Tuesday, February 15, 2011

St. Claude - Heart Matters: Sacred and Otherwise

Today is the Feast of Claude La Colombière, S.J. (1641-1682)

Claude packed some serious heart. In his forty one years, the scholarly Frenchman took Orders with the Jesuits, earned a reputation as one of the great preachers of the Post Reformation Catholic Church, acted as confessor to both St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Duchess of York during the 'Papist Plot' of Titus Oakes, and was imprisoned by the Parliament which led to his early death following banishment from England.

Claude La Colombière, S.J. is remarkable because he listened. I am gabby. That gets in the way of competent hearing too often. My Old Man used to admonish, "Jesus Christ, give your ears a chance! That mouth of your's moves like a duck's ass,"

St. Claude listened. Margaret Mary Alacoque was canonized a saint of the Catholic Church in 1920. She was from a well-off French family. As a young girl, she was stricken with an illness and vowed to devote her life to Christ, as we all do when faced with calamities. Her health improved and her Mom encouraged her to 'get out in the world' and meet some boys. She did. Returning from a dance, Margaret Mary was blessed with a vision of the Sacred Heart of Christ. The heart represents so many things - the physical power plant of our lives, love and courage.

Having a vision can mean a couple of things - you are gifted with an ability to make sense of the world as it is now and project the process to make things even better, or, you are nuts.

Margaret Mary confessed to Claude and he listened. By really listening, Claude heard the beat of the Sacred Heart through the words of Margaret Mary. The Devotions to the Sacred Heart are paths to better living. Some of them are severe. Margaret Mary would awaken at the 11 P.M. and line prostrate with her face to the ground offering prayers for intercession by the Sacred Heart of Jesus until Midnight. The devotions to the Sacred Heart continued from the 17th Century and rooted here in Chicago. The French lumbermen of Lake Township -down here on the south side along Vincennes Ave. built Sacred Heart Church at 116th & Church. One of the stained glass windows placed on the south wall in 1904 holds a promise from Christ to Margaret Mary ' I Shall Make Tepid Hearts Fervent.'

That promise continues because Claude, a gifted preacher and scholar, closed his mouth, and listened. Hearing - genuine listening opens the heart.

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