The Sacred Heart of Jesus, Heart of the Mystical Body
(The Month of June is Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Fr. Urban Snyder (RIP)
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother…(Litany of the Sacred Heart)
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was descended from Adam “according to the flesh” (Rom. 1,3), because His Body formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin was flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone. But the Holy Spirit did not merely form the Sacred Heart of Jesus; He also informed Him totally in the theological sense; “all the fullness of divinity”, of grace, of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit dwelt in the human Heart and Soul of Jesus from the first instant, because they did not belong to a human person, but to the Person of God’s only-begotten Son; Who, however, was truly man, because they did not belong to a human person, but to the Peron of God’s only-begotten Son; Who, however, was truly man, because human nature consists of a human body and a rational soul. We must never let go of the central truth that in Jesus there are two natures, but only one Person.
“Of his fullness we have all received, grace for grace.” (Jn.1,16) The pouring out of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost came directly from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and should be seen as the fruit of His Passion, but particularly of the opening of His side on the Cross. The Holy Spirit is thus released into the world, as it were, in order that He might do mystically in each one of us what He did corporally in the body of Mary, i.e., form the Heart of Jesus within us. We are all meant, little by little, to become other Christs, so entirely one with our Head as to love only what He loves, hate what He hates, and suffer what He suffers. “Be not conformed to the world, but be transformed in the newness of your mind, that you may discern what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
One reason Jesus chose to die in absolute poverty and nakedness on the Cross, stripped of every created good, including even His good name, was to focus our attention on the only riches that really matter, namely, the possession of His Spirit, and His image and likeness in our souls.
The night before He died Jesus promulgated His last will and testament, announcing that He would leave to all those who believe in His name nothing more nor less than His own living Spirit, which would make men sharers, through sanctifying grace, in His own divine nature, members of His Mystical Body, living temples of God, and co-heirs to the Kingdom over which He rules in love and peace for all eternity.
“If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you shall know him, because he will dwell with you, and be in you…
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. But he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him…
“If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him…”
St. Paul, perhaps more than any of the other apostles, was deeply struck by our oneness with Christ in the Mystical Body, and the indwelling of the Trinity in our souls. And no wonder! He could never forget the spiritual lightning which struck him on the road to Damascus: “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting (in my brethren, with whom I am one, in whom I live)”.
It is not surprising then to find Paul later writing such powerful passages as: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?...Do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and bear him in your body.”
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, him will God destroy; for holy is the temple of God, and this temple you are.” (1 Cor. 3, 16-17)
The indwelling of God in our souls, and our oneness with Christ in His Mystical Body, are the basis of all Christian dignity, morality, modesty, courtesy and true “human rights”. To declare that divorce, abortion, birth prevention and other sins against nature are “human rights” is plain and simple blasphemy. Moreover, every mortal sin committed by a baptized Christian involves, in a broad sense, a certain element of sacrilege, for it defies “the temple of God” which we are. Everyone will see this clearly in eternity. Meanwhile, we priests should preach in season and out of season, as did Paul, the sacredness of the human person as a member (or at least potential member) of Christ, through Baptism and the indwelling of the Trinity. This is the positive and vital antidote against the sick modern world, as St. Paul realized in his own day. That’s why he stressed these doctrines most in the places where morals were worst, such as Corinth and Ephesus.
Our courageous “pro-life” fighters against abortion and euthanasia are greatly to be admired and supported, but for my part I should wish to see them make more effective use of the riches and positive power of Christian doctrine; I should wish to see them pass over from a policy of minimalism, of mere defensive warfare, and bring into play the atomic power of full Catholic, Christian dogma, which makes even the devils tremble. We must indeed condemn abortion and all similar crimes, but their full horror can only be seen in the light of the call of every individual to become a living member of Christ and a temple of the living God. Children especially should be well-schooled in these doctrines, so beautiful, so vital, so central to our Faith.
If anyone takes the trouble to read in 3 Kings (I Kings in modern versions) how the prophet Elias (or Elijah) stood single-handed against all the priests of Baal, he may find a good allegory of today’s contest between the true religion of Jesus Christ and modernism, or the so-called New Religion, which is not really new but a synthesis of ancient errors expressed in new jargon.
What Elias said to the “children of Israel” on Mt. Carmel, he could well say to many Catholics today: “How long will you hesitate between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people “did not answer him a word,” but Elias went on: “I alone remain a prophet of the Lord, but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. Let two young bulls be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it. Call ye on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord; and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the people answering, said: “A very good proposal.”
When we read of the pagan priests leaping and dancing and howling around that altar (which significantly is left vague and formless in the account), the resemblance with some modernist priests is striking; and while the priests of Baal only cut and wounded themselves with knives and lancets, their modern counterparts wound their souls and the souls of others with sacrilege and blasphemy. Their offerings will not draw down the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Elias let the pagan priests carry on till after midday. Then he set to work and “repaired the altar of the Lord which was broken down. He took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob (i.e. the members of the true Church in the Old Testament)…And he built with the stones an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench for water….And he laid the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces and laid it upon the wood.” After that he ordered twelve jars of water to be dowsed over the bullock, “and the water ran down round about the altar, and the trench was filled with water.”
Elias here is surely a type of Christ our High Priest, and the victim on the wood prefigures Christ our Redeemer, dying on the Cross for the sins of the world. When, at the prayer of Elias, fire fell from heaven, it consumed not only the victim and the wood, but also “the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” Everything, in a word, was vaporized, wafted up to God after a fashion. So does the Holy Spirit vaporize, i.e., supernaturalize and divinize the stony hearts of members of the true Church who live and die in Christ; and He does this so thoroughly that not even the dust to which the stones are at first reduced, can any longer be found; this dust corresponds to what theologians call the relics or remnant of sin, i.e., evil tendencies remaining in the soul – not even this or the water of our native human weakness can any longer be found when the soul has been wholly and finally purified and made ready for Heaven by the fire of the Holy Ghost.
Father Mateo, the great apostle of the Sacred Heart, used to say that, for him, devotion to the Sacred Heart meant, above everything else, devotion to the Mass and to the Most Blessed Sacrament. In every valid Mass, Jesus our high priest is made present on the altar in the same dispositions which He had on the Cross. Showing His wounds to the Eternal Father, He pleads continually that the Holy Ghost will be sent into the world, and into the hearts of men who are willing to receive Him. And if the soul clings to God, nothing can resist, ultimately, the purifying action which the fire of God brings about, though for most of us the completion of the work takes place in Purgatory, where there is ordeal by fire, without merit. Nothing defiled can enter Heaven. (Cf. Apoc. 21-27) “The works of God are perfect, and all his ways are judgments” But one way or another, for every soul who “dies in the Lord”, the prophet’s words will be fulfilled: “I will give them one heart, and will put a new spirit in their breasts, and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh….that they may be my people, and I may be their God.” (Ezech. 11, 19-20)
The “one heart” and “new spirit” are none other than the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the perfection of His Spirit. There can be no other heart in the Mystical Body, because no child of Adam, not even the great and most holy Mother of God, is capable of the least act of supernatural virtue, in time or eternity, except in and through and with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He is the Vine, we are the branches, without Him we can do nothing.
Every invocation in the Litany of the Sacred Heart expresses a divine mystery, eternal, infinite, ever-living and ever-sanctifying in its effects, if we place no obstacles. Each mystery confers its own proper graces, and if you received the full grace of any one of them, you would become a saint. It is wise, therefore, to treasure the invocations of the Litany of the Sacred Heart, to carry around a supply in the cupboard of memory, and use them as a leaven in daily life. There is something there for every need, and for the attractions of every soul.
No specific formula of prayer, of course, is needed for drawing on the limitless graces of the Saviour’s Heart. Even a sigh, or a glance at His image will do. But it is wisdom to have a few habitual ejaculations which will come easily to the lips in time of stress. Readers may remember how, when Bernadette Keenan was dying, she prayed to the very end, and repeated very often in Latin, Omnia pro Te Cor Jesu!
Knowing how difficult it is for a dying person to pray in any language except his own, I was intrigued, and asked her sister about it. She replied that as a child in school, Bernadette learned a hymn to the Sacred Heart in which this Latin phrase was the apogee, if I may use the word, of each stanza. This hymn corresponded so well to the sentiments of her heart that it became, so to speak, her theme song; you could even call it her “battle hymn”, so much did her spirit resemble Joan of Arc’s. Through years of incredible trials and sufferings, Bernadette would burst into this song in moments of great stress.
Naturally enough, the phrase Omnia pro Te Cor Jesu also become a favorite ejaculation. She would not have had the grace to repeat it when dying unless she had used it often, very often, while living. Here then is the text of what we may now call “The Song of Bernadette Kennan”:
Life on earth is all a warfare,
Foes within and foes without.
Jesus! Jesus! – lo, the tempter
Flees before that battle shout.
In the fierce unceasing combat
Let our tranquil war cry be:
Omnia pro Te, Cor Jesu.
Heart of Jesus all for Thee!
This shall nerve the arm that’s weary,
This shall dry the tear that steals,
This shall soothe the wasting anguish
That the heart in secret feels.
Ever in my heart ‘twill slumber,
Often to my lips will start:
Omnia pro Te, Cor Jesu,
All for Thee O Sacred Heart!
All things, all things, hard and easy,
High and low and bright and dark:
Naught too poor for me to offer,
Naught too small for Thee:
Health and sickness, rest and labour,
Joy’s keen thrill and grief’s keen smart”
Omnia pro Te, Cor Jesu.
All for Thee O Sacred Heart!
All, yes all – I would not pilfer
From my holocaust a part:
Every thought, word , deed and feeling.
Every beating of my heart.
Thine till death, and Thine forever,
My heart’s cry in Heaven shall be:
Omnia pro Te, Cor Jesu!
Heart of Jesus, all for Thee.
Reprinted from The Remnant, May 31, 1978