Thursday, 10 February 2011

The mystical experience and the Sacred Heart

Ian's blog on 'the Divine Energies in Eastern Christian Mystical Thought' gives those of us from the Roman Catholic tradition an interesting insight into the Sacred Heart. Teilhard was very much the mystic, and the the experiences which have informed the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and subsequently the Divine Mercy are central to understanding the images which have come to represent them. The devotion to the Sacred Heart / Divine Mercy derive from the mystical experiences of two people whose encounter with Christ was investigated and approved by the Church. What is common to both the devotion to the Sacred Heart ( St Margaret Mary) and the Divine Mercy ( Saint Faustina) is that light is an important aspect of the accounts given by the two Saints. In the case of the Sacred Heart, St Margaret Mary's account stresses the light and the fire of God's love. In the account of her second revelation (1674) she says:'The divine Heart was presented to me in a throne of flames, more resplendent than a sun, transparent as crystal' . Of her third revelation the same year he observes Jesus's wounds shone ' like five suns' and flames issued from every part of His acred humanity'. This is Teilhard's experience too: but the light for him takes on cosmic proportions. It is not a sun, so much as the heart of the universe itself, whose love is pulling all creation forward. St John Eudes who who had developed his own devotion to the Sacred Heart around 1688 says ' The most loving heart of our benigh Saviour is a furnace of most pure love for us; a furnace of purifying love, of sanctifying love, of transforming love, and of deifying love. His love is a purifying love in which the hearts of holy souls are illuminating love, which scatters the darkness of hell with which the earth is covered and lets us into the wonderful brilliance of heaven'. Teilhard's devotion to the Sacred Heart was very much in keeping with these aspects of the Sacred Heart. But for him this light is to be understood as an energy - as discussed by Ian's blog. In this sense the icon of the Sacred Heart can serve to provide a bridge between the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of Jesus as the incarnation of divine love.

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