Friday, April 23, 2010

"Spring" Ministry

On Wednesday, on my way to the St. Paul, MN area, I stopped in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, a small town not too far from the Interstate on which I drove. Sacred Heart Church invited me to meet with their young adult group. After a fabulous pot-luck supper (it seems parishioners always outdo themselves in providing the best of their recipes for things like this), I met with the young people from 6 to 8. I began by telling the story of St. Ignatius and how he went from being a very worldly young man to being on fire for the Lord. It all started with a canon ball, a badly injured leg, an illness that almost killed him, and a couple books. Laid up from his wound and the subsequent surgeries, Ignatius ended up reading the only things that were available in his family's castle--a book of the life of Christ and another of the lives of the saints. His dreams gradually changed from continuing his worldly path of doing brave deeds to win the hand of a fair maiden to doing brave deeds for Jesus. I used this story of his life to talk about discerning one's way through life, one's vocation, and how important it is to pay attention to the movements of our hearts.

I then talked about how St. Ignatius, in the Spiritual Exercises, taught a method of prayer involving the use of one's imagination. We are to read a gospel passage and imagine ourselves in the scene. I always like to take that a step further and invite people to imagine what was going on it the mind and heart of Jesus and, in that way, learning to think His thoughts and feel with the deep desires of Jesus' Heart.
Before our break, I played a song entitled "Salt and Light." I've always thought of this song as an example of how the symbol of the heart is universal. While Catholics may speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all Christians speak of a desire to have this Heart. This song, written and played by Evangelical Christians, speaks to me of what devotion to the Sacred Heart is all about. Here are the lyrics:

You make me want to be like You
Your holiness I will pursue
I want the heart of Jesus
Show me the meaning of Your grace
I want to give the world a taste
of the love of Jesus.

Make me salt
Make me light
Let Your holy fire ignite
Reveal Your glory in my life
I am not ashamed
To lift up Your holy name
Make me salt
Make me light

As a city on a hill
A lamp on a stand
Mold me in Your image
The work of Your hand

Did you notice how even some of the imagery of pictures of the Sacred Heart is in this song? "Let your holy fire ignite." That holy fire is the fire of love that burns in the Heart of Jesus. It's a flame that will set us on fire and then spread to others. That, I think, is the essence of every vocation. The vocation of every human being is to know, love, and serve God. We come to know God through Jesus who reveals the depths of God's love. As we come to know God we can't help but love God and this love shows itself in action, in how we live our lives. So no matter what vocation we are called to--marriage, consecrated life, priesthood, single--we will only truly live that vocation faithfully if we do so in response to the love of God, if we are on fire with the love of God revealed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Father, your words here have lifted me up tremendously! I know that we all struggle in our vocations from time to time, but you have encouraged me with the reminder that we are all only called to the vocation of loving God, no matter what our state in life is. The picture is gorgeous! I wish I had that framed on my wall so that I could pray with it every day!