St Margaret Mary Alacoque Contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Corrado Giaquinto [Web Gallery of Art]
This morning I celebrated the Mass for the memorial of St Justin Martyr. He was born of Greek parents in Palestine around AD100, was a philosopher who taught and defended Christian teaching and was martyred around AD165. As I did not have a congregation I used the readings that may be used for this saint instead of the readings for Thursday of Week 8 in Ordinary Time.
The readings for the memorial are extraordinarily apt for the first day of June, the beginning of the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Christ in Agony on the Cross
El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
The First Reading is from 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. Some quotations: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God . . . For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
This is in utter contrast to the message of the international lobby that has hijacked the month of June in the Western world to promote sexual sin and bullying. That lobby rejects what nature itself teaches and what the Bible teaches us in the first chapter of Genesis, the first chapter of the Bible: God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply'.
Part of that lobby is now aggressively promoting the genital mutilation of children and adolescents who may have, or think they have, a serious psycho-sexual condition in which they think they really belong to the other sex. Many politicians, powerful businesses and most of the mass media have gone along with this grievously harmful ideology which has even been introduced in schools in some places. Teachers have been sacked for not using the 'correct pronouns' in referring to or speaking to students who say they are something they are not.
The Gospel for the Mass for the Memorial of St Justin is from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:13-19. It includes these words: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. El Greco's painting above shows Christ in agony on the Cross as the light of a city on a hill, Toledo in Spain, where the artist lived.
Pope Leo XIII in 1887
Stephen P. White, an American layman, has a very fine article today on The Catholic Thing website: June is for the Sacred Heart, which I encourage you to read. He quotes from Annum Sacrum, an encyclical published by Pope Leo XIII in 1899: When men’s minds are raised to such a height of insolent pride, what wonder is it that the greater part of the human race should have fallen into such disquiet of mind and be buffeted by waves so rough that no one is suffered to be free from anxiety and peril? When religion is once discarded it follows of necessity that the surest foundations of the public welfare must give way, whilst God, to inflict on His enemies the punishment they so richly deserve, has left them the prey of their own evil desires, so that they give themselves up to their passions and finally wear themselves out by excess of liberty.
White comments: This is one of the great themes, perhaps the great theme, of the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII. When man, in his pride, attempts to 'free' himself from God, he instead becomes a slave to his passions. When man forgets God, he loses sight of himself.
In the same year he published Annum Sacrum Pope Leo also approved the public use of the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
El Greco's painting above shows not only the humiliation of Jesus Christ but the humility of the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God, who became man out of God's love for us as sinners.
What so many in the Western world celebrate during June in such an in-your-face manner with their flags all over the place is a repudiation of the Cross and the height of insolent pride, to use the words of Leo XIII.
Yet the words of Jesus as he was being nailed to the cross apply to all of us, especially as we struggle in the area of chastity and purity: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).