As the grace-filled Eucharistic Congress in the royal Dublin Society entered its final three days, on Friday 15 June – the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Professor Timothy T O’Donnell, President of Christendom College, Virginia, gave an inspiring talk on the theme, ‘Eucharist and Devotion to the Sacred Heart’ to a packed workshop at the Royal Dublin Society.
Mindful of the need to promote the Pioneer Association in post-primary schools and Fr Bernard J McGuckian’s belief that the Pioneer Association will prosper in tandem with love for the Sacred Heart, I asked Professor O’Donnell how the Association might best approach pupils in post-primary schools. The following was Professor O’Donnell’s response.
“Well, the best way to start is to go to nature and on to super-nature. Young people understand the heart. The heart is used in everyday speech – big-hearted, warm-hearted, you are putting your heart into sports, things like that. Therefore, they get that. I think if you start with that, a clear understanding of what they mean by the heart. The heart refers to the core of the person when we are at our deepest level. Young people, I think, are very open to that interiority. Start talking with what the heart is and then it can become easier to talk about the heart of Jesus. And when we go to the heart of Jesus, what we find in the core of His person, as St John tells us, God is love. So all young people in their family and friendships are looking for genuine human love.
We have to remember that Jesus has a divine love, but He also has a human love, as Vatican II says, with a human heart. He loves us with warmth, with feeling, with compassion, He weeps when Lazarus of Bethany dies.
When it comes time to give us the Eucharist at the last supper, He says, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ So speak of the emotive of the Lord’s love and the love of His Heart and it is a constant love. It does not have the ups and downs and the fickleness of the human heart. It is a heart they can always go to. We are all made for eternity, that is why all great love songs and great love poems have the ring of eternity. That is why young people want, especially in the brokenness of families, the imperfections of so many things, a heart that does not lie. They want a heart that will speak of a love forever and ever. It is the key to happiness.
So I think, speaking of the beauty of His heart, starting on a natural level and then bringing them to see in the Scriptures the beauty of that heart, a love that is eternal, that never lies, that is always truthful and will be there to the bitter end, that is the source of their happiness. In later life if they are seeking a spouse, loving one another is the only way to sustain natural love and keep it from becoming destructive. Start talking to them about these natural goods and how Christ’s grace perfects nature and elevates it. I think that is a grand way to do it.’
The Pioneer Implication
As a Pioneer who, like most Pioneers, is conscious of wearing my Pioneer pin, I have noticed frequently a ‘there’s not many of those around today’ reaction from some people who observe that I am a pin-up Pioneer. Certainly, it is true that the number of enrolments decreased, particularly in urban areas. However, this was equally true for each generation following the halcyon days of the Association in the mid-twentieth century.
Nevertheless, if we are committed to promoting the public face of pin-up Pioneers in the future, we will do all in our power to convince post primary pupils that Pioneer membership has much to offer. Teachers engaged in alcohol education can make their classes aware that the pupils are free to choose not to drink and that the Pioneer Association offers them a choice not to drink alcohol for a spiritual motive. At this point, the guidelines as set out by Professor Timothy O’Donnell on devotion to the Sacred Heart can best positively influence young minds for a greater good.