Guard of Honor

I first heard about the Guard of Honor several years ago when I gave a retreat to the Visitation Sisters in Brooklyn, NY.  I saw a dial with twelve hours in which people's names or initials could be written.  Subsequently a Sister at the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, MA sent me some materials about the Guard and wondered how we might collaborate in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I wasn't sure.

The Guard is exactly 150 years old, having been founded in a Visitation Monastery in France by Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart Bernaud. She wanted, in the words of one of the Guard's brochures, "to find a way in which ordinary people could draw closer to Christ's Heart even while immersed in their everday activities. She had the inspiration that each person, in whatever walk of life, could dedicate one hour to the Sacred Heart of Jesus each day while engaged in their regular duties.  In this way ordinary actions could be sanctified and a gift of love made to the Heart of Christ."

This sounds very much like the spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer in which one's entire day is offered to God with the Morning Offering.  And so I resisted.  Why offer one hour when you can offer twenty-four hours? 

My question has been resolved and today, the Feast of the Sacred Heart in the year 2013, I have joined the Guard of Honor here at the Visitation Monastery in Toledo, OH.  I have promised to offer the hour of 7 to 8 every morning.

What changed my mind?  Ultimately it was the grace of the Novena which I have been giving here and which culminates today.  While I will continue to make my Morning Offering and strive to offer all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of my day, and every thought, word, and deed with every breath I take and every beat of my heart, I will focus particularly on the offering of the 7 AM hour.  I will try to live that hour  with a deeper and more conscious love for Jesus even in the midst of my usual activities, whether it be praying my breviary, celebrating Mass, eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, or driving to work.  In this way, I hope to inspire a more conscious love for Jesus throughout the rest of my day.  I hope the "Hour of Presence," as it is also called, will help me to better live my Daily Offering.

As I prayed about this during the past week, I wondered which hour I should pick.  I thought about the 3 o'clock hour, the Hour of Mercy, but one of the Sisters told me that this is a very popular hour. With what one might call "Jesuit practicality," I chose an hour that would be easier for me to remember. 

More information about the Guard of Honor can be found at the Mobile, AL Visitation Monastery's website and also at Dom Mark Kirby's "Vultus Christi" site.