Faith Matters: Practicing daily devotion to the Sacred Heart

  • Fr. Sean O’€™Mannion in Our Lady of Czestochowa in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Our Lady of Czestochowa in Turners Falls. Staff file photo/PAUL FRANZ

Pastor, Our Lady of Czestochowa
Published: 11/29/2019 10:00:24 PM
Modified: 11/29/2019 10:00:13 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

My name is Father Seán O’Mannion. For the last three years, I have served as pastor of Our Lady of Częstochowa Parish on K Street in Turners Falls. I also have a side gig of sorts, one that helps keep my priesthood going: I am the local director of the Guard of Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a worldwide association that practices devotion to the Sacred Heart in an extremely simple way, a way that enables us to live our everyday lives with an ongoing awareness of the presence of the love of God in our midst.

What exactly is this devotion all about? Well, as Christians, we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God become man, “the Word made flesh,” as St. John puts it. We believe that Jesus is God the Son, existing since before the creation of time, who, motivated by a love so pure enters into His own creation so as to take on mortal flesh, die in payment for our sins as man, and as God, to rise again and destroy eternal death, which is chief among the consequences of sin in our world.

St. John also tells us that God is love. The Greek word he uses, agape, gets lost in translation. Agape denotes the highest possible form of love, a love so sublime it seeks everything for the beloved and nothing for the lover: the love lived by Jesus as He gave everything, sparing nothing, for humanity, and leaving an example for us to follow.

In 1675, Jesus appeared to a humble, cloistered nun in France, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, as she was in prayer. He showed her His heart, a heart crowned with thorns, pierced by a lance, bleeding, on fire with Love, that divine force that created all that is, in which “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Jesus did this as a reproach to humanity for our indifference and thanklessness, and to call us to make reparation, to make amends to Him — so that in doing so we may become more authentically ourselves, growing in agape, in God, in whose image and likeness we were created — and to attain the salvation, the eternal life that Jesus makes possible for us because of His total, self-sacrificing love.

Well, this sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? I mean, I’m a busy person, I’m stressed out by so many things, besides, people annoy me … how could I possibly love as Jesus does?

By taking baby steps. Remember, God comes to us in the small details. Love always thrives on the small things. Love also weakens, and even dies, when these little things are not present. In the Guard of Honor, all we do is offer Jesus an hour of our day. During that hour, (mine is from 4 to 5 p.m.) we start with a quick mental prayer, envisioning Jesus on the Cross and ourselves standing at its base, forming a “Guard of Honor” as it were along with St. John, with the Blessed Mother, with St. Mary Magdalene. We offer the activities of that hour (working, driving, doing the dishes, whatever) to comfort Him. We do these things with love and offer them to Christ Crucified — for the salvation of souls, for our loved ones, for the world.

God, who is Love, is in the small things. Life is made up of all the small moments. Let’s live them in the best and most holy way possible. For more information, please visit www.GuardofHonor-USA.org. God bless you!

About Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Częstochowa was founded in 1909, and the current church on K Street was consecrated in 1929.

Mass schedule:

Monday 8:00 a.m. (usually celebrated “add Orientem,” i.e., with the priest facing liturgical East)

Tuesday through Friday: 5:30 p.m.

(First Friday Masses are at 5:30 p.m. but are usually in the Extraordinary Form, i.e., the Traditional Latin Mass)

Saturday 8:00 a.m.

Lord’s Day Masses:

Saturday: 4:00 p.m. (English) and 6:00 p.m. (Spanish)

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Vespers, chanted in Latin, are offered most Sundays at 4:00 p.m.

We have a Holy Hour of Adoration one hour prior to Mass on Thursdays and Fridays (conducted in English & Latin); and Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. (conducted in Spanish & Latin)

Confessions are heard daily, approximately 30 minutes before every Mass.

Religious Education (CCD) is offered Sunday mornings (during the school year) between the 8:00 and 10:30 Masses. Adults wishing to become Catholics may contact Father O’Mannion at the parish office.

We have three choirs:

The Choir of St. Gregory (sings at the Sunday 8:00 Mass), directed by Mr. Robert Heath.

The Choir of St. Cæcilia (sings at the Sunday 10:30 Mass), directed by Mr. Henry Gaida.

El Coro Guadalupano (sings at the Saturday 6:00 p.m. Spanish Mass), directed by Mr. Marcelino Martínez.




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