Monday, 22 August 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 3.

By  Rev. Joseph J. C. Petrovits, J.C.B., S.T.L.

This Heart is the material object of our Devotion. The mystic significations, attached to it, combined with the popular belief which viewed it as the seat of all affections, were instrumental in promoting the special honors which it received. We shall succeed in tracing this material object to the early ages of Christianity by a brief presentation of the different Devotions in honor of the Passion of Christ. It can be proved that in sensu cumulativo the Heart of Christ was worshipped ever since it was pierced on the Cross. We do not mean to assert that this worship was something explicit. We mean only to intimate that it was included implicitly in other devotions until, finally, it became crystallized as a separate object. It would be a mistake to look for a perfectly organized devotion in the early Christian Church. It is easy, however, to point out a tendency of the early Christians toward paying a special tribute of love to the Founder of Christianity in return for the benefits He bestowed on mankind.

A. Among the first devotions of the early Christians the one to the Passion of Christ stands out prominently. The Sacred Scripture makes frequent references to the incontestable truth of Christianity: " Christ died for us, we being now justified by His blood." Since, therefore, "Christ the just died for us the unjust, we have reason to rejoice in our sorrow and trials, for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so also by Christ does our comfort abound. Christ was the author of our salvation by His Passion, and we see Jesus, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, and to Him who washed us from our sins in His own blood be glory and empire for ever and ever, Amen." It was the suffering and the shedding of blood by which our redemption was accomplished that inspired the earliest worship of Christ. But no man will deny that in these sufferings, and particularly in the shedding of blood, the Heart of Christ had a considerable share. Therefore, in a cumulative sense, it inevitably participated in the reverence and honors paid in consequence of them.