Monday, 26 September 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 31.

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

It must be borne in mind that the heart in this Devotion is not viewed as the organ, but only as the symbol of love. Just as the lily represents purity, the scale symbolizes justice, and the sickle conveys the idea of harvest, so the heart suggests the thought of love. This symbolical signification of the heart is so deep-seated that it is likely to last till the end of the world. After all, symbolism in general may be defined as the employment of a concrete tangible reality as a vehicle for conveying to the mind the idea of an abstract or spiritual reality. That the heart admirably serves such a purpose, no one can deny. This in itself, irrespective of any scientific basis, would suffice to justify the choice which Christ made when He selected the heart as the symbol of His love. Therefore, we are not inclined to subscribe to the opinion advocated by Father Galliffet, viz., if it were a fact that the heart could have no part in the emotion of loving, the foundation of the proposed Devotion would fail and the Devotion would fall to the ground.

Perhaps comparison will bring out in clearer relief our contention on this point. Threpsology tells us that bread is a nutriment of organic bodies. It can in no way strengthen the soul or satisfy its spiritual needs. Yet, it was selected as the most appropriate matter for transubstantiation; not on account of its intrinsic fitness or worth, but because it is the most common of all foods, and better adapted than any other symbol to represent the process and necessity of nourishing a famished soul. On the other hand the heart is an indispensable organ of every human individual. Ancient literature as well as the popular mind creates a concept of its function which, when viewed intrinsically, fails to correspond to the reality. Yet, as the heart is one of the noblest organs, there is sufficient warrant for the acceptance of the traditional view. The modern physiological aspect of the function of this organ is far from lending itself to poetry and symbolism to the extent to which the heart adapts itself when viewed from the Platonic standpoint.

An additional reason can be drawn from Psychology. It teaches that supernatural truths can be grasped best through perceptible objects. The clearness and fulness of our comprehension of such truths depend on the appeal which the symbol makes to the senses. The deeper the impression made by the symbol, the quicker the soul's response and the more inspiring and enduring the realization of the thing symbolized. This psychological principle, it may be presumed, actuated Christ in His choice of the symbol for the Devotion to His infinite love. We fail to see what other object is so well calculated to render the Devotion popular as the one which, by a widespread international acceptation, is the most natural symbol of love.

Again, the ways of God are inscrutable. Man's finite understanding is not able to penetrate and weigh adequately all the reasons that motivate the divine Mind. It is easy to conceive how, in His infinite wisdom, Christ might have had special ends in view inducing Him to offer His Sacred heart to symbolize His love. No man can fathom all the merits which this divine Heart acquired when viewed through the mystery of the Redemption. Nor is any one qualified to point out definitely all the functions it was called upon to exercise in such an incomparable body as the one which the divine Logos possessed.