Friday, 8 April 2011

Benedict and the Sacred Heart

Benedict XVI on the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas -2006

Ian reminded us a while ago of how he found inspiration for the Sacred Heart of Naur in Pius XII’s encylical Haurietis Acquas.(1956) Since then I have been thinking about what it says, and especially Pope Benedict's reflections on the encyclical in a letter to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.
Superior General of the Society of Jesus in 2006. In particular I have been focusing on a number of points that he makes in this letter and how Benedict shows why the devotion to the Sacred Heart should be as important for all Catholics today as in the past. I must admit that in 1956 I was too young to get it. In 2006 I still did not get it, but now, thankfully, I do. Here are a few extracts from his letter. I think they need no commentary from me.

By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of his love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it. After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome him ever better into their lives.

… to take up a saying of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II, "In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbour".
Thus: "The true reparation asked by the Heart of the Saviour will come when the civilization of the Heart of Christ can be built upon the ruins heaped up by hatred and violence" (Letter to Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus for the Beatification of Bl. Claude de la Colombière, 5 October 1986; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 27 October 1986, p. 7).

When we practise this devotion, not only do we recognize God's love with gratitude but we continue to open ourselves to this love so that our lives are ever more closely patterned upon it. God, who poured out his love "into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (cf. Rom 5: 5), invites us tirelessly to accept his love. The main aim of the invitation to give ourselves entirely to the saving love of Christ and to consecrate ourselves to it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 4) is, consequently, to bring about our relationship with God. This explains why the devotion, which is totally oriented to the love of God who sacrificed himself for us, has an irreplaceable importance for our faith and for our life in love.

..the adoration of God's love, whose historical and devotional expression is found in the symbol of the "pierced heart", remains indispensable for a living relationship with God (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 62).

'Indispensible' ....... And yet for so many of us - including me - it has become all too dispensible ! How come that happened?

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