Have you heard of the new site called “O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus”? Each First Friday of the month, a day traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart, Catholic writers will post something on their blogs about the Sacred Heart and then link them up to that site. The founders of the site, Ryan and Laura, are from the U.S. and Australia respectively and they will help prime the pump each month with a question. This month’s is: “How did you first learn about the Sacred Heart?”I’m often asked about my family’s devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. People assume that since I’m now involved in a ministry—the Apostleship of Prayer—that promotes this devotion, the seeds of it must have been planted early on. They weren’t. At least, not in an explicit way.
I grew up in what I would call a traditional Polish-American family, the grandson of immigrants. We did not have a picture of the Sacred Heart in our home, nor did we practice family consecration or enthronement of the Sacred Heart. But my family’s practice of Catholicism was more, I think, a matter of the heart than the head. Our weekend family life revolved around going to Mass and every month we went to our church on Saturday for confession. There were crucifixes in the rooms of our home and one in particular fascinated me. It was a cross with the instruments of the Passion—a ladder, a spear, and a pole with a sponge attached—all enclosed in a glass cylinder. In my family we had the custom of taking leave of one another in a religious way. To those leaving our home we would say, “Go with God.” The reply was “Stay with God.”
So when I entered the Jesuits in 1971 at the age of 19 I was ready to hear about devotion to the Sacred Heart from a religious order that has been traditionally associated with it. But I didn’t. Again, the Lord worked in a quiet and hidden way to draw me to His Heart. Making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius drew me into a more intimate relationship with Jesus. The Exercises helped me to not just use my head to think about Jesus but to use my heart to contemplate the Gospel stories in a way in which I came to know Jesus in a deeper way.In time, all of this—my family experience and my prayer life as a Jesuit—led me to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I was ordained in 1983 on a Friday in June which happened to be the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. No accident. No coincidence. I’m convinced that the Lord wanted me to be an apostle of His Heart and I was ordained to do so on His feast. Now, through the Apostleship of Prayer, I’m committed to helping others enter more deeply into the Heart of Jesus where they will experience the depths of His love.