Friday, 14 October 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 47.

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

Man placed on this earth is by necessity compelled to make use of the visible things, by means of which he can ascend higher. After we have viewed the Heart as the direct symbol reserved for the created love, must we needs stop there without attempting to reach the realm of the Divinity, in order thus to contemplate the uncreated love? Should not our worship always tend to the absolutely infinite? Why, then, should it terminate in something that is only relatively infinite, as the love of Christ elicited by the Person of the Logos through the instrumentality of human nature? Hence, it would seem to be perfectly legitimate to consider the heart as it was viewed in the Old Testament, viz., as being capable of representing even a purely divine love.

Again, it is clear that the carnal Heart of Christ in this connection need not necessarily emblemize all the uncreated love of the three divine Persons. The Second Divine Person was destined from all eternity to enter into a relationship with mankind which was not to be attributed to the other two. We admit that in the Blessed Trinity, though there are three Persons willing, there is but one will, and that though there are three Persons loving, there is but one love. Yet, by way of appropriation we may refer here to the love under the impulse of which Christ became incarnate in order to make possible the Redemption. The decree of April 4, 1900, expressly mentions such a love, and points to it as one which is to be commemorated in the Devotion to the Sacred Heart.

That there is nothing against the assumption of such a love we can prove by theological arguments. The Sacred Scripture tells us that " God so loved the world as to give His only Begotten Son." This passage attributes a love to God the Father which is His own in a special way. While the love of the other two Persons is not excluded, we can also say that it is appropriated in a special way to the Father. Thus we may say that " God so loved the world as to become man." In this love we likewise include all the three Persons, but the love of the Son would stand out more prominently, though merely by way of appropriation. Therefore, this love, appropriated to the second Person, according to the human way of conceiving, had a characteristic differentiating it from the love of the other two Persons. Such is the uncreated love which is to be included as a partial formal object in the Devotion to the Sacred Heart.

To confine the formal object of the Devotion to the created love, it is necessary either that there should be a special pronouncement to that effect on the part of the Church, or that some very imperative reason should dictate such a course, e. g,, the spiritual welfare of the faithful. In the present instance neither of these reasons can be adduced. On the contrary, there are, on the one hand, specific decrees permitting the inference that the uncreated love is not to be excluded, and, on the other hand, the spiritual benefit accruing from the Devotion would be greater, and the Devotion would be established on a firmer basis, if the pre-incarnate love were included as constituting a part of the formal object. Father Vignat, censuring the opinions of those who advocate the exclusion of the uncreated love, remarks that if their views were accepted, the faithful could not even make an act of love by means of this Devotion. If we love Jesus Christ, he says, solely because he loved us as man, we do not make an act of charity. Such an act presupposes not only that we love God, but that we love Him for His own sake, on account of some supreme excellence, or a certain aspect of His infinite perfection. The love which one has for Jesus Christ is indeed directed to God Himself by virtue of the hypostatic union. But, if my love has for its motive a perfection of His human nature only, then my act would fail to be an act of charity, though it may be considered as a preparatory step leading to it.