Friday, 7 October 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 42.

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

The Memorial of the Polish Bishops was instrumental in bringing about the approbation contained in the decree dated January 26, 1765. That this Memorial makes no explicit mention of the uncreated love of Christ is a well-known fact. Father Vermeersch contends that the Devotion was approved as proposed by the Polish Bishops. Therefore, he concludes, the Church by such a decree meant to confine the formal object to the created love. Needless to say that such an inference is unwarrantable. Nor could it be justified on the ground that the subsequent decrees of Pius VI and Pius IX likewise fail to make special mention of the uncreated love.

The first decree which gives us an inkling that the pre-incarnate love is to be included in the Devotion to the Sacred Heart, was given on February 6, 1765. In this it is stated that the approved Mass and Office are intended to commemorate symbolically that divine love under the impulse of which the only Begotten Son of God, took upon Himself human nature, and becoming obedient unto death, wished thereby to give an example to men as One who is meek and humble of Heart.

Father Vermeersch would not permit any one to be influenced in his decision by this particular decree, for, he tells us, it was suppressed by the Congregation of the Sacred Rites when it revised all its decrees to publish an authentic edition. To eliminate useless or contradictory decrees is, according to Father Vermeersch, the reason generally given for this revision. Since, however, no official decision was rendered explanatory of the suppression of this particular decree, it would be futile to conjecture the causes leading to such a step. However, there is good ground to suppose that the cause of its suppression is not to be sought in the supposition that it was contradictory to some previous decrees. Our reason for this statement is the following:

On April 4, 1900, the Sacred Congregation rendered a decision concerning the Scapular of the Sacred Heart. This particular decree is not suppressed, yet some of the words in which it is couched are practically identical with those contained in the suppressed decree. Now, it is not likely that the words of a decree, once erased for the reason that they were contradictory to others, would be repeated. That decree of April 4, 1900, goes to prove that the elimination of the decree of January 26, 1765, was not due to the groundless supposition that its words admitted an interpretation which the Church wished to discourage. " To the religious solemnities/' the decree states, " we are to add the one instituted by the Church in honor of the Sacred Heart. By this solemnity not only does the Church mean to put before us die Heart of the Son of God and man as an object worthy of adoration and glorification, but it also intends to commemorate symbolically the mem* ory of that divine love by which the only Begotten Son of God assumed human nature, and, being obedient unto death, exhibited to men examples of virtues, and showed Himself meek and humble of heart." 87 That divine love, under the impulse of which the only Begotten Son of God and man assumed human nature is therefore included as being solemnized by the Feast in honor of the Sacred Heart It is evident that this love corresponds perfectly with the definition of the uncreated love. The decree combines the two, and while it seems to give preference to the created, does not ignore the uncreated love. Both are to be conjointly commemorated as symbolized by the Heart.

Another decree issued in 1821 conveys the same idea and may be adduced as another proof in favor of the uncreated love. " The Feast of the Sacred Heart," it states, "recalls to us the immense love, which actuated the Word to become incarnate for our ransom and salvation; which induced Him to institute the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and to bear our sins, as well as to offer Himself on the cross as a victim and sacrifice."