On day of prayer for priests, Catholic bishop points to Sacred Heart

On day of prayer for priests, Catholic bishop points to Sacred Heart

Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth, England. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk
Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth, England. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

.- The Sacred Heart of Jesus “lights our way and illumines a path in the darkness,” an English bishop said Thursday in a reflection for the feast of the Sacred Heart, which marks the 'Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of all Priests'.

In a reflection dated June 18, the eve of the feast of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth recalled that his parents displayed an image of the Sacred Heart in the hallway of their home.

He said: “The light before the Sacred Heart was kept on all through the night. I remember especially as a teenager how its gentle glow provided a tender light in the dark as I returned home from various social nights out.”

“We believe that in Jesus’ heart we discover our deepest place of safety and security. There we are to make our home. He is the one who lights our way and illumines a path in the darkness.” 

The bishop, whose diocese covers the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset in southern England, explained that the Sacred Heart revealed the true nature of Jesus.

He said: “His was a heart on fire with love for His Father, seeking the Father’s will and always at One in His heart with the Father. At the same time, His was a heart on fire for our world, especially for those most in need. The Gospels are filled with the accounts of Jesus’ compassion, His service of the poor, and His loving outreach to those who seemed furthest from God.”

“Out of love for the world, he went to the Cross. To bring us, once more, access to the Father’s house. From his wounded side flows blood and water, a sign to us of that great gift of the Sacraments, born from the open heart of the Savior.”

Noting that public Masses remain suspended in the U.K. because of the coronavirus pandemic, he continued: “In the sacraments, the infinite and the finite meet. What we see, touch, taste is one thing. What is given -- God’s life -- is another. We long for that day when the sacraments may be celebrated fully in our churches and all have access to them, once more.”

O’Toole recalled that the feast of the Sacred Heart is also the Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, established by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002.

“We want today to give thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood, and to pray for the sanctification of all priests. We believe that the Merciful love of God that passes through the Heart of Jesus brought forth the great mystery of the priesthood,” he said.

The bishop encouraged clergy to deepen their devotion to the Sacred Heart. 

He said: “We know we are weak, sinful. Sometimes we fail. We get things wrong. We hurt others and need to seek forgiveness. All this the Lord knows, but He continues to call us. We are to deepen our own intimacy with Jesus, to rest in His heart and find there, the home which we need. We are sanctified, too, through our service of others, and to be for them a manifestation of the heart of Jesus.”

At his general audience June 17, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to discover the riches of charity hidden in the heart of Christ.

Speaking from the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, he said: “Friday we will celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Do not be afraid to present to him all the intentions of our suffering humanity, its fears, its miseries. May this Heart, full of love for men, give everyone hope and trust.”

In April, Pope Francis gave his apostolic blessing to a worldwide rosary relay for priests on the feast of the Sacred Heart. 

In a message to the Worldpriest Rosary Relay for the Sanctification of Priests 2020, the pope expressed his support for the event which takes place June 19.

Participating shrines pray a mystery of the rosary at a designated half hour in thanksgiving for the priesthood and to seek Mary’s protection for priests. They pray in relay across time zones until the globe has been encircled in prayer.

The message, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, said: “His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn of the Annual Global Rosary Relay for Priests to take place on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

“He joins all taking part in praying that priests everywhere will be confirmed in their ministry of proclaiming and celebrating the merciful love of Christ the Redeemer, and become ever more fully shepherds after his own Heart.”

Tags: Catholic News, Diocese of Plymouth, England, Catholic Church, Bishop Mark O’Toole

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