I did not post day 5 yesterday not only because I was busy with things “offline” (horribile dictu!), but also because I realized my posting schedule was as confused as it probably was confusing. Fear not, I have been praying the novena each day, as I hope you have been, too! My posting was a day behind to begin with, and now I’m trying to post days 5, 6, and 7 in one go. I assumed that anyone praying the novena would be keeping track of the days for themselves, so I merely wanted to present excerpts from Pius XII’s Haurietis aquas (15 May 1956) with each daily reminder about the novena.
So, today, I want to
– draw attention once more to the great website, www.praymorenovenas.com,
– thank them for reminding me by email that we are in fact on Day 7,
– remind everyone that the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is on Friday, June 27, and
– present three days’ worth of excerpts from Haurietis aquas.
I’m very bad with “time” in general (ask my wife) and my Protestant upbringing has always made me averse to specific, routinized prayers and celebrations. It’s not just a religious aversion, mind you, as, for example, I had to be convinced to attend my own college graduation, despite my protestations [sic] that it was a trivial ritual (“Just give me the diploma”). Little did I realize, of course, that even the bestowal of a diploma was, from my WASPish reductionist perspective, a meaningless ritual. So, if I was going to be an iconoclast, why not at least be a consistent one?
Needless to say, I did attend my graduation (in the funny clothes, and all), I did receive my diploma, and I did finally do away with my Protestant iconoclasm. As I learned from Chesterton, in one of my favorite passages in a work of his that was pivotal in my conversion, aptly titled, The Catholic Church and Conversion, only a consistent iconoclasm makes sense:
I find it very difficult to take some of the Protestant propositions even seriously. What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail-foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense. The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on. I can understand the spectator saying, “This is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.” But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed? To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible. To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street.
Iconoclasm has little going for it, logically, when its proponents denounce images of the divine while also recognizing themselves as living images of God.
The point is that God can use anything He likes to draw us toward Himself, and in my case, realizing why some words, and some clothes, and some ceremonies, and some times–namely, my graduation–are more important, more sacred, than others, was a pivotal insight that both stemmed from and flowed into my process of converting to the Church a decade ago. Hence, while I relish the Church’s “particular” rituals and festal occasions, I am also having to untrain decades of what I’ll call chronoclastic indifferentism.
But enough about me, time for you read, meditate, and, above all, pray!
We proceed in Haurietis aquas:
19. … We are absolutely convinced that not until we have made a profound study of the primary and loftier nature of this devotion with the aid of the light of the divinely revealed truth, can we rightly and fully appreciate its incomparable excellence and the inexhaustible abundance of its heavenly favors. Likewise by devout meditation and contemplation of the innumerable benefits produced from it, we will be able to celebrate worthily the completion of the first hundred years since the observance of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was extended to the Universal Church [by Pius IX in 1856, as noted in Cfr. Decr. S.C. Rit., apud. N. Nilles, “De rationibus festorum Sacratissimi Cordis Jesu et purissimi Cordis Mariae,” 5a ed., Innsbruck, 1885, vol. I, p. 167. For your daily irony rush, do read the final paragraph of that review. What is this “anxious circumspection” spoken of? Once again, who knew?]. …
20. … We will undertake to explain those pages of the Old and New Testament in which the infinite love of God for the human race (which we shall never be able adequately to contemplate) is revealed and set before us. Then, as occasion offers, We shall touch upon the main lines of the commentaries which the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have handed down to us. And finally, We shall strive to set in its true light the very close connection which exists between the form of devotion paid to the Heart of the divine Redeemer and the worship we owe to His love and to the love of the Most Holy Trinity for all men. For We think if only the main elements on which the most excellent form of devotion rests are clarified in the light of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of tradition, Christians can more easily “draw waters with joy out of the Savior’s fountains.” By this We mean they can appreciate more fully the full weight of the special importance which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus enjoys in the liturgy of the Church and in its internal and external life and action, and can also gather those fruits of salvation by which each one can bring about a healthy reform in his own conduct, as the bishops of the Christian flock desire. …
21. … [All] must clearly understand the reasons why the Church gives the highest form of worship to the Heart of the divine Redeemer. As you well know, venerable brethren, the reasons are two in number. The first, which applies also to the other sacred members of the Body of Jesus Christ, rests on that principle whereby we recognize that His Heart, the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united to the Person of the divine Word. Consequently, there must be paid to it that worship of adoration with which the Church honors the Person of the Incarnate Son of God Himself. We are dealing here with an article of faith, for it has been solemnly defined in the general Council of Ephesus and the second Council of Constantinople.
22. The other reason which refers in a particular manner to the Heart of the divine Redeemer, and likewise demands in a special way that the highest form of worship be paid to it, arises from the fact that His Heart, more than all the other members of His body, is the natural sign and symbol of His boundless love for the human race. “There is in the Sacred Heart,” as Our predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, pointed out, “the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return.” …
26. … [P]erhaps none of the holy prophets has expressed and revealed as clearly and vividly as Osee the love with which God always watches over His people. In writings of this prophet, who is outstanding among the minor prophets for the sublimity of his concise language, God declares that His love for the chosen people, combining justice and a holy anxiety, is like the love of a merciful and loving father or of a husband whose honor is offended. This love is not diminished or withdrawn in the face of the perfidy or the horrible crimes of those who betray it. If it inflicts just chastisements on the guilty, it is not for the purpose of rejecting them or of abandoning them to themselves; but rather to bring about the repentance and the purification of the unfaithful spouse and ungrateful children, and to bind them once more to itself with renewed and yet stronger bonds of love. …
32. But it is only in the Gospels that we find definitely and clearly set out the new covenant between God and man; for that covenant which Moses had made between the people of Israel and God was a mere symbol and a sign of the covenant foretold by the prophet Jeremias. We say that this new covenant is that very thing which was established and effected by the work of the Incarnate Word Who is the source of divine grace. This [new] covenant is therefore to be considered incomparably more excellent and more solid because it was ratified, not as in the past by the blood of goats and calves, but by the most precious Blood of [Christ]….
33. The Christian covenant, much more than that of the old, clearly appears as an agreement based not on slavery or on fear, but as one ratified by that friendship which ought to exist between a father and his children, as one nourished and strengthened by a more generous outpouring of divine grace and truth according to the saying of St. John the Evangelist: “And of his fulness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the Law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
34. Since we have been introduced, venerable brethren, to the innermost mystery of the infinite charity of the Word Incarnate by these words of the disciple “whom Jesus loved and who also leaned on His breast at the supper,” it seems meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, to pause for a short time in sweet contemplation of this mystery so that, enlightened by that light which shines from the Gospel and makes clearer the mystery itself, we also may be able to obtain the realization of the desire of … [St. Paul:] “That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts, that being rooted and founded in charity you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth; to know also the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fulness of God.”