Fidelity to the Sacred Heart, Marriage, and Family

By Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

While the feast day of the Sacred Heart is typically celebrated 19 days after Pentecost on a Friday, the Catholic Church for centuries has dedicated the entire month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offers reminders of this special devotion in its outreach to the faithful.

The love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands in stark contrast to our modern culture, which often replaces God with self, advocating distorted views of human identity and flaunting disordered perceptions of love.

We are called to reach out with compassion to those in need who are blinded by the darkness and confusion of a broken world and boldly proclaim an authentic love centered in the Sacred Heart, the only love that fosters true joy and consolation.

The Sacred Heart represents the will of Jesus. His will is to love you, personally, with an intimacy beyond human relationships. He desires to unite His burning heart of love with your heart through His real presence in the Eucharist. When we receive the Eucharist in the state of grace, this intimacy draws us up to Him, and we refer to this uniting of humanity and divinity as “Holy Communion”. The Eucharistic Revival taking place across the country is an effort to impress upon our minds the reality of this love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus encompasses a human heart with a beauty, goodness, and truth that serves as the antidote to a life of anxiety and restlessness.

In the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we read about the effects of this divine love when two disciples asked themselves after engaging with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

Each person is at a different stage in their spiritual journey, and those who may be compromised by worldly influences may not yet be prepared to recognize or internalize the reality of God’s love for them. We need to reach them in different ways.

In response to growing secular ideologies, a friend of mine launched last year an initiative in June after a disturbing Wall Street Journal poll revealed a sharp decline in belief in the timeless values of patriotism, religion, family, and community. Princeton Professor Dr. Robert George declared the month of June as “Fidelity Month”, a time for us to recenter ourselves on God, spouses, and family.

Many of you may have fond memories of family traditions, even beyond those of weddings and funerals, that brought families together on a regular basis. I am certainly in that number! Sunday was always family day for us: church in the morning, Italian-style dinner in the early afternoon, visiting one set or another of extended family in the later afternoon, and then all the aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mother’s side of the family gathering at my maternal grandparents’ home in the evening. There, we kids would make up games to play with each other while the adults played poker, with grandma admonishing us from time to time, “less noise!”

Family time fosters stability and provides opportunities to share faith experiences. It recognizes the importance of community. The Fidelity Month movement strives to ignite in hearts and minds a renewed fidelity to God and family that can heal wounds and divisions and rejuvenate faith.

In the month of June, I pray that you and your family deepen your devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and find new ways to engage in family traditions that serve as positive examples for others to emulate.