Deacon Jonathan Howell is a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama. He is studying Moral Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum, in Columbus, Ohio and will be ordained a priest in 2018.
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart almost always falls in June, and the entire month of June has traditionally been dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the heart of Christ has been present in the Church from the beginning, when John the Evangelist reclined next to the heart of Jesus at the Last Supper and when the heart of Christ was pierced by the soldier's lance and gave forth blood and water. The Church was born from this saving stream gushing from the heart of Christ and became the means by which his reconciliation is made present.
Christ yearns to reconcile all men to his Sacred Heart and he established the Church to make this possible; devotion to the Sacred Heart is not a tangential devotion but one which is essential since all of us need the reconciliation offered to us by Christ.
At a time in France when Jansenism was very influential and many Catholics lived in scrupulous fear of falling under God's condemnation, the revelations of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary in France in 1673 helped a greater number of Catholics to cultivate devotion to the Sacred Heart. To Sister Margaret Mary and through her to the whole world, Jesus revealed again his great love and mercy for all mankind and encouraged all humanity to take refuge in his merciful heart.
In 2017 the danger of Jansenism, at least on a large scale, is not an issue for Catholics, yet the opposite extremes have taken root. God's just judgment is scoffed at and the teachings of the Church are undermined and publicly ridiculed. June is now celebrated on a global scale as Gay Pride Month and grave sin which separates men and women from grace is promoted. The confusion is so great in the area of human sexuality that sex, even of a disordered form, is equated with love and many of the faithful have fallen into the confusion, aided as they are even by priests who distort the teachings of the Church on human sexuality.
Yet, the new Libertine age is not so different from the Jansenist one: in both ages men and women are desperate to experience an authentic loving relationship and stand in need of the mercy and love offered by the heart of Christ. We would do well to recognize that these persons, even those tweeting against Church teaching and shouting slogans against Christianity in the streets, are not beyond hope. The failure and lies of the sexual revolution and the gay and transgender movements is apparent in the sadness and misery present in so many lives.
We might well be discouraged, and have some just anger against those in our midst who are helping to spread the deceptions of the evil one, but God is still in charge and he will not forsake his Church. The ancient enemy is certainly gloating that a beautiful month dedicated to the Sacred Heart is now riddled with blasphemies and sacrilege in gay pride demonstrations around the country, but these blasphemies are exactly why Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary in the first place—so that we can do reparation for them, and to seek to be a source of light to those in the darkness.
“Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy,” Jesus told St. Faustina. This is evidently true all around us. Men and women are seeking for the love and fulfillment which are only found in the heart of Christ. So many are filling that emptiness with the poison of sin, but Jesus is not finished with them yet, nor is he finished with us. Let us seek to be the conduit of his love and mercy to those around us who need him most.