Monday, 10 October 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 43.

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

The hymn of the Vespers to be said on the Feast of the Sacred Heart may be adduced as an additional proof in favor of our proposition.

The pre-incarnate love in this receives prominence especially in the second and third verses.

"Thee Saviour love alone constrained 
To make our mortal flesh thine own, 
And, as a second Adam, come 
For the first Adam to atone.

That self-same love which made the sky, 
Which made the sea and stars and earth 
Took pity on our misery, 
And broke the bondage of our birth."

This verse is of no importance in the estimation of Father Vermeersch. " One should not adduce metrified stanzas," he remarks, " to contradict the express teaching contained in the lessons of the Office." Be that as it may, the poetical expression of that love nevertheless has some force. Had it been unliturgical or contradictory to the concept entertained on this subject by ecclesiastical authorities, it would not have received their approbation.

Some spiritual writers see an adumbration of the uncreated love in the sixth lesson of the Office, where reference is made to the suffering and the dying love, as well as to the love which was instrumental in instituting the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Such inference, however, cannot be justified, for all these characteristics may be attributed in a more appropriate sense to the created love which is united to the Divinity.

As a secondary proof one could adduce some invocations taken from the Litany of the Sacred Heart approved by the Sacred Congregation on April 2, 1899. In the 21 st invocation we pray: Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness. In the 28th invocation we call the Heart of Christ: Our life and Resurrection. In the 14th invocation we speak of this Heart as containing: All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. While all these attributes may be predicated of the Heart of Christ without being brought into correlation with His pre-incarnate love, there is not sufficient reason why they should be confined to the created love. The 21st and 28th invocations bring the Heart of Christ into relation with life. Why should the Church in the same Litany make use of two invocations that have almost the same meaning? Would it not be more appropriate to interpret the Heart in the 21st invocation as symbolizing the love shown by Christ in our creation ? In this case the 28th invocation could be interpreted as referring to our spiritual re-birth through the mystery of the Redemption. Thus the Heart would suggest to our mind the idea of the created as well as of the uncreated love.

It must be admitted that the evidence adduced thus far is not conclusive. Up to the present the Church has not determined clearly the nature and extent of the love which constitutes the whole formal object of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. The foregoing decisions, however, carry sufficient weight to induce any one to accept the uncreated love as a partial formal object. In order to come to a more definite conclusion it will be necessary to appeal to a few generally accepted theological principles.