It’s our second First Friday!!
First Friday means I, along with Ryan at Back of the World, and a host of other fantastic people, are writing posts in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Then, we head over to www.OMostSacredHeart.com and add our link to the linky-thingy!
(The link will stay open a while so we would love for you to add a post! There are two prompts over there if you want some ideas! I know I’ll be reading them all!)
I had an English teacher in high school who hated the word heart.
When any of us girls would try to use it, she would remind us sternly that the heart was a pump and a filtration system. We wouldn’t write “I love you with all my pump”, so why would we write “I love you with all my heart”?
Needless to say, she was possibly the worst English teacher I ever had.
Because life isn’t a science, it’s an art and language itself is certainly an art. Words mean so many things, they cross and transcend and utterly ignore the neat, definitional boundaries we try and give them. That said, I certainly understand her frustration at how we often use the word heart.
Because when we think of hearts, we think of love right?
And not just any old love, but romantic love. That chocolates-and-roses-will-you-be-my-boyfriend-because-it’s-Valentine’s-Day-and-otherwise-I-will-cry-and-eat-ALL-the-chocolate-and-roses kind of love.
Excuse while I throw up. (Oh, who am I kidding? You all know I genuinely lurve this sort of sentimental nonsense and chubby cherubs flying around!!!)
In all seriously though, it’s not that the heart doesn’t mean romantic love, it just means so much more.
The symbol of the heart is far deeper and more powerful. In the Bible, the heart doesn’t represent the emotions – and certainly not the romantic passions – but the centre or core of a person. Our English word core actually comes from the Latin cor, which means heart.
Karl Rahner described the word heart as a primordial word. The heart, he said, represents the centre or whole of a person, and it transcends any distinction between body and soul. It goes right to the heart of a person – their very essence, because it does not refer primarily to either the corporeal or spiritual realities but to the underlying reality. Thus,
Honour paid to the heart of a person is honour paid to the person with respect to the original, inmost, formative centre of his attitudes.”
- Karl Rahner, SJ, Theological Investigations, vol. 3 (Theology of the Spiritual Life), 1974, p. 336
Because the heart represents the centre or essence of a person, it also represents unity. Again, Rahner says that,
The original and primary connotation of heart is unity, is source.
- Karl Rahner, SJ, Theological Investigations, vol. 8 (Further Theology of the Spiritual Life), 1971, p. 241
So rather than being about romantic infatuations and pie-in-the-sky dreams, the symbol of the heart is actually far more profound. It is a symbol of the unifying essence of a person, the core of their very being – both body and soul – which flows out from that centre to encompass all that they are.
In that sense, the heart is like the fountain or source of a person. That is why “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
The best news in all this is that we are drawn out of the Heart of Christ. His Heart is pierced on the Cross and from there, flows the living waters of our redemption.
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of him shall be broken.” And again another scripture says, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31-34)
The Early Fathers saw in this image of water coming from Christ’s pierced side the prophesied living waters that would bring the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The water and the Spirit flowed from the one heart, as from a fountain, to fill of all God’s people.
In the same passage from Zechariah quoted by St John above, it says
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. (Zechariah 12:10)
On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. (Zechariah 13:1)
The Heart of Christ is the centre of the Church, and it is the source of the Spirit that has been shed upon us and cleanses us from all sin.
It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.
- Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, section 2, 1956
So in a way, I suppose my English Teacher was right. (Oh, the horror of even writing those words!)
Because if our Saviour’s Heart is the fountain of all blessings, then really, it is a pump. A divine pump that floods the world with the mercy and love of God.
Remember, Jesus loves you with all His pump.
O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.