Canticle in Exile

By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion…there our captors asked us for the words of a song ….But how could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land?

Psalms 137, 1, 3-4

Our beloved Mother Amabilis Debicka entered into eternal life on July 16, 2020. I am reposting this, after numerous requests.

Mother Amabilis Debicka, SSCJ
Servant of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The SS came for them during recess. An entire class of eighth grade girls from Puck [put͡sk], Poland., abducted. And taken into Germany.

Among them was Ursula.

The transport seemed to take forever, and yet they dreaded its arrival. The Polish girls had been kidnapped for slave labor. The cruel fate of slaves awaited them: years of servile work in a foreign land.

They were taken first to a potato farm. Young Ursula Debicka [Dem-BEET-ska], born in 1926, had never known such hardship. She was a treasured daughter and sister. She was cherished. The menacing danger facing her suddenly was a shock to the security she had formerly known; the meanness around her was in sharp contrast to her sunny disposition.

Ursula’s father, Stanislaw, was a schoolteacher and former Polish military officer; her mother Jadwiga, a devout housewife. Her brothers, Kazimierz and Antony, who like all brothers teased her mercilessly, loved her dearly and doted on her. Where had those days gone?

The close-knit family had been dispersed. Ursula found herself displaced from all that was familiar, a slave near Berlin. Her father had already been hauled away to incarceration in a concentration camp for Polish intellectuals. Her brothers were taken to dig ditches. They would survive the war, but one was terribly injured, the other displaced. Their mother at home endured another kind of torture: the agony of not knowing. These were truly terrible days on earth. But God was faithful. He always is.

The potato season ended. Ursula and the other girls were taken at market by farmers for slave labor. Reduced though she was to a commodity of cheap merchandise, still the devout Ursula remained strong in the face of hatred. She put her trust in Almighty God that He would not abandon or forsake her.

Ursula was chosen by a severe SS man and his wife. They had no children of their own and intended to adopt her and make a fine German lady of her.

There was even the pretense of an adoption proceeding.

Stanislaw Debicki was asked if he would give up his daughter. He was even promised release if he would do so.

“Mr. Debicki,” the SS man had said to him, “you have many children. Surely you will not mind if we adopt your daughter?”

She learned that her father had replied that he loved all his children and would part with none of them. His courageous refusal changed nothing of Ursula’s plight. But his response had changed everything.

For the young Polish girl who had been abducted and enslaved, and who was now living in quiet desperation amid strangers, her father’s response was unequivocally that he would not disown her. Neither would God. The news changed Ursula.  The SS man and his wife must have perceived this as well, because from then on they treated Ursula with contempt as a slave.

They had tried to force Ursula to forget who she was and where she had come from. Perhaps nowhere was this more poignant than in the arranged music classes. Ursula had always loved music, but how could she sing and play in exile? Could any strain of notes give her joy apart from her beloved Poland and her family?

And yet despite her breaking heart, she played. She offered a canticle in exile. Her musical training would be used later. Nothing is wasted in the plan of God.

Despite her breaking heart, she played. She offered a canticle in exile.

There began to be rumors that the war would soon be coming to an end. It was then that Ursula made a decision: she would escape. She would put herself at risk, but she put an even greater trust in God, as she followed an inner inspiration that compelled her forward. Gathering her faith and her courage, with her Polish companion, she set forth walking.

And Ursula walked. She walked deliberately. Fearlessly. She was ingenious, pretending to be casually window-shopping. To any onlooker she simply appeared to be some fine German young lady out for a stroll with her servant. But Ursula was actually fleeing the country. Fleeing for her very life.

She walked by daylight and through towns and cities. When night fell and the Nazis let the dogs out, she sought shelter by hiding in barns. She found food where she could, but the conditions were terrible.

And yet, by the grace of God and by war’s end, at age eighteen, Ursula had somehow made it back to Poland and her family.

The hunger, privation and the elements had, however, taken their toll. In flight, Ursula had contracted tuberculosis. She would need to undergo a period of convalescence in a tubercular sanitorium.

It was during her recovery there that Ursula met a nurse who had once been a postulant in a religious community in far-off Krakow. The nurse told her patient about her brief but positive experience with the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. She encouraged Ursula to think about becoming a Sister there. Something within Ursula stirred, it was her vocational grace and call to destiny.

With the same resolute step with which she had set her feet on the way back from Germany to Poland, Ursula set her feet squarely upon the path to religious life.

She followed this next inner inspiration, seeking to offer herself to the service of God. This time her departure from family was voluntarily, as she left behind all things to follow Christ. She would not be taken by force this time, except by sheer force of Love.

She would not be taken by force this time, except by sheer force of Love.

The God who had protected her in a foreign land among her enemies, would surely lead her and provide for her in the convent. She would sing a different canticle, the canticle of love as the spouse of Christ.

It was not an easy time to enter religious life. Poland had entered another dark era of persecution under occupation by Communist Russia. There were even trials awaiting her arrival at the convent door.

When Ursula came to Krakow to the Motherhouse of the Congregation she was surprised to be treated at first with some suspicion and rigorous interrogation about her motives and place of origin.

It was later explained to her by a religious she knew in Krakow that her coming from the region of Gdansk was highly suspect because the Mother General of the Sacred Heart Sisters was then being imprisoned by Communist authorities in Gdansk. The Sisters were fearful that perhaps this young woman had been sent by the Communists to infiltrate and spy on the community. Just who was this Ursula Debicka? What would become of her?

Certainly the Sisters in Krakow that day could never have imagined the caliber of the person before them or the mission she would fulfill in their Congregation. God was sending them a woman of uncommon strength and courage, a woman whose song had been sung in exile, and who could bring the fruit of that experience to the world for the glory of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Ursula was received into their ranks in religious life and was given the religious name “Amabilis,” a name derived from a title of the Blessed Virgin, meaning “Mother of fair love.”

Sister Amabilis received formation, made her vows and became an organist in Poland. She was quite happy and busy in the daily rounds of playing organ and singing Masses and funerals. But God had other plans in mind for this religious.

Her superiors quickly recognized in Sister Amabilis the qualities of nature and grace that would serve well a newly opened foundation in the United States. So, in 1961, a sacrifice was asked of Sister Amabilis Debicka: to leave her homeland and people once again, this time to go to Erie, Pennsylvania in America. There on American soil she would undertake to fulfill the Congregation’s mission to extend the Kingdom of Love of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It was a painful departure. Shortly before leaving her beloved Poland, this photo was taken of Sister Amabilis. Also before departure, she went to receive the blessing of a young Auxiliary Bishop in Krakow, named Karol Wojtyla.

Sister Amabilis Debicka in Krakow. Poland, in 1961 before her departure to USA.
Sister Amabilis Debicka pictured second from right, Erie, Pennsylvania, 1962.

She arrived and commenced a lifetime of service in America. The Lord would eventually direct the Sisters to settle more permanently in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania. There Mother Amabilis Debicka became everything to the fledgling American foundation: first vocation promoter, first local superior, first formator, and, in 1986, first Provincial Superior in America, an office she held for a decade. She accepted the first American candidates, formed and educated them, sent them out on mission and has already even buried two of those she received.

Mother Amabilis Debicka became everything to the fledgling American foundation: first vocation promoter, first local superior, first formator, and, in 1986, first Provincial Superior in America, an office she held for a decade. She accepted the first candidates, formed and educated them, sent them out on mission and has already even buried two of those she received.

It is also worthy of note that during Mother Amabilis’ long tenure in leadership in her Congregation in America, the Church was blessed with a Polish Pope.

The Congregation of Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus had been founded in Krakow, Poland in 1894 by St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar and Blessed Klara Szczesna. Among the varied works of the Congregation was the Sisters’ service in Church offices and institutions.

In 1978 some Sisters of the Congregation were working in Krakow as secretaries and household staff for the brilliant and zealous Metropolitan Archbishop Karol Wojtyla. In October of that year, this Cardinal was elected to the papacy. Pope John Paul II took members of his Krakow staff with him to serve at the Vatican. While for the most part the sacrificial service of these Sisters was largely hidden from the eyes of the world, there was always a closeness of the Congregation to the Polish Pope, owing to its origin in Krakow and close collaboration with the Polish Pope in Rome.

Mother Amabilis (left) seen here with Sr. Redempta, pictured at the beatification Mass offered by St. John Paul II for the Sisters’ Father Founder, St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Rzeszow, Poland, June 2, 1991.
Courtesy of the Archives of the Congregation

Mother occasionally visited the Sisters in Rome and kept in touch with them. One year, Mother Amabilis arranged to send something to the Sisters at the Vatican, an envelope of some importance, sent via an American priest visiting Rome, Msgr. Francis Callaghan of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Mother stressed to the Monsignor the “grave importance” of the necessity to hand-deliver it to none other than Sr. Tobiana Sobodka herself, the local superior of the Sisters working in the papal household. Monsignor took the mission as his sacred honor and made a point to do so during his trip. The priest had much difficulty convincing the Swiss Guards that it couldn’t simply be mailed; he doggedly waited for hours until another religious could happen past and call up to Sr. Tobiana. But the envelope was delivered, and the Vatican Sisters received enough money from Mother Amabilis to purchase many golden roses to grace the Pope’s chapel on his birthday! Monsignor Callaghan spoke of his mission to the Vatican for many homilies to come, and Pope John Paul II was quite surprised at the array, asking the Sisters who was responsible. They told him that Mother Amabilis was behind it.

Truth be told, Mother Amabilis was behind a good many things, because she was loving and zealous. Not only did Mother pray and serve in community as a superior, formation director, and truly a holy strategist to further the community’s interests, Mother also worked hard in the apostolate as a kindergarten teacher, organist and sodality director. Besides prayer and apostolic work, formation classes and the myriad of demands of charity, Mother also kept the books for the Sisters, handled financial records and transactions, and still found time and energy to to raise funds and send aid and supplies to her beloved Poland, locked into poverty under Communist oppression.

In a word, Mother Amabilis Debicka has prayed much and worked hard for the glory of the Heart of Jesus! Now in her 90’s, she has entered more and more into the apostolate of prayer and suffering, so needed today. The Sisters are truly blessed to still have Mother with them. Her sufferings, her smile, her presence, betrays a silent song that ascends still to heaven. Mother is still singing, singing as she did by the rivers of Babylon during the terrible war, singing now her beautiful canticle of love and spiritual joy in the exile of this life.

In eternity, Mother will take up the next psalm (cf. Ps. 138) that immediately follows the sad story of exile (cf. Psalm 137):

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart; in the presence of the angels – to you I sing….I praise your name for your mercy and faithfulness….On the day I cried out, you answered; you strengthened my spirit.

Though I walk in the midst of dangers, you guard my life when my enemies rage. You stretch out your hand; your right hand saves me. The LORD is with me to the end. LORD, your mercy endures forever. Never forsake the work of your hands!

Psalm 138: 1, 2b, 3, 7, 8.
Mother Amabilis’ love and zeal even took her in 2007 in her 80’s to visit our Sisters’ mission in Jamaica.
Surrounded by the Sisters she loves. This photo was taken May 31, 2018. Sr. Marietta Therese Hanley, beside Mother Amabilis, died that August, the first American Sister to go to God. Sr. Theresa Marie Kukla, standing behind Mother, died the following year. Sr.Theresa was among the first Sisters Mother received in USA. Standing in the back row, far left, is our former General Superior, Mother Agnieszka Kijowska.
Mother is greeted by former members of Sodality of the Blessed Mother who fondly remember it from childhood.

June 30: The Means and Ways of the Apostolate of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

Whoever would like to be called a devotee and lover of the Heart of Jesus, beholding this Heart, must work as much as possible to increase God’s glory upon earth. Zeal for the glory of God should be our first care and daily task.  As St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar says, following from St. John Chrysostom: “If we seek only our own gain, we live in the world in vain. Be therefore like the industrious worker in what refers directly to God’s glory and increases it upon earth.”

The lover of the Heart of Jesus desires also the salvation of others.  First of all, the love of God compels him.  He who loves God and wants to please Him shares the Divine intention and is concerned for its fulfillment. The example of Christ urges Him on to care for each person, knowing that the price of salvation is immeasurable. Moreover the person is a royal work of God, more precious than the whole world. Each person’s worth is as much as the Blood of the Savior. Whoever participates and supports the priests in their pastoral work, gives great joy to the Heart of Jesus. St. John Chrysostom says even that whoever will convert but one sinner is more pleasing to the Lord than the one who gives all his possession to the poor. The source of such an apostolate proceeds from zeal for the glory of God, care for the salvation of people and the good of the Church. These only can impel us to action to fulfill God’s great plans.

The apostolate of the Heart of Jesus is realized through prayer, penance, suffering, sacrifice and deeds. The Heart of Jesus ardently desires a prayerful intercession, therefore the true apostle prays eagerly and frequently for the intentions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  A true apostle of this Heart also spreads His Kingdom through penance and suffering. He makes expiation not only for his own sins but for those of others as well. The crosses that the Lord sends him, he carries eagerly and courageously so that God will be honored.  A true apostle of the Heart of Jesus contributes to His glory by spiritual and material gifts that help toward the educational and charitable work of the Church. He works also, as his state of life and abilities allow him, to spread faith and devotion in individuals, families and society. He conscientiously fulfills his obligations yet at the same time works for the sanctification of those around him. He gives testimony to his faith before unbelievers or those indifferent in their faith. He distributes valuable books, magazines and films. Having access to the mass media, he makes use of it to spread truthful information and good and to defend moral and religious values.

He cares for the fainthearted, the abandoned and those lost in life. In a word, the apostle of the Heart of Jesus does as much good as he can, and does not seek in it his own gain. He does all this in union with the Church and strives interiorly for meekness, courage, prudence and wholehearted love for neighbor.

Today, how much we need such apostles of the Heart of Jesus, full of renunciation, dedication and zeal!

Heart of Jesus, Hear! – Sung by our Sisters
Here I Am, Lord – Sung by our Sisters
I Have Loved You – Sung By Our Sisters
Holy Is His Name – Sung by our Sisters

June 29: The Apostolate as the Expression of Our Love for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

The Christian who truly strives for perfect love for the Lord Jesus is one who is overcome with ardent devotion for His Heart, shares His aspirations and desires, and strives with all his strength that they may be fulfilled. What then are these desires of the Heart of Jesus who is reigning now in glory and is hidden in the Sacred Mystery of the Altar?

As in His earthly life, so now also He desires glory for His Heavenly Father and the salvation of mankind.  This is the reason why the Son of God took upon Himself a human body, why He lived hidden in Nazareth and publicly proclaimed the Good News. For this purpose He also instituted the sacrament of the priesthood, died upon the cross and remained with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Heart of Jesus ardently desires that His Church would be spread to all nations throughout the whole world and would embrace all centuries. He desires that His Church would live and grow in peace, and would enlighten and sanctify all people. Everything that helps the Church in fulfilling its mission is dear to the Heart of Jesus.  In this task, what is most necessary and helpful for the Church is: the submission in faith to the Holy Father, the holiness and zeal of priests and religious, the just government of people, the propagation of missions and the development of charitable works of mercy and the various Catholic organizations.

True devotees and lovers of the Heart of Jesus assume His aspirations and desires. They not only strive eagerly for their own sanctification alone but become apostles of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as well. St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar urges: “Brothers and sisters in Christ, especially you fathers and mothers of families, you should watch that your children be holy and that each of your homes become a domestic Church. All of you should remain beneath the banner of the cross, close to your bishops and priests. All of you should be Catholic ‘in spirit and in truth’ and, at the same time, must work for the sanctification of your families. Participate in Catholic organizations and activities, and do not push Catholic-social action only onto the priests and a few volunteers…There are not many with strong Catholic norms who are always and everywhere faithful to them in private and public life, at home and school, in government and everywhere else. There are not many with an ardent heart who will identify with the joys and sufferings of the Church, and who, for every religious cause will be ready to sacrifice. There are not many with an apostolic spirit who, grateful for their grace of faith, try to draw others to God.”

There is also a great number of half-hearted and lukewarm Christians who remove themselves from the life of the Church and avoid priests and going to church. There are many who serve only the gods of the modern world, namely, pleasure, riches and vainglory. The task, now, for the apostles of the Divine Heart and to which the love of God compels them, is to enkindle the spirit of Christ in human hearts.

I Have Loved You – Sung By Our Sisters
Soul of My Savior – Sung by our Sisters
Veni Sponsa, Christi – Come, Spouse of Christ, receive the crown the Lord has prepared for you for all eternity. Sung by Sr. Mary Joseph Calore, SSCJ accompanied by Sr. Mary Barbara Hoyt, SSCJ on organ, and Sr. Angela Marie Igou on violin.

June 28: The Heart of the Most Tender Father

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

From the creation of the world, God has shown Himself to be a Father to the whole human family, but in a special way towards His chosen people.  Nevertheless, it was only the Lord Jesus who brought to earth the most joyful news: that God is our best Father. He knows what we need and what is good for us. God the Father cares for us incomparably more than other creature, and He loves us infinitely. The Heart of the Son of God was always most closely united to His Heavenly Father.  This was shown especially in His prayer in Gethsemane.

Jesus Christ not only taught about His Father but He also showed Himself to be the best Father to us. With what great love He taught the ignorant, healed the weak, consoled the afflicted and fed the hungry with spiritual and earthly bread. In the parables of the Good Shepherd, the lost sheep and the prodigal son, the Lord Jesus revealed the depths of His Heart filled with love toward sinners and the desire for their conversion. Longing to give His children supernatural and eternal life, He died for them, enduring the most horrible pains and insults. Can there be any greater love? He has loved us to the end, to the end of the ages, and beyond all measure, for He has remained among His children – remaining not simply in one place, Palestine, but remaining upon all the altars in so many churches. He remained not in the radiance of glory as on Mount Tabor, but clothed Himself instead in the garment of the greatest humiliation, so as not to terrify His children, but rather by meekness to draw them to Himself. He remained with us, although foreseeing that many of His ungrateful children would reject and even insult Him. Jesus stayed not only to live among His children in churches but also to visit them in their homes and to enter their souls. O Lord, how good a Father you are!  Truly, you have kept the promise that you made to us at the Last Supper: Do not let your hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1). I will not leave you orphaned (Jn1 4:18).

For the sake of His children, this Father has built a great home –the Catholic Church, with which He has supplied everything that serves their good and salvation, that is, light, warmth and nourishment. He lives and acts continually in this home; He governs this home; and He protects this home that the waves of the ages will not carry it off or fill it with error or sin. As our Father, the Lord Jesus is providing food for us His children, since He has left in His home the spiritual bread – the bread of truth and bread of Sacrament – and which will never be wanting.

The Heart of the Father loves all children although He does not provide for them all in the same way. Those who serve Him faithfully or try to serve Him better, He exalts and showers with supernatural gifts and sweetness, as we see in the lives of so many Saints. Unfortunately, there are also blind children who run from Him and thereby perish forever out of hunger. Oh, how His Heart grieves over them!

Relying on the omnipotence and goodness of God, trust God in everything and throughout your entire life; and affectionately nestle upon this Heart. This Heart is the throne of mercy from which we can always hear:  Come, all you, to me (Mt 11:28).

Here I Am, Lord – Sung by our Sisters
Good, Good Father – Chris Tomlin

June 27: The Heart of the King

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus can also be called the feast of Christ, King of the Universe since the reign of the Divine Heart is based upon true love. The preface for this day expresses it beautifully, speaking about the Kingdom of truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace.

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar teaches that as God-Man and King of heaven, the Lord Jesus lowered His royal majesty, took upon Himself the form of a servant and emptied Himself unto death on the cross. Now all the hosts of Angels and Saints humbly bow before Him and sing an endless hymn of glory.

The Lord Jesus is King of the earth. All people are subject to His authority and, if not in life, then after death they must bend the knee before Him. Unseen, He rules in His Kingdom that is the Church, thus the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.

The Lord Jesus is the victorious King who conquers the kingdom of Satan, for He has vanquished his gates, and by His death He has conquered the prince of darkness.

Jesus Christ is also King of the Church Suffering, that is, of the souls in Purgatory who endure their torments as the temporal punishment they did not expiate during their life. The Lord Jesus has pity upon the souls who are there. “Without a doubt,” St. Joseph Sebastian writes, “these souls, uniting themselves with the Church Triumphant and Militant, adore their Savior and King, present on the Altar and in our tabernacles.” He permits us on earth to help the souls in Purgatory by our prayers, almsgiving, good deeds, fasting, mortification, and, above all, by the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. This gracious King permits that we recommend our needs to their prayers, all of us who are continuing on the path to His Kingdom.

The Lord Jesus as Lord and Creator is King to all people, but especially of Christians. The soul, heart and conscience of Christians must be completely surrendered to the rule of Christ the King. St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar writes: “Through holy baptism the Lord Jesus becomes King of the soul, and the soul becomes His Kingdom. The soul, therefore, declares through the lips of the godparents that it renounces the kingdom of Satan and surrenders itself totally under the scepter of Jesus Christ. From this time forward the soul will be ruled by His principles, listen to His commandments and offer Him due sacrifice. Joy to the soul, who throughout its entire life, fulfills this promise and never rebels against its King, or who after each transgression will return immediately to God’s grace. In such a soul the Lord Jesus reigns completely, and His Kingdom is a Kingdom of light, for, with Jesus, trust, love and patience enter the human heart. This Kingdom is also the Kingdom of freedom, for wherever He reigns there is a holy freedom. It is also the Kingdom of glory because He makes His servants kings.”  Each Christian is the friend of the Heavenly King whom the Lord honors with His great mark of confidence. If one would be great, powerful and glorious, more than any king or monarch in the world, then wholly surrender to the dominion of the King of the kings, who is Jesus Christ the Lord.

Motto of Our Congregation – Sung by our Sisters
Heart of Jesus, Hear – Sung by our Sisters
Sacred Heart Song – Michael John Poirier
Behold This Heart – Fr. Joseph Gill

June 26: The Heart of the Master, our Shepherd and Guide

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

The Apostles and disciples of the Lord Jesus saw in Him their good Teacher and Master. They were full of admiration for His teaching and power, but especially for the virtues that radiated from His Person.  Above all, they held Him in the highest esteem since there was also no contradiction between His teaching and His way of life. They were in awe of the inexhaustible love He showed them and to all whom He met. They also felt intuitively that the power of His love exceeded their greatest expectations in this regard.

Closer to our times, St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, disciple and apostle of the Heart of Jesus presents us not only with what is taken from the tradition of the ages but also draws upon what he himself found.  He writes that Jesus Christ, while even still in the womb of Mary, by his life was teaching us to love obedience, recollection, silence and mortification.  In the manger He showed us surrender, poverty of spirit, humility and meekness.  Later, in His earthly life, He was continually giving examples of sacrifice and entrustment to Divine Providence. In Nazareth and Jerusalem during His boyhood, He taught us how to advance in goodness, how to love religious observance and customs, and how to live a hidden life of obedience, devotion and hard work. As He grew up, He was giving us the example of perfect prayer, of how to combat Satan and to fight the temptations of the flesh, the world and the pride of life.

The Lord Jesus became the Master because He brought God’s truth and proclaimed it by His life and His words. He taught it with great respect and love, as well as with clarity, accommodating Himself to His listeners and often using parables. In many places and situations He also spoke by His very demeanor to those mentioned in the Gospel.  He has spoken clearly by His Passion and death; likewise, through His glorious life and by remaining with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Today the Lord Jesus teaches His truth and Divine life – from the lips of His Church and by His presence in the most holy mystery of the Altar.

The Heart of the Lord Jesus is also the exemplar and Master since it is the school of all virtues. In It, the inexperienced can learn a holy life, and especially love, for it was out of love that this Heart has sacrificed Himself upon the cross and continues to sacrifice Himself in the Sacrament of the Altar. He calls out to us: Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart (Mt 11:29). The Heart of Jesus is at once purest and holiest. It is meek and sweet, merciful and sensitive. It burns with zeal for the Father’s glory and our salvation. It reveals itself as humble, patient and obedient unto death.

Jesus Christ is also our best Shepherd and Guide to heaven. He penetrates the hidden matters of the human heart and draws His sheep to Himself. He seeks them out in the wilderness, carries them in His arms, and feeds them with His very self.

The Lord Jesus, our Guide, is at once our best Counselor. If we come to Him with trust and ask, “Lord Jesus, direct me”, He immediately responds to us.

To receive light in all doubts and difficult situations, knock at the Heart of your Shepherd, hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and call as well upon the intercession of our Mother of Good Counsel.

Shepherd Me, O God – Sung by our Sisters

Heart of Jesus, Hear! – Sung by our Sisters
Sacred Heart Song – Michael John Poirier
Behold this Heart – Fr. Joseph Gill

June 25: The Heart of the Most Faithful Friend

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me!

In our life we sometimes feel alone and abandoned.  We desire to have someone close who would be a support, help and consolation. The Holy Scripture calls such a faithful friend a treasure that not everyone finds (cf. Eccl 6:14).  St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar writes, “The Lord Jesus is such a friend to everyone, especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  During His earthly life, the Lord Jesus loved everyone infinitely, yet His Heart was not indifferent to the human sentiments of friendship towards some. By this He wanted to give us an example of what kind of friendship we should keep and what this friendship entails.”

Among His chosen friends were, above all, His disciples, whom He kept close to Him throughout three years and whom He not only taught but also endured and sanctified. During the Last Supper He said to them openly: I no longer speak of you as slaves, for a slave does not know what his master is about. Instead, I call you friends, since I have made known to you all that I heard from my Father (Jn 15:15).  Among those He called friend were Lazarus from Bethany, Peter and James –who accompanied Him on Mount Tabor, and John – to whom He entrusted His Mother from the cross.

When He ascended into heaven, He did not cease to be a friend to all, especially to those who believe in Him, trust Him and love Him. For them, He remains on earth a prisoner of love in so many tabernacles, and desires to be united most intimately with them. In holy baptism the Lord Jesus admits the soul to union with Himself. Later, He strengthens and perfects this friendship whenever the Christian receives Him devoutly in Holy Communion.

The Lord Jesus is a faithful friend, since He accompanies us at each step of our life to support us in our work, shield us in battle, console us in suffering, and lift us up when we fall. 

He accompanies us to the very end…

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

He is a sincere friend in that He desires not his own benefits, but our true good.  He is a noble friend, since He shares everything with us, and not only gives His life for us, but even gives His very self as food.  He is a tender friend, because He never abandons us unless we ourselves reject Him. But if we do so, He draws close to us, seeking our reconciliation with Himself.  If we shed but one tear of sincere contrition, but, with confession cry out: ‘I have sinned, but, do Thou, O Lord, forgive me!” He immediately forgets even the gravest transgressions and restores us to His friendship.  The Lord Jesus is a faithful friend, since He accompanies us at each step of our life to support us in our work, shield us in battle, console us in suffering, and lift us up when we fall.  He accompanies us to the very end, until with His assistance we happily enter that eternal realm where Jesus bestows His glory and satisfies us with His happiness.

 Consider that the goodness and tenderness of this Friend is shown especially when He consoles the afflicted – for example at the wedding at Cana, or when He is approached by the Canaanite woman; when He raises Lazarus from the dead and consoles his two sisters; or when in Naim He restores a young man to life, thus taking pity on a mother’s tears. This Friend does not even abandon us at the final and sometimes great agony at our moment of death.

I Have Loved You – Sung By Our Sisters
Abide With Me – Matt Maher

Sacred Heart Song – Michael John Poirier
Behold This Heart – Fr. Joseph Gill

June 24: The Heart of Our Most Beloved Spouse

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

Para mi Jesús es:  La vida que quiero vivir,  la luz que quiero reflejar,  el amor que quiero expresar,  el gozo que quiero compartir. Amén 🙏

Receiving holy baptism, the soul opens itself to the love of God. At the same time the Lord Jesus becomes the Spouse of the soul and the soul is made His bride. He espouses the soul with the ring of union with Himself; introduces the soul to His home, that is, the Church; allows participation in His treasures on earth and afterward in His Kingdom in heaven. He does this under the condition that the bride will remain faithful to Him.

“Oh, how great your dignity, O human soul,” St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar writes, “that you have such a Spouse whose beauty the sun and moon admire. Arise and know how great you are in the eyes of God. Christ, your Spouse, did not spare His blood for you; He bountifully made you rich; He shared with you His Kingdom and raised you to His throne. See how much you should love Him; what ardent thanks you should offer Him; and how faithful you should be to Him in everything.”

The Lord Jesus became the Bridegroom of all. In Him we find the strongest love and support, the surest advice and consolation. He is the example and author of a life both chaste and wholly dedicated to God. Not only is the God-Man alone the purest, but He loves chastity in us as well. He chose for His Mother the Immaculate Virgin; He loved above all others the virgin disciple John; and lastly He recommended virginity as a counsel and means to perfection. Moreover, to all who love chastity, the Lord Jesus gives a bountiful reward and the beatitude of seeing God.

 We can say of the religious life that it is similar to the marriage resulting from the wedding vows. Therefore we rightly call religious profession a marriage with Jesus Christ.  Entrusting his heart to the bride, the bridegroom eagerly shares with her his goods also. Similarly, the Lord Jesus shares with the person given to Him in religious consecration not only His truth, His grace, His merits, His Mother, and the gifts placed within the treasury of the Church, but He also gives Himself to her in order to transform her into His very self. He asks only our faithful and lasting love, which He promises to abundantly reward in His Kingdom.

Whoever responds to this bridal love of Jesus by undertaking the evangelical counsels, may experience the paradox that confounds others. Renouncing his own will through obedience, he gains true freedom in God. Renouncing the disposal of material goods for the care of the interior life, he is filled with the inexhaustible treasures of God’s grace. Finally, taking the vow of chastity opens him to the wider perspective of complete union with God in love.

By the grace of God, millions of priests, hermits, religious men and women and lay people as well have kept and are keeping chastity. They imitate in this life the chaste, poor and obedient Lord Jesus. He Himself gave these counsels so as to remove the greatest obstacles from those who would embrace them, while at the same time giving the means for resemblance to Him and the way to draw near to Him.

  Blessed are the single-hearted for they shall see God (Mt 5:8).

Veni, Sponsa Christi – Vocalist-Sr.Mary Joseph Calore, Organist-Sr. Mary Barbara Hoyt, Violin-Sr. Angela Marie Igou
As I Kneel Before You – Sung by our Sisters
Heart of Jesus, Hear – Sung by our Sisters
Sacred Heart Song – Michael John Poirier
Behold This Heart – Fr. Joseph Gill

June 23: The Heart of the God Man

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar writes, “What can be more wonderful in heaven or on earth, what more worthy of honor and love, than the Heart of the God-Man and thus the Heart of Supreme Wisdom, of holiness itself and infinite love, the Heart of our Creator… Savior … King … Friend … Brother … and Father.”

This Heart is the most perfect of God’s masterpieces, encompassing within Itself the ineffable treasures of God’s wisdom and love. This Heart is the seat of the holiest emotions, the school of the noblest virtues, the exemplar and font of sanctity. The Lord Jesus, being God-Man, has two wills, and therefore has a twofold love: Divine and human. This Divine love is infinite since it is an attribute of the divine nature belonging to the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.  Who can comprehend it?  No one can even put into words the human love of the Savior. It is higher than the heavens, deeper than the ocean, wider than the universe and longer than eternity. If we would combine the love of all the Apostles, martyrs, confessors and virgins, in a word, of all the saints who throughout the ages adorned God’s Church; if we would gather all the ardent desires and enclose them in one heart; adding to it the whole ardor with which the choir of Angels burns toward their God; if we would crown all these with the marvelous fire that burns within the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God, we will then see only a faint reflection of the love the Lord Jesus has toward each one of us, regardless of our malice and unworthiness.

[I]t was not enough for the love of the Lord Jesus that He has offered Himself upon the altar of the cross. He desired to remain with us at every moment until the end of the ages and thus He allowed Himself to be locked in churches as the prisoner of love.

In the Bethlehem manger, this love shone with an ineffable radiance, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten one, that this Son of God – taking upon Himself a human body from the Immaculate Virgin Mary, could manifest Himself as an infant in swaddling clothes. This love was even more radiantly revealed on the cross.  Thus, did not the Savior say: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15: 13), and He Himself gave His life for His enemies, that is, for sinners. However it was not enough for the love of the Lord Jesus that He has offered Himself upon the altar of the cross. He desired to remain with us at every moment until the end of the ages and thus He allowed Himself to be locked in churches as the prisoner of love. The Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is the summit of the love of the God-Man.  According to the words of St. Augustine, God, although most wise, knew not how to give more; though most powerful, was not able to give more; though richest, had nothing more to give. He could demand that we build for Him temples of marble and jewels and yet He does not disdain even the poorest of churches, if only human hearts would resemble His Heart that is full of love.  This Most Sacred Heart, reigning now upon a throne of glory in the glorified Humanity of Christ, is the throne, center, and sign as well of His Divine and human love.

O what great happiness that in our churches, both day and night, the Lord dwells in all His power and in all His love!

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

O what great happiness that in our churches, both day and night, the Lord dwells in all His power and in all His love!

Ave Verum Sung by our Sisters
Heart of Jesus, Hear – Sung by our Sisters

June 21: The Commandment of Love

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

Love is the desire of the human heart and its very life. The commandment to love both God and neighbor is the Divine Heart’s covenant of love.  You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:37.39).  “Such is the way commanded us by the Divine Master and highest Lawgiver,” writes St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, “and is also enjoined on us by the mind, enlightened by faith, which teaches us that we are all children of the one Father in heaven and at the same time are members of one great family and brothers among ourselves…Our love of neighbor is the measure of our love for God. There is a close connection between the two. They are like two streams flowing from one spring, like two flames from one fire, such that one cannot exist without the other. The love of neighbor is the characteristic of true Christians. It is the most beloved virtue of Christ. The Savior not only gave us this commandment, but by His life also taught us how to fulfill it.”

Jesus loves us with a most tender love, and this, the love of a father, brother, friend and spouse. He has loved us to the point of pouring Himself out for us.  He has endured for us all suffering, bitterness and the shame of the cross.  Jesus gave Himself completely to us.  He has loved us to the end.

In the Cenacle on the eve of His Passion, the Lord Jesus repeated the commandment of love for neighbor: I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you. (Jn 13:34). And how did He love us? Even before we were able to know Him and to respond to His love, He first loved us.  The Lord Jesus loved those who were unworthy of His love and who would often repay Him with ungratefulness. Jesus loves us with a most tender love, and this, the love of a father, brother, friend and spouse. He has loved us to the point of pouring Himself out for us.  He has endured for us all suffering, bitterness and the shame of the cross.  Jesus gave Himself completely to us.  He has loved us to the end.

Despite our human mistakes and ingratitude, the Lord Jesus does not break our friendship with Him.  In a like manner, we too must love our neighbor. St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar develops this thought using the canvas of St. Paul’s hymn on love.  Such a love should be pure, not self-interested; it must be persistent and extending to all, even our enemies. It is to be expressed in thought, heart, word and deed.  Thus, it avoids suspicion and rash judgments, does not exclude anyone but rather respects others because of God.  This love allows us to respect our neighbor as a creature of God and to see in him the image of the Creator.  We further see in him a child of the Heavenly Father, a temple of the Holy Trinity and above all a brother and friend of Christ. True love for neighbor avoids hatred and the desire for revenge; it repels any aversion and duplicity.  Moreover, it forgives injury and is undeterred by unkind words; it guards against antipathy or our acting upon the caprices of the heart.  The spirit of faith and Christian charity governs true love. The person nurturing within himself the love of neighbor, guards against hardness of heart and envy; he wishes others well and rejoices in their happiness. He avoids slander, so common and damaging a fault. The speech of love is true yet delicate; kind but without hypocrisy; sweet yet without flattery; finally it is meek and gracious but without exaggeration. The one who loves neither hurts his neighbor nor consciously and willfully causes him any pain, rather he works zealously for his benefit and salvation.

As I Kneel Before You – Sung by our Sisters