From Monday to Friday of this past week I was in Hamden, Connecticut, at Mount Sacred Heart, the provincial house of a group of Sisters called the Apostles of the Sacred Heart. Here's their web site: http://www.ascjus.org/
I first visited the Mount a few years ago when I gave the Sisters a retreat based on the Litany of the Sacred Heart. This time I was there to give a talk on Monday night at the Caritas Christi Center (see http://www.caritaschristicenter.org/) about "Living the Eucharist," and to give classes about the Sacred Heart to the Sisters in formation. From Tuesday through Thursday, for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, I talked about the Sacred Heart. We began by discussing the meaning and importance of the heart and the symbol of the heart in contemporary culture. Then we talked about the the importance of a heart-centered spirituality and the Scriptural basis for talking about the Heart of God. From the Bible through the Patristic era and the Middle Ages, to St. Margaret Mary and the present, we looked at the history of devotion to the Heart of Jesus. We concluded by talking about how to practice devotion to the Sacred Heart today: the meaning of reparation, the role of lectio divina, the Eucharist and living the Eucharist in our daily lives.
It was a good opportunity for me to pull together a lot of things about the Sacred Heart and I'm hoping that the recordings we made of the classes will turn out so that I can share my thoughts on this devotion which Pope Benedict has called "indispensable for a living relationship with God" and of "an irreplaceable importance for our faith and for our life in love" (see his May 15, 2006 letter marking the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Haurietis Aquas:
It was a joy to spend time with these good Sisters--in class, at Holy Mass, over dinner. I had the special treat of meeting Sister Cecilia who is 102 years old and who works at the adult day care center that the Apostles run. She helps to feed those who need extra help and brings a smile to their faces with her warmth and care. On my last day at the Mount, Sister Cecilia was planning her Halloween costume--a dancing angel. The Apostles of the Sacred Heart truly embody their motto: "Caritas Christi Urget Nos" or "The Love of Christ Impels Us."