The Sacred Heart of Jesus & The Priesthood
During the first week of The Rome Experience, the seminarians travel to France where they make their spiritual retreat in Ars, the village of the great role model for priests, St. John Vianney (read more about the 2018 retreat at www.theromeexperience.org/spiritual-retreat-2018/).
From Ars, the group also makes several pilgrimages to nearby holy sites including Paray-le-Monial (Shrine of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque). As described in The Catholic Travel Guide: “This shrine is the home to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of the most popular of Catholic devotions. Here God chose St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to be the instrument that would lead the world back to Christ through His Sacred Heart, favoring her with a number of apparitions between 1673 and 1675.”
Since 2002, the Church celebrates the “World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests” on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Therefore, a pilgrimage to the shrine provides a unique opportunity for our seminarians and priests to contemplate “the wonderful gift of the priesthood” and the call to holiness.
In 2018, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, June 8.
CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY
LETTER ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF PRIESTS
Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Saviour of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness.
We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence. “In the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Ps 5).
The Sacred Liturgy leads us once again to contemplate the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, the origin and intimate reality of this company which is the Church: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed himself in Jesus Christ. “No one could see his Glory unless first healed by the humility of his flesh…. By dust you were blinded, and by dust you are healed: flesh, then, had wounded you, flesh heals you” (St Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel according to John, Homily, 2, 16).
Only by looking again at the perfect and fascinating humanity of Jesus Christ – alive and active now – who revealed himself to us and still today bends down to each one of us with his special love of total predilection, can we let him illumine and fill the abyss of need which is our humanity, certain of Hope encountered and sure of Mercy that embraces our limitations and teaches us to forgive what we ourselves do not even manage to discern. “Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts” (Ps 42).
On the occasion of the traditional World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests that is celebrated on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I would like to recall the priority of prayer over action since it is on prayer that the effectiveness of action depends. The Church’s mission largely depends on each person’s personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and must therefore be nourished by prayer: “It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism” (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, n. 37). Let us not tire of drawing on his Mercy, of letting him look at and medicate the painful wounds of our sin, in order to marvel at the ever new miracle of our redeemed humanity.