Monday, 28 October 2019

A journey of the heart

The last post for this blog was back in the (wonderful) summer.  Now, as the autumn is slowly moving towards winter, I have been reflecting on that great statement by Francis to the World Wide Prayer Network he made in  June .  His words have given  me much to think about :

The Heart of Christ is so great that it wishes to welcome us all into the revolution of tenderness. The closeness to the Heart of the Lord urges our hearts to approach their brother with love, and helps to enter into this compassion for the world.. It is good, on this day of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to remember the foundation of our mission. It is a mission of compassion for the world, we could say a ‘journey of the heart,’ that is, a prayerful journey that transforms people's lives.  We are called to be witnesses and messengers of God's mercy, to offer the world a perspective of light where darkness is, of hope where despair reigns, of salvation where sin abounds. To enter into prayer is to enter with my heart into the heart of Jesus, to make a way inside the heart of Jesus, what Jesus feels, the feelings of compassion of Jesus, and also to make a journey inside my heart to change my heart in this relationship with the heart of Jesus. 

Faith in Christ, is as the Pope says, is essentially a ' journey of the heart' .  It is a journey of transforming our own heart, and a journey to the heart of Jesus. In this journey of prayer we transform our relation to ourselves, to others , and to Jesus and the Holy Trinity!  The journey of the heart is, above all a 'prayerful journey'.   There is much talk nowadays about becoming an 'intentional disciple' , but as the Pope makes clear, that journey is all about prayer.  With that in mind, I think that the journey to the Sacred Heart which is deepening our prayer life.  The world wide  'network of prayer' is, it seems a great way to undertake that journey.  You can find out all about it Here.

The network is, of course, a re-configuration of the Apostleship of Prayer which was established  by the Jesuits  back in 1844!  A re-configuration was proposed in 2012  the statues of Apostleship of Prayer were revised in 2018 and it is now also known as The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network.  (PWPN)The result is that is now making use of the internet and social media to spread the Gospel message and  promote the 'new evangelisation'.

The Apostleship of Prayer is a worldwide prayer network responding to the challenges that confront humanity and the Church’s mission as expressed in the Pope’s monthly intentions. In praying with these intentions, we extend our gaze onto the whole world and enter personally into the joys and hopes, the pains and sufferings of our brothers and sisters everywhere.

The  development  of PWPN has now given me another way to read the icon.  Teilhard, of course, was the one who, more than any other person ( I know about , anyway) to provide us with a global and cosmic vision of the future of Christianity.  It seems to me that this idea of a Global Prayer Network is a powerful response to the all the bad consequences of 'globalization'.  When we join with others from all over the world we are truly helping to realize a convergence of  humanity on (what Teilhard called ) the 'heart of the world's heart'. The PWPN is  a way in which we can join in a global 'journey of the heart'! It is still an organization centred on the Heart of Jesus, but has shown how this devotion can be made more appropriate to our world today.

In this world today it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the problems we see all around us and on TV.  The PWPN offers hope. As Pope Francis has said:

"As individuals too, we have are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness? First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer!"    "The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. (Pope Francis, Lenten Messages 2015, No. 2 and 3)

So when we reflect on the Sacred Heart, we should see joining in global prayer our 'journey of the heart' in our world. Think local, and pray global! When we pray to the Sacred Heart  'we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven'.

So now, I try to imagine this logo as also a pathway to and from the image of the icon. The PWPN say this about their logo:

1-The logo refers to the “Contemplation of the Incarnation,” in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. “I will see the various persons, some here, some there. First, those on the face of the earth, so diverse in dress and behavior: some white and others black, some in peace and others at war, some weeping and others laughing, some healthy and others sick, some being born and others dying, and so forth” [No. 106.] God (the Trinity) contemplates the world, and in order to save humanity, by love, decides to become incarnate. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son ... that the world might be saved through him." (John 3,16-17). The decision of God calls for our own decision. Therefore the world (in the logo) represents the worldwide network of prayer and its concern for the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church.

Heart of Jesus
2-The heart of Jesus. In 1986 John Paul II confirmed the Society of Jesus in its mission of spreading the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus, especially in this privileged way through the Apostleship of Prayer. Those who experience this deep relationship with Jesus, nearest to his heart, desire to be with him at the service of his mission, facing the challenges of this world. Thus it represents the way of the heart which leads to availability for the mission of Jesus in daily life. 

Church mission
3-The Apostleship of Prayer is the Official Network of Prayer of the Pope who, as the Bishop of Rome—the church which presides in charity over all the churches—has a universal perspective on the world's needs. This is expressed in Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of our time, especially of the poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the disciples of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.” In the very center of the logo, the continent and the country represent the commitment to the local ecclesial reality.