by Therese Horvat
BASEHOR — As retreat master for the upcoming Easter season retreat at Holy Angels Parish here, Father Joseph Carola, SJ, will draw upon his lifelong devotion to the Sacred Heart, his Jesuit experience of Ignatian spirituality and his extensive knowledge of early Christianity.
“Mercy, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and You” is the title of the retreat that is open to people throughout the archdiocese and from across the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area.
Father Joseph, an internationally known professor, will be the homilist at the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses on April 17 at Holy Angels, located at 154th and Leavenworth Road. Retreat sessions are then scheduled from April 18 through April 20, 7 to 8 p.m., preceded by Mass at 6:30 p.m. each evening in the main church. Father Joseph will also be available for 20-minute time periods of individual spiritual direction from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, with appointment times posted at the retreat.
Father Joseph is currently on sabbatical from his teaching position in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Recognizing that he would be in the United States on his sabbatical for most of the Year of Mercy, Father Joseph accepted the invitation of Holy Angels pastor and former classmate Father Richard McDonald to give the Easter season retreat at the parish.
Themes for the three nights of the retreat will center on the paschal mystery — Christ’s passion, death and resurrection — with emphasis on the gift of mercy made possible for humankind through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The first night, Father Joseph will preach on the passion from the Gospel of St. John with its imagery of Mary at the foot of the cross, and Jesus’ side and sacred heart pierced by the lance. The second night will focus on the risen Lord Jesus crucified, revealing his wounds to the apostles after the resurrection, doubting Thomas and the imparting of the Holy Spirit. The retreat will close on the third night with reflections on apparitions of the risen Lord crucified to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Faustina and other saints.
Through the three retreat sessions, Father Joseph’s goal is that participants will encounter the Lord in his great mercy. This will be facilitated through opportunities for prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.
“We live in a difficult time,” said Father Joseph. “The only way forward for us is mercy. Our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness allow us to break forth out of cycles of sin and addictions and to move forward. Pope Francis emphasizes this often: We need to live in the Lord’s mercy and share the Lord’s mercy going forward.”
Father Joseph dates his personal devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to his youth. He remembers a large image of the Sacred Heart that was prominently displayed in his family’s home. Once when the family moved to another house, the image hung on the wall above the sofa where the young boy slept while his room was being organized. Father Joseph recalls feeling lonely because he had moved away from friends. He knelt before the image and prayed that Jesus would remain his friend and consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart.
Originally from Houston, Father Joseph was ordained in 1993, is fluent in several languages and teaches patristic studies, which covers the theology developed in the first five centuries of Christianity. He has authored or contributed to multiple books and publications. His work in Rome has introduced the Jesuit to three popes, and he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI a consultor for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Registration is not required for the retreat at Holy Angels that is free of charge. Participants will have the opportunity to make a freewill donation each evening. For more information, call Holy Angels, Monday through Friday, at (913) 724-1665.