Thursday, 29 September 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 34.

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

Therefore, in the order of time, the latter is the primary object. 

Again, the Heart is the means of manifestation, for it is through such a symbol that the object to be worshipped {obiectum colendum), viz., the theandric love of Christ, manifests itself. The Heart receives the suffrages of the faithful immediately and directly. The explanation of this fact lies in human nature. The Heart falls under the direct perception of the senses. To rise to the apperception of the formal object or motive of the devotion, viz., love, the psychological phenomenon of rousing the senses and connecting the two objects must first take place. This process involves a transition of thought from the perceptible to the imperceptible object. For this reason the Heart may be qualified as a means well adapted to the weakness and inability of man. 

We are now in a position to appreciate how easily a misunderstanding could arise among the moralists debating on the primariness and secondariness of the two objects of which the Devotion to the Sacred Heart is composed. The cause of the disagreement, in most instances, can be traced to their failure to discriminate between the object which is primary in the order of intention, but secondary in the order of execution, and the one which is primary in the order of execution, but secondary in the order of intention. This principle posited, the following conclusion may be drawn: If stress is laid on the intrinsic excellence, then, without doubt, love is the primary and the Heart the secondary object But, if, on the other hand, we separate the two objects wishing to emphasize the one towards which the mind of the worshipper is drawn first in the order of time, then, the Heart is the primary and love the secondary object.

Some theologians are of the opinion that if one examines the frame of mind of a particular worshipper in the act of paying homage to the Sacred Heart, he will in all probability discover that the principal motive is a composite one containing a mixture of both objects. We subscribe to this opinion, for it is more in keeping with the spirit of the Devotion as well as with the mind of the Church. Proper Devotion to the Sacred Heart presupposes a blending of the two objects. A separate worship of either the material or the formal object is undoubtedly permissible, provided it is not considered detached from the divine Person, but in neither instance would such worship be a Devotion to the Sacred Heart as interpreted by the theologians and encouraged by the Church.

It will not be out of place at this point to summarize the conclusions that have been reached thus far concerning the material and the formal object of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. It has been ascertained that both these objects are outlined with sufficient distinctness in the decisions handed down by the Sacred Congregation. Spiritual writers, both past and present, are unanimous in holding that the material object is the Heart of Christ. This Heart is the symbol of the formal object, viz., love. The Heart of Christ, as indicated above, may be conceived in three different states. In each of these states it pertains to the Devotion, and forms its material object viewed as the symbol of that love which best corresponds to the particular state. From all this it is manifest that the Heart is only an aid to a better and clearer realization of the principal object, viz., love.

The formal object of the Devotion is the Heart in its metaphorical, or, rather, symbolical representation, i. e., love. The Heart thus becomes the means of manifestation of the principal or primary object. The formal object may be considered also as the motive of the Devotion, for it is Christ's love of us that actuates us in this Devotion, and it is this identical love which receives our homage. The material object enjoys three different states. It is possible to point out a reason for the love as it is exemplified in each state respectively. Therefore, the formal object must include the love which individually corresponds to each of these states.

The two objects, though extrinsically distinct and separable, are intrinsically inseparable and combined in one. Their excellence depends on their hypostatic union with the Person of Christ. He endowed them with a dignity which is relatively infinite. If they are viewed in the light of the perfections to which He elevated them, but apart from the divine Person, the highest worship they could merit would be hyperdulia. By reason of their inseparableness from the Logos, however, they become transcendentalized, as it were, and deserving of the cult of latria. The proper worship, therefore, requires that the formal and the material object be kept together and both viewed in the light of the hypostatic union with the divine Person of Christ.