When my father died in my childhood home right within the four walls of the room I was born in, my mom and I were torn—hearts rendered broken by a shattered fate. I look back and can scarcely imagine how she, how my siblings and I, made it through. I was too young to hold a pencil to begin journaling my wrestlings down on paper . . . I was too young to hold a camera in hopes of re-framing the gaping mess. It would be another thirty years before I tasted of the physical reality of the sealing sacraments. But what I know is this: in the midst of the bleeding, aching pain of those early days, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was there. He was the one holding me, anointing me with the purest of passionate loves.
In the forty years since this complicated relationship to my grieving heartache began, it has opened wide a door one might never suspect if they happened to read the obituary that week. To answer the ache of the pain, I have been beckoned to open and re-open my heart to the reality that I have a deep, abiding love for my father, and that this love reaches past the confines of this world into the next. What God has graciously showed me is that my love for my lost father touches on the joy of the eternal Heart of God. This is the heart of a God who asks us to enter into brokenness and loss and love with reckless abandon in the very face of it.
By all standards of the world, my father made a series of repeated, failed choices that ended his life. Who suggests love in the face of undeserving foolishness? Who suggests love in the face of betrayal? Who suggests love in the face of loss? The Sacred Heart of Jesus beckons us to the silvery shores of eternal love. In the face of abandonment, ingratitude, rejection, and death, Jesus pours forth an infinite stream of merciful, tender love.
Always the daughter, then the wife, and now the mother, my heart is familiar with the painful ache of love. The beckoning continues. Who suggests love in the face of failure and disappointment? In the face of miscarriage? In the face of ingratitude? In the face of disobedience? In the face of physical and mental health issues? In the face of indifference? In the face of prodigal wandering?
The Sacred Heart is wounded and bleeding out of undying, suffering love—out of a love that will not stop until he finds his children home. A Trinitarian love that is divine, loves to the point that we can hardly believe it possible of one beating heart. This is the pulsing reality of our entire Catholic faith. This is the pulse of our Catholic motherhood.
Dear Jesus, my heart overflows with gratitude for your Sacred Heart. Thank you for your transfiguring power to use the greatest of losses and draw me into sublime, divine love. Thank you for coming from the wholeness of heaven to enter my fragmented life. Please give me a heart like yours. Give me strength to enter into the wounds and brokenness that I might beat with a heart like yours. Transform my heart as I suffer out of love for my domestic church. Please anoint and seal me in your sacred heart as I seek to be a conduit and minister out of love.