As a boy there were so many things I wanted to do - or tick off the list 'of must do things for boys'. I have to say, there were quite a few I would rather not remember. But one thing on the list always eluded me: getting the parish priest - or my teacher - to sign-off my record as having received communion on 9 consecutive first Fridays of the month. This is, of course, one of the promises made to St. Margaret Mary:
'To all those who, during nine months on end, will receive Holy Communion on the first Fridays of every month. I promise the Grace of final perseverance. They will not die in My disgrace, but will receive the Sacraments (if necessary), and My Heart will be sure shelter for them in that extreme moment.'
I was ok during term time, but it went by the board in holidays so I think I only ever managed 3 or 4 (tops) ! But as part of my year exploring the Sacred Heart I was determined to complete the nine Fridays. And today the small boy inside of me was very happy! It has been such a worthwhile exercise and I can recommend it to anyone: especially little boys who have now now grown up. It is one of those very Catholic practices which still have tremendous value and should be encouraged. So thank you Teilhard!
For many Catholics I have known over the years my interest in Teilhard was regarded with suspicion. And yet, the more deeply I have focused on the Sacred Heart in Teilhardian terms the more has my inner 'traditional' Catholic grown. I now think that it is only when we keep his love of the Sacred Heart in our mind that we really understand how very Catholic he is. Remove it and it is easy to end up in a 'New Age 'la la' land.' But, the Sacred Heart is SO central to Teilhard, and when we forget that, we really have not understood him at all. And I say that who for years did not get it, and thought the Sacred Heart was just a interesting irrelevance. Robert Speaight put it well in his biography of Teilhard:
'Teilhard, more easily than most men, could penetrate appearances. It must be allowed that no form of Catholic piety is more repellent in its visual aspect than devotion to the Sacred Heart. Yet this was at the very centre of Teilhard's spiritual life - more than the Crib and more even, than the Crucifix. It was, for him, the fountain of energy and love. He would complain, to be sure, of its sentimental presentation - but only to remind himself that a love which was open to all was for that reason open to popular excess......Everything must end where it had begun - in the foyer of the Sacred Heart... ' (R. Speaight, Teilhard de Chardin, Collins, 1967: 74)
So I was very happy this morning as I finally 'did' the nine first Fridays. I was also delighted and surprised that the first reading for the Friday of the 22nd week in Ordinary Time should be the very passage that was so central to how Teilhard saw the Sacred Heart. It is from St. Paul's letter to the Colossians (1: 15- 20) and it is the perfect description of what our icon is about.
Christ Jesus is the image of the first born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth; everything visible and everything invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers - all things were created through him and for him. Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity.
Not for the first time during this project I have been rather taken aback by what happens when you just trust in the Sacred Heart. Perhaps this reading from St. Paul on my 9th first Friday was a way of signing my off my card! I feel like a 10 year old again! ( Re; the previous blog: I'm full of zest!)
As the Gospel acclamation put it today:
Alleluia, alleluia! Your words gladden the heart, O Lord, they give light to the eyes. Alleluia!
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