A full-house audience at the May 3 meeting of the First Friday Club of Cleveland heard St. Ignatius High School President Father Ray Guiao, S.J., offer his reflections on one of the Catholic Church’s most enduring devotions, that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Guiao began his talk by inviting the attendees to come together in song, singing a hymn devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was written by fellow Jesuit Father Paul Nienaber. The lyrics speak of God’s over flowing, perfectly gracious, embracing love for all.
Noting that members of the Society of Jesus are known more for academics than piety to devotions, Father Guiao said he found it interesting that it was St. Claude de la Colombiere, a Jesuit himself who lived in the 17th century who helped promote the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus along with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Roman Catholic Visitation nun and mystic.
In 1675, Father Columbiere was named rector at the Jesuit college at Paray-le-Monial, France. While in Paray, he became the spiritual advisor for Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque. It was at that time that the Lord began to reveal Himself to Margaret Mary with visions of his compassionate heart for the world. The Lord instructed through Sister Margaret Mary that the world be devoted to his Sacred Heart. Father Colombiere assured Sr. Margaret Mary that her visions were authentic. He also instructed her to write down all that she had experienced.
In accepting the authenticity of Sister Margaret Mary’s visions, Claude de la Colombiere pledged himself to the mission of spreading the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sister Margaret Mary was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. Father Claude was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
Father Guaio also spoke about his love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus First Friday devotion, a nine-month novena to Jesus’ Sacred Heart which grew out of Sister Margaret Mary’s visions. In her visions, Jesus promised that if a person faithfully receives communion for nine consecutive months on First Fridays, He will grant that person extra graces at the time of their death, making it possible to repent of their sins and receive the last sacraments.
On May 31, the First Friday Club of Cleveland will welcome Kenneth Woodward who served as religion editor for Newsweek for over three decades. His topic will be, “Religion in the White House.” For more information or tickets, visit the First Friday Club of Cleveland website at http://www.firstfridayclubcleveland.org/