The month of June is a scorcher for those who dwell in the sizzling metropolis of Phoenix and this summer is no different. The Soulful Catholic remembers all too well the year Sky Harbor International Airport was forced to shut down because officials didn’t know if aircraft were safe to fly when the mercury hit 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the midst of all this heat, we celebrate the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus — His unfathomable mercy and love for every sinner and every saint, for every person throughout all time.
We welcome the sweetness of that love every time we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. It’s His Most Sacred Heart that we’re receiving in the sacrament that’s been called the source and summit of our faith.
More than a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc with lives across the planet, we now realize that it might not always be possible to receive the Eucharist. Who could have anticipated the suspension of public Masses? Still, we can be encouraged that God was with us through it all and never abandoned us. It was heartbreaking to not be able to receive Communion, but how blessed we are to have been able to at least watch the livestreamed Mass.
Several months later, there are still those who for one reason or another have not returned to church. A physician friend told me she just can’t do it yet and asked me if my family and I were back at our parish in person. “We can’t live without the Eucharist,” I told her in a shameless lift from Venemur Cernui- Down In Adoration Falling, the Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.
With Bishop Olmsted’s letter to the faithful informing them that the dispensation from the Sunday obligation will be lifted July 1, we hope to see many more families and friends returning to church. One thing they’ll notice is that in some parishes, there’s now a prie-dieu to allow the faithful to kneel when receiving the Eucharist.
Having grown up post-Vatican II, I’d never experienced this way of receiving Jesus. I’m not sure I can go back after having the AWESOME opportunity to kneel and have the Sacred Host placed on my tongue! As I looked up, my eyes filled with tears; in my peripheral vision, I saw the corpus of the crucifix over the altar.
My God, how you love us! How unworthy we are to receive You! And yet here You are in this tiny host, so humble and small.
As I knelt in thanksgiving afterward, I asked the Lord to let His Sacred Heart beat in my chest, to let His Heart pulsate in my life and expand with greater love for others. I asked Him to free my heart from every fear and worry. I heard Him whisper: “With My Heart beating in you, there’s nothing we can’t face together.”
Let us pray that the eyes of all will be opened to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord and Savior who bled and died for our sins and who stands ready to forgive all who turn to Him. May we be empowered by His love and bearers of His Most Sacred Heart to every person we encounter, especially as we make our way through the intense days of heat ahead.
Why not stock up on bottled water to share with the many homeless and poor we pass in our daily travels? I’m thinking of decorating mine with Sacred Heart stickers left over from last semester’s catechism class.