Heart on Fire

By Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

(This post is the last in a six part series on “To Love Like Jesus: A Spirituality of the Heart”.  Each week, we have posted a reflection based on the Litany of the Heart by Wendy M. Wright.  To read the Litany, click here.  As Women of the Heart, the Mission Helper Sisters invite you to pray and reflect with us.) With us, ponder:

What would it mean to love like Jesus?
What would it mean to have a heart like his?

 

Warmth of our hearts
Transforming fire
Cosmic furnace
Enflamer of hearts
(Fifth stanza of Litany of the Heart)

 

The picture of the heart on fire that we have used as the icon for this series has captured my imagination since I first beheld it.  It evokes a number of images for me, including:

·         The energy of the “big bang” of eons ago that gave rise to all life forms – the creation into which Jesus was incarnated, the dynamic cosmos that God sustains still;

·         Jesus’ zeal as he continuously traveled, taught, reconciled and healed during the years of his public ministry;

·         The profound compassion of Jesus, as expressed in his sorrow for the widow of Nain, his weeping at the death of Lazarus, and as he was “moved by pity” for the dejected crowd;

·         Jesus’ white hot anger as he confronted injustice and abuse of power and stood up for the marginalized (for example, when he was opposed by the Pharisees as he healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, when he chased the dishonest money changers from the Temple);

·         The warmth of the friendships between Jesus and his companions: Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the beloved disciple, the other apostles and more;

·         Jesus’ courage and his love for all people that impelled him to accept torture and death, in the ultimate act of fidelity and solidarity with his Father and with God’s people;

·         The movement from despondency to soaring hope and new life that Mary Magdalene at the tomb (“Rabboni!”)  and the disciples on the road to Emmaus (“Were not our hearts burning within us…”) experienced when they realized that Jesus had indeed risen, and

·         The enflamed hearts of the apostles and disciples after Pentecost that enabled them to carry the Good News to the ends of the earth and which continue to burn in many present day disciples.

We, too, are invited to adopt the heart of Jesus in our own lives, to try to love as he loved, to have a heart like his.  As Jesuit James Martin says: “For in the end, the Sacred Heart is about understanding Jesus’s love for us and inviting us to love others as Jesus did.”

Will we embrace this invitation and resolve to imitate the heart of Jesus? If we do, perhaps the prediction of Teilhard de Chardin will come to fruition: “The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”

A Letter from Eastern Point

From Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

I am spending the month of July directing four people through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The Exercises were developed by St. Ignatius as an aid in helping people know, love and follow Jesus Christ in the midst of their active lives.  Through a series of prayer experiences—“exercises”—a retreatant is led to deeper intimacy with Jesus and discovers his or her call to labor with Christ in the world in order to further the kingdom of God.

Eastern Point is located on the ocean and the natural beauty that surrounds the house draws retreatants to a desire to know the Creator. On further reflection, they begin to realize how deep and unconditional God’s love is.

The Exercises then invite the retreatant to consider the quality of his/her response to this unconditional love. As the retreat progresses, the participants consider the gift of God’s son, Jesus, to the world, and they are invited to respond to Jesus’ invitations to friendship and His call to labor with Him in redeeming the world and restoring all of creation to His Father.

The focus then shifts to an invitation to be with Jesus in His passion and death and to consider the cost of discipleship.  Toward the end of the retreat, participants encounter the risen Christ, who is with us always, and contemplate God’s presence in all things.

Throughout this month, retreatants pray with selected passages from the Scriptures, asking God for graces necessary to live out this call to discipleship.  For more than 450 years, the Spiritual Exercises have been a source of inspiration, spiritual strength and a deep, abiding friendship with Jesus Christ.

A number of those doing the Exercises this summer are men and women preparing for final vows in their respective religious communities. There are also a significant number of lay people who desire this friendship with Jesus as they continue to live out their vocations in the world.

P.S.  The Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola is July 31.