07 May 2010

The Heart of Jesus: The Centre and Resting-Place of Hearts

In honour of this First Friday of the month of May, below is a reflection on the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Dom Johannes Gerecht von Landsberg (1489-1539). He is perhaps best known by the single name of Lanspergius, which is how it appears in Latin. Lanspergius was an ascetical writer and a Carthusian monk born in Bavaria. He studied philosophy in Cologne and then entered the Carthusian Order at the young age of twenty. Twenty-one years later he became the Prior of the Charterhouse of Cantave where he was the Confessor of the mother of the Duke of Juliers. The austere life that Lanspergius had chosen for himself rendered failing health. He returned to Cologne and was the sub-prior of the Charterhouse there until his death. Lanspergius had written much on the subjects of asceticism and mysticism, as well as various homilies and meditations on the liturgical year. Basically, anything on the subject of the spiritual life, Lanspergius wrote about it. All his works were originally written in Latin except for a treatise in defence of the monastic life and a controversial dissertation on the errors of Luther, which were written in his native tongue of German. Here is one of his many reflections on the Sacred Heart:

My Heart shall be there always. ~ 3 Kings [1 Kings] 9:3

O Lord Jesus, Your odours, more penetrating than all the perfumes of earth, sweetly caress my senses now that they are set free from all desire for sensual and worldly enjoyments. Your fragrance draws me after You with delightful force. It attracts me to You and into You. I throw off the weight of earthly affections, and I hasten to come to You. I build my nest on the Altar of Your Heart, and deposit there the offspring of my soul, namely my works, my words, and my thoughts. I cast them into You, and You will sustain them. On the Altar of Your Heart, I find a safe haven, the tranquillity of which rough winds can never disturb. Yes, I find in Your Heart a resting-place, sheltered from the storm; and there do I experience pure delights which neither grow distasteful nor are liable to change. I find in Your Heart a profound peace that cannot be troubled by discord, a joy that no sadness can ever alter, an unclouded happiness, an unspeakable sweetness, a serene and perfect blessedness. In Your Heart I find the beginning of every good thing, the fountain-head of all sweetness and all holy joy.

From Your Heart, O God, Who are Goodness Itself, proceeds all happiness, sweetness, quietness, joy, peace, gladness, beatitude -- in a word, all good gifts. They proceed from It, as from their only and inexhaustible Source, to pass then into the hearts of all Your children, who are the holy angels and men. And what good could exist, and how could it be good, if it came not from You, O Lord, the True, the Supreme, the Only Good? Ah, how good it is to draw all that is good from this never failing Fountain of the Sacred Heart! How good it is to be inebriated from this Source of the chastest and sweetest enjoyments, from this stream which pours from its Bosom an impetuous torrent of the holiest and purest pleasures! How perfect, how delightful and incomparable is the fragrance of the precious perfumes of Your virtues, O my Jesus! It invites me to enter the sanctuary of Your Sacred Heart. It attracts those whom It invites; It leads those whom It attracts, and deceives not those whom It leads. On the contrary, It fortifies them, so that henceforth they can without peril rest from their labours in the peace of Your Heart.