Richo's The Sacred Heart of the World gives us a concise description of the Sacred Heart which enables us to make this old devotion more relevant and more central to our spiritual life in the 21st century and it clearly shows the influence of Teilhard on the author. He notes early on in the book that:
'The Sacred Heart does not refer to the physical heart or organ of Jesus during his life in Nazareth. It refers to the heart of the risen Christ, which is not an organ but a field of divine energy. This field, as in gravitational or electrical fields, is both radial and magnetic, reaching out, drawing in. In other words, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a metaphor for how God gives out and draws in love. The Sacred Heart is thus a revelation of how God is love; that is, both reaching out all-inclusively and yearning to receive from all of us.' (p4)
This idea that we have to see the Sacred Heart less as an organ and more of a field of divine energy is what first grabbed me as we embarked upon the process of writing the icon. Hence, right at the top of the icon we see the old creation - planetary systems showing their gravitational fields - being rolled up in preparation for the New Creation in Christ. Teilhard himself preferred to think of the Sacred Heart less as a 'devotion' than as an 'attraction': which is pulling us and drawing us to the core, 'the centre of all hearts'. I think David is right to invite us to think about the Sacred Heart as this idea of field in order for us to restore, reclaim and re-centre the idea of the Heart of Jesus in our spiritual life. My own reflection on this is that, in truth, I find it very had to let go and give way to this field. I hold on to so much stuff in my life because I am rather afraid of the power and pull of ' placing all my trust' in love. I think that when we consider all the many saints associated with the Sacred Heart they all have one thing in common: they let go, they did not hold on tight, they allowed themselves to be drawn into the divine milieu. And yet, that is what we do, we hold on and hold back. We don't give ourselves completely and wholly: we don't give our heart. And yet as the great attractor, Christ is calling us to realise that human beings have to realise that our personal evolution as well as the evolution of our species is all about realising our potential for love of God and our fellow creatures. We cannot truly progress without letting go and placing our trust in love for only then can we become fully human, and fully us. Love completes us.
Although our devotion to the centre of all hearts must draw on the past, as water from a deep well, we must not hold on to the past: we have to go on and go deeper. I think that was Teilhard's message, and as I read it, the message of David's book. Hence, as his book shows, we have to start with understanding the truly universal symbol of the heart, and the universal language of the spirituality of the heart. When we do this, we can appreciate why Teilhard believed that Sacred Heart - the divine centre - has to become a focus of convergence and dialogue between the spiritual traditions amongst homo sapiens. As I read chapter one of David's book I was reminded of a dear friend of mine, who was from Iraq. He was doing a Phd in civil engineering and sadly we have lost contact over the years. We would often talk about Christianity and Islam, and he would often say that what matters is what is in your heart, and only God can see into your heart. Or words to that effect. And with other friends from the middle east we would swop quotes from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and speak of re-making the world closer to our hearts desire. The fact is that the idea of or symbol of the heart is one which can provide a language in which human beings can engage in dialogue: the heart is an idea which Jews, Christians and Muslims can explore together. But is is also, as David shows a powerful symbol which is common to so many spiritual traditions. The language of the heart is indeed a point of convergence or attraction in a world which so often torn apart by divergence and difference. As he observes:
'There is a collective consciousness of this image that resonates in people regardless of their religious affiliation. A universal symbol like this is not only visible everywhere, it is in everyone's soul.' (p17)
As Teilhard believed, therefore, the Christianity of the future must be more and more centred on the spirituality of the heart: the great universal symbol. In this way the Sacred Heart can become a symbol of ecumenism and not division and difference: but for this to happen we have revitalise our devotion to the 'sacred heart of the world'. We really do have to place all our trust in that 'heart of the world's heart'.
- What is the devotion to the Sacred Heart about?
- Visit Elias Icons
- The icon and the angels and saints explained
- Lettering in the icon
- **Contact David**
- Who was Teilhard de Chardin?
- Benedict XVI and the Sacred Heart
- Basil Hume and Teilhard
- Blessed John Paul and Evolution
- Benedict XVI and Teilhard: an introduction
- Teilhard's Litany
- Blessed John Paul and the Sacred Heart
- Sacred Heart fresco, Paray-le-Monial
- Félix Villé 's Sacred Heart