by JEFF DILLON

Approximately 50 people gathered in St Joseph’s Chapel at the Little Sisters of the Poor Sacred Heart Home in Brockville, Dunedin, for an evening Mass to celebrate the feast day of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, June 28.

This was a celebration in traditional style, starting at 6.30pm with prayers and the reciting of the rosary, followed by the Mass in the extraordinary form (in Latin), which began at 7 pm. A candlelit, large religious painting featuring the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a dominant feature on the steps of the sanctuary and was a constant focus.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr David Hercus, who celebrates the Mass in this form on Sunday morning at 9.30 am at the former Dominican chapel beside St Joseph’s Cathedral in Dunedin.

In his homily on June 28, Fr Hercus explained that this feast was not historical like others. This one identified a permanent state of affairs. He said that the heart of God had always been so lovingly disposed towards human beings.

He commented on some significant aspects in the Gospel reading. He noted that there was a group of four involved.

“We have Our Lord, we have Our Lady always with us, we have St Joseph, this is St Joseph’s church . . . and we also have John the Evangelist, the one who wrote the Gospel and the one who was there at the cross when he saw
the blood and water flowing from the side of Christ.”

Fr Hercus noted that the last three of those four all had a special experience
of their proximity to that Sacred Heart and to hearing or feeling that heart beat.

Mary, as the mother of Christ. St Joseph, who is often depicted as holding the infant Jesus close to his chest. St John, who leant and reclined on the breast of Christ during the Last Supper and who witnessed the piercing of Christ’s heart at his crucifixion.

The constancy of God’s love, and the examples of where compassion was shown in many of the stories involving his encounters with sinners seeking forgiveness, was highlighted by Fr Hercus in his concluding comments.

As is the usual practice with Mass in the extraordinary form, when it came to Holy Communion people knelt and received Communion on the tongue.

After the Mass, the congregation went into a lounge at the Sacred Heart Home for a light supper. Many commented on the beauty of the occasion.

One participant remarked “What a blessed night . . . Deo Gratias”.

One of the organisers stated, “It was a lovely Mass and a friend [who] attended (a convert) was just so moved as to how beautiful it was . . . the consecration in particular . . . she loved it, the peacefulness of it all.”

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