Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Heart Of The Gospel. Part 4.

By Francis Patrick Donnelly


Pondering them in her heart.


PUTTING two and two together" is a simple expression for a sublime and fruitful work. Man and man alone can put two and two together. In that operation man is severed from the beasts by a chasm which only God's omnipotence can bridge, because to put two and two together is the operation of a spiritual soul. By the same operation man gains experience, science and wisdom. Now it is that same simple, yet sublime work that goes on in the heart of prayer; the same which went on in its perfect form in the most perfect heart of prayer among men. St. Luke, describing the events of our Lord's birth and recounting the story told by the shepherds of the Angels' apparition, says that "Mary kept all these words pondering them in her heart." "Pondering them in her heart" means, in the Latin and the Greek, what we may describe by the homely phrase, putting two and two together.

What must a man do to put two and two together? He must understand clearly; he must deliberate; he must affirm or deny that the single twos belong together; he must draw a conclusion. By reflecting then on what he has done, he may draw far-reaching principles, and, associating other similar conclusions, he may draw other principles. Principles then are put together and or arises; and from order, system and science and then wisdom. Such are the fruits of "pondering" over the treasures of the heart, fruits that Mary gathered in their fulness and richest ripeness. Take a similar but a far inferior case. St. Ignatius of Loyola spent nine months in the cave of Manresa pondering over the truths of God, weighing them, ordering them, and combining them. The results of that season of prayer we still have in the consummate science and wisdom of the Spiritual Exercises. Oh, if we only had the wisdom that grew and filled Mary's heart, from the pondering of her whole life, from her Immaculate Conception to her Annunciation, from the Annunciation to the Ascension, from the Ascension to the Assumption! The volume of that prayerful heart would contain all the revealed truth, which St. John declared all the books of the world could not hold, and it would contain much more, as the treasures of Mary's heart were more numerous and more precious and more perfectly pondered than the riches of St. John. St. Thomas of Aquin put all theology into an epitome, called the Summa. Mary's heart of prayer was the epitome of all God's dealings with man—is it too daring to say? —God's Summa.

How then shall we describe Mary's heart of prayer when it took to pondering upon the Heart of Christ? Jesus was her all, her universe, and His Heart was that universe's central sun, not surely separated in her loving and prayerful pondering from the effulgence of the Divinity which invested that Heart and which divinized the mother's perfect affection, transforming supreme love into supreme worship. St. John heard once the beating of that Heart. He straightway became the "one whom Jesus loved," and his thoughts soared to distant heights and circled to far-off horizons, cognizant of visions hitherto beyond mortal ken. If nearness to the Heart of Christ was at least a partial cause of St. John's ecstasies (and who can doubt it?), then what shall we say of the pondering of her whose heart-beat was once His heart-beat, who long enjoyed a mother's privilege and blessing, whose sensitive ear caught every echo, even the faintest, of joy or sorrow that sounded in her Son's Heart, and whose motherly love realized those emotions more fully, more deeply than any other could possibly do, "pondering them in her heart"?