To Return Love for Love


Every May, we Holy Cross priests and brothers of our Province, like the Holy Cross sisters in July, gather to celebrate jubilees marking twenty-five, forty, fifty, or even more years of either priestly ordination or religious profession. These powerful occasions of reminiscing and rejoicing invite us in Holy Cross to reflect upon the dreams and hopes of our own call to service in the Church when we were either ordained or made first profession of vows. For Holy Cross priests, they are dreams and hopes centered, in a special way, in the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of Holy Cross, chose the solemnity of the Sacred Heart as the special feast for his priests precisely because of the powerful image of Jesus’ human heart aflame with love for all sinners. It was Fr. Moreau’s prayer that his priests would model their ministry after the pattern of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesusthat heart pierced by the soldier’s lance, the final proof that Jesus offered to allevery last bit of his life substancefor each and every one of us.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

To love in this same wayunreservedly, sacrificially, and redemptivelyis a challenge for all of us called to priestly ministry in Holy Cross, indeed, a challenge for all Christians who are called to love as Jesus loved. There is no room for any of us to hold back, to hesitate, to shrink away in fear when we are called to love as Jesus loved. There is no place for self-absorption or self-protection, no way to hide from the cost of such incredible love, no way to make this love self-serving. It must be a total gift of self for all who are disciples of Jesus Christ, but especially we who are priests in Holy Cross.

There is room for everyone in the Sacred Heart of Jesusevery sinner and every saint. In his heart, the sinner finds forgiveness and the saint glory. The sinner is led to conversion, and those striving for the perfection of holiness learn lessons of self-giving. Both in conversion and in self-gift, our hearts will be broken and pierced. But from a broken, contrite heart flows a steadfast spirit and an enduring love.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus stained glass window

Fr. Moreau wrote: “In human language, the heart is the synonym and symbol of love. To give one’s heart is to give love. Jesus speaks our language when he holds out to us his heart, which of itself tells the story of his love The primary purpose of the devotion to the Sacred Heart is to return love for love” (Moreau, Meditations).

To return love for love. What better way to celebrate this feast?

Fr Peter Rocca, CSC photo by: Heather Gollatz-Dukeman

Fr. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., is Rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the campus church for the University of Notre Dame, and also serves on the formation team at Moreau Seminary.

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