09 June 2010

The Holy Lance

This reflection on the Sacred Heart is passed on to us from a seventeenth-century Carthusian monk named Dom Polycarpe de la Rivière. His religious life began as a novitiate with the Jesuits at Lyons, when not long after he asked to be admitted into the Carthusian Order. He made his profession on 1 May 1609. He was the author of many works. His writing career as a religious was more unusual than most. He wrote everything in French much to the dislike of his superiors who wanted him to write in Latin because he would then remain more faithful to the Carthusian ‘hidden life’, since Latin works at that time were inaccessible to the general public. He was Prior of the Charterhouse at Bordeaux and then later at Bonpas near Avignon.

‘Now then I will run him [King Saul] through with my spear . . .’ ~ 1 Kings [1 Samuel] 26:8

A soldier pierced the Side of Jesus with his spear. Ah! Now can you clearly behold the divinity of Jesus through the torn veil of His humanity! Now that the beautiful Face of my Jesus is bent towards you in token of mercy, know that by the death you have given to His life, He will give life to your death. As for me, I can live no longer since my life is dead, and I can see no more my living Jesus, Who was the light of my eyes and the life of my heart.

It is not, however, enough for your cruelty to see Him in this sad condition. What! Fierce madman, will you also rob Him of His Heart, the centre of His love, by this wanton thrust of the spear into His Side? O lance, spare at least my soul and cause not all my blood to flow away through the wound you make there! Do you not know that my life and soul are hidden in this Heart? Do you not understand that it is there I live and breathe? Pitiless lance, you wound, you bruise me; thinking to strike only One, you pierce me with Him. O unrelenting lance! Is your thirst then so acute? You have my breast, my body, it is enough; spare, I pray you, this Heart, and let my veins be emptied and all my blood poured out to save this Heart of Jesus, the love of my soul.

But what are you doing, my soul, in offering your heart for that of your God? Would you live without a heart, and shut yourself out of heaven? To enjoy the latter, it is necessary to open the former. I know you will say that it is from this divine Heart, and not from heaven, that you have taken your essence and your first form, and that you cannot do without its love, for you are like the moon, which of itself is not visible, and sends forth no light which it does not borrow from the sun. But reflect also that this Heart of Jesus performs all things with harmony and consideration, and that, being the first of the living and the dead, the Chief of the elect, and the Prototype of all perfection, it must be opened thus in order to become the Door of Paradise.

Do you now reproach the iron, which is the blessed key of your felicity? Oh no! Away with indignant thoughts and revengeful designs! I love you, glorious iron. I honor and venerate you as a cause of my salvation, the door-keeper of my everlasting glory. O Jesus! Who will make You all things to me and in me? Who will make me to possess You without fear of losing You? Or rather, who will transform me into iron, and the iron into a lance, that I may be plunged forever into Your Heart, which is the delight of mine and the destruction of my enemies?

Ah! Once only, only once, and that forever, so that I may never come out of it again! Let the good things of this world vanish away. They are only mire, scum and corruption, perpetual figures of death, and not to be compared to the greatness of my love which only longs for and clings to this Heart of my soul, to this Soul of my heart.

O God! When can I reach it? When shall I be cast into it? Do You not fear the vehemence of my desires, the strength of my affection? Ah! I am no longer an arrow, but the spear which can once more open Your Side and pierce Your Heart as sharply as that of Longinus. And who shall keep me back? Who shall drive me away, since it is so much greater a benefit to do this than to refrain from it? Yes indeed, and whilst I say it, O Holy Lamb, I marvel at the sweetness of Your loving kindness, which gives back life to him who slays You and pierces Your Heart.