KOTA KINABALU: Parishioners of Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) here were given an opportunity to know and understand the deeper meaning and purpose of their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in preparation for their parish feast day celebration on June 27.
This came in the form of a series of three talks presented by Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei, on three consecutive nights prior to the feast day at the Cathedral attended by a steady crowd of around 300 each night.
He told Catholics at the SHC on the final night of the talk (June 26) that he was very impressed by their presence in following the talks and expressed the hope that by doing so they had gained an experience of the love of God and a deeper desire to love him in return.
The talks were conducted after a Gospel reading in the midst of a Holy Hour each night, with adoration of the Holy Sacrament and Benediction. They were richly interlaced with biblical and magisterium quotations and teachings.
At the end of the final day of the SHC Triduum, Fr Paul Lo, the parish priest, expressed his thanks and appreciation to Bishop Sim for his talks which he said were very enlightening.
Bishop Sim told the Sacred Heart devotees said the human heart is the most powerful sign of the love of God shown to us through human communication.
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the centre of who he is and reveals who God is. The heart of Jesus is the heart of God.”
Throughout his talks, Bishop Sim made references to the experience St Margaret Mary Alacoque of Burgundy, France, who over one-and-a-half years starting from Dec 27, 1673 had visions of Christ and his Sacred Heart.
Jesus Christ had chosen her as an instrument to spread the devotion of his Sacred Heart and (through her) had asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established.
In his first talk, Bishop Sim spoke of how the heart of Jesus reaches out to us, has a deep desire to draw us nearer to God and is attracting us towards him.
He explained in his second talk the deeper meaning of the four signs appearing in the image of the Sacred Heart as seen by St Margaret Mary (see picture) – the flame, the wound, the thorns around the heart and the cross above it.
He said the flame represents the warmth, strong power and energy of Christ in attracting his disciples, like the experience of the apostles on Pentecost day when tongues of fire appeared on their heads.
The wound was caused on Jesus on the Cross by the lance pierced by the soldier through his heart bringing out blood and water, symbols of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Touching on the devotion of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Sim said Jesus had come to the world as one who comes wounded and in pain.
As for the thorns around the image of the heart, he said these depict our sins. “Each time we sin, we push the thorns deeper into the Heart of Jesus.”
He said that in the visions experienced by St Margaret Mary Alacoque, Jesus had emphasised on sins and the sin of ingratitude, which we never thought was a sin.
“Every sin is a sign of our disobedience, our rejection of God’s plan for us. Conversion of sinners and by staying more and more away from sin, the Heart of Jesus shall experience a lessening of the pain.”
He appealed to Catholics to be actively engaged in calling sinners back to the Lord thus removing the thorns from the Sacred Heart. He called on them to firstly be committed in an on-going way.
This could be done through prayer and study that are necessary for growth.
The Bishop of Brunei also reminded them of the call of Jesus to his followers to carry their personal cross daily.
He said the way to consecreation to the Sacred Heart is by committing ourselves, to let the Lord be the king of our life and to see and obey his will.
Bishop Sim, in his final talk, offered four “prayerful practices” that would help SHC parishioners commit themselves to the Sacred Heart: frequently receive the Holy Communion; attend Mass for nine consecutive First Fridays; attend Holy Hour on Thursday nights for the devotion of the Sacred Heart; and create the liturgical feast of the Sacred Heart.
He said the liturgical Feast of the Sacred Heart was established by Pope Pius IX in 1856 as obligatory for the whole Church, so today as Catholics we can observe it with special reverence.
He also spoke about the need for an exchange of heart with Christ, saying that Jesus yearns to give us his heart and by doing so, bringing us back to God, for, we all belong to him. – Joe Leong