by David Pence
"There are others who reckon this same devotion burdensome and of little or no use to men who are fighting in the army of the divine King... [they] see it rather a type of piety nourished not by the soul and mind but by the senses and consequently more suited to the use of women, since it seems to them something not quite suitable for educated men."
(Leo XIII 1899 encyclical Consecrating the Whole Human Race to the Most Sacred Heart)
Pope Francis says to trust the practices of the faithful people. "Reality is more important than ideas." But Really! All these bleeding hearts and pierced sides, talking angels and burning souls and then the secrets of a beautiful lady sealed by the miracle of the Sun. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the white and red lights of Divine Mercy from the wounded side of Christ, "entering the wounds to reach the heart," the promise of Fatima, the conversion of Russia, and the Kingship of Christ. Do we really have to treat this mish-mash of peasant practices and apparitions as reality? Could these disparate peasant devotions instruct an army which awaits the general orders for the day? Men should not run away... a convergence is appearing from the ruins of the bloody 20th century. The messages come from children and virginal young women. Old ladies have long heeded them. Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.
Kaki Katsuhiko (1872-1961), in preaching the Shinto nationalism that would propel Japan against the western imperialists colonizing Asia, gave speeches to the military called "One Heart, One Body." He was a law professor and a scholar of Shinto classics as well as a professor at the Japanese Naval Academy for the 25 years before Pearl Harbor. He was the major intellectual/spiritual force who welded law, statecraft, religion and military identity together to forge the Japanese people into that incredible social organism that defeated China and then Russia before expelling the British from Hong Kong and Singapore. "One Heart, One Body, One Head." That is exactly the language he had taught. American soldiers learned to respect the resolve of that one heart as a fighting force, while Chinese civilians grew to hate the "Japanese devils" for their unspeakable barbarism. But no man can look at the history of the 20th century and fail to see there was some fundamental spiritual difference between the "Mystical Body of Japan" and those other bloody 20th-century forces of Soviet scientific socialism and the armed Darwinism of the German Reich. No man should hear the language of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart and One Body and dismiss these categories as the sentimentality of old ladies. There lurks a Serpent much more devious and horrible than any of the armies of the world wars. A great Heart beats and a Mystical Body is stirring to expel that monster.
The disciplines of the First Fridays and First Saturdays are deeply Eucharistic. We should remember that in 1673 (St Margaret Mary Alacoque) and 1879 (Sister Mary of the Divine Heart), frequent and early reception of Holy Communion was not common. A profound culture of love has been formed by the monthly devotions to what Pope John Paul II called "the alliance of the hearts." Buttressed by the liturgical reforms and sensibilities of the early twentieth century, these devotions set a rhythmic metronome for the practice of Catholic parish life: daily Mass and Communion, monthly confession, and daily meditation on the life of Christ through the Rosary. The Catholic week is centered on Sunday when the Father created the heavens and the earth, the Son rose from the dead and the Spirit inflamed the hearts of the faithful. Catholics devote Friday to acts of Penance and the Passion. Thursdays recall the institution of the Eucharist and that pivotal struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Saturdays are Marian -- a day of faithful anticipation that the Tomb will become a womb bringing forth the first-born of creation. The renewal of the liturgical year in the last century was preceded by the renewal of the Catholic week by the devotions of the hearts. Those disciplines started out as monthly prayer practices, but they led to the daily and weekly keeping of Catholic time that would mark strong parish life. The centrality of the bishop and the Eucharist in the local Church emphasized at Vatican II was prepared for by setting hearts aflame for the Heart of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is hard to convey the Real Presence in words; it is hard to miss His Presence in a church, quiet and full, during Thursday Holy Hour. The binding of the peoples' hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary draws our thoughts to think with the mind of the Church and our wills to carry out the Will of the Father. This Christocentric culture consolidates and renews a worldwide community of shared attention and memory in the synchronous practices of local parish life.
These devotions linking the heart of the believer with the heart of Christ were meant to draw all of humanity into the human heart of Jesus. This targeting of humanity and not just particular souls as the recipient of grace was not always the emphasis of the Church. It was considered noteworthy that the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Encyclical of Pope John XXIII in 1963 as well as the opening statement of the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council were addressed not only to bishops and Catholics, but to all men of good will. Indeed, Pacem in Terris was much more about the harmony and order that is at the root of reality than a plea for "no more war." It opened: "That a marvelous order predominates in the world of living Beings and in the forces of nature is the plain lesson of modern research." Against the ontological conflict and violence inherent in the western ideologies of Marxism and Social Darwinism, the Catholics threw their lot in with the great philosophies and cultures of primordial order and harmony. Love made the Universe. Love called forth man in creation. And in thousands of chapels across the world, mostly women pondered the love of God in the loving hearts of Mary and Jesus. Countering the shadowy ether of practical atheism, the daily and weekly practices of Catholics held up the Body of Christ offered to the Father. Amidst the rubble of the great wars, the sanctuary lamps in parishes across the globe lit up the faces of the faithful reciting more prayers, kneeling for more confessions, attending more Masses and receiving more Holy Communions. Attention and Piety were centered not upon a thousand different village saints but focused through the Mass and the Rosary on the central reality of Christ in nature and history. The physical sinews for the theology of Communio were being drawn taut. When the young virgin asked the Supreme Pontiff (the Holy Father) to consecrate all of humanity to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there were years of pause. Popes had spoken often to fellow bishop-apostles and other times to the whole Catholic faithful. The pope and his priests were used to speaking definitively with effect to a specific target. They repeated the words of Christ in special sacramental settings --"This is my Body", "Go, your sins are forgiven." The pope was careful with his words. Generally the Church invited people as individuals to enter her sacramental life and be consecrated. The Church was one kind of society; the world was another. What should be said to humanity? What could be said to all of mankind? The pope balked at the consecration of humanity. But the realization grew deeper as the Church reflected on her identity as Church. The sons of Adam and the descendants of Noah needed to hear a call from the Ark. Humanity is the Church in potential. In the Vatican Council's reflection on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the term "People of God" was used at different times to describe three different corporate realities: the Jews, the whole Church, and mankind from the beginning.
Pope Leo XIII did consecrate mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899. Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942, one year before his encyclical on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. Henri de Lubac and the Communio theologians would remind us that the Church could not be fully the Body of Christ without embracing her mission as fulfilling the destiny of mankind. The nations apart from the Church were parts of the Body not yet awakened to their identity as members. Uniting ourselves with the Heart of Jesus shapes the whole human race into the eusocial species that we were meant to be from the beginning. This clarity about the Church's message to humanity as a whole emerged in the century that humanity organized a level of technological murder through ideologies and racial empires and nation states which dwarfed the acts of Cain through the previous millennia.
In 1925, Pius XI said that the annual consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart would be done each year on the Feast of Christ the King which he established in that encyclical. The empires of the Romanovs, Hapsburgs, and Ottomans had fallen in WWI. The Papal States had been taken 50 years before that. In Catholic Mexico and Catholic Spain the forces of Communism which had butchered the Orthodox clergy in Russia were now killing the Catholic priests. The war against clerics and the priestly Eucharistic authority of Christ had taken a bloody turn. Yet it was just then the pope established a Sunday every year to reassert the one monarchy that would never fall. The empires deposed their rulers, the mobs killed their priests, and just then the pope reminded us that mankind still had a monarch. The pope crowned the liturgical year with the Kingship of Christ, not simply to announce his regal return in the end times but to reassert the Church's life is meant to build His Kingdom on this earth. Five decades later, a new decade of the rosary was dedicated to that truth of building the kingdom of God. Catholics began to hear for the first time that same charge in the Pater Noster- an old prayer they had said all their lives. The Holy Father said every faculty of man -- intellect, will, and body -- owed allegiance to the King. There was no square inch of social life or earthly territory that wasn't His.
A century later our allegiance abides in Christ the King. Christ as the Head of a Body with a beating Heart makes a King's claim on our hearts. The loss of Papal States and the passing of Christian monarchs has actually cleared our field of vision to see how we might better institute Christ's Social Kingship. The Soviet Union is no more but Holy Russia reappears. The Roman Empire has disappeared but Israel is a nation. The Church was torn asunder but Christian nations are on every continent. The world of politics, of war and peace, of poverty and development is not immune to His rule. We dare not say, "the business of the Church is souls; we leave the life of nations in the bloody fangs of Social Darwinists". How then shall we bring public life in concordance with the rules of love?
Political men must love the Father and love mankind as the Heart of Jesus does. This filial love for the Father invigorates and disciplines our special ardor for our countrymen and nation. Brotherhood under a Father is the public love of priests and bishops forming the living foundation stones for the Church. That is the Apostolic template that Christ loved into existence. Public brotherhoods of protective duty in defined territories under legitimate authorities constitute the form of love that makes the nations. Christ ordered his apostles not to reject the nations but to baptize them.
Losing this Christian fraternal sense of patriotism has been disastrous for American social life. The rejection of color-blind Christian brotherhood as the means and goal of civic life has destroyed our urban black communities. Ignoring the tough purity and work codes of Christian manhood has turned our white working-class neighborhoods into drug ridden spiritual wastelands. Renewing a public Christian code of manhood and brotherhood cuts across the debilitating battle lines of color and class. Forging the Christian alliance of hearts can reverse our cultural disintegration and we can reverse it quickly. We are commanded as men to participate in the public brotherhood of protection and work. This is one of the ordered loves of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His brotherhood of protection and work was the Apostolic Church-a holy nation of priests. Civic publics are spiritual communal bodies. To build the Kingship of Christ there must be authoritative male bodies in specific cities and countries living out this Christian natural pattern of love. Christ's heart wept for Jerusalem not Damascus. He ordained a band of Galilean working men (not an audience of ladies and gentlemen) into a public corporate body. Kingdoms require knights and they are established in homelands. The feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that "all you need is love," but it is the structured love of religion, nation, and brotherhood that makes peace on earth.
Ordered masculine love is the way to peace. It is the antidote to murder and war. It is not to be trifled with. Masculine love is not erotic -- that is fake news. Incest destroys the family unit. Homosexuality destroys the public nature of civic and ecclesial brotherhoods. Its kiss is no more innocent than the kiss of Judas. Masculine love is a public brotherhood of fathers defined by laws and lands. It is high and noble. It allows us to meet the Russians and Chinese and Iranians as brothers in their own neighboring communities with their own customs and rules of law and leadership.
When a Cain picks up his weapon, the brotherhood moves to stop him. But when an Esau sets up his separate territory, Jacob respects his brother's border. Pope Francis says the high calling of politics is to establish fraternity. Civic fraternity is meant to rule, to exercise authority. The Sixties are over. The centuries of revolution are over. It is time to accept the duties of adulthood, the exercise of authority, and the public ordered love of territorial fraternity.
The Sacred Heart gives a physical form to the greatest of all loves -- the love of Christ for the Father and the love of Christ for humanity through his particular loves for His mother and His apostolic brothers. The Church enters into this love through a very definite form: the Eucharistic Liturgy. All of the devotions of the Hearts, Fatima, and Divine Mercy have led to a deeper Eucharistic sensibility. Masculine brotherhood and male-female love also have defined physical forms within which they are expressed. The nation and marriage are these forms of covenant love. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Kingship of Our Lord are deeply entwined. All of humanity is being drawn into a kind of force-field defined by the Trinitarian template of ordered love. Public territorial boundaries of nations for men are foreshadowed by the territorial divisions of the diocesan Church. The paired love of man and woman in the unity of marriage is a sacrament of Christ and His Church. The wide encompassing waters of mercy that wash all of mankind come by way of a narrow wound in his side. The widest of loves are possible only if we conform to the limiting liberation of the fundamental resonating communal forms of ordered love.
John Eudes (1601-1680) a saint priest of France fostered devotion to the Sacred Hearts but never emphasized that above all "Jesus loves you." Fr. Eudes knew that above all ( and this cannot be repeated too often) Jesus loves His Father. Putting on Christ means putting on His loves and while that includes each of us, only the moderns think it starts there. Eudes emphasized that putting on the heart of Jesus is "considering that the Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of His body...He desires that whatever is in Him may live and rule in you, as the head lives and rules in the body...(let) these words be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear him in your body, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.. He earnestly desires that you serve and glorify the Father by using all your faculties as if they were His." The good priest also grounded this devotion in the sacramental life of the church and 300 years before the present Catechism, he explained the sacraments of initiation: "These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from Baptism. They are increased and strengthened through Confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the Holy Eucharist, they are brought to perfection."
The forms of Christ's love are not restricted to the sacraments but are most manifest in them. Every man does not have to be baptized and confirmed as a Catholic for the Christian template of love to order the bonds of mankind. Christ has established forms of order. Conforming the "holy things" of matter and person in the sacraments exerts a field effect in cultures shaped by Christianity. The Catholic plan for politics is not a Catholic monarch in every country, though we have a special fondness for a good Catholic king. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council asked the leaders of the world to see them as a template. Their interracial brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God was a sign of how the nations could be. The Council Fathers established a sacral formation within which the great Spirit movement of Pentecostalism could be made incarnate. The Marxists were wrong that class conflict was the driving force of human history. The capitalists and Darwinists were wrong that the nations, races, and men must be in perpetual conflict. Nations can be fraternities and live in fraternity. Man is meant for community. Men are meant to be brothers, as surely as man and woman are meant to be spouses. National flags are not above the altar, but they are found in churches, because the flags of nations are as fundamental signs of love and loyalty as the wedding bands of spouses.
Large groups of men in armed agreement should not evoke an image of Nazis. Large groups of men in armed agreement describes the form of love and loyalty that defeated the Nazis. It was religious men in arms and the nations at war which ended the brutal rule of scientific socialists. It was Catholic movements like the Cristeros and Catholic leaders like Franco, de Gaulle, Kennedy, and Diem who played their roles as armed Catholic nation-men in the fight against the atheist ideologies of their century. May a hundred such men and a hundred such nations emerge in this century to work in harmony with the Church in pursuit of peace. The nations are not meant to war with one another, but sometimes only a just war will bring a true peace. We must make peace with one another. Our only permanent enemy is the Devil.
The devotions to the Sacred Heart deepen our sensibility of being one with humanity in the Body of Christ. In the soul, in the parish, and in the the celebration of the Mass, the acts of personal piety link us in our common humanity united in the Heart and Body of Christ. The Eucharist sends us out to incorporate the rest of humanity into this deep bond which is our common ultimate destiny. On the way to that perfection of the Mystical Body, we form the other fundamental societies and love covenants that radiate out from the core love. They are shaped by a field effect from the electromagnetic bonds of Trinitarian and sacramental life. Civic and marital bonds feed back by providing a culture for the present age that allows the ecclesial culture of eternity to be expressed in worship. The loves we live out in the rhythms of daily, weekly, and yearly Catholic Eucharistic culture are stronger, more truthful, and more full of joy than the disintegrating self-absorption of the modern west and the hateful violence of the jihadists. From our simple parish cultures of prayer and praise let us build the Kingdom of God. Let our hearts burn with the love of the Father and the bond of brotherhood in the priesthood. Let our love for the interiority of the Virgin and the practical kindness of the Mother lead us to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Let our love of God be made manifest in the unified hearts of our marriages and domestic life. Let our love of God be manifest in our love of countrymen and reverence for our flag. Let our nation seek fraternity with the other nations reflecting the Heart of Christ for all mankind. Let our loves be His loves. He taught us His loves on the cross. Above all, He loved His Father and obeyed His Will unto death. He loved His Blessed Mother and His priestly brotherhood. He looked down from the Cross and bequeathed them to each other. He loved the poor and outcast of humanity at the periphery. He looked to His side and promised Paradise to the repentant thief. He loved his country, telling the women of Jerusalem to save their tears for the beloved city of his countrymen. He too had wept for the city to be leveled a few decades after the King of the Jews (as Pilate authoritatively inscribed) was lifted up. Let us unite ourselves in the loves of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as we build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.