The month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an opportunity to reflect on God's great love and mercy.
The world may recoil from the cross, but we see the intense beauty of God’s redemptive suffering. And it’s that love that we lean on when we trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
During June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are reminded of Christ’s totally unguarded, sacrificial love each time we look at that Heart. Let us be inspired to share the depth and beauty of His Passion and sacrifice with others, and let us turn to the wisdom of four great saints this month who can inspire us to do this.
All of these saints were so consumed by their love for Christ that they spoke with great poetic beauty and truth about the depth of the Lord’s sacrificial love through images: a door, a lamb, a cross, and a tree.
These saints were known for their eloquent writing or preaching (or both!). May we turn to their words the next time we want to teach someone else how an image of Christ on the cross is synonymous with love.
So meet a cave-dwelling deacon, an eloquent finder of lost things, an itinerant desert preacher, and a father of the Church who all have something to say about the love we can encounter through Christ’s cross.
June 9 — St. Ephrem (died 373)
St. Ephrem the Syrian is a Doctor of the Church. He was a deacon and in his great humility never became a priest. This deacon lived in a cave after he was forced to flee his home with other Christians running from attacks. Beautiful titles of St. Ephrem include “Harp of the Holy Spirit” and “Zither of Mary” because he was a prolific writer of many inspired songs, and is even credited with bringing song into the liturgy.
As we teach others about the love of Christ on the cross, we can be inspired by these eloquent words of St. Ephrem the Syrian:
“Blessed be the Merciful One, who saw the weapon by Paradise, that closed the way to the Tree of Life; and came and took a Body which could suffer, that with the Door, that was in His side, He might open the way into Paradise.”
We read in Scripture that Christ referred to Himself as “the Door.” It is powerful to visualize that Door opening in the lanced side of Christ, as a way to Paradise.
To journey deeper with this, we contemplate John 10:9: “I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures.”
St. Ephrem’s quote is a beautiful companion to the Divine Mercy devotion, and so to celebrate his feast day today, set your alarm for 3 p.m. to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet. This time as you pray, “You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world,” let us visualize, as St. Ephrem describes, Christ’s lanced side upon the cross as the Door opening the way to Paradise.
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