To respond to God’s love with love is a habit which we can grow into as we spend time in prayer; additionally we can foster this growth by immersing ourselves in the gospels and other New Testament writings. It is also vital that we remember that the Saints were holy within the parameters of their unique personalities and the situations of their lives, be that a certain era in which they lived, the political climate, their socio-economic circumstances, or their family situations. In other words, we are called to be most deeply who we are in our attempts to love like Jesus and not to produce a ‘self’ that is false or which is contrary to who we are called to be. In other words, holy people are authentic in presenting themselves as they are.
It is clear that our world is sorely in need of the touch of holiness. There are many who are broken, suffering, forgotten or imperiled and there are many dire situations which are in need of justice, healing, mercy, and compassion. These are serious situations and we should never attempt to laugh them away. However, we can bring light into the darkness of these areas by entering in with a heart filled with love and the joy of knowing Jesus, so that we are not brought down by the heaviness of sin or the temptation to fall into despair. If we use discernment, we can know when it is appropriate to raise the spirits of those around us with the gentleness of humor, or how to alleviate a sense of hopelessness by bringing a joyful spirit into our labors by being exactly who we are. We are not called to fake happiness or to put on a false smile; rather we are invited to find our joy in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, putting our trust in His love and then responding by extending His love outward to others. What renders one holy is not one’s gifts, but how one uses them. If we truly want to be a light in the darkness and a sign of love to those in need no matter who they are, we can turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus where we will find enough life, mercy, and joy to share with others.
©Michele L. Catanese
Note: Next post on July 17.
1. This painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one I grew up with, so unfortunately I have no idea who the artist was. I remember this image being framed and sitting on top of my bookshelf. I loved it because no matter where in the room I went, His eyes followed me. Some people may find that thought rather disconcerting, but for me it was incredibly comforting. This is because the photo seemed to say what I already knew: Jesus is always watching over me, sending me blessing. His right hand is raised in blessing and His left is pointing to His Sacred Heart as if to say, "I have a home for you right here. Do not be afraid, I have you covered!" I loved that our eyes always seemed to meet.
2. This is a painting by Bl. Fra Angelico called All Saints. I chose it here because it shows Saints in all sorts of shapes, sizes, genders, age, etc. It fits my description that each Saint is incredibly unique. Thank God for that!
3. This photo of a rough sea is one of mine, though I admit it is not the Sea of Galilee. Rather it is the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine. I chose it for two reasons, one practical and one aesthetic: first, my Sea of Galilee photos all show a calm sea and so that would not have worked well here, and second, this one really shows the sea roiling the way it might have as Peter attempted to get out of the boat and join Jesus on the water. While we were in Galilee last year, we were told that the Sea does get like this and that it can happen in an instant. Therefore my substitution does work.
4. This painting of St. (Mother) Elizabeth Ann Seton hangs at the National Shrine dedicated to her in Maryland. You can find information on the Shrine at https://setonshrine.org/. Also here is a link to a brief description of her life with a link to a longer biography which you can download if you desire. https://setonshrine.org/elizabeth-ann-seton/.
5. This is an icon of called Saint Louis IX with His Son Philip III written by Fr. William Hart McNichols. I chose it because it not only shows St. (King) Louis, but also one of his eleven children. It is actually a very tender depiction of St. Louis with his arm around the shoulder of his son. It is not an icon that one might see often, and I thought it would be good to let readers see someone they may not be familiar with. St. Louis is one of a number of saints who were royalty. If you are interested in a copy of this icon in one of a variety of mediums, you can find it at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-louis-ix-with-his-son-philip-iil-046-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
6. This is one of my photos, taken in Rockport, Texas. It may seem odd to have a pelican end a post about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but the pelican is actually a Christian symbol, used by many communities in the early Church! The pelican is a symbol for the sacrifice and love of Jesus who let His blood be poured out in love for us. The mother pelican does the same for her children if she cannot find food: she pierces her own breast and feeds the children with her blood so they will not die. While pelicans might be amusing to watch, their heroic love is truly amazing.