the psalm—understood in the context of the feast as the Heart of Jesus himself—is broken; it is inconsolable, overcome with grief at the devastation of reproach and abandonment. And yet there is also an immense physicality in these lines. Hearing this passage from the Psalms in the voice of Jesus, we are reminded perhaps of his words from the Cross: “I thirst” (Jn 19: 28). Here is the one who hungers and thirsts to draw all into the communion of life he shares with the Father and the Spirit, and his longing is met with derision; his thirst for love is slaked with a drink of malice. We see the juxtaposition with stark clarity in the Reproaches for Good Friday: “I gave you saving water from the rock to drink, / and for drink you gave me gall and vinegar.”

To contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not simply to contemplate the overwhelming love that Jesus pours forth from his Heart; rather, it is to contemplate the mystery that Jesus pours forth his love for us even as we wound his Sacred Heart with our sins. We see this mystery in the way that the Sacred Heart is represented in visual art: pierced, surrounded with the crown of thorns, surmounted by the Cross which ultimately stopped its beating, and yet, even in the midst of these wounds, it is still ablaze, burning with divine love, the love of the God-man who longs for nothing more or less than perfect communion with his people.

We hear this mystery in Casili’s motet in the way that musical dissonance (clashing/grating of pitches) gives way to serene consonance (rest/resolution). This is the way that nearly all Western music operates at some level: tension arises in the music that is ultimately resolved. The dissonance somehow serves to help us appreciate all the more the consonance that resolves it. In this sense, consonance seems to purify the dissonance as the notes are brought into harmonious communion with one another in the movement toward resolution. This is what happens when we allow the dissonance of our sinfulness to give way to the love of the Sacred Heart: we ‘sour notes’ are brought into a radiant harmony with Jesus as we learn to sing with ever greater fidelity the hymn of self-giving love he intones from the Cross.

In contemplating with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may we learn to give ourselves over to the ardent love of Christ as it blazes forth from his pierced Heart, that the dissonance within our own hearts may be melted away and dissolve into the consonant, radiant harmony of life in God; that, in the words of St. Paul from the proper reading for today, we may be “rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17b–19).