Towards every wounded heart

The other day I posted photos on Facebook from the first vows of three Peruvians. There were, unsurprisingly, lots of responses, but what struck me was this comment from an Italian Lasallian: Camminate sorelle spinte dallo Spirito verso ogni cuore ferito - which translates as Walk on, sisters, impelled by the Spirit towards every wounded heart.

It struck me because Enrico had somehow captured, in those few words, what is at the centre of our charism and call as RSCJ. The pierced, wounded Heart of Jesus is at the centre of our contemplation, leading us into the pain and woundedness within ourselves, within the world and in the hearts of so many people we encounter in our lives and ministries. Wounded, vulnerable hearts are what these three young women have committed themselves to embrace, reconcile, console and heal, with the strength and tenderness of the love of that primordial pierced, open, wounded Heart of Jesus.

I was reminded, too, of some words from the closing conference given by Clare Pratt RSCJ to the group with whom I prepared for perpetual vows, and with whom I share a name and devise which contains this call...

Day in and day out, we walk humbly with our sisters and brothers, fully aware of our weakness. We become "wounded healers" ourselves, discovering and proclaiming the love of a Wounded Heart, opening our own hearts to welcome all who want to enter, who come seeking a listening ear, a loving glance, someone to recognise their dignity and help them to their feet.

Today, St Valentine's Day, is a day when we celebrate love, and when every shop, newspaper and café seems full of hearts - plump, robust, intact; bursting not with pain but with love, alive and requited. It is a day for counting blessings and cherishing our beloved - but it's not a good day for those with broken hearts, for fragility, grief or painful memories. There are many for whom today is the first Valentine's Day without the beloved with whom they joyfully celebrated last year, and countless others cruelly separated - often by politics and borders - from their loved ones. And - sadly - there are all too many who are unloved, and those who believe themselves to be unlovable; and those who may never have experienced the sheer bliss and transforming, redeeming power of love.

Yes, today is a day for love and for hearts... and for those of us for whom the Heart of Jesus is Love par excellence, today is a special day for celebrating and proclaiming that greatest, widest, truest love of all. But in the midst of all this, it is also a good day for reminding ourselves that the love we proclaim is the love of a Wounded Heart, which impels us to seek out those whose pain it most easily recognises and wants only to heal and transform; those whose emptiness it wants to fill and whose deadness it wants only to breathe new life into. This is the love we are called to discover - within ourselves and our world - and make real... a love so vast it can reach and heal all pain and ugliness.

So may we all live the call in Enrico's message to our newest sisters, and journey on and outward, toward every wounded heart...