By popular request, the text of Fr Gerard Hatton's Friday homily
The Sacred Heart is an image that quite blatantly tells people that a household is Catholic. My grandparents would face their enthroned image to pray every day; the whole family consecrated and their names added. There were so many that they had to write at the back of the picture! Just a few a weeks ago I had the honour of doing the same for my mum and dad and brothers. The Sacred Heart is also an image with which we are so familiar: we stop to see beneath the Catholic kitsch.
What lies beneath? It is the Heart of Jesus. In his humanity he shows that flesh and blood are worthy of bearing God, so much so that His Body and Blood becomes the means of our salvation, the means of our communion with God. The divine praises remind us, ‘Blessed Jesus Christ true God and true Man’. This union has a knock on effect for our humanity; we are chosen and called, anointed and united to him at our baptism. This means that all life is sacred and all life is a gift given to us by God, our Father and Creator.
The Heart of Jesus reminds us of the need to uphold the beauty and dignity of life. I have been struck by the 40 days of life movement, where people pray outside abortion clinics, they steadfastly pray and diligently witness. This does not highlight their madness as some would see it, but rather that their hearts -focused in witness to the simple fact that God is love- love as an extension of God’s will for people who find themselves at the doors of these places. This protest has changed many lives, saved many beautiful babies and even closed clinics.
Our presence in matters of morality and injustice are a crucial part of who we are as Catholics. I do wonder what it might have been like if protest had found itself outside the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood Westminster. I could only help think that there would be dialogue, that they would have been given soup and that the doors of the cathedral would be open. Open wide to sanctify and bring people into the presence of God and consecrate our problems and nation to His Sacred Heart and an outpouring of his Precious Blood.
Sometimes these actions, which are simple and from the heart, are missed. Words can only be effective if we pray. Charity can only work if it is founded in truth, our Home is with God in his Holy Church.
This month of the Holy Souls helps us to ponder deeply, not only our way on the journey and decisions we need to make in order to see heaven a reality, but it also reminds us of our Christian duty to pray for those in purgatory. For people whose sins have been forgiven need to work out the effect of their sin: those in this beautiful state need our prayers, and amongst them those who had been involved in the culture of death, those who procured an abortion or helped someone to die. Our prayers are surely effective.
True devotion to the Sacred Heart is a devotion to Jesus Christ. His Heart reminds us of the need for God to become man and his pitching his tent among us, his body, his flesh and heart is present to us through this sacrifice of Mass tonight and time we will spend with him adoration!