By Rev. Joseph J. C. Petrovits, J.C.B., S.T.L.
Father Vermeersch is very reluctant to extend the symbolism of the physical Heart to the uncreated love. By subtilizing those decrees of the Sacred Congregation which were interpreted above as referring to the uncreated love, he maintains that they do not necessarily imply the idea imputed to them. Towards the end of his article, however, he assumes a more conciliatory tone, and the following is his concluding remark. One might say that the heart of a person symbolizes his love. But the Heart of Jesus is the Heart of the Word. Therefore, it symbolizes the love of the Word. He distinguishes the major proposition. The heart of a person who possesses only one nature may symbolize that person's love, he concedes; to say the same about the heart of a person who possesses two natures, he sub-distinguishes : it may symbolize the love of the same nature of that person, he concedes; the love of another nature than his own, he again subdistinguishes: as nearly and in the same way, he denies; in a different way and remotely, he admits.
To clarify the explanation of the uncreated love, the question may be raised which of these two loves is the primary and which the secondary formal object of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart? Some of the statements made concerning the primariness and the secondariness existing between the material and the formal object may help us here, but they must be applied with due limitation.
An object may be primary either in the order of time or by reason of excellence. If we address ourselves first to the Heart, and by means of it try to come to the realization of the love, then, in the order of time the Heart is the primary object, and the love the secondary, and vice versa. Of the two loves which constitute the formal object of the Devotion, the primary by reason of excellence is the uncreated love. But the spirit of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart will not permit that this particular love be our primary object in the order of time. Such a love has no connection with the Heart. Therefore, if one viewed it in its absolute excellence, he would, indeed, practise the highest cult of love, but it would not be within the domain of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart In order that the pre-incarnate love may be included in this Devotion it must be arrived at through the medium of the Heart. Hence, one may speak of the primariness and the secondariness of the two loves only from the point of view of excellence, in which case the created is inferior to the uncreated.
Theologians agree that latria is the cult to be paid to the humanity of Christ. Some of them raise the question with what worship should it be honored if viewed apart from the divinity? They are practically unanimous in concluding that the worship in such a case should be hyperdulia. But such an abstraction appears offensive to many of them for to every person ought to be paid the highest honor that he deserves for the highest reason his dignity merits. The same principle could be applied in this case. It is offensive to separate the two loves in the Devotion to the Sacred Heart, and pay honor to the Person of the Logos for only a relatively highest love, when there is sufficient reason to justify such a worship for an absolutely highest love. In other words, why should the Heart symbolize only the love which wept for Lazarus, and not also the one which created him? It is true that the Heart had a vital relation with the first and only an imaginary one with the second, but, it is also true that, unless the two are viewed together, we fail to represent the whole love of the Person of Christ towards mankind.
Again, all acts are to be referred to the acting person. But, if the person assumes the responsibility for all his acts, he is to be viewed in the light of all of them collectively. Since the Person of Christ elicited a created and an uncreated love, we would fail to view Him in the light of all His acts if we ignored those which He performed through the impulse of the pre-incarnate love.
Father Alvery censures those who are inclined to advocate such a definite line of demarcation between the two loves. He argues that the human nature of the Word is perfect in its entity, only deprived of its human personality. The personality is the principle of action. The human nature of Christ, nevertheless, is acting on its own resources, but, because it is the property of the Word, someone else assumes the responsibility for its acts. It follows that the Heart beats under the free love of the human nature, and directly and immediately symbolizes this particular love. On the other hand, this Heart and this love appertain to the Word because the actions are always referred to the Person, and hence they can be called divine.
Therefore, this Heart, which is human and divine, necessarily symbolizes this love of the Word-made-flesh. It does not follow naturally that the Heart should symbolize that love also which the Word possessed from all eternity. If we view Christ in His two natures, we see in the human nature the Heart which throbs for love of us; from this Heart and love we ascend to the Person of the Word, because they are the Heart and the love of the Son of God. From the Word we mount to the uncreated love, which logically is not in direct connection with the created love, and is not in relation to it except by means of the Word, whose Person subsists in the human nature.