Servants of God, the Venerable, the Blessed and the Saints reveal God’s infinite creativeness. Each one has a gift to share with the world. We call those gifts charisms: extraordinary grace given to individual Christians for the good of others.
For Mother Teresa Casini that grace, that creative gift from God, was the care and sanctification of priests.
Over time and with the assistance of good spiritual direction, Mother Casini’s charism became clear to her. But the road to its realization was often littered with difficulties.
The first was her family’s antagonism toward her desire to enter the convent. The second was her poor health, which required her to leave the convent more than once. The third was the death of the foundress of, and eventual dissolution of, the religious order she had entered.
Amidst all of the difficulties she faced, there was one life-anchor that never loosened: her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sacred Heart devotions developed out of religious zeal for meditations on the Holy Wounds of Our Lord, particularly the wound in the side of Jesus. These devotions were common among the Crusaders who brought them back to Europe from the Holy Land.
The first formal indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart are found in the 11th and 12th centuries and were celebrated at Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries. Scholars believe that the earliest known hymn to the Sacred Heart was written by Blessed Herman Joseph, a Norbertine priest of Cologne, Germany, who lived in the mid-13th century. It begins with the words: “I hail Thee kingly Heart most high.”
Modern devotion to the Sacred Heart is a consequence of the apparitions granted to a French nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in 1673 and 1675, and later, in the 19th century, from the revelations of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, a religious of the Good Shepherd in Portugal.
The distinguishing features of the devotion include reception of Holy Communion on the First Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration on Thursday before First Friday and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
In 1899, devotion to the Sacred Heart received papal approval when Pope Leo XIII encouraged bishops from around the world to promote First Friday devotions and established June as the Month of the Sacred Heart.
For Mother Casini, devotion to the Sacred Heart meant identifying with the pierced heart of Jesus. As a result of a vision in which Jesus spoke of his concern for priests, Mother Casini dedicated her life and the lives of her followers to promoting the sanctification of priests, whom the Lord described in her vision as “the apple of my eye; part of my inner being; and the channel through which grace flows to souls.”
Thus began the mission of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which continues today in six countries: Italy, Peru, Brazil, India, Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, and the United States. Their ministry includes praying for priests, education, parish ministry and the staffing of priests’ retirement homes, such as the two we have in our diocese in Hubbard and Louisville.
The virtues of Mother Casini, virtues of faith, perseverance and courage, were recognized by the universal Church through her beatification on Oct. 31, 2015. We especially celebrate in the Church in Youngstown because the miracle that enabled her to become “Blessed” occurred here. Most of all, we celebrate because Mother Casini sets for us an example, a path of sainthood.
“I will become a saint.” That was a promise young Teresa Casini made on the day of her first confession. She is on the way to fulling that promise. So also, must we be. God lifts up women and men from every walk of life to show us that, whatever our status, we can strive for and live heroic virtue in our homes, in our parishes, among our friends and at our workplaces. The key, as Blessed Mother Casini reminds us, is found in meditating on the Sacred Heart, the sign and symbol of God’s everlasting love for us, then allowing the Lord to lead us beyond ourselves to love others.
May Blessed Mother Cassini pray for us before the throne of God and help us each day to be examples of God’s creativeness and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in our world.
Original Blog used with permission can be found here: