The other day, before my retreat in St. Louis started, I went to the Chancery and met with Archbishop Robert Carlson who is the episcopal member of the Apostleship of Prayer's board of directors. Afterwards, as I prepared to make a dash to my car through a thunderstorm that had quickly appeared during our meeting, I grabbed the most recent copy of the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. I always like to read about the local Church in the places I visit and the cover story was on the four men from the archdiocese who will be ordained on Saturday. There was a brief biography for each of the four men and then some quotes. What soon-to-be Fr. Anthony Gerber said really caught my attention for what I'm sure will be obvious reasons. He said:
"I've learned that every day is a chance for us to offer our hearts to the Lord, to receive His Sacred Heart, and then to give His love to others. In this way, our hearts are set on fire. This is what I hope to be as a priest: one whose heart is on fire for Jesus and His Church."
In those few words Fr. Gerber captured the essence of devotion to the Sacred Heart. It's all about being filled with the overflowing love of the Heart of Jesus and communicating that love to all we meet. We open our hearts to Christ who gives us His Heart to transform ours. His Heart is, as the Litany of the Sacred Heart goes, "a burning furnace of charity" which melts and molds our hearts, uniting them to His.
Over the past forty or so years some people in the Church came to think that Sacred Heart devotion is old fashioned and has nothing to say to young people. I haven't found that to be the case and Fr. Gerber's reflection is another example of that.
Fr. Gerber, may you and all who are ordained this year have hearts on fire, hearts that are conformed to the Heart of Jesus.