Prayer & Spiritual Life

Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

by Steve Ray on June 11, 2015

A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?”

Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks.

Thanks. Beautiful images. Full of biblical representation — NOT pagan influences. They are devotional images to remind Catholics of the sorrows of Jesus and Mary and the resultant purification, joy and new life that come from them.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Hearts represent love and life as the center of our being. Jesus’ heart beats with the fire of love (at the top of the heart) which was demonstrated at the cross. The fire also represents the purifying fire of God by which he purifies men. It exudes the transformative power of divine love.

The crown of thorns brought suffering which was endured for the love of man to redeem him — to bear man’s pain in his own heart. The cut in the heart is that made by the lance that was thrust through his heart when he was on the cross.

The blood dripping represents the new life secured through his death (life came through dead). The Blood of Jesus also cleanses us, washes us from sin. The result is the heart of man (below surrounded by flowers) is given new life. The flowers represent a garden of delights, new life, freshness. The Garden of Eden which brought about death by sin is now replaced by the Garden of Heaven which brings new life because of holiness and the work of Christ.

Adam and Eve experienced death at the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden; The New Adam (Jesus) brings about life at the Tree of Death (the cross) in another garden (John 19:41). This cross is at the top of the heart. Heaven and the glory of God is represented by the clouds and the blazing sun or heavenly light from God behind the hearts.

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary:
This one is similar to the Sacred Heart. The roses surrounding Mary’s heart represent her sinlessness and purity, sweetness and new life. The seven swords piercing the top of the heart represents the “Seven Sorrows of Mary,” (“Mater Dolorosa”).

The first of her sorrows was the Prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul because of her son’s death (Luke 2:35), 2) their flight into Egypt, 3) the loss of Jesus in the Temple; 4) the fourth sorrow is Mary watching Jesus carry the cross, 5) the crucifixion imagining a mother watching her son die this way; 6) receiving his limp, cold body after the crucifixion, 7) the body of her son buried in the tomb.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple as a baby the prophet Simeon said that the life and death of Jesus would be like a sword that would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). The lower heart, the one of Mary surrounded by roses, shows a cut in it which is symbolic of her sorrows. But her sorrows have brought us new life and pure hearts represented by the garden of roses below.

The Mystic Rose:
The mystic rose, symbolizes Mary’s mystical participation in the Holy Trinity as Heaven’s Rose or Mystical Rose. In medieval times the mystic rose symbol was drawn with four petals on a stain glass background or on a multi-colored background like a popular quilt pattern which is still stitched today.

Conclusion:
It is a very popular and insightful devotion to Jesus and his mother — the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Every aspect is taken from the Bible and nicely illustrated in the pictures you sent. You have a nice few items there :-)

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A Day of Retreat .. or maybe a Life…

by Steve Ray on May 13, 2015

Looks like a fun lot to spend time with!

I recently received an invitation to a retreat at a monastery in Massachusetts. Maybe some day I will have the time to go. But they also are inviting young men to come and take a look. Fr. Dunstan and I met at a men’s conference not long ago.

Want to break away from the hectic world to spend time with God — on a retreat or for the rest of your life? Get in contact with Fr. Dunstan Robertson OSB. I told him if I had three lives to live, one of them would probably be spent with them :-)  Their website is http://www.stmarysmonastery.org. His email is: monks@stmarysmonastery.org

Here is what he wrote to me:

   First,  we are having a Monastic Experience Weekend (Be a Monk for 48 hours) for single men 18-40,  Fri 29  – Sun 31 May 2015.  We would be grateful if you could make this known in any way you think suitable.  For fuller information, attached to a separate email are a poster, a supporting letter and a vocations flyer.    We would be additionally grateful if you sent it on to anyone you think would like to know – or ought to know!

Click on this image to see "A Day in the Life of the Monks?

    Second.  Though our community is about 25 years old, we are a little off the ecclesial radar.  Most people do not know that we have a guest house.  We would be delighted to see the guest house more used, by clergy and lay, individual and groups – even if only within the day.  With the necessary Child Protection Guidelines followed, it is also available for school groups. 

But it would be especially pleasing to welcome more guests from the ‘Vocations world’:  Vocations Directors, discerners, seminarians, those on pre-ordination retreats etc.  Not for us to ‘poach’.  We think that monasteries can be helpful places to see the next steps forward for many people, but especially so for those directly involved with finding/ discovering/ supporting Vocations.  You meet a lot of people doing just that and…..

  Our web site gives more details on the guesthouse, but in brief: 16 rooms, 18 bed, m & f, 1980’s student accommodation, self-catering, no fixed charge donations if you wish; divine office 7x/day and daily mass, all Vatican II but in Latin Gregorian chant with English readings; liturgy shared with twin community of OSB Sisters (a story in itself; see their web site at www.stscholasticapriory.org ; which also gives details of their similar but different dates Monastic Experience Weekend). 

    Third, I’m (very!) English and from our mother house of Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland (www.pluscardenabbey.org).  For historical reasons, there we are more involved in the life of the local Church.  Guests include school groups, youth groups, clergy groups, college groups etc; plus individuals, especially individual clergy and religious; and not least, those heroic lay people whose journey to sanctity involves working professionally for the Church! 

  Your job Steve, involves you around the engine room of the Church.  And requires you to travel not just almost as much as the Pope but in fact even more than him!  So you  especially feel  the gears of the Church clunk, hear the machinery creak…So if you – or any of your colleagues, clergy or lay  – ever want to switch off the cell phone, close the briefcase and come and hide, you would be most welcome.

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Kissing Statues

by Steve Ray on May 11, 2015

We are in Jerusalem today ready to pick up our group of 50 people at the airport in a few hours. When I woke up this morning to the Muslim “call to prayer”, church bells ringing and horns honking I read this email that came from the United Kingdom…

It read, “Hi Steve! I know you are a busy man. Please answer the above issue when the time permits you. I am a Catholic but I cannot accept the kissing of statues. It goes against my conscience.  I feel also it is against the bible teachings. Thanking you and awaiting your reply.”

I responded: Greetings from Jerusalem! I understand your sentiments and I don’t make a practice of going around kissing statues either though I have at times and certainly understand the reasoning and sentiment behind the action.

Notice the picture to the left. He is kneeling in front of a Bible. Is the man worshiping the Bible – he is kissing it after all. No, he loves the Word of God and is showing his love for God and his word. It is the same if a man kneels in front of a Bible while reading it.

 Imagine your wife, if you’re married, is in a different country for a while and you miss her. Every once in a while you take an old picture of your wedding out of your pocket and look at it and think of her and it makes you miss her and love her. Once in a while you might close your eyes and kiss the picture as a means of demonstrating your love and devotion to her and your union together.

 It’s no different with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a saint or Jesus. It’s simply a way that people acknowledge and express their love and respect for the person behind the statue.

 Just like you don’t fall in love with a picture and begin to worship the picture of your wife, so Catholics don’t love the statue or worship it; they are simply expressing their love and respect for the person behind the statue or that the statute represents. 

 There’s no need to read anything more nefarious into the action than that. It is simply an act of devotion and love for Mary, for Jesus, or for our brothers and sisters the saints who are alive in heaven.

Paragraph 1192 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the persons represented.” In other words, I as said above, we do not worship the image we love and honor the people they represent.

 If you understand it this way you will be understanding it properly and you will do well. 

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“Created for Greatness”: The Emerging Catholic Men’s Movement – CWR Article

May 7, 2015

My friend Joe Hanneman just had his excellent article on the need for Mens’ Movements in Catholic World Report. He had interviewed me for the article and he used my quotes :-) Men, and women who love their men, should read this article and encourage real men to be involved. It makes better sons, better [...]

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New Talk by Steve Ray: “Giving Yourself to God”

April 17, 2015

I gave a parish mission and the folks said this was the best of my three talks. You can now purchase it on MP3. CD audio disk coming soon. This is no warmed-over churchy homily on stewardship and tithing. This is about YOU, your life and your commitments. Our time is short, our lives are [...]

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Etiquette at Mass: Reasonable Do’s and Don’ts for Polite and Proper Worship

March 17, 2015

20 Things TO DO And NOT DO at Mass. These are not rules that will get you banished from the Church, but things that are mostly common sense — polite conduct to enhance our worship and that of those around us. 1. Fast before Mass. It is required that one fasts for at least 1 [...]

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The Skull is Talking to Me; Lent is Upon Us!

February 18, 2015

THE SKULL TALKS TO ME EVERY MORNING! It says, “As you are now, I once was; as I am now, you soon shall be — remember your mortality!” No better way to approach Ash Wednesday and 40 days of Lent. Artists have painted St. Jerome with a skull on his desk. Popes were known to keep [...]

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Nine Things You Should Know about Lent, by Jimmy Akin

February 17, 2015

Jimmy is one of my good friends and favorite guys, especially when it comes to biblical, Catholic and apologetical issues — and square dancing :-) I also love the looks of his bushy red beard. You can visit him at http://jimmyakin.com. Now, on to the matter of Lent: 1. What is Lent? According to the Universal Norms [...]

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Tears Singing Good Ole Baptist Hymns

February 10, 2015

The old Baptist hymns still stir me and bring tears to my eyes. They take me back to my childhood when the family would dress up, us kids in our little suits with cheesy ties and short-legged pants. Dad would always give us candy during the service and put his arm around us while tickling [...]

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Desire of the Everlasting Hills

February 9, 2015

If you haven’t watched this 1 hour video yet, do so. A good friend told me about it at a men’s conference this weekend where I was speaking. Janet and I turned it on tonight and were captivated. If you want to understand the homosexual lifestyle, the sadness and emptiness it brings — this is [...]

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Did St. Paul Pray for the Dead?

January 17, 2015

It seems apparent that St. Paul DOES pray for the dead. Here is my short article that gives a pretty clear example of St. Paul praying for a dead man, a man named Onesiphorus. This will be interesting for those who deny prayer for the dead and must find supposedly find everything explicitly in the Bible before they [...]

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Is God Like a GPS System?

December 28, 2014

There are a million reasons why God is NOT like a GPS system but I am in Australia and I made a wrong turn and my GPS started reprimanding me and saying “Recalculating!” For those who don’t know, GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a nifty little device that links up with positional [...]

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“Sunday Mornings in Ancient Times” or “Why I Teared up Last Sunday”

December 22, 2014

Tears welled up in my eyes — again — at Mass last Sunday. It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really! However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in [...]

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Family Rosary Pledge Campaign

November 25, 2014

My friend Karen from New Hampshire wrote: The Family Center has just kicked off a Family Rosary Pledge Campaign! Our aim is to get 1,000 + families to pledge to say the Rosary together weekly – we want this to spread world-wide! I’ve got my son on it at the International Theological Institute – he [...]

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A One-Hour Jaunt through the Rosary Sites

October 21, 2014

I recently did a one-hour radio show with Dina Maria Hale, host of KBVM in Portland Oregon. The title was “Mysteries of the Rosary: Then & Now.” We wanted to give everyone an idea of what the places were like at the time of Mary and Jesus, and what they are like today. We also [...]

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“The Sinner’s Prayer” – All You Need to Get to Heaven?

October 9, 2014

When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the [...]

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