Saturday, 15 October 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 48.

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

Again, we perceive in our age a tendency to use the emotional side of our nature for a perverse end. This emotionalism is directed in the proper channel by the attractiveness of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart But we must be on our guard against a danger. While we ought to make use of all the licit means to foster holy sentiments in this respect, we should not stop until we can cast anchor in something more stable, in the sea of infinite love, where we find only one sentiment, and that unchanging. Why tarry on the way to admire created beauty, when we may ascend higher and delight in the vision of the uncreated love to which all things owe their being?

Therefore, it would seem that there is no particular advantage in excluding the pre-incarnate love from this Devotion. The end of man is the beatific vision of God. He ought to strive to come as near to the realization of this end as his human nature will permit during his terrestrial sojourn. The means to attain this end are those which the true religion offers especially by means of the various devotions. Through the created Heart we can ascend directly to the created love, and, using the manifestations of this as a ladder, we should mount to that uncreated and absolutely infinite love which the second Person of the Blessed Trinity elicited towards us when He engaged to assume the burden of a vicarious satisfaction. Furthermore, it is a mistake to distinguish so pronouncedly between the two loves. All admit that there are two loves in Christ corresponding to His two wills and two natures. But it is one and the same Person that wills and loves. All the acts must eventually be referred to the Logos. We may, indeed, consider the two loves abstractedly in so far as the subordinate love will help us to arrive at the realization of the superior love, but we should not pause at the former. This created love is to be considered as the means (terminus per quern), in contradistinction to the uncreated love which is to be viewed as the end.

Those in favor of a separation of these two loves anticipate a danger of heresy from their union. The prominence assigned to the created love by means of which the uncreated is to be reached, ought to obviate all possibility of falling into the heresy of either the Monophysites or the Monothelites.

Father Vermeersch hesitates to subscribe to the principles enunciated above on account of certain authoritative statements which apparently are in contradiction with such views. He cites the words of Benedict XIV and the Encyclical of Leo XIII.

These, he maintains, militate against accepting the word heart in such a heteroclitic sense as to consider it a symbol of the uncreated love. But, since the heart was the object of such a symbolism in the Old Covenant, the symbolical meaning attached to it in the New Testament is not quite so heteroclitic as would appear at first sight. However, in order that the foregoing statements may retain their force, it will be necessary to reconcile them with the words of Benedict XIV and the Encyclical of Leo XIII.

Benedict XIV states that no feast in honor of Christ is directed to God the Son as the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. All the feasts worship Him as God-man, representing the special graces and deep mysteries which the Incarnate Word wrought for the salvation of mankind.

It must be admitted that these words may be interpreted as militating against the conclusion established in the preceding pages. The uncreated love is the love of God the Son as such. It is altogether distinct from the theandric love and therefore we are introducing into the Feast of the Sacred Heart an object which apparently conflicts with the teaching of Benedict XIV, who denies that such an honor may be paid to the Logos viewed apart from human nature. But, it is also easy to see that the great Pontiff in this extract had in mind a direct worship of the Logos. If we advocated a direct cult to be paid to the uncreated love, then our teaching would be irreconcilable with his words. Such, however, is not the present contention. It is true that the Feast of the Sacred Heart is instituted in honor of the physical Heart as it symbolizes the created love of Christ directly. But the symbolism of the same Heart may be extended in a wider sense to the uncreated love. Therefore, we indirectly worship this latter. If anyone contend that it is unreasonable to combine two such dissimilar elements in one and the same devotion, Father Vignat answers that this union is necessitated by the mystery of the Incarnation.

The Encyclical of Leo XIII can in no way be interpreted as gainsaying the foregoing conclusion. Father Vermeersch fails to paraphrase it correctly. This letter "Divinum Mud" expresses the same idea we find in the works of Benedict XIV, but it is somewhat modified. "Though by certain Feasts," it says, " we celebrate the various mysteries of the incarnate Word, we do not celebrate by a proper Feast the Word according to His divine nature only. The modifier, tantum, favors our proposition inasmuch as we do not contend that we worship the uncreated love only, but worship it also, and indirectly.

Again, even if these two documents did militate against the acceptation of some of the above mentioned conclusions, it must be borne in mind that they are not apodictic proofs, as Father Alvery remarks, against which there is no higher appeal before the tribunal of human reason. Though their argumentative force cannot be denied, it is nevertheless true, that they do not possess a " sovereign value." Furthermore, it could be added that the first contains only a semblance of contradiction against our conclusion, while the second could hardly be interpreted as militating against it. Therefore, there is no reason to question the view advocated in this chapter.