PRAYERS IN THE GARDEN
The Sacred Heart Meditation Garden was established in 1997 in celebration of Sacred Heart Parish’s 40th anniversary
THE FIRST STATION - “COME TO ME”
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began in the Middle Ages, but the basis for such honor and prayer is found in the Bible. In the Gospel of John, Jesus cried out to the crowd, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink” (cf. Jn 7). He reminded them further, “As the scripture has had, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’.”
The Heart of Jesus is an obvious symbol of his redemptive love. All who are burdened and weary are invited to find rest for their souls. Christ’s gentleness and humility are amply reflected in his loving heart. When we come to Christ, heart speaks to heart.
The psalmist was convinced that “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn” (Ps 51:17).
No one who takes life seriously will be spared a broken heart. People disappoint us, death takes away our beloved, our own pride leads us to actions that are hurtful and regrettable. Where are we to turn when we are weary, broken-hearted, and discouraged? We are invited to come to Jesus.
Father, we honor the heart of your Son and rejoice in the gifts of love we have received. He is indeed our refuge in times of trouble, our strength in times of need. Open our hearts to share his life and continue to bless us with his love. Teach us to see Christ in the lives we touch and to offer him fitting worship by heart-felt service to our brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE SECOND STATION - "THE BIRTH OF JESUS"
Many people celebrate Christmas but few celebrate the birth of Christ. The most remarkable thing that ever happened was the incarnation of the Son of God and his subsequent triumph over death. These two great mysteries of our faith (Jesus’ birth and resurrection) summarize God’s great love for us and reflect his determination to save creation from sin and destruction.
God became man. God took on the iniquity of us all. God died for our salvation. These three statements are simple to say, but so profound that the meaning is lost on most of us. To understand, to really appreciate what we are saying, takes time, prayer, experience, and divine inspiration.
The humility and compassion of God are demonstrated in the birth of the Son “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be exploited, but emptied himself, talking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross (cf Philippians 2:6-8).
Almighty God and Father, a child is born for us, a son is given to us. Your eternal Word leapt down from heaven to give us a new understanding of the depths of your love. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising dawn of faith that our lives may reflect your goodness and our hearts radiate your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE THIRD STATION - "SERMON ON THE MOUNT"
Matthew gathered many of Jesus’ teachings into one grand sermon and opened for us the panorama of the Kingdom of God. To look at things from God’s point of view is one of the greatest challenges believers must face. The Beatitudes reflect not the thinking of the world but the wisdom of heaven. God’s ways are not our ways, God’s judgments defy our own.
Jesus claims that poverty is not an obstacle to happiness, that sorrow will give way to joy, that sincerity of heart will be amply rewarded. Many people scoff at such teachings, considering them to be signs of weakness and naivete.
The Teacher, however, presents a new point of view: “You have heard it said...but I say unto you” (cf Matthew 5).
“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mt 7:28). Lord God, help us to see ourselves from your perspective. Help us to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Guide us with your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE FOURTH STATION - "JESUS BLESSES CHILDREN"
Jesus may have seemed somber and even stern to some adults, but clearly the children found him to be accepting, appealing, even fundto be around. “Then little children were being brought to him in order that he may lay his hands on them and pray…Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’” (cf. Matthew 19:13-14).
Jesus must have startled his hearers when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (cf Matthew 18:2).
It is good to know that God is accessible, that our Father puts no stock in formality. He welcomes us as we are.
Abba, Father, in the name of your Son we pray in order to offer you fitting worship and to share in the love you have for your only begotten Son. Thank you for raising your hand not in anger but in blessing, for making us your adopted children. Thank you for letting us call you “Abba”.
THE FIFTH STATION - "JESUS FEEDS THE HUNGRY"
Jesus came to preach about heaven, but he was nonetheless concerned about the situation here one earth. He did not divorce his kingdom from this world. His intention was to unite the two in an unbreakable bond of peace and love.
“What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me” (cf Mathew 25:40).
Time and again he took pity on the crowds – he fed them, he raised the dead, he forgave sinners.
When judgment day comes the question will focus on whether we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, etc., etc., etc.
Lord, I am hungry – feed me with the heavenly food. I am thirsty – give me to drink from your cup. At times I feel very much alone – stay with me. If I am naked or ill or imprisoned, do not abandon me. And, Lord, may I follow your example and do unto others as I would have you do unto me. Amen!
THE SIXTH STATION - "JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD"
The image of the Good Shepherd connotes protection from danger, stores of food, and streams of water. Psalm 23 has set us up for thinking of God in these terms: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”
The early Church applied that psalm to Jesus, and Jesus put that psalm into practice when he multiplied the loaves and the fishes. Matthew’s description uses the language of Psalm 23: a deserted place...he ordered the crowd to sit down on the green grass...all ate and were filled...they took up what was left over and it filled 12 baskets (cf. Mt 14:13-21).
Lord Jesus, you are my shepherd; I shall not want. You give me green pastures in which to rest, still waters to refresh my soul. Even in times of darkness I do not fear for you are at my side to give me strength and courage…
I have more than enough. Yes, goodness and kindness do follow me during my life on earth, and someday I hope to enter into eternity where I may be with you forever. Amen.
THE SEVENTH STATION - "JESUS HEALS"
It is not without reason that Jesus is called “the divine physician.” He healed the blind, the lame, the leprous, the deaf, the mute, the diseased. He could not travel any where without a huge following seeking cures, signs, and miracles.
These physical healings, however, were never the primary thrust of his ministry. The bodily cures pointed to something more important, the healing of the whole person, the health of the soul.
It is right and good to pray for healing but always and above all is concern for the health and life of the total person. The Sacrament of the Sick combines both aspects: cure of the body and healing of the soul.
Father, heal the sick, especially those I remember in prayer. Heal me too of my infirmities —of memories that’ still hurt, grudges that need forgiveness, wrongs I have done.
Reach our your healing hand, O Lord, and touch our souls that we may become whole again.
THE EIGHTH STATION - "JESUS WASHES THE FEET"
What an extraordinary and unexpected gesture before his farewell meal, Jesus, the guest of honor, washes his disciples feet as a demonstration of the love, humility, and compassion of his Gospel!
Service and humility are characteristics of the followers of Christ.
The word “humility” comes from the Latin term “humus,” soil, ground, earth,. In other words, the humble person is down-to-earth. The truly humble person is above all “honest”.
Jesus said, “I have set an example for you; go and do as I have done.” (cf. John 13:12-15).
Lord, how many times have you washed my feet! How many times have you been there when I was totally absorbed in myself, unmindful of others, unaware of their kindness and support.
No servant is greater than the master. Help me to be there for others.
THE NINTH STATION - "THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS"
No greater love hath a man than that he be willing to lay down his life for another. The Lord’s compassion is tested and proved in his death on the cross.
Some people are puzzled that Jesus had to die or that the Father did not stop the execution if he really loved his Son. The truth is that Father and Son conspired in a plan to show once and for all how much God loves his people – both chose death (the last full measure of devotion) as the ultimate proof of God’s love. Jesus spread out his arms on the cross and said “This is how much God loves you!”
The early Church was challenged with the charge, “Jesus didn’t really die; he was just comatose, and the cool temperatures of the tomb revived him.” In response to doubters, John wrote “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water flowed out.” (cf John 19:34). Medically we call this “pericardial effusion.” In more modern times we might say that his heart was pierced and the last drops of life spilled forth. Jesus never did anything in a half-hearted way.
Father, look with love upon your people, the love which Jesus showed when he delivered himself to evil men and suffered the agony of the cross, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
THE TENTH STATION - "THE HEART AND THE CROSS"
Devotion to the Heart of Christ cannot be separated from devotion to the Cross. The combination of heart and cross is an apt symbol of the resurrection, a sign of the enduring power of Christ’s love and its ability to overcome even death. Anyone who loves becomes vulnerable. The vulnerable will at times experience
rejection, misunderstanding, persecution. No one can truly love and still be safely isolated from hurt. Lovers always suffer. The Christian, however, does not lose heart and give up on love. By recognizing that there is a cross behind love, one acknowledges that in Christ there is a power that leads to redemption and resurrection. Sometimes all we see is the cross. Sometimes we focus on the heart. Christians learn to see both realities: love and the cross. Wherever the heart and the cross are brought together, there is victory. There is Christ!
Father, for us, every day is Easter! We live in the light and hope of the resurrection of your Son. For us, out of death comes life, out of ashes comes something new, out of sacrifice comes the Kingdom of God.
Keep always before my heart and mind the image of your Son’s heart and cross. Let me draw courage in times of trouble, joy in times of sorrow, and peace in times of unrest. And when my life is calm and my troubles few, let me enjoy those times with Christ and you!
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
Sacred Heart Church’s Memorial Garden was established in 1997 in observance of the parish’s 40th anniversary. The design and initial landscaping were installed by Seiler’s Landscaping, Cincinnati. The stained glass of the Stations of the Sacred Heart (a devotion peculiar to Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Ohio) were executed by Robert Collins, Hamilton. The Stations and benches were constructed by parish plant manager Doug Webb. The stations were donated by Eldon & Nuggie Mistler, Mary Ann & Ernie Lintner, Betty Cook, Lawrence Kremer, Don & Dottie Briede, Ruth Muskopf, Jim & Pat Irwin, John & Peg Collins, Lou and Liz Colantuono, Gerald & Agnes Rumker, and Anonymous. 6/1/3
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