“You who have been redeemed, consider who it is who hangs on the cross for you, whose death gives life to the dead, whose passing is mourned by heaven and earth, while even the hard stones are split. Consider how great he is; consider what he is.
In order that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept on the cross, in order that the word of scripture might be fulfilled – ‘They shall look on him whom they have pierced’ – God’s providence decreed that one of the soldiers should open his sacred side with a spear, so that blood with water might flow out to pay the price of our salvation. This blood, which flowed from its source in the secret recesses of his heart, gave the sacraments of the Church power to confer the life of grace, and for those who already live in Christ was a draught of living water welling up to eternal life.
Arise, then, bride of Christ, be like the dove that nests in the rock-face at the mouth of a cavern, and there, like a sparrow which finds its home, do not cease to keep vigil; there, like a turtle-dove, hide the fledglings of your chaste love; place your lips there to draw water from the wells of your Saviour. For this is the spring flowing from the middle of paradise; it divides and becomes four rivers, then spreads through all devout hearts, and waters the whole world and makes it fruitful.
O soul devoted to God, whoever you may be, run to this source of life and light with eager longing. And with the power of your inmost heart cry out to him: ‘O indescribable beauty of God most high! O pure radiance of everlasting light! O life that gives life to all life! O light that illuminates every light, and preserves in its undying splendour the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your godhead from the dawn of time.
‘O water eternal and inaccessible, clear and sweet, flowing from the spring that is hidden from the eyes of all mortal men; the spring whose depths cannot be plumbed, whose height cannot be measured, whose shores cannot be charted, whose purity cannot be muddied.’
From this source flows the river which makes glad the city of God, so that with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving we sing to you our hymns of praise, and by experience prove that with you is the fountain of life; and in your light we shall see light.”
– From the Office of Readings on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Pilgrimage Day 1
Today I begin my pilgrimage in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the 800th Jubilee of the Dominican Order, and the Year of Mercy. According to God’s providence, yesterday was my last day of work, which allowed me to begin my pilgrimage on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This has been my favorite solemnity since it landed on my 24th birthday three years ago. That day I bought myself a pendant necklace at a little shop in Hillsboro Village, only to learn later on that the image on it was of the Sacred Heart. When I Googled its significance, I discovered that it was the Feast Day that very day. It was a powerful moment of grace.
Today I woke at 3:30am and made my way to the Nashville airport for an early flight to Hartford, CT, with a layover in Baltimore. I am spending a few days with the Dominican Nuns of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford in order to transition from end of the school year chaos to this pilgrimage. Last month was packed with end of year parties, field day, work events, visits with family, and several out of town guests staying in our house. I have been feeling very physically and spiritually drained, to say the least. I can’t tell you the number of people who have stopped to ask me if I’m okay because the look of sheer exhaustion is all over my face! But tonight I am peaceful and so grateful for this time to rest, pray, and contemplate the weightiness of the love of Christ before I take off for Europe.
One of the Sisters I work with recommended I read Georges Weigel’s book Letters to a Young Catholic during my pilgrimage. It was a fantastic recommendation because the author gives a wonderfully descriptive tour of the Catholic world in order to explore what it means to be Catholic in the twenty-first century. Many of the chapters include places I’ve been before, and others I will visit on this trip. I want to end this post by sharing with you just one paragraph that jumped out to me from Weigel’s description of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome:
You’ve asked me to help you explore some of the truths of Catholic faith and practice. One of the most important truths that you might ponder is this: the truth of faith is something that seizes us, not something of our own discovery (still less, our invention). The Peter who was led from Galilee to Rome did not make the journey because of something he had discovered and wanted to explore to satisfy his curiosity. Peter went from the security of his modest Galilean fishing business to the dangerous (and ultimately lethal) center of the Roman Empire because he had been seized by the truth, the truth he had met in the person of Jesus.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!