Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Sacred Heart as a Symbol for Christian Unity

We are now in day 5 of the week of prayer for Christian unity - which began on the 18th January. There are so many symbols which keep us apart rather than serve to unite us as Christians.  In many ways the Sacred Heart may be considered to be one of those symbols that divides rather than unites and yet this should not be so.  If we reflect on what the Sacred Heart symbolizes: the self-sacrificing love of the Word made flesh who suffered to redeem the world, and as a symbol of the energy of  love that comes from God and which fills all creation, then it should provide a focus of unity.  The Sacred Heart is a summary of what Christians believe: God became one of us.  Jesus, God from God and light from light has a human heart like us.  He wants to live in our hearts.  When Christians reflect on the central role of the heart in the Bible, and the fact that we are called to be meek and humble of heart -like Him -  then the Sacred Heart becomes a point of convergence and not divergence:  a symbol for the future, and not of the past.

So on this day let us listen to a wonderful piece of music written in the past, which might serve as a focus of future unity: Dieterich Buxtehunde's Membra  Jesu Nostri ( 1680).  (READ ABOUT IT HERE.)  This is a Lutheran oratorio - in Latin.  It reflects on the crucified body of Christ.  Part V deals with Christ's breast, and part VI with his heart ( ad Cor).  To listen go HERE. Buxtehunde (1637-1639) a German-Danish composer  was - of course- an influence on  none other than J.S. Bach.  Such works can serve to focus on minds on the wounded heart of Christ: a symbol to unite all Christians!

Vulnerasti cor meum,
soror mea, sponsa,
vulnerasti cor meum.

Summi regis cor, aveto,
te saluto corde laeto,
te complecti me delectat
et hoc meum cor affectat,
ut ad te loquar, animes

Per medullam cordis mei,
peccatoris atque rei,
tuus amor transferatur,
quo cor tuum rapiatur
languens amoris vulnere

Viva cordis voce clamo,
dulce cor, te namque amo,
ad cor meum inclinare,
ut se possit applicare
devoto tibi pectore

Ad Cor - To His Heart.
English Translation.

You have wounded my heart,
my sister, my bride,
you have wounded my heart (Song of Songs 4:9)

Heart of the highest king, I greet you,
I salute you with a joyous heart,
it delights me to embrace you
and my heart aspires to this:
that you move me to speak to you

Through the marrow of my heart,
of a sinner and culprit,
may your love be conveyed
by whom your heart was seized,
languishing through the wound of love

I call with the living voice of the heart,
sweet heart, for I love you,
to incline to my heart,
so that it may draw close,
devoted to you with the breast

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