Monday, October 17, 2016

Yes, Jesus Loves You

(Albrecht Dürer)

Today’s feast of Marguerite-Marie Alacoque is a reminder for most Tradistanis of the Sacred Heart Devotion, something which, while an occasionally troublesome example of Catholic devotionalism, serves at the very least to remind us of that ancient truth of God’s love first revealed in the Pentateuch:
From heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might teach thee. And upon earth he shewed thee his exceeding great fire, and thou didst hear his words out of the midst of the fire, because he loved thy fathers. (Deut. 4)
Throughout the Hebrew dispensation, this truth was reiterated by the prophets:
“For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. Since thou becamest honourable in my eyes, thou art glorious. I have loved thee, and I will give men for thee, and people for thy life.” (Isa. 43)
And the Lord said to me: “Go yet again, and love a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress; as the Lord loveth the children of Israel, and they look to strange gods.” (Hos. 3)
“I have loved you,” saith the Lord. And you have said, “Wherein hast thou loved us?” “Was not Esau brother to Jacob,” saith the Lord, “and I have loved Jacob, but have hated Esau?” (Mal. 1)
A greater revelation of God’s love for his people came with the Incarnation and with the ministry of Christ:
And Jesus looking on him, loved him. (Mk. 10)
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” (Lk. 13)
The Jews therefore said, “Behold how he loved him.” (Jn. 11)
“As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love.” (Jn. 15)
Marguerite-Marie’s visions were of Christ enrobed in fiery splendor, much as he appears in the Apocalypse and at the Transfiguration. He is here surrounded by seraphim, and his heart is described as a “sun” issuing forth rays she fears will burn her to ash. But where the scriptural assurances of God’s love are passionate but brief, Marguerite-Marie writes endlessly about the emotions and thoughts that spring up at the fresh revelation of Christ’s heart, “burning with thirst for the salvation of sinners.” For the average Catholic, a simple re-reading of the Gospels is likely to be more invigorating to the virtue of charity than the French nun’s emotional roller coaster.

I have to think, though, that St. Marguerite-Marie’s visions were indeed a revelation to the Counter-Reformation cultural Catholicism of her time. The Church was heavily focused on tightening regulations and preventing more losses to Protestantism and secular movements, and in such times it is too easy to lose sight of the offer of friendship that God extends to all men.

As to the general practice of the Sacred Heart devotion, I do not have much to add beyond what His Traddiness has written before. The following short book on the supposed promises of Christ to St. Marguerite-Marie is very useful in gaining perspective on the devotion, and for dissuading people from getting too carried away.



A blessed feast to you all!

15 comments:

  1. While we're on the topic of private revelations in their historical context, I think that the "message of Fatima" is also taken too much out of its own. To me the whole "make reparation for sins" and "pray for the conversion of sinners" seems to be a way of re-introducing to a simple folk the concept of their baptismal priesthood without having to explain it.

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    1. Those who popularize visions do tend to focus on a small handful of "talking points" and beat them to death. It's a pity, because there's much more in Fatima (as well as in St. Marguerite-Marie) than often gets discussed.

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    2. Are you saying that seven hour parish missions on the Third Secret of Fatima might be a little excessive? Are you now a heretic for daring to question everything the Fatima.org folks might put out?

      :P

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    3. Here I stand, I can do no other.

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  2. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” (Lk. 13)

    Look for Franciscus to cite verse this at the upcoming Feast of Martin Luther in Sweden where he will bow to be blessed by a married lesbian bishop:

    The Holy Spirit prompts us all to love one another as brothers and sisters in the unity of love in the new civilisation of love where, no longer, can there be distinctions made between Catholics and Lutherans since the Incarnation has dissolved the distinctions even between Priest, Prophet and Poultry; yes, precisely because of the Incarnation, all of creation is as one for all of creation is one in the act of original love even as the God of Islam, Judaism and Christianity is one who loves all equally and it is this unity that the world longs for and that alone is the unity will bring peace to our common ancestral mother, earth.

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    1. Hoo boy, I think that the upcoming weeks are going to be very busy for traddy bloggers. Coming from a Calvinist-Lutheran background, I might have a great deal to say, as well.

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    2. I would how long it will take Francis Underwood,I mean Pope Francis to extol the "virtues" of the heretic. As the show Goosebumps would start off, "viewers beware, you're in for a scare."

      A true Halloween nightmare indeed.

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  3. http://www.tumblarhouse.com/lounge/column/the-politics-of-the-sacred-heart

    I have to think, though, that St. Marguerite-Marie’s visions were indeed a revelation to the Counter-Reformation cultural Catholicism of her time. The Church was heavily focused on tightening regulations and preventing more losses to Protestantism and secular movements, and in such times it is too easy to lose sight of the offer of friendship that God extends to all men.

    It wasn't the Protestants so much as the Jansenists within the Church who attacked the piety and devotion of the faithful.

    For the average Catholic, a simple re-reading of the Gospels is likely to be more invigorating to the virtue of charity than the French nun’s emotional roller coaster.

    Not necessarily. For some, the Sacred Heart is simply the gospel reduced to a single image; that's why it was so successful, and why Christ chose to encourage it at a time when love was being taken out of the gospel by Protestants and Jansenists.

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    1. I was speaking of St. Marguerite-Marie's writings, not of the Sacred Heart image itself. Of course, nobody reads her writings anymore, so I suppose the point is moot. Catholics would rather read tracts summarizing what holy people have said than actually read what holy people have said.

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    2. "Catholics would rather read tracts summarizing what holy people have said than actually read what holy people have said."

      I realized this about myself not too long ago. What a sad and bizarre habit we make for ourselves.

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  4. Fair enough; I haven't read her writings myself. I wouldn't get too much caught up on the style of her writing though; it's probably just a Baroque thing, the way that they emphasised powerful emotion and delighted in detail. Besides, it's probably more due to temperament more than anything that this style does not please you. The scriptures do not go into detail about the intricacies of Christ's love for us, true, but neither do the scriptures offer precise theological exposition like the scholastics; does that mean that scholasticism is superfluous? The somewhat solemn and aloof tone of scripture cannot be surpassed in the minds of many, but that doesn't mean that there aren't minds attracted to a more familiar and intimate form of speech.

    I'm reminded of something I read on the internet about an Eastern Orthodox (priest, perhaps) who took a copy of the Imitation of Christ out of a young girl's hands and told her not to "play romance with God." Well, I wonder if he would have preferred her to have a romance with the devil instead. God relates to us according to our different natures; not everyone is suited for an austere, monastic spirituality. If effusive tracts about Christ's passionate love for mankind excites the imagination of some and incites their piety, I see nothing wrong with it whatsoever. I don't like hearing the Sacred Heart pooh-poohed because it's entirely orthodox, but most of all because I think of the darkness of Jansenism and what an enormous relief the Sacred Heart devotion must have been to people in those times, and I don't think that the excesses of "devotionalism" overshadow the good that this devotion has done for souls. Those have suffered from extreme scrupulosity or dejection, of feeling unworthy of God and worthy to be damned, tend to understand the significance of the devotion.

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    1. I've read a few testimonies from converts from Calvinism even in our day who cite the Sacred Heart as their gate into the Church. This is no accident. The Sacred Heart is the antithesis of Calvinism/Jansenism, which is what it was designed to defeat.

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    2. It wasn't just Calvinism that the Sacred Heart devotion opposed, but some of the worst excesses of the Counter Reformation, especially the heartless quasi-iconoclasm of Johannes Molanus and his compatriots right after the Council. Unfortunately, part of this reaction was an excess of sentimentality. Medieval art in most parts of Europe did better at balancing the burning light of Heaven with the tender love of God. The Church was sadly afflicted with sentimental kitsch from the time of the Counter Reformation until Vatican II, when it was replaced with mindless modernism.

      I recommend reading Marguerite-Marie or her spiritual director John Croiset if you are promoting the devotion they began. It's far bigger than just a symbolic image. One of my problems with their writings is indeed the feeling of extreme scrupulosity and dejection that permeates them. I am curious if you would think the same.

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    3. Wow that Molanus guy has some nerve...

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  5. I am not only attracted to the great art of certain Catholic masters - Caravaggio and Bernini are my favorites - but their acts of violence (sfregio to the mistresses who crossed them) does not obviate enjoyment of their artistic genius and, anyways, both of them make Trump, by comparison, seem an ascetic.

    But then, there is also Murillo. I saw a few of his works at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Fl. and immediately fell in love with him.

    And a day spent at The Uffizi in Florence results in a lifetime of memories and the Dumo itself exerts a physical presence if one is walking down Cavour St ands suddenly turns left into the square.

    Lord have Mercy.

    Catholic art and architecture is simply the best and the variety and quality of it is so varied that there are works of art and architecture capable of reaching every Catholic soul no matter the class or education of the Catholic soul looking at it in wonder.

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