Friday, 30 September 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 35.

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

Whatever excellence the Heart and love possess, is directly traceable to the Saviour's Person. All claims of Christ's human nature on our worship are based on the personal character of the union whereby the Word became flesh. Because of the Divinity of Christ, all His human acts, whether mental or physical, are qualified as theandric. Hence we speak of His theandric patience, theandric humility, theandric passion and death. And since the Heart of Jesus is preeminently the symbol of His love, it is the symbol of a love at once human and divine.

The last few paragraphs summarize all the more relevant principles which, beacon-like, ought to guide us in the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. The importance of a worship which concerns itself with a homage paid to the physical Heart of Christ, viewed as united to the Divinity and thus symbolizing His human and divine love, can hardly be exaggerated. It is also easy to see how this Devotion facilitates our comprehension of the redemptive love and thereby helps us to visualize the divine economy of the Incarnation and Redemption.

Before entering upon the question involved in any adequate explanation of created and uncreated love, it is necessary to place certain definite limits to the meaning of these terms. The few theologians who ex professo speculatively considered this twofold love of Christ failed to arrive at the same conclusion. By uncreated love they mean that love which Jesus Christ, as the second Person of the Trinity, possessed from all eternity. This love, like God Himself, existed always, has neither beginning nor end. The divine Person of Christ, foreknowing the future, foresaw the creation of man and all the exigencies which it was to entail. His love co-operated with God the Father in giving us existence. Therefore, this love may be considered in relation to man even before man existed, or before the Incarnation took place. This is the idea of the uncreated love.

In contradistinction to this love, the created love of Christ is that love which He manifested through the instrumentality of His human nature. It represents the plenitude of that love which actuated Him in all the mental and physical acts He performed as God-man, and which eventually culminated in the Redemption of mankind. It must be borne in mind that the created love is not to be abstracted from the divine Personality, but viewed conjointly with it, as the love corresponding to that human nature which the Logos employed as a created medium. Otherwise it would not be deserving of the cult of latria. In other words, the uncreated love is the love which Christ, as the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, had for man from all eternity, and which He will continue to have for eternity as a purely divine act. The created love of Christ has its beginning with the Incarnation, but it will continue to the end of time, it is a mixed divino-human act.

It is evident that the distinction made between created and uncreated love can be predicated only of a being who has a twofold nature. On the strength of overwhelming evidence, taken from Sacred Scripture and tradition, it may be rightly concluded that Christ, the Founder of Christianity, is such a being. We shall briefly restate some of these proofs.

Christ says of Himself: " I and the Father are one," and, again: " That which my Father hath given me (divine nature) is greater than all."  He says, furthermore, " I came from the Father, and am come into the world." The first two texts imply a coequality with God the Father, in nature and virtue, for the same virtue, says St. Chrysostom, postulates sameness of nature. The third text, referring to His procession from the Father, interprets the second. Again, referring to His sheep, Christ says: " And I give them life everlasting." It is evident, however, that no one can give such a gift unless he previously possesses it. If we supplement these quotations we find that Sacred Scripture speaks of Christ as the Son of God;  adored by the angels of God;  by whom the world was made;  who, being rich, became poor that through His poverty we might be rich; who is the brightness of the Father's glory and the figure of His substance;  all these things imply equality with the Father, therefore, He must be co-eternal also.