Saturday, 2 November 2013

The delight of all the Saints

Yesterday was the feast of All Saints.  I attended mass (on the first Friday of the month) in a beautiful chapel designed by Pugin, St. Peters in Marlow.  During the mass it dawned on me that the feast is very much a feast of the Sacred Heart. Never thought of it as such 'till then.

The feast brings to mind the very last invocation ( 33) of the litany of the Sacred Heart: ‘ Heart of Jesus, Delight of all the Saints’.  The feast celebrates the joy of the saints in seeing God face-to face in the ‘beatific vision’.   In his reflections of this invocation Blessed John Paul asks us to meditate upon the heart of Christ as the

 ‘source of the life and love of the saints; in Christ and through him the blessed in heaven are loved by the Father, who unites them to himself in the bond of the spirit, divine Love; in Christ and through him they love the Father and all people, their brothers and sisters, and the love of the Spirit’.

He describes the beatific vision which is the delight of all Saints as:

‘the life giving space of the blessed, the place where they remain in love, deriving eternal and unlimited joy. The infinite thirst for love, the mysterious thirst which God has placed in the human heart, is satisfied in the divine heart of Christ’ 

(see  his meditations on the  Litany in Prayer and Service, October-Nov 1990, No. 4.  I don't think that the John Paul's meditations are on-line? It is available on Amazon..) 

So with such thoughts in mind I think we should ask for the prayers of all the saints to help us to deepen our devotion to the Heart of Jesus which they now behold in all its fullness.   And especially all the saints who are most closely associated with the devotion.  The image by Luc Barbier, that was inspired by Teilhard, is, I think, one of the few examples of the Sacred Heart surrounded by the 'delight of all the saints'. SEE here

The feast prompted me to recall in particular the role of St Bernard of Clairvaux (1070-1153) , one of the earliest saints to be associated with the devotion.  Significantly ( I think) Dante uses St Bernard to guide Dante at  the end of the Divine Comedy to his beatific vision of Divine Love symbolized by a rose – not a heart .  BUT, we should note that  in his great prayer sequence ‘ The Rhythmical Prayer to the Sacred Members’,  St Bernard says this of the Sacred Heart:

Thou  Rose of wondrous fragrance, open wide, And bring my heart into Thy wounded Side, O sweet heart, open! Draw Thy loving bride, All panting with desires intensified, And satisfy her love unsatisfied.

See here for the complete text.

Dante himself uses this image of the abode of God – the Empyrean -  as a rose within whose very centre is an image of Christ.  He sees the delight of all the saints who behold the face of God! The rose as a symbol of the heart?

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