We have stepped into the month of June which is noted for devotion to the Sacred Heart in our Christian tradition, very close to our father and founder St. Louis Guanella who out of his immense love and devotion to the Sacred Heart published a booklet called In the Month of Fervor in 1884. The Sacred Heart was everything for him and for us: name and reality, project and protection, a title of recognition. We were known as sons and daughters of the Sacred Heart at our origin and even the names that we bear now (Servants of Charity & Daughters of St. Mary of Providence) are the evolution and development of that initial name – Sacred Heart.
St. John Paul II said, “Near the Heart of Christ, the human heart yearns to know the true and unique meaning of life and its own destiny to understand the value of authentic Christian life.” Our founder in fact learned from the Sacred Heart how to be a hearty person, in other words, his entire life was full of heart. Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi testifies, “In the afternoon on October 24th, before bowing his head and taking his last breath, he assembled us around his bed, he looked at us with fatherly love and we understood that in that final gaze there was all his heart.”
Our Founder truly understood what the implications of the Sacred Heart meant: “The Lord is a Father so generous that He gives His Heart to poor creatures who in return offer Him their poor hearts. The heart of Jesus is the heart of a father and the heart of a father cannot stand being away from his children” (In the Month of Fervor). The fatherly love he experienced from God he tried to exhibit to his children, the Hearty love he received from the Father, he donated to his disciples.
From the witness of Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi, we understand how big his heart was:
- The Lord gave a big heart to Fr. Guanella, a heart that He formed and moulded since early childhood.
- How recollected he was in the presence of the Tabernacle or the Holy Host
Charity was always at work in his conversations, with love for all, even sinners.
- At times he looked worried and expressed complaints or protests but never lost his serenity of spirit.
- At times he reluctantly made concessions, and showed some exterior impatience but always with the attitude of goodness and affection.
- He never excluded anyone and never denied his familiar conversation to anyone even to those who once were against him.
- Comfort was always the final gift of his conversations as well as his reprimands.
- Though he attached great importance to the Rule, he was ready to excuse someone who was not observing one of its numbers.
- He took great care not to emphasize his outstanding qualities of intelligence and soul, or marks of honor due to his status and responsibility.
- He laughed heartily at the jokes of his confreres, making himself familiar with using nicknames for them.
- My heart was never well understood. He said these words because he had given everything for the love of God and neighbor but he did not find adequate response to it not even from his disciples.
O big heart of Fr. Louis, May our hearts become like yours, filled with love for God and charity toward our brothers and sisters.
O kind and smiling face! Look at us kindly from Heaven until we see you again.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC