|Rallying Around the Sacred Heart
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Rallying Around the Sacred Heart
The following is the preface from Elevations to the Sacred Heart, translated from the French of Abbe Felix Anizan by a priest, R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd, Paternoster Row, London,1911. Nihil 0bstat : Franciscus Canonicus Wyndham, Censor Deputatis. Imprimatur, Edmundus Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii, Die 23 Martii, 1911.
We must rally round Christ, round Christ, Love and Heart, for there are men who have declared war on God.
What urges them on to attack God to His face is a horrible sentiment which we should think impossible if documents and facts did not multiply proofs of its existence - hatred of God.
On the morrow of the publication of the Encyclical in which Pope Leo XIII denounced Freemasonry before the world, a Masonic sheet contained the following lines: "Freemasonry can but thank the Sovereign Pontiff for his latest Encyclical. Leo XIII, with an incontestable authority and a wealth of proof, has just demonstrated once again that there exists an impassable gulf between the Church, whose representative he is, and the Revolution, whose right hand is Freemasonry. It is well that they who are still hesitant should cease to entertain vain hopes. All men must accustom themselves to the thought that the hour has come to choose between the old order of things that rests upon Revelation and the new order that recognizes no basis other than science and human reason; between the spirit of authority and the spirit of liberty!"
Yes; it is hatred that inspires them.
It is from hatred of God that they have expelled from France the men of prayer.
It is from hatred of God that in the hospitals they hinder priests from bringing to the dying the means of reconciliation at the last.
It is from hatred of God that they wish to bring up the children in atheism.
It is from hatred of God that they have taken for themselves ecclesiastical property.
It is from hatred of God that with calculated carelessness they let our pious sanctuaries fall into ruin.
It is from hatred of God that of certain high altars they have made pedestals for statues of Venus the impure.
Such is the struggle, such the crisis: a keen struggle, an acute crisis - a struggle against God to His very face, a struggle of which the origin, the aim, the character can only be called by one name: Satanism.
This is what Freemasonry understands and means it to be. Now, the members of the Bloc in France, the Liberals in Belgium, the Socialists in Germany, are only labouring at the work of Freemasonry.
Many do not realize this, and sincerely do not desire it. In spite of everything, in spite of themselves, it is towards the realization of this infamous project that these unconscious stilettos pierce the Church's bosom.
To look at things from this point of view, we can understand the presentiment of most serious consequences that the greatest minds have had. "The human race," wrote Joseph de Maistre, "cannot continue in this state. Redoubtable oracles, besides, announce that the time has come.
"Several theologians, even Catholics, have believed that facts of the greatest importance, and not to be long delayed, were foretold in the Revelation of St. John.. One of these writers has even gone so far as to say that the event had already begun, and that the French nation was to be the great instrument of the greatest of revolutions. There is, perhaps, not one truly religious man in Europe (I refer to the educated classes) who is not just now expecting something extra-ordinary to come to pass." (Oeuvres Completes, tom. v., p. 231.)
And Donoso Cortes: "The dreadful Sphinx is before your eyes, and no Oedipus has been found who knows how to read the enigma. The redoubtable problem stands, and Europe cannot and knows not how to solve it! As for the sane man who has common sense and penetration of mind, everything tells him that a lamentable crisis is at hand, a cataclysm such as men have never yet seen."
We can understand, too, with what anguish in his tone His Holiness Pius X must have announced to the world his accession when he said: "It is useless to remind you with what tears and what ardent prayers We endeavoured to divert from Ourselves so heavy a charge as that of the Supreme Pontificate.. We feel a kind of terror at the thought of the lamentable condition of the human race at this present hour."
We can understand, in fine, that the hour has come to pray, to labour, and to fight with all the energies of our souls.
It were useless to hope for any compromise. Satan will not parley, neither will Freemasonry. They want to hold the empire of the world. Now, we cannot forget that war has been declared under the direction of Satan and Freemasonry.
"It is an illusion to think that with a large liberalism the victory will be gained over the combined action of Jacobinism and Freemasonry.. They are blind who do not see that, the programme of our adversaries being to dechristianize France, we run away from the fight and betray our country if we pretend to believe that the struggle lies elsewhere." So spoke Brunetiere.
And Louis Veuillot said: "The time for a middle course has passed away. There is in the world no future for Catholics save such as we are, because the world has arrived at a point where it must perish or be born again. All the half-hearted will be crushed in the destruction or rejected with disdain in the reconstruction."
And the illustrious Cardinal Pie has told us: "Each and every human solution is henceforth impossible. Our society has one only alternative left to it: to submit to God or to perish. Nothing will have been accomplished until God has been replaced high above all institutions. We of to-day hear talk of a great party of order and reconciliation. One only party can save the world: God's party. We hear talk of a reconciliation to be effected; it must be a reconciliation between earth and Heaven. The question which is debated, and with which the world is agitated, is not between man and man, but between man and God."
And Donoso Cortes wrote: "The destiny of the human race is a profound mystery of which two different and contrary explanations have been given: that of Catholicism and that of philosophy. Each of these explanations in its entirety constitutes a complete civilization. Between these two civilizations there is an impassable gulf, an absolute antagonism. The attempts made to bring about a compromise between them have been, are, and always will be, vain. The one is error; the other is the truth."
And if anyone would know how doctrinal uncompromisingness is reconcilable with evangelical mansuetude, he has only to meditate on the axiom formulated by Bossuet: "Christian condescension ought to be in charity, not in truth. I mean that charity ought to pity and not truth grow lax."
"We must, roughly and frankly, say evil of evil," writes the gentle Francis of Sales, "and blame things that are blamable. No doubt, we must take care, while condemning vice, to spare as much as we can the person in whom it is found. I make exception especially of the declared enemies of God and of His Church, for, as to them, we must discredit them as much as ever we can. It is only charity to call out 'Wolf!' when the wolf is among the sheep."
Goodwill towards individuals - let that be, certainly! And yet, even for that such persons must not be too evidently the incarnation of error. When Christ took the scourge in hand it was not only on principles that fell His strokes; and that State would be in a very serious plight that should be reduced to cutting off the heads of only the ideas of the assassin.
But never let there be any compromise with false principles! Tolerance of false ideas is not charity; it is ignorance, incertitude, or weakness.
We must assert ourselves. We must stiffen our backs. We must dare.
We must be prepared never to yield, even if we are overwhelmed. It is martyrs who become victors.
This implies struggling with all the energies of one's soul.
And yet our energies, necessary as they all are, would be altogether insufficient for the task.
We need God.
On July 14, 1836, M. de Bonald wrote to M. Scrift: "The imagination tires itself out in vain seeking for some means of salvation. None is to be found in human forces. Heaven must intervene."
According to M. Charles Perin: "The best wills in the world will not get the better of the general impotence and inertia caused by Modernism unless God gives them unexpected assistance."
"The root of the present evils," said Pius IX, "lies in this, that men have expressly rejected God far from them. So doing, they have placed themselves in such a condition that they cannot be saved unless it be by some fact so far outside the influence of secondary causes that the world will be forced to recognize therein the hand of God; for the struggle is so serious that He alone can triumph over our enemies."
On July 25, 1872, the same august Pontiff said to the delegates of all nations who were then gathered round about him: "Society has been closed up in a labyrinth whence it cannot escape without the hand of God."
It is a question of public safety. Men must return to Him Who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," the Saviour of individuals and of society as a whole. In the individual soul and in society at large there must be a reintegration of Christ our Lord.
Will it be necessary, as M. Blanc de Saint-Bonnet asked, that God should work a miracle, and "Himself interpose, since man is powerless?"
Must we believe, with Windthorst, that there will come "another Constantine to conquer the actual enemies of the Church"?
In any case, we shall effect nothing without Christ.
Our enemies have Satan on their side. We shall be powerless against them so long as we have not Christ on our side. And as Satanic hate can be overcome only by Divine love, against Satan, the Evil One, we must have Jesus, Who is Love.
Now, precisely, our Jesus - He Who in the Gospel claimed to be Master, Law-giver, King, and Judge of the whole world - made an apparition in the seventeenth century in which He made a revelation of His Heart.
That manifestation He reserved for these latter times. It is the latest effort of His tenderness and power.
He has made of His Heart the pledge of salvation for the individual, for the family, for particular communities, and for nations in general.
He has said that in the struggle He will have the last word, and that His Heart shall reign.
That is not a Gospel truth. He who does not believe it is not thereby a heretic.
But such is the character with which it is invested, such are the facts accompanying it, such the ecclesiastical documents relating to it, that anyone who denies it is most foolhardy and temerarious.
Now, when the battle is at its height, grave and deliberate imprudence has always been a crime.
Having recalled to mind the luminous cross which was to Constantine a presage of his future victories, the Pope, Leo XIII, exclaimed in a document addressed to the whole world: "In our day, lo! another blessed and Divine emblem presents itself before our eyes: the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, above which rises up the Cross, and which shines with magnificent splendour in the midst of flames.. In Him we must place our hopes. From Him we must solicit and expect the salvation of men."
That, perhaps, is no dogmatic pronouncement. In any case, it is a word of advice.
Now, in time of war, grave disobedience to the commander has always been deemed a disastrous fault.
The evil from which France and Europe in general are suffering is that their very core, the very marrow of their bones, what one might call their moral heart, is gangrened. They can be cured only by contact with the Heart of Jesus.
What we need at the present moment is, along with the unchangeableness of the Catholic basis, a renewal of form in harmony with all that is noble in modern aspirations. De Maistre said this, and every living man feels the need of this. Now, the renewal which makes no alteration in dogma or in morals, but which rejuvenates while unfolding them, the true reform which comes from the most intimate element, from, as it were, the very core of Catholicism, and not from external influences inapt to accomplish it - such renovation and reformation, resulting from the influences of the Sacred Heart over souls, is comprised in the turning of hearts towards the Sacred Heart.
What we need to do is to dilate our hearts and inflame our souls, while leaving where they are the immutable frontiers of the Truth; and this we can do if we draw near to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Sacred Heart neither supplants nor suppresses anything else - neither the work of Christian education, nor clubs for the young, nor parochial committees, nor works in favour of a Catholic Press - but animates and vivifies everything. And this is just what we most have need of; for what we want is not so much new foundations as a new inspiration breathing through the institutions of the past.
Leibnitz said two hundred years ago: "If it were our good fortune to find some great monarch willing to take the interests of religion to heart, in order to dedicate all our present and future discoveries to the praise of the supreme Master of the universe and to the growth of Divine love, more would be done in ten years for the glory of God and the happiness of man than would otherwise accrue from the labours of many centuries."
The "great monarch" who "has at heart the interests of religion," that he may devote everything to the development of Divine love, has really come. He is the Sacred Heart!
The Sacred Heart is the Constantine for whom Windthorst was waiting.
The Sacred Heart is the answer to "the questions of the Sphinx."
That is the reason why we must rally round the Sacred Heart. To accentuate by one point the convergence of souls towards the Sacred Heart and to accelerate by one point their progress towards Him, is to do a more profitable work than building basilicas, or organizing pilgrimages, or creating twenty other good works, however indispensable they may be; for He is all in all; He is King, Mediator, Priest, Model, Teacher; He is life, expiation, and the source of grace; and to bring souls into contact with Him is to bring them into touch with the very source of salvation.
He who will read and live the pages of this little volume will understand all that the better.
He who has read them and lived them will, there can be no doubt, live henceforth a grand life of love in the clearness of principles and among the evidence of one great object dominating all things else. And such a soul will be a soul to whom the future belongs.
It is said that when Michelet was in his agony - in that hour when, it seems, one gets in lightning-flashes that are soon extinguished some glimpse of scenes of the past - there appeared to him on a sudden the springtime vision of two children of France - Henri and Louise, his pupils in days gone by. And the smiling lips of the old man repeated mechanically these words: "Feed them on lions' hearts - on...lions' ...hearts."
It is not with lions' hearts that the rising generation must be fed, but with the Heart of God.
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