Thursday, June 2, 2011

June for Jesus

Traditionally, the month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This particular devotion to our Lord's limitless love, symbolized by his wounded heart aflame with love for all, is one of the most well-known and recognizable of Catholic devotions. At least it used to be.

Yesterday Fr. Z posted a quick piece about devotion to the Sacred Heart and his message was simple but profound: "don't be afraid to be pious." Great advice, worth repeating: "don't be afraid to be pious." Unfortunately, many well-meaning but dead-wrong men and women in positions of leadership in our Church have crammed down our collective throats in the past three decades the notion that one cannot properly live out the Gospel message of serving the poor while simultaneously carrying on the Church's age-old practices of piety and devotion. They set up a false dichotomy of service and devotion and many even went so far as to actively discourage traditional devotions among their parishioners and coreligionists.

Do not fall into such a simplistic, man-made trap. You're smarter than that. We can and should be both pious in our faith and active in living out the Gospel. After all, as I've said before, Catholic Christianity is a "both," "and" faith, not an "either," "or" religion. It is vitally important that we foster a deep personal devotion to our Lord and his saints, marked by traditional forms of piety such as praying the rosary, visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, wearing a medal and/or scapular. Doing these things will only strengthen our resolve to more fully live out the Gospel call to love and serve the poor and disenfranchised.

I recommend Father Z's advice: to be unabashedly pious in the practice of our faith. How do we do this? We start small. We add a daily examination of conscience to our evenings. We can memorize small prayers that we can utter throughout the day, whenever we think about it: "Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me." or "Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto yours!" We can make a point to add some devotions to our weekly or daily routine. Devotions such as visiting our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar at the church, or praying the rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

"Do not be afraid to bend yourself down before God especially and also to the angels and saints our intercessors and patrons and be simply pious," says Father Z. " Man was made to be pious.  This is the essence of religion, without which we are empty shells: to give due reverence to God."