Monday, 22 April 2013

RIP Mary Mckeone RSCJ

I learnt recently of the death of  Mary Mckeone, RSCJ.  I only met her once, but we did correspond and she took a real interest in the development of the icon. I met her when I gave a talk on Teilhard and the  Sacred Heart to the Alister Hardy Society when I first began to think seriously about the Sacred Heart.  I was feeling rather anxious about the talk, but it was truly providential that the first person I chatted to before the talk was Mary and she told me how must she was looking forward to it – being a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart!  Not for the first time in the process of writing and reading this icon I was struck by the providence of meeting her.  Given her great love of the Heart of Jesus I felt far more at ease with the talk. Thereafter we emailed and shared thoughts – she was a gifted poet and calligrapher. The last time we communicated was after I returned from a visit to Paris and I told her that much to my surprise, my journey to find out more about Henri Pinta (and his Sacred Heart that Teilhard admired so much) I discovered that the relics of the founder of her order, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat  were now resting in the church of St. Francis Xavier in Paris – in the Sacred Heart chapel  which contained the painting by Felix Ville which I think may have influenced Pinta.  How about that for a coincidence!?   She must have become ill shortly after as we did not have any more contact. But when I see Mary Magdalen  in the icon I often think of  Mary Mckeone and  the foundress of her great society.

But, fortunately we have her wonderful poetry (Read HERE)  and her beautiful calligraphy (HERE) .  In terms of the latter one strikes me as especially relevant to an  icon of the Sacred Heart: her illustration of the lines from St Macarius:

It seems to me that - as I think Sr. Mary understood-  the spirituality of the heart can be a place where the Catholic and Orthodox traditions can meet.  Reading St.Macarius's great book Fifty Spiritual Homilies' ( 15: 32-33) ( read Here )we find a profound reflection which gives all those who are devoted to the Heart of Christ  much insight.

"The heart contains an unfathomable depth. In it are reception-rooms, and bed chambers, doors, and porches, and many offices
and passages....Well, the heart is Christ's palace, and
it is full of all uncleanness, and of crowds of many wicked
spirits. It must be refounded and rebuilt, and its store-
chambers and bedrooms put in order ; for there Christ the
King, with the angels and holy spirits, comes to rest, and
to dwell, and to walk in it, and to set His kingdom."

Blessed John Paul, as Fr. Carl Moell SJ notes (in his preface to his commentary on the 'Litany of the Heart of Jesus')  that John Paul often referred to the use of the 'Jesus Prayer' or 'Prayer of the Heart' used in the Orthodox tradition ( HERE) in the context of the Sacred Heart: 'Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner'.    Fr. Moell suggests that perhaps we could use John Paul's favourite invocation : Cor Iesu, fons vitae et sanctitatis, miserere nobis. (Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness, have mercy on me.’ ) 

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