Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Mark Mossa has an important post concerning devotions and our need for them here. I tend to agree with him, based upon my own experience, that the young among us are looking for truth, for piety, and for a sense of tradition...of mystery...of something bigger than us. Contemplation is a sorely needed art form that is lacking today, and not just in Christian circles...but even the atheists around us never take time out of their busy days to think. Perhaps if they did...there'd be fewer of them.

He publishes the following reflection quote by Chris Ruddy, 33 year old professor of theology at the University of Saint Thomas, which could have easily been written be me, and many others like me:
"I did not grow up with any devotion to the Sacred Heart, and it is only in the last few years, as I have struggled with vocation and the demands of family life, that the practice has spoken to my own heart: the fearful heart that paralyzes me when I think of the future, rendering me unable to open myself in trust to God; the cramped heart that refuses to admit my wife and infant son but clings to my own prerogatives, choosing to watch Peter out of the corner of my eye as I read the morning newspaper rather than get on the floor and play with him; the oblivious heart that holds forth at dinner on the recording history of the Beatles' Abbey Road but forgets to ask Deborah how her class went that afternoon. At times like these I wonder, Have I really let into my life those I love so much? Have I gone out to them? Are they part of my flesh or merely fellow travelers?

On a particularly difficult afternoon last summer, I took Peter for a walk. We wound up at a church in our neighborhood, and, almost unable to bear the despair and self-loathing that were consuming me, I went in to pray. I lit a candle before Mary for my wife and one for myself before Joseph. Almost accidentally, I stopped in fron of a woodcarving of the Sacred Heart. Caught somewhere between rage and tears, I looked up at the heart and, for the first time, saw beyond the barbed-wire crown of thorns encircling it, into its gentleness. A prayer rose up in me: Jesus, give me a bigger heart. I looked at Peter in shame and in hope, and I went out into the day.I remain irritable and irritating. I continue to struggle with a stoniness that shuts out so many. I know ever more clearly my deep sinfulness. But in continuing to pray to the Sacred Heart, I have also come to know God's still deeper mercy. I am strengthened by a heart pierced but unvanquished. I am welcomed by a heart that knows only tenderness and so makes me tender. I look on that pulsing, fleshy heart: courageous and vulnerable, compact and capacious, never one without the other."


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