13 June 2009

The Heart Of Jesus Opened

Up next in the Carthusian reflections on the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the work of Dom Polycarpe de la Riviere, a seventeenth century Carthusian who was an author of many works. He was Prior of the Charterhouse at Bordeaux and also at Bonpas near Avignon.

O pitiless and inhuman lance, what do you seek in this Heart, the love of my soul, the Heart of my true God of love? Is it His disciples? They all abandoned Him yesterday. Is it His Flesh you desire? It is exposed on the Cross by the judge's sentence. Are you thirsting for His Blood? Do you not see how It has been spilt all along the streets? But perhaps you would have His garments? Ah! It is too late, for the soldiers have already divided them, and cast lots for His coat. Would you then have His beautiful Soul? It has descended into hell to take by surprise and overcome the strong man armed, and deprive him of the precious spoil he has kept shut up there. If you mean to kill Him, He is already dead; if to deprive Him of His honor, the Cross has shamed and dishonored Him enough; if to fasten Him to the Tree, the nails have forestalled you; if to shed His Blood, do you not see that He no longer lives, and that your work is useless? But O unsparing lance, it is His Heart you seek. His Divine Heart, that you may kill His nearly lifeless Mother by striking the dead Body of her Son.

But how is it, O sweet Jesus, and by what law of medical science do You thus bleed to heal our infirmities, You Who are the beloved and holy Physician of our souls? What physician ever took the draught prescribed for the sick person he wished to restore to health? Whoever had his veins opened with a spear instead of a lancet? Whoever preferred a rash Longinus to an experienced and skilful surgeon? Who was ever known to have himself nailed and lifted up on a cross of fifteen feet in length and eight feet in breadth, with his whole body and his heart presented to the lance of a deluded soldier, so that he might not miss his aim? But why should the Savior's Side and Heart be struck, rather than His Arms, His Feet, or His Head?

There is a very great mystery in this. Certainly, our friends in the world sometimes open their houses to us, so that we may go in, converse and stay there without restraint; occasionally they throw open their barns and cellars and let us take out the corn and wine; rarely they open their chests and treasures and place them at our disposal; but what friend has ever laid open his heart so freely that he has not kept back at least some secret thoughts? Jesus Christ only, the holy Lover of the redeemed, has never refused either favors or pleasures to His friends. He has never failed them in time of need, nor has He hidden from them one secret or thought that was for their good. And even after His death, He suffered His Side to be opened by a spear thrust, in order that we might see with what good-will He had suffered, and how ardently He was inflamed with love of us and with desire for our salvation. Why then, my soul, do you not raise up your heart to this Heart and unite your side to this Divine Side? Why not hasten to mingle your blood with this precious Blood, in which tears of compassion and devotion are mingled with joy and hope of the everlasting glory awaiting us? For this opening of the Side of Jesus, and the wonderful shedding of Blood and Water, should fill us with a sweet gladness, tempered with tears of sorrow for our common evil, but full of rejoicing at the remembrance of the death of our death, and how the Tree of Life, grafted on to that of the Cross, has produced the fruit of our salvation.

In the opening of Your Sacred Heart, O Jesus, may my heart be enriched and adorned with the inestimable treasure and incomparable radiance of Your love. May all my affections be in You. May all my thoughts, imaginations, intentions, and the employment of my mind be for You. May all my faculties, passive, sensitive, incentive, progressive, and appetitive, tend towards You. I desire to be so transformed and united to You, that my life may be forever hidden in Yours.

But why lament, why weep and sigh so much over the death and the wounded and pierced Heart of this immortal Love? Was not His death to be our life, as our life was the cause of His death? If we would enter Heaven, we must go into this Heart; this Side must be opened for us, if we are to enjoy felicity; and the iron that opened it has closed hell against us. Cease then to mourn, O my soul, for in this Heart, open and laid bare, you have the everlasting happiness of a glorious immortality.

Let the needy seek wealth, the ambitious thirst for honor, the miser think only of his treasures. You will find all these, and also the completion and perfection of every good desire in this holy Heart, which is filled with gifts and graces, and is the wealth of the children of God, the treasury of divine riches, the light of our understanding, the fervor of our will, the store-house of our memory, the remedy of our passions, the curb of our fears, the anchor of our hope, the savor of our spiritual delights; in short, the strength of the weak, the comfort of the defeated, the solace of the weary, the North pole of the navigator, the secure haven of those who are dashed against the rock, the holy death of the living, the true life of the dead, and the pledge of everlasting happiness.