Friday, 4 November 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 62.

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

If the advocates of the third mode of interpretation were in a position to corroborate their conclusions by putting the efficacy of the Twelfth Promise to the test, many who at present are loath to accept their views would fain do so. Such a test, however, would seem to involve an insurmountable difficulty, for it would necessitate a knowledge of our neighbor's spiritual state, into which the eyes of God alone can penetrate.

The case is easy when the person in question received the Sacraments before death. But what is to be said about those who died without them? The interpreters answer: They either were not in need of them, because they already possessed the sanctifying grace, or, in case they were in such need, God gave them the necessary grace to sanctify their soul without the Sacraments of the dying. Thus we fall into a conjecture which can never be clarified because the ways of God are inscrutable. Again, they say: The man who died without the last rites of the Church, if he led an evil life, lacked in all likelihood the necessary disposition when he engaged in the Devotion of the Nine Fridays. If he led a good life, and passed out of this world without the last Sacraments, then, they answer, in all probability, he was not in need of them. And in case he was guilty of suicide they ask the following questions: Are you certain that the man in question made the Nine Fridays worthily? Are you certain that the act was not committed in a moment of mental derangement? Are you certain that God did not confer the efficacious grace of perfect contrition on that soul in the last instant of its life in the body? Until you can answer yes to each of these questions, the third interpretation of the promise is not to be rejected.

Thus they cover practically all contingencies, and not one of these questions is such as the human mind could satisfactorily answer, for they lead into the realm of the supernatural, over which God alone holds sovereign and undisputed dominion.

Father McNabb thinks it remarkable that Blessed Margaret Mary died without receiving the last Sacraments.  With this assertion, no doubt, he means to intimate that a fact of such nature must needs militate against the efficacy of the Great Promise. Even if the remark were true, it would fail to be a serious objection, for the interpreters already anticipated such possibilities in the case of others. No one would maintain that so holy a person was in need of the Sacraments of the dying. However, it will not be out of place to shed some of the available light on this remark of Father McNabb. Practically all the reliable testimonies agree that the priest did not administer Holy Communion by way of viaticum, because her sickness was not considered sufficiently grave to justify such administration. The same testimonies apprise us of the fact that the day before she died she received Holy Communion and, having anticipated by a special presentiment that this was the last time she would have occasion to receive it during her life, she formed the intention of receiving it by way of viaticum. We have her own words to prove this fact.