August 16-19, 2001
volume 12, no. 143

The Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Symbol of Combativity and the Restoration of Christendom

Part Four: The Sacred Heart and the Glorification of the Superfluous

    In the religious ambience of the times when Our Lord chose to make His revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the mid-17th Century, the influence of Jansenism was strong in the religious and intellectual milieus. Adepts of Jansenism emphasized God's justice and severity with little emphasis on His willingness to forgive or His divine mercy. The "dogma of despair" founded on predestination, enslavement of the human will and a standard of morality beyond the reach of most men was born from a spirit of pride and self-sufficiency. It suggested man could not receive anything from God without having first merited it morally or intellectually. Belles lettres were to be eschewed, marriage discouraged, austerity the motif, domestic affection and natural desires repressed.

    It was an attempt to harness the infinite largesse of God to the small confines of justice and reciprocity within the finite limits of the understanding of man.

    Our Lord gave the gift of His Sacred Heart to the world to counter this harsh and puritanical spirit that has survived even to our days. In the Sacred Heart of Jesus man finds pardon for the past, peace for the present, hope for the future. The mercy of this Heart, the fountain of all living waters, is so superabundant that even in what seems to be the most irreversible and hopeless moral situations, man can find in this devotion a possibility of pardon and a full return to the life of grace and peace.

    Thus Our Lord wanted mankind to know His surplus of mercy, a kind of luxury that surpasses the common economy of grace. A spirit infected with socialist tendencies could see in this excess of mercy a dissipation or excess, if not an injustice. It is the same type of objection he would have in face of the superfluous, the magnificent, and the marvelous in secular society. Looking at a magnificent castle, an outward and visible sign of grandeur and ascendency, he could only react with indignation: "But this is a waste. It is an injustice for such a building to exist when there are hungry people in miserable huts." Such objections are easy to answer for the man with a Catholic and hierarchical spirit.

    In Christ was the plentitude of grace: "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). He merited all graces for us, and the graces through which our souls are sanctified come to us through and flow from the fullness of the grace of Christ. Our Lord, so extraordinarily rich and so desirous of the salvation of man, has permitted His munificence to shine in the multitude of devotions, prayers, pomp and ceremony of His Church.

    He desired to establish this devotion to the Sacred Heart as a further benefice and aid for man to achieve salvation. It is a manifestation of superabundance, superabundance quite fitting to His Nature. There is a tendency in our times to try to reduce this aspect of Christ as manifested in the magnificence and wealth of the Church - in Her cathedrals, altars, liturgy, ceremonies, etc. Thus could devotion to His Sacred Heart be interpreted as a legitimation and even the glorification of the superfluous.

Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D. and Atila Sinke Guimar„es

For more details and books by both these authors, see

Monday: Part Five: The Sacred Heart and the Apostles of the Last Times: Unlimited Confidence and Unbounded Desires

August 16-19, 2001
volume 12, no. 143
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