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You gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart, Oh it’s fine to be a genius of course, But keep that old horse before the cart: FIRST YOU’VE GOTTA HAVE HEART." ~ Eddie Fisher
I was born in the year that the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus established Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, MO…1956. One of my first memories was of the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our house, and the hand-painted picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in my Grandma’s house. As I grew up, I remember my father playing one of his favorite songs: "You Gotta Have Heart." Common expressions in my Irish-American Catholic home were, "For God’s sake, put your Heart in it!" And if someone was kind and generous to a fault, we’d say, "He wears his heart on his sleeve." My first official science fair project at St. Simon School was "The Heart and its Connection to Emotion." It was a simple clay image of a human heart, surrounded by names of all the emotions I knew and felt. Of course, I never won any ribbons! But now as a clinical psychologist, I know there was something innate and true in my simple childhood awareness. In my research and practice I study, teach and utilize different therapeutic standbys, one of which is the most critical of all therapeutic tools: EMPATHY, EMPATHY, AND THEN MORE EMPATHY.
I learned empathy in my home from my dad, a WWII veteran who "wore his heart on his sleeve." I often think if he could be pictured as a body part, it would be an enormous HEART completely lit up with those tiny Italian Christmas lights. I learned empathy from teachers in school, but especially from Sr. Firminia, ASCJ, the lovely Apostle of the Sacred Heart who cooked all our lunches at Cor Jesu when I was in high school. She was a WOMAN OF DEEP HEART, and her love and kindness and humor were a God-send in my life. Finally finding a place where I was accepted as I am and loved no matter what …that is what COR JESU—THE HEART OF JESUS—means to me. As I began to read scripture, I learned the empathy and compassion of Jesus’s Heart in many passages, in particular my favorite:
"Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me…My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Mt 11:28-30
In my life as a Catholic Christian, in my work as a Clinical Psychologist, as a neighbor, friend, sister, colleague, prayer partner, I strive to be a person of HEART, which for me is impossible apart from my connection to Jesus amazing Heart of Love and Compassion. His words keep me close to Him and all those I love: "Make your home in me as I make mine in you." John 15:4
One of the greatest gifts I have ever received was being taught, accepted, challenged, and loved by the Heart of Jesus through the people at Cor Jesu Academy. I will be forever grateful. And so, I pass it on: "You gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart, Oh it’s fine to be a genius of course, But keep that old horse before the cart: FIRST YOU’VE GOTTA HAVE HEART.
- Mary Jo Porter ‘74