A Reflection on the Feast of the Sacred Heart 2024

Written on: June 7, 2024

Written by Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH

Happy Feast Day!

Today we celebrate the patronal feast day of our congregation. As Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, the call is to love Jesus and the poor in all circumstances.

I was recalling a moment 57 years ago as a young postulant in the congregation. Sitting in the front row of the main chapel in the evening… desperately trying to cut down on the distractions I so frequently felt when trying to pray. Then I heard another sister enter the chapel who had a very distinctive gait. She walked all the way to the front seat on the other side of the aisle, knelt down heavily and said aloud, “Good night Sweet Heart!” and then she left.

The Sacred Heart, Sr. Grace’s Sweet Heart, is one of the four metaphors of our Grey Nun spirituality. The other three are Divine Providence, the Cross and Eternal Father. St. Marguerite d’Youville was very familiar with them because the French School of spirituality was prevalent in the early 1700’s. She connected with that spirituality through her Sulpician spiritual directors and through the Ursuline Sisters where she went to school.

When we separated from the Ottawa congregation, the Grey Nuns of the Cross, in 1921, we retained the title Grey Nuns and chose Sacred Heart to be part of our official title.

In 1987, we invited Fr. Lowell Glendon, SS, to help us take the “dated” metaphors of the 1600-1700’s’s and to exegete them. We sought to explore our Grey Nun heritage’s spirituality and recognize how these root images could speak to us of our life and mission now and in the future.

The French School’s devotion to the Sacred Heart was viewed as “an invitation to contemplative communion with what were the inner dispositions and sentiments of Jesus Christ”. It predates the devotion to the Sacred Heart that St. Margaret Mary Alacoque forwarded much later in the 1700’s, which focused primarily on reparation and was only recognized and promulgated in the 1800’s.

Once I recovered from the “distraction” of Sister Grace of the Sacred Heart, my reaction was, “Oh, I will never have that kind of intimate relationship with God!” Her words touched me and in a sense invited me to work to develop that kind of relationship with God.

Just how does one do that?

St. Marguerite’s words gave my heart a clue and they remain significant for me now: “Learn from the heart of the Father (our God) the attitudes of love, tender concern, and compassion.”

The way we learn what the Father’s heart teaches is through the life and action of his son Jesus. We could not have a better role model to teach us the pathway to the call of God’s heart!

Contemplative communion with Jesus in the words of Richard Rohr: “Gives us access to our birthright waiting within us. If we stay on this journey, we come to know that we are merely a grain of sand, though a wonderful grain of sand, in this marvelous universe. We are a part and therefore a participant. To the soul, that’s enough specialness for a lifetime.” 

Jesus taught that it is all about love, and in the end, that is how we will be judged:

Did I love?

Did I love life?

Did I love myself?

Did I love God?

And did I love my neighbor?

We do not have to wear our heart on our chest or sleeve; but we are called to have a compassionate, tender, loving concern for God, self, others, and our common home in all we are and do.

Following Jesus requires nothing less than everything of us: liberty, memory, understanding, and will. We received it all freely and the call is to offer it back freely with full and unfettered hearts as Jesus did.

Blessed feast!

8 thoughts on “A Reflection on the Feast of the Sacred Heart 2024

  1. Elizabeth Jane Cipollini says:

    Thanks for sharing this reflection. I was unable to come but so enjoyed the experience of your past memory
    Thank you and all the kind Grey Nuns. God Bless!

  2. K. T. Connor says:

    Each night I use Richard Rohr’s daily meditation before going to bed. But tonight, this has wrapped me in such a sense of God, within me, and you, and all. So this is my warming meditation tonight. I will stay with it for a bit.

    Thanks, Mary Elizabeth, and thanks for those sparks of GNSH memories it ignited as well.

  3. Patty O'Sullivan-Sanders says:

    Thank you for your reflection. What a gift to overhear Sr. Grace’s love language for her Sweetheart! She was my teacher and conveyed that deep devotion and vibrant reality in her presence and lessons.

  4. Mary Pfeiffer says:

    Wow! What a beautiful reflection. I’m so grateful that this was shared so I could read, ponder and pray with a little different perspective! Thank you!!!

  5. Josephine Pattii says:

    Although I was present to hear Mary Elizabeth’s reflection, I was delighted to read it silently and reflectively – and know I will do so again.
    Thanks Mary Elizabeth

  6. Claire O'Sullivan Keighley says:

    This is a beautiful reflection. I remember our postulant year and gaining some wonderful insights to St Marguerite and the Sacred Heart. I am so blessed to have these memories in my life.

  7. m.j. key says:

    What a wonderful reflection. And I love the simple, but abundant prayer of Sr. Grace.



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