“This habitual idea that we form of God is the key to our inner life, not only because it rules our conduct towards Him, but also because, in many cases, it determines God’s attitude towards us: God treats us as we treat Him.”
THE HEART OF CHRIST
[The Sacred Heart is the symbol of the love with which Jesus continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings without exception.]
“Just as the Holy Spirit does not call all souls to shine in the same manner with the same virtues, likewise with regard to particular devotions, He leaves them a holy liberty. There are souls who feel themselves urged to especially honour the mysteries of the infancy of Jesus; others feel drawn to the delightful intimacy of the hidden life; others still to meditation upon the Passion. However, it is devotion to the Sacred Heart which must be amongst those which are dearest to us.
THE LOVE OF JESUS
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of those which should be especially dear to us. And why? Because it honours Christ Jesus not only in one of His states or particular mysteries, but in the generality and totality of His love, of that love wherein all His mysteries find their deepest meaning. Although being a clearly defined devotion, devotion to the Heart of Jesus bears something that is universal. In honouring the Heart of Christ, it is no longer to Jesus as an Infant, Youth or Victim, that our homage is especially addressed. It is the Person of Jesus in the plenitude of His love that we especially linger.
Moreover, the general practice of this devotion tends, at the last analysis, to render Our Lord love for love: ‘Movet nos ad amandum mutuo’ (Leo XIII, ‘bollata – Annum sacrum’); to penetrate all our activity with love in order to please Christ Jesus. The special exercises of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are but so many means of expressing to our Divine Master this reciprocity of love.
OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE DEPENDS ON OUR IDEA OF GOD
It is a truth, confirmed by the experience of souls, that our spiritual life depends, in great part, on the idea that we HABITUALLY have of God. Between us and God there are fundamental relations, based upon our nature as creatures; there exist moral relations resulting from our attitude towards Him; and this attitude is, most often, conditioned by the idea that we have of God.
IF WE FORM A FALSE IDEA OF GOD…
If we form a false idea of God, our efforts to advance will often be vain and barren, because they will not be to the point; if we have an incomplete idea of Him, our spiritual life will be full of imperfections and shortcomings; if our idea of God is true – as true as is possible here below to a creature living by faith, – our souls will expand safely in the light.
This habitual idea that we form of God is the key to our inner life, not only because it rules our conduct towards Him, but also because, in many cases, it determines God’s attitude towards us: God treats us as we treat Him.
SOME CONSIDER GOD AS THE ISRAELITES REGARDED HIM
Thus, you may meet with some who habitually consider God as the Israelites regarded Him. God revealed Himself to the Israelites amidst the thunders and lightnings of Sinai (Ex 19:16). For this ‘stiff-necked people’ (Dt 31:27), inclined to infidelity and idolatry, God was only a Lord Who must be adored, a Master Who must be served, a Judge Who must be feared… Such souls act with God only at a distance, they treat Him only as a great Lord, and God treats them in consequence according to this attitude. He does not give Himself fully to them; between them and God, personal intimacy cannot exist; in them, inward expression is impossible.
Other souls, more numerous perhaps, habitually regard God as a great benefactor, they act as a rule only ‘in view of the Reward’: ‘Propter retributionem (Ps 119).
THE FILIAL CONFIDENCE OF THE NEW COVENANT
This is why – without losing view of the fear of outraging God Who created us, although this must not be the fear of the slave who dreads punishment; without putting aside the thought of the reward which awaits us, if we are faithful, – we ought to seek to have habitually towards God that attitude, composed of filial confidence and love, which Christ Jesus revealed to us as being that of the New Covenant.
THE REALITY OF OUR HEAVENLY ADOPTION
This fundamental attitude responding to the reality of our heavenly adoption is particularly furthered by devotion to the Heart of Jesus. In causing us to contemplate the human love of Christ for us, this devotion admits us into the secret of divine love; in inclining our souls to answer to it by a life whereof love is the motive power, it maintains in us those dispositions of filial piety which we ought to have towards the Father.
When we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, we possess within us that Divine Heart which is a furnace of love. Let us ask Him earnestly that He will Himself grant us to understand this love, for in this, one ray from on high is more efficacious than all human reasoning; let us ask Him to enkindle within us the love of His Person.
LET US ASK HIM TO ENKINDLE WITHIN US THE LOVE OF HIS PERSON
‘If, by Our Lord’s grace,’ says St Teresa, ‘His love is imprinted one day in our heart, all will become easy to us; very rapidly and without trouble we shall come, by this means, to the works of love.’
If this love for the Person of Jesus is in our heart, our activity will spring forth from it. We may meet with difficulties, be subject to great trials, undergo violent temptations; if we love Christ Jesus, these difficulties, these trials, these temptations, will find us steadfast: ‘Aquae multae non potuerunt extinguere caritatem’ (Ct 8:7); for when the love of Christ urges us, we shall not wish any longer to live for ourselves, but for Him Who loved us and delivered Himself up for us: ‘Ut et qui vivunt iam non sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro ipsis mortuus est’ (2 Cor 5:15).”
– Bl. Columba Marmion