May was the month of Mary: June is the month of the Sacred Heart. The tradition of ascribing a particular devotion to months of the year means that those months stay in our memories from childhood. Be it the Marian Crowning and Procession of May-time, or the strawberries and cream with which one school marks the Feast of the Sacred Heart (yes, honest!) these rituals and customs are important to our celebration of a Catholicism deeply rooted in our culture and popular devotions.
A few weeks ago, Pope Francis addressed a gathering in Rome of Confraternities and Sodalities and asked them to keep in their hearts and minds three important concepts (he seems to like making three points or using three significant words or ideas in his homilies!). He asked them, and thereby us, to remember to carry with us a spirit which is Evangelical, Ecclesial and Missionary.
We are to be Evangelical: to have a love for the Gospels and for the person of Jesus to whom they all bear loving witness, and a desire to communicate the richness of God’s word to others. We are to be Ecclesial because we remember always and delight in the fact that we belong to a household of faith which is truly Catholic, universal not just for its geographical spread but affecting every part of our lives. There is, he says, no such thing as a part-time Christian! We are to be Missionary because we each have a particular vocation, but the fundamental mission uniting us all is the task of letting people know, as Saint Paul put it, “the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
The Liturgy which we celebrate each day is also marked by these three virtues: We are rooted in the Gospel, rooted in love of the Church, and nourished for the mission which is ours in the world.
As the Pope is also fond of saying: “E cosi sia – May it be so!”
Canon Philip Gillespie. Saint Mary’s, Douglas, Isle of Man
Writing in this month’s issue of The Catholic Pictorial