Friday, 28 October 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 58.

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

(B) Father Bachelet interprets the Promise somewhat differently. In his belief it is analogous to the Scapular Promise. Pere Theophile Raynaud states that the promises attached to the Scapular will be infallibly verified, provided the wearer complies with two kinds of conditions, viz., the common and the particular conditions. The former comprise the observances prescribed for the faithful in general, while the latter are limited to those required of the members of the Confraternity in particular. Basing his opinion on this explanation, Father Bachelet avers that one may expect the realization of the Great Promise only after having complied with the requirements of the ordinary means of salvation as well as with those of the Nine Fridays' Devotion. In his estimation the Twelfth Promise has no more force than the words of Sacred Scripture: " He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life ";  or, " He that eateth [that bread], and drinketh [the blood] unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself "; or again, " For we are saved by hope "; or, finally " For alms delivereth from death and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting."

Just as one healthy organ does not imply the general health of the body, so one of these means taken separately cannot be the whole cause of salvation. These conditions are to be viewed in the light that each of them individually is a partial contributor towards our last end, and all collectively will actually bring it about The same opinion is advocated by Bellarmine. Father Bachelet justifies his interpretation by the words of Benedict XIV concerning the efficacy of the Scapular Promise. No person will escape eternal punishment by the mere fact that he wears the Scapular if during his life he was guilty of sinful excesses. No person will be saved by the mere fact that he wears a Scapular without having performed other meritorious works to deserve such a reward. Eternal salvation presupposes good acts and perseverance in such acts. That such was the belief of Blessed Simon himself is evident from his own words: " My Brethren, endeavor to assure your salvation by the performance of good works."

(C) Father Vermeersch is the staunchest advocate of a third mode of interpretation. According to his judgment no analogy can be established between the reward which Sacred Scripture attaches to various individual acts and the reward guaranteed by the Great Promise. Sacred Scripture, he argues, reveals to us the ordinary economy of salvation. It is to be considered as a composite whole, consisting of different parts, of which each contributes its share towards the integration of the whole. Each passage helps to explain the others. Therefore, a special recommendation of a certain good disposition or meritorious work means to emphasize the particular place which these hold in conjunction with the other acts, but does not point out a new merit possessed by them separately. Such passages are related to others with which they form a harmonious whole, and depend on them for their full signification. But in the case of the Twelfth Promise no such interpretation can be advocated without doing violence to the text. The Great Promise is complete in itself, not dependent on, or correlated to, any other; therefore, in interpreting it we must take the full scope and range of its contents unrestrictedly.