Tag Archives: France

The World Cup

I found myself on yet another Pilgrimage. This marked the fifth Pilgrimage I have had the privilege to take. This time my destination was France, with the main focus on visiting many of the places where people have encountered Mary. It was only the second day and I already experienced Mary’s strong presence in this country. The Lord has shown His presence as well.

It was Sunday, the Lord’s day. Our day began with Mass at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Our group was given the honor of sitting in the front rows of the cathedral. Of course, the entire Mass was in French, so I probably did not get as much out of it as I could have. Nevertheless, it was truly a sacred time and little did I know how significant the Gospel reading would be regarding the events that occurred later in the day.

The itinerary for the day was originally supposed to include a cruise on the river and a visit to the Eiffel Tower, but both events had to be canceled because of the World Cup Final. Since France’s team was in the final, the entire city practically shut down to watch the game. When the match started there was no-one in the city who was not watching the game; people were piling into bars and restaurants. The square in front of the Eiffel Tower was blocked off by military because there were so many people in the square watching the game. Our group of pilgrims ended up splitting into a few different groups depending how each one of us wanted to experience the game. I went with the group who wanted to watch it on the square. Our plan was quickly dashed when we were met by a wall of French Military holding machine guns blocking off all entrances into the square. It was a true miracle that we were able to find a bar with seats right in front of a television. Unfortunately, there were two different televisions playing the game in the bar and our television lagged, which meant that every time someone scored, we knew before we were actually able to see it. By halftime the group had had enough and we returned to our hotel. I honestly don’t know which was more exciting, watching the game or watching people watching the game. As the game ended, the action in the streets grew wilder and wilder. People were chanting the national anthem, jumping on moving vehicles, setting off fireworks and tear gas. In a sense it was beautiful chaos. When France officially won, everyone flooded into the streets and began to march. No one knew where we were going but we marched on anyway. Eventually, my group had to stop and head back to our hotel for dinner, but even as we were walking back we continued to see people coming, all chanting their anthem.

When we reached the hotel and gathered for dinner, we all engaged in intense conversation retelling all the crazy stories. One group saw a gang fight break out, while another saw a parked car completely destroyed because of all the people climbing and jumping on it to see the game. All law and order was forgotten; to be a part of the World Cup aftermath was to be a part of something that has never happened before and will never happen again. France winning set Paris on fire. Witnessing it made me think of the Gospel for the day. Mark 6:7-13 is all about Jesus sending the disciples out to preach the Word of God. The disciples now had their mission, which was to set the World on Fire with His Word. If winning a sports game can set Paris ablaze in such a spectacular way, can you imagine what the world could be like if we all accepted our mission and set the World on fire?

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Originally posted at Kitty in the City.
Image: PD-US

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

By guest writer Catherine Sheehan.

The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most common images associated with Catholicism. Numerous Catholic churches and schools are named after the Sacred Heart and many churches contain an image or statue of the Sacred Heart.

But how often do we stop to think what the devotion to the Sacred Heart is actually all about? What was Christ communicating to us when He revealed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century? Why did the Church establish a feast day devoted to the Sacred Heart and does this devotion still have relevance for us today?

For human beings, the heart symbolizes the very center of our being since it is the organ that keeps us alive by pumping blood around the whole body. It also symbolizes the depths of our feelings and therefore our capacity for love. We speak of being ‘heart-broken’ when something tragic happens to us, when someone we love dies, a friend betrays us or our love is rejected. When we desire to be close to others we refer to ‘speaking from the heart’ or having a ‘heart to heart’ conversation.

All of this tells us much about why Jesus desired a devotion to His Sacred Heart. He wanted to be close to us, to reveal to us the depths of His love for us, and to call us to respond to this love by loving Him in return and extending that love to others. Indeed He gave the commandment to His followers to ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15: 12).

Since St. John told us that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8), devotion to the Sacred Heart is nothing other than acknowledging and reinforcing this revelation of who God is, and asking us to enter more deeply into his love.

From 1673 to 1675, Our Lord appeared several times to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in the French town of Paray-le-Monial. The first apparition took place on 27 December 1673, the feast of St. John the Evangelist. Interestingly, it was St. John who was called the disciple ‘whom Jesus loved’, and who rested his head near Christ’s heart at the Last Supper (John 13: 23).

Christ showed St. Margaret Mary His Sacred Heart which was crowned with flames and a cross, and encircled by a crown of thorns. She also saw that His heart was pierced. This corresponds with the fact that Christ’s side was pierced with a lance when He hung on the cross (John 19:20).

Jesus expressed to St. Margaret Mary His desire that a devotion to His Sacred Heart be established and a feast day on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.

As part of this devotion, Jesus asked that people receive the Holy Eucharist on the first Friday of each month for nine consecutive months, in honor of His Sacred Heart. This is known as the First Friday devotion.

The feast day of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was officially established in 1765 and in 1899 Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart.

In his encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart, Haurietis Aquas, Pope Pius XII wrote:

… Christ Our Lord, exposing His Sacred Heart, wished in a quite extraordinary way to invite the minds of men to a contemplation of, and a devotion to, the mystery of God’s merciful love for the human race … Christ pointed to His Heart, with definite and repeated words, as the symbol by which men should be attracted to a knowledge and recognition of His love; and at the same time He established it as a sign or pledge of mercy and grace for the needs of the Church of our times.

He further wrote: “The Church gives the highest form of worship to the Heart of the divine Redeemer.”

Let us celebrate the great feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus with particular fervor, since it announces to the world the unfathomable love and mercy of Jesus Christ. His Sacred Heart burns with love for us each and every day!

The 12 promises of Christ to those who have devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, as revealed to St Margaret Mary:

(1) I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
(2) I will establish peace in their homes.
(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
(6) Sinners will find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

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Catherine Sheehan is an experienced writer and a journalist with The Catholic Weekly.