In Catholic circles, the Month of June is customarily devoted to honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus. True, we do honor the Sacred Heart all throughout the year in lots of ways, for example on the First Fridays of Ordinary time. Countless Catholic worship spaces and family homes have statues and shrines to the Sacred Heart which allows for frequent daily acts of homage. The Sacred Heart is of such devotional importance as a tenet of our faith that even with all the other types of regular examples just offered, it still gets its own month on the devotional calendar. Indeed it gets its own solemn feast day on the calendar, which occurs every June. We will celebrate the solemnity this coming Friday. June is indeed a privileged time to meditate upon this mystery.
It is providential that this is the case. If one were to ask most people on the streets these days what June is all about they would probably say “pride month.” We have by now perhaps gotten so used to hearing this title tossed about in the last decade or so that maybe it has begun to lose the necessary sting that it should have in our ears. “Pride” is of course a vice and the deadliest of the capital sins. In any truly Christian culture or world it would have been unthinkable to ever have a month dedicated, even if only by name, to pride itself. On its face it is actually a very shocking and appalling thing to say: “pride month.” Pride is not what we want to glorify without some heavy contextualizing.
Contextualizing would be to explain what it is that we are proud of exactly. And doing so these days necessitates an appeal to “the rainbow.” Which is of course only a further source of bewilderment to believing Christians who, going back no more than about 20 years, would have first associations of “rainbow” with the Noah story from Genesis. Yes, the rainbow was the sign that God gave to Noah and his decedents after the flood to remind them that even though humanity had engaged in gross sins of disobedience, most prominently those of sibling murder and the sexual perversion of the Nephilim (see Gen 6:1-4), that he would overlook our pride and never flood us again. The rainbow was a reminder of how God’s mercy overcame the disordered pride of humanity. So, linking a rainbow and the vice of pride, as we currently do, seems all very confusing to anyone schooled in our consistent theological tradition.
To return then to the Sacred Heart: the heart of Jesus is a heart that is humble, and it is one of profound love. More specifically, it is a love that is firmly rooted in sacrificing one’s self, and fleeing from the glorification of the sensory, the emotional, the popular, and the convenient. The way that we can ensure that we love authentically, that is according to what always flees from the sensory, the emotional, the popular, and the convenient is to love according to the moral law. The consistent moral law of the Scriptures and the Church excludes the very sexual practices that are glorified in the secular observance of “pride month.” Precisely because we seek to love authentically, we cannot accept or seek to “mainstream” what we know to be unacceptable practices or lifestyles.
It is indeed grossly prideful to allow ourselves to think that we are somehow now culturally smarter in our attitudes about these things than our cultural predecessors of prior eras. It is demeaning to them to suggest they were wrong to intuitively know what is fundamentally unnatural, as we busily go about today re-writing the laws of nature at a dizzying pace, while at the same time smugly claiming to be so “green” and “nature-oriented” in our time. If we are going to contextualize “pride month” then cultural hubris seems the best way to do so.
Which is to say that if anyone who is a believing Christian these days finds anything troubling in the secular associations, or the unnatural acts of “pride month,” we should quickly find refuge and conversion in the Sacred Heart. It is the antidote to what is out of order around us this time of the year. His humble, merciful, and obedient heart is our example and pattern to follow. His heart is filled with love even for those who, to their detriment, reject his teachings. We are reminded in the prayers and readings of the Solemnity that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Life is always lighter in the depths of our hearts when we walk according to his designs, even if sacrifices come with doing so.
May we love in humble obedience. May he make our hearts humble and gentle like his own. May we reject pride in all of its disordered manifestations, both in our own hearts, and in the cultural disorder around us.