The first time as a newly ordained priest that I concelebrated Mass was on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, at St James, Darlington. The principal celebrant was the then Vicar, Fr Dennis Smith. The preacher was the Bishop of Jarrow.
The bishop preached with characteristic good humour and spiritual depth. We had the old favourite Sacred Heart hymns, ‘To Jesus heart all burning,’ ‘O Sacred Heart,’ and ‘Sweet Heart of Jesus.’ They remain favourites with me.
I can still remember the bishop’s key themes. First of all the sacred heartbeat of God sustaining and creating the Cosmos. Secondly, the heart as the symbol of love and affection. And so the Sacred Heart, the tender love and divine affection God has for us, beating through all creation.
I was convinced then, and I still am, that Sacred Heart is a feast to bring forward in the Church’s calendar. It is a feast to celebrate the love of God, the heartbeat of God pervading all that is.
Each year I try to celebrate a Mass of the Sacred Heart. Often this is in a quiet and gentle Mass. In the stillness and calm it is my hope that we may sense and imagine the heartbeat of God.