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Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Of fire and furnaces
One thing I have discovered on this journey into an icon, is what a very complex image the Sacred Heart is. When you view it through the eyes of an iconographer, you begin to appreciate the beauty and the complexity of the idea of the Sacred Heart. As Teilhard puts it: ‘ the very thought of it is almost more than the mind can compass.’ I get that now. This complexity also mirrors the complexity of my own desire to commission Ian. First and foremost it was, I think, a desire to take all the pain and suffering which has been the lot of my family over the past few years and transform it into something beautiful for God. I found that Teilhard helped me to make the Sacred Heart a kind of integrative symbol which could assist me in making sense of the love of God and the role of suffering. And the more I explore the Sacred Heart and pray to the Sacred Heart, and trust in that Heart, the more do I find that patterns and sense and meaning emerges. The latest turning in the story is a good example of that: St John Eudes’s idea of the Sacred Heart as a ‘furnace’ connects remarkably well with Teilhard’s thoughts and language. But then I find it also connects with my experience equally well. I loved my father very much, and still miss him. His death was followed quickly by the sudden death of my eldest sister and subsequently her husband. As a family we were really put through the fire. St John Eudes’s idea of the Sacred Heart as a ‘burning furnace of divine love..radiating in all directions’ immediately evoked my father for me. He was a steel worker. And, before I went off to university to read for a BSc (econ) he was keen that I should work in the steel works to earn some money, but also so I should understand how he had to earn his daily bread: ‘real economics’, as he put it. The day I was shown the great blast furnaces of East Moors was a memorable experience. I have to admit I was scared and terrified at the heat and the blinding light. ‘Its like the sun,’ my father said, ‘don’t look at it’. And he gave me a visor. As I read St Bernadine’s words quoted at the start of St. John Eudes’s book on the Sacred Heart: the heart as ‘Fornacem ardentissimae caritas’, a ‘furnace of ardent love’ I suddenly saw the Sacred Heart in the way Teilhard must have seen it. Fire, divine energy : a fire of immense power filling the universe and wanting to consume us. A furnace at the sacred heart of matter : of all that is. The same fire in the burning bush sanctifying the ground on which Moses stood. And now, in this fire I can see the love of the Father the almighty creator , but also the love of my father the steel-worker who wanted me to see the great furnaces that took rock and transformed it into steel. I now more clearly see the Sacred Heart as the centre of the cosmic furnace that calls to us to let its fire penetrate our mind, soul and our hearts. And transform our hearts of stone, into glowing hearts full of divine fire.
Posted by DWP at 10:24