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Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Holy Orders

Congregation for the Clergy, June 27th 2003.

Father Paolo Scarafoni, L.C.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is deeply rooted in the Christocentric spirituality that developed in France during the seventeenth century.

Jesus Christ is God made man for us, out of love for us, and is seen as He who put us directly in contact with all that God does for us. All Godís love for us is concentrated in Him. Christís humanness, harmoniously united with the divine aspect, acquires great importance because better than any other creature, even an angelic one, He mirrors divine being and operating within a human dimension for history and for eternity.

Within this framework, one understands that the goodness and love shown by the Heart of Jesus Christ are the immediate reflection and expression of divine love.

Lucky are those who were in contact with Him and perceived such love in His gestures and words! With what alive and intense affection did the disciples and the communities preserve the memory of Jesusí events, work and words, for which they had understood the intense love that He emanated! With the Help of the Holy Spirit, they understood that those human expressions reflected Godís own love for humankind. Before Christ all this was unknown to humankind. The Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and Apostolic Letters reveal these memories.

Saint Paul and Saint John in particular remind us of Christís love and interpret His earthly life in the light of His love for us.

With particular attention, they preserved the memories of His loving expressions on the last night He remained on this earth, the words spoken during the supper with His disciples; as well as His suffering and His death on the Cross. In these, they discovered the highest expressions of divine love.

We still today preserve these memories as a treasure and frequently think of them. We narrate these events to others, to the young, and to children.

Nevertheless, there is more: in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, the memory represents a "presence", that in a certain sense goes well beyond remembering. The Eucharist allows the perpetuation, under a veil of mystery, of the living contact with the love of Christ. We can state that each of us has a Eucharistic story to tell, in which we have directly experienced Christís love.

Hence the inevitable connection between devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Eucharistic ritual. Within this Christocentric and Eucharistic context, the connection with the Holy Orders is also perceivable. The priest, as the Eucharist and in unity with the Eucharist, perpetuates in himself the "presence" of Jesus, in faithful and loving memory of the Lord. He too is identified with the Heart of Jesus Christ, with His love, and not only for his actions during liturgical and sacramental acts "in persona Christi", but also with his entire life and existence, also including his most personal and intimate "matters".

The priest chooses Christ as his centre: he leans on Christís love, as the safe rock of his priesthood and immerses himself in His love as the source of all his priestly activity and productiveness.

The priest looks to Christ and to His love as a model for learning to love as He loves.

The priest chooses Christ as the example for his life: he truly perpetuates in his own life Christís "presence" and love with his work and his words, especially when celebrating the Eucharist.

 

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