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.”

Smiling Memories of Christmas Past

By Sister Loretta Cornell, President, MHSH

When we came downstairs on Christmas morning to all the presents under the tree—and I do mean ALL the presents because there were 11 of us—we sang Happy Birthday to the baby Jesus.  After that we each looked for our special pile of presents, which would consist of things we needed such as socks and clothing as well as a toy, a game and a sock filed with nuts, hard Christmas candy, a tangerine and an apple.

After the presents were opened, Mom and Dad would go to Mass together.  Sometimes, those of us who hadn’t gone to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve would go with our parents.

When they came home it was time to play the games. My Dad played the games with us and my Mom went to the kitchen to cook.  We had the best fun, laughing and carrying on with Dad, who usually won the games, but it didn’t matter.  We had fun and enjoyed one another.  In the early afternoon, we would gather and have our Christmas dinner, which always began with grace and thanking Jesus for being born into our lives.

Our Christmas was equal parts joy in the birth of Jesus, warmth in being together as a family and the sheer fun of playing with new games and toys.  Those Christmases have blessed me with loving and smiling memories. And they have sustained me through Christmas days that were less merry—times when there was loss and sadness and missing people long gone.

But still, after all these years, today my thoughts of Christmas are still smiles and laughter and a profound thankfulness for the gift of the infant Jesus and the love that shines through family and friends and memories.

I hope this remembrance of my early Christmas days brings a smile to your face and heart.  And I hope that you, too, have cherished memories that light up this holy time.  May Jesus always be the center of your life and your Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad.