Monday, February 14, 2011

Jesus loves you, or you’ve got to have heart
Regular readers know my lines:
  • It’s a universally, instinctively understood sign of God’s love found in private devotion among most Christians. (I’ve met a kindly old mainline Presbyterian minister, now retired, who had a statue of it in his office.)
    The devotion to the Sacred Heart, which in its symbolical meaning and as representing the love and tenderness of the Saviour towards His children, had found its way into the hymns and prayers of almost every private form of devotion, and commends itself to the more enthusiastic of every communion, as the most touching of all those exercises of piety which cluster around the suffering life of Jesus ... The Heart of Christ, whether to Puritan devotee, to the member of the High Church in England, or to those who had outwardly separated themselves from the communion of both, was the temple of a common worship – the home of common love.
    – From The Devotion of the Sacred Heart, the Religious Tract Society, London, probably printed around 1876, pp. 8-9
  • Given the association with love from the effects described and the reality that the heart is a vital organ, of course it’s bound up with the Incarnation and by extension Holy Communion (where God and his creation directly meet, the touchstone of orthodoxy and flashpoint of all heresy, in three parts, who Jesus is, the Eucharist and sex; heretics and apostates say ‘I will not serve’ to at least one of those).
  • ‘You worship a heart!’ is at heart (heh) a Protestant slur just like ‘You worship Mary/paintings/a piece of bread!’ etc.
  • But the nastydox have a point: thou shalt not mix rites in church (which is what Rome really teaches) so I don’t like naïve, corny defacements of Byzantine Rite iconography either. (The late pre-V2 Jesuit russophile Fr Fyodor Wilcock of Fordham’s old Russian Center wouldn’t have it.) Rite controls what you do in church and of course the Orthodox bishops can’t rule on an apparition that happened outside their church, in 1600s France for example (like an RC bishop won’t on Zeitun among the Copts in Egypt). But private devotion is free.
  • If it’s not in your rite or you just don’t like it, fine; don’t do it!
Finally, is the RC Diocese of Fairbanks making a play for the Orthodox by using a sort of iconography on the Web or is it a well-meant tribute to Alaska’s native Russian Orthodoxy? My guess is the latter. Icons are hip but misunderstood among some Novus Ordo folk.

Some fitting modern pop music:

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