BY THE REV. H. NOLDIN, S.J.
AUTHORISED TRANSLATION FROM THE GERMAN.
REVISED BY THE REV. W. H. KENT, O.S.C
God and at the same time our Father and our Friend, no longer dwells in the tabernacle of our churches; that the greatest proof of all of the charity of the God-Man, the holy sacrifice of the Mass, is a fable and a deceit; that the Sacrament of Penance, that wondrous testimony to the compassionate, the forgiving love of our God, is done away with; that the Church which Christ purchased with His blood totters to its fall. Can it surprise us that Our Lord should exhibit His Heart to a world which actually contests and disputes His love for man kind and call upon it to remember His infinite charity: "Behold My Heart, that has so loved man"?
The work Protestantism began, Jansenism carried on—a heresy so gloomy and dreary, so sinister, cold, and unattractive, that one is at a loss to understand how many superior and gifted persons could have been deluded by it. It depicts our heavenly Father as a tyrant who gives laws to men which it is impossible for them to keep, and yet for transgressing which they are damned; it divests God of His attribute of mercy by alleging that He is not always willing to pardon the repentant sinner, that He does not grant forgiveness to all who seek it; it detracts from the charity of Our Saviour and Redeemer towards men even when displayed upon the cross, asserting that He did not shed His blood and sacrifice His life for all mankind. A terrible proposition this, calculated to drive men of good will to despair. If the awakened sinner, contrite and alarmed by the consciousness of his transgressions, casts himself at the feet of the Saviour and implores forgiveness through the mercy of His Sacred Heart, he cannot feel certain that the precious blood was shed for him personally; and when the dying Christian clasps the crucifix in a hand already damp with the dews of death, he can only press it to his lips with the agonizing doubt whether he too is among the number of those for whom Christ died. Can we wonder that, things being so, Our Lord should be induced to collect together, so to speak, the tokens of His great charity; to encircle His Heart with the crown of thorns, to open wide the gaping, bloodstained wound, to place the cross above it, to surround it with the flames of charity issuing from every portion of it, and show this Heart to mankind with the words: "Behold the Heart which has so loved man"?
This twofold heresy has cast its fatal venom even into the sanctuary and wrought sad havoc in the Church of God. Scepticism, which uproots all faith in a Redeemer and a future life, coldness and indifferentism towards Christ and the Church He founded, pride and sensuality, which delight in iniquity and unlawful pleasures, have gained ground to an alarming extent. In the age in which our lot is cast, mankind is so engrossed with material interests that men do not hesitate to renounce all hope of a blissful eternity, if they can but gain the world and enjoy all that it offers. On this account Our Lord continues to show us His Heart, consumed by the flames of charity: ''Behold the Heart that has so loved man." The devotion to the Heart of Jesus is the devotion needed in our day, it is the divinely appointed means of remedying the evils, supplying the religious necessities of the present time; it is an antidote against the poison of pride and sensuality, a cure for coldness, indifference, unbelief.