Bishop's Blog / A Sacred Pause

By Joseph Strickland
Wednesday, June 05, 2024

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Psalm 33:11 – “But the plan of the Lord stands forever, the designs of his heart through all generations.”


There is a storm coming – the likes of which has never been seen upon the Earth. The Church, the Brideof Christ, has weathered quite a few squalls and gales, and although many of these have left the ship damaged at times and taking on water, each time the Master shipbuilder has restored her – polishing the wood and making her seaworthy once more.  And those on the ship, although tattered and weary, have often been blessed and healed by Our Blessed Mother who walks among her children.


So, what is different about this storm that is now coming?  It is the fact that this time the ship itself is in such a weakened state from the hidden sins and corruption within its sacred halls that it has already started to take on water, and it is ill-equipped to weather the storm that is coming. So as evil reaches a previously unseen level of saturation in the Church and in the world, the ship is already so compromised by sin and corruption that it is in danger of capsizing. 


As St. John Bosco reminds us, there are two pillars that have served to keep the ship upright through the ages, and these are the Eucharistic presence of Our Lord and devotion to Our Blessed Mother.  However, the ship is not now so firmly anchored to these pillars as it has been in the past. The lack of supernatural faith has weakened its ties to the Eucharistic pillar, and the indifference to Our Blessed Mother and the disregarding of her warnings and admonitions, as well as a refusal to acknowledge the words she still brings, have weakened the ties to the other pillar. Therefore, the storm that now comes brings unprecedented danger.


Many will say – “Why worry? The Master shipbuilder will once again restore His Bride.”  However, the time is now upon us when we begin to receive the fruits of what we have sown – and the cord of Mercywhich has long been extended from Heaven to Earth is even now being replaced by the rope of justice. 


As the evil in the world accelerates, steadily advancing, unrelenting in its seemingly victorious march, and as every day we hear about new abuses, new scandals, new heresies within the sacred halls of the Church, where does that leave us? Terrified? Dismayed?


Wait! Listen! Be still!


For even as the din of the demons becomes deafening, underneath the wailing and the gnashing and the clashing, there can be found a profound silence – a sacred pause.  And in this profound silence that forms a barrier between your soul and the world, you will hear a sound if you listen closely – it is a heartbeat! It is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  


Evil marches relentlessly forward – and every day new atrocities come to light – and the faithful shudder and wonder if it can get any worse.  The answer is – it can, and it will. But underneath it all, in the profound silence of the Sacred Pause, you can hear a sound if you will only listen – the heartbeat of His Sacred Heart. 


The heart of Jesus began to beat the rhythm of love in His infant chest only days after He was conceived in Mary’s womb. His heart, human and divine, continued to beat throughout His life in this world. For thirty-three years, His heart proclaimed love with every beat until the awful moment of His death on the cross. Scripture tells us that at His death the Earth was shaken to its depths because the Lord of creation breathed no more. All of creation entered into a “sacred pause” when literally the breath of the universe was taken away. This, though, was only a pause – devastating but passing. The Lord of all rose, and His heart began to beat anew. 


His heart has not stopped since the moment of His resurrection when His heart began to beat again with a vigor like never before, the beating of the heart of Our Risen Lord who has conquered sin and death. Twenty centuries have passed, and through it all, His heart beats on. 


Yes, there is a storm coming, the likes of which has never been seen upon the Earth. However, as it increases in intensity, if you feel overwhelmed – just stop, pause – and enter into a Sacred Pause.  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque said, “I understand that the devotion of the Sacred Heart is a last effort of His Love towards the Christians of these latter days, by offering to them an object and means so calculated to persuade them to love Him.”


The coming days bring things which we could never have imagined would take place in the Lord’s Church, but do not despair! Stop – pause – there is a sound – it is His heartbeat.  Let us ponder His Sacred Heart. All of the chaos of the past and the increasing chaos of our time will never overcome the sacred heartbeat that emanates from the heart of Christ.  The heart of God’s Son brings us a message that echoes through the ages: “be still and know that I am God.”  


As we go forward into June, the month of the Sacred Heart, I feel a powerful urgency to call us all deeper into the Sacred Heart of Christ. Psalm 33 speaks of the designs of God’s heart and reminds us that His love is everlasting. It is profoundly important as the storm gathers momentum that we all draw closer and closer to His Sacred Heart, and that we know the heart of Christ which is truly and fully present in the Eucharist. So many Eucharistic miracles throughout the ages point to the incarnate flesh of the heart of Our Lord. Even now, His Sacred Heart bleeds for us in order to draw us closer to His Eucharistic Face.  Let us not be blind and deaf to the wonder of Jesus Christ truly present at every Mass, in every tabernacle and on every altar of Eucharistic adoration. 


This month, may we begin to enter into our own “Sacred Pause” and, as we hear the heartbeat of His Sacred Heart, let us drink in the tremendous blessing of knowing that Jesus Christ is with us in the storm.


 Bishop Joseph Strickland 

 Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Tyler

Joseph Strickland

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland was named the fourth bishop of Tyler in September of 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to being named bishop, he served a number of roles in the diocese, including vicar general, judicial vicar, and pastor of the Cathedral parish. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985.
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