No quotas or queues for the Sacred Heart

Earlier this month I wrote a reflection on the Sacred Heart, published on our diocesan website for the Feast, ten days ago. As we're still in the month of the Sacred Heart I thought I'd share it here, too. I wrote it when church buildings and non-essential shops had just re-opened - I've adapted the opening lines, as we're now later in the month, and to reflect the latest easing of lockdown measures. I've also inserted two images of some of the text, created by one of my Caritas colleagues for our social media, and used here with her blessing.

Two weeks ago, our churches were able to open their doors for the first time in three months – albeit with necessary restrictions and doorkeepers. Some have been able to visit, with joy; others have stayed away, housebound or still needing to shield. Most shops have reopened too, with queues and protective measures, while the hospitality industry is preparing to woo and welcome us back next weekend - again, with screens and quotas. While some are relishing this increased access, others remain wary. So, it’s lovely that this month we celebrate the Sacred Heart, which is always open, in generously loving, merciful welcome - with absolutely no restrictions, quotas, queues or doorkeepers! This Heart is a space wide and deep enough for everyone who wishes to enter for solace or simply to be, and for all the anguish, brokenness and pain being poured into it, alongside all the beauty and joy.

And here, vitally, we’re invited to the intimacy which lies at the heart of devotion to the Sacred Heart: not to gaze on Jesus from afar, but to come as close as possible; to feel his heartbeat, to touch his wounds; to enter into and remain in the depths of his Heart. And crucially, to enter into the dispositions of his Heart: to learn from Jesus’ attitudes and ways of relating; to discover his Heart, wholly given to God and to all people, and to make those dispositions our own. In our intimacy with Jesus we can increasingly know and draw love from his Heart - for ourselves and our world. This is what widens our capacity to love; what opens our hearts, especially to wherever there is pain and suffering.

This year especially we might come to this feast, and to the Heart of Jesus, feeling weary and heavy-laden, and greatly in need of rest. We come in a world filled with disease, anger and fear, and so much which breaks our hearts on a daily basis - to say nothing of our own wounds, struggles, fragility and losses. But we come, and can celebrate, because however much pain is poured into Jesus' Heart, it cannot drown out the unmeasured streams of tenderness, compassion and deep, deep love which already fill it and, overflowing, pour out.