.- Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has announced that as a conclusion to the Year of Faith, he will consecrate the diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and has granted a plenary indulgence to his faithful who make the consecration for themselves.
“In asking everyone to consecrate themselves to the Heart of Jesus, I wish to strengthen our Christian identity, to renew our commitment to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to deepen our love for Christ's Church,” Bishop Egan wrote in a Nov. 12 message to the Diocese of Portsmouth.
“I want to ask everyone to put Jesus first, to acknowledge Him as their Lord, to profess Him alone to be the Way to human happiness, the Truth that sets us free, the Eternal Life for which we long.”
The Year of Faith, which began Oct. 11, 2012, will conclude Nov. 24, the feast of Christ the King. It was announced by Benedict XVI, who desired that it would foster fresh momentum in the new evangelization.
Bishop Egan noted that the diocese had planned to end the Year of Faith by rededicating itself to its patrons, Mary Immaculate and St. Edmund of Abingdon, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1233-1240.
“However, after prayer and reflection, I wish to modify this plan,” he said. “Instead, along with the rededication, I wish to invite everyone, both individually and in a communal act, to consecrate themselves through the Heart of Mary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.”
The consecration, he emphasized, “is not simply an act of piety.” While noting that the British “have so much to thank God for,” he added that “we also recognise that many people in our society reject God, or they are indifferent towards Him, to their eternal destiny and to the role of religion in human living.”
These attitudes, he said, “are releasing powerful forces of chaos and moral malaise, which undermine our Catholic community,” and politicians, in a spirit of relativism, are leading the U.K. “further and further away from its Christian patrimony, and from those fundamental beliefs and values which until now have made us what we are.”
Emphasizing the importance of love for Christ and his Church, Bishop Egan said he chose In Corde Iesu, “In Jesus' heart”, as his episcopal motto “to make a clear statement and prayer, that Jesus Christ, that Christ alone, that serving Christ, would be absolutely central to everything I think, say and do.”
“I now invite you to do the same,” he told his flock.
The pastor recounted how an elderly man had told him of taking a bicycle tour around Wales when a teenager, and how he and his friends planned their route that they might attend Mass daily.
“That's an example of what I mean about putting Jesus first. Our faith is never a hobby, an add-on to anything else.”
Bishop Egan said that in baptism, “Jesus Christ has chosen you and me for a specific task and purpose. He has called us to be His servants, His apostles, His ambassadors … He wants us in prayer and through studying the Gospels to enjoy a personal-passionate friendship with Him and one day to be with Him forever in the happiness of heaven.”
“He wants us to be like Him, to be full of charity towards the poor and needy, and to work with urgent concern to correct injustice.”
The bishop went on to note the importance of both Confession and the Eucharist, before stating, “I wish to invite everyone to consecrate themselves, through the Heart of Mary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus” at Mass on Nov. 24.
“That means: put Christ first! Put yourself under His Word! Promise to live your life entirely In Corde Iesu!”
He also urged that at Catholic schools, the teachers and students undertake the consecration on the following Monday or Tuesday.
“As I consecrate and re-dedicate the Diocese, so every parish and school community and every individual member of the Diocese can make this consecration and rededication their own.”
To facilitate his people's participation in the act of consecration, Bishop Egan included, following his message, the prayer of consecration, the rededication to the diocesan patrons, special intercessions, and the Creed.
Having provided all the necessary texts, Bishop Egan noted that “for those who make this Consecration and Re-dedication in the prescribed manner” a plenary indulgence “can be obtained.”
He noted that, as under the usual conditions, to obtain the indulgence one must be in a state of grace by the act's end, have a disposition of complete detachment from sin, participate in Confession, receive the Communion, and pray for the Pope's intentions.
Bishop Egan noted that the Confession, Communion, and prayer for the Pope's intentions “may take place several days (up to 20) before or after the indulgenced act” and that “the prayer for the Pope's intentions is left to choice but an Our Father and a Hail Mary are suggested.”