Too Simple and Pious? I’ll Take That Compliment

love getting mail, and get a lot of it. The only letters (or e-mails) I do not look at are the anonymous ones, which don’t even get to me, or those that I find rude and obnoxious, which I then stop reading. I even enjoy letters thoughtfully offering criticism, and welcome them.

Recently I got such a communication. He told me he thought my columns in Catholic New York were overly pious, and way too simple.

I wrote him back to thank him for reading the column—I thought Mom was the only one who ever did!—and for the compliment!

He certainly did not intend his criticism as a compliment. But I sure took it as one! To claim my column to be too pious and simple is, for me, a feather in my biretta.

Well, he’s not going to be popping champagne corks over this week’s entry either, I’m afraid. Read on…

June, traditionally, is dedicated in our Catholic calendar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi—this year, June 11—is the Feast of the Sacred Heart, always in June. Since childhood, I’ve had a strong devotion to Jesus under this title.

The heart symbolizes love, mercy, tenderness, compassion. Our God has a heart! His Sacred Heart is literally on fire with those noble sentiments, and I find that very consoling.

Two very practical ways to bond with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

One is the morning offering. Easy but profound: early each day, right after getting out of bed, dedicate the day to Jesus, and unite all your prayers, works, words, thoughts and trials to His Sacred Heart.

Here’s what I have prayed every morning since I made my first Communion:

All for Thee, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come!

My Dad, the first to admit he was far from a saint, had that morning offering taped to the mirror on the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I guess he prayed it while he shaved.

Try it—you won’t regret it.

Two, First Fridays.

When Jesus revealed His love and mercy by appearing to St. Margaret Mary and showing her His Sacred Heart, He invited her to encourage people to approach the sacrament of penance, and attend Mass on the first Friday of every month.

We haven’t promoted that devotion for decades. Some have even discouraged and mocked it.

Yet, wherever I’ve been—St. Louis, D.C., Baltimore, Rome, Kansas City, Milwaukee and now here in New York—folks still come. You see an uptick in Mass attendance and confession every First Friday. Bravo! (At St. Patrick’s Cathedral we also have all-day Eucharistic adoration.)

You looking for a booster shot to a listless, weary spiritual life?

Try the First Fridays. It’s worked for centuries.

Sorry for the piety and simplicity. But, it worked for my Grandma; it worked for my Dad; it’s worked for me.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, for I will refresh you, for I am gentle and humble of heart."

The morning offering and first Fridays. Nothing fancy, folks. Just down-home holiness of life.