I write this piece for our summer issue at the beginning of June. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We know that the language of the heart is found in the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. The language of the heart is popular in secular verse and as the quintessential symbol of affection between people, in a family, among friends.
I invite all to reflect on the heart of Jesus. Recall the words of Jesus in St. Matthew’s Gospel:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:28-29).
Jesus makes no demands on us, only that we approach him. Go to him! In personal relationship with him, he will refresh us. He will gift us with his “yoke.” In first-century Palestine, the yoke was measured and always shared. Jesus knows us and loves us. The yoke we will be asked to carry is according to how he knows our strength. We will not carry it alone. He will carry it with us! Yoked to Jesus, we will find rest for our many sufferings and burdens.
I invite and urge everyone to read and to pray with the pastoral letter on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, “Heart Speaks to Heart,” by Cardinal Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto (28 April 2021). He reflects on how “devotion to the Sacred Heart leads us to ponder the sacred humanity of Jesus, God with us.” It is a devotion that highlights “Jesus as the man for others,” who shows us how God wants us to act. It is an invitation to develop a compassionate heart.
How we need compassionate hearts at this time!
Our June issue highlights the real-life stories of those places where CNEWA, on the ground, with our valuable partners, exercises genuine and compassionate hearts!
- Our commitment to Catholic education in Lebanon and our funding of schools there is recounted in the story of St. Rita’s in Zahleh, Immaculate Conception in Beirut, and Our Lady of Lebanon in the south. Read and reflect on the moving stories shared by Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees.
- Read the letter by a Besançon Sister of Charity who continues to work near Damascus in Syria. CNEWA continues to support their work through 10 years of war.
- In Georgia, CNEWA partners with the Caritas family. Please pray for the work we do together on behalf of single and abused mothers, children, the elderly and the abandoned. Are these not expressions of the compassionate heart of Christ?
- Laura Ieraci’s feature offers poignant insights into the “back story” of the recent visit of Pope Francis to Iraq. The compassionate heart of the successor of St. Peter continues to strive to build cultures of understanding and the importance of a culture of forgiveness! Are our hearts inclined to forgive the other in imitation of the compassionate and merciful heart of our God?
- Finally, read the updates from our leaders with courageous hearts on the ground in India and Ethiopia, including updates on the violence in Tigray.
Yes, this summer edition of ONE captures and shares stories of courageous, loving and compassionate hearts.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart should not be limited to the month of June. Please pray for a docile, humble and compassionate heart like the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Finally, I thank you from the depth of my own heart for your ongoing willingness to give generously to the mission of CNEWA!
With my prayers and gratitude,
Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari