While Valentine’s Day is a celebration of human love, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a celebration of the divine love that flows to each and every one of us, said Bishop Alfred Schlert.
The June 19 solemnity was observed with a Prayer Service for Reconciliation in Our Nation at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown, focused on prayers for healing the divisions in our society. Those in attendance prayed and chanted Evening Prayer (or Vespers), while Catholics at home could pray along through the livestream on AD Today.
During Evening Prayer, Monsignor Thomas Orsulak, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, Reading, read an excerpt from the letters of John and reflected on the reading.
“It begins with the dignity of each human being created in the image and likeness of God,” he said. “The sin of racism is a symptom of a much deeper disease – the lack of respect for human dignity and the relegation of God to the fringes of society. If all human beings were respected all the time in all situations, there would be no racism.”
He noted that “Jesus knows human nature … and he knows that sin starts in the heart.”
“We can set up all kinds of protocols or legislation,” he said, “but hearts must change for individuals to change, for cities to change, for nations to change, for the world to change. The world will change when hearts change.”
Reconciliation, broken down from its original Latin, means “to bring together again.” Monsignor Orsulak said. His call-to-action is to see each human person as made in God’s image and likeness, and reconcile.
Bishop Schlert said he wanted to pray on this topic on the solemnity “because it is the Sacred Heart from which flows blood and water, giving birth to the Church, but also unleashing a torrent of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation on the world.”
It was not a night to “accentuate divisions,” said Bishop Schlert. “Tonight we come to seek the unity of reconciliation that only can come from Jesus and the love of his Most Sacred Heart. We are called to be on the line of forgiveness, not on the line of confrontation.”
“Forgiveness and healing for the sins of the past bring reconciliation – trying to erase history is not the answer,” he said.
“This is definitely a time in our nation that prayer is necessary, and it feels like one thing we can do when everything else is overwhelming,” said Emily Ickes, 28, a parishioner of St. Paul, Allentown who attended. “My role as an intercessor is part of my spirituality. That’s been the theme – I can’t fix racism, I can’t fix poverty and, in that humility, I fall on my knees and pray.”
You can watch the recording on the Diocese YouTube channel here.