On Expanding the Heart

I have decided to break off my hiatus early, my dear readers.  But, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus provides a great reason to get back to blogging about Christianity and Anime.  All sorts of ideas for anime articles bagan popping into my mind as soon as the hiatus began anyway–that figures!  The themes in Saber Marionette J, the latest anime to steal my heart, and the Feast of the Sacred Heart incline me to write about the heart.  (Only two more episodes to go before I tuck another anime under my belt.)

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N. B. Couldn’t find many good pictures from the anime online, so I cheated and used manga ones. But, I will warn you that the manga–like all old manga–is ridiculously fanservicey. I could not help but burst out laughing at the lengths to which it goes.

Saber Marionette J features some female androids who have something called a “maiden circuit” which allows them to empathize with others and have emotions.  Essentially, they were programmed with a heart.  The greatest joys and sorrows come from having a heart.  The greatest hearts feel most keely the highs and lows of life.  During these low periods, when love appears extinct and and pain everpresent, people often fall into the temptation of becoming bitter and seeking means of escape which only harden and diminish the heart.  Some may even fall so low as to wish that they had no heart.  Why have an organ capable of experiencing such beauty and love when all it finds surrounding it are ugliness and hate?  In Saber Marionette J, Lime gives in to the temptation of abandoning her maiden circuit in order to escape the pain of a traumatic event.

Not a spoiler.  You know this kind of things had to happen once, and it's unrelated to the traumatic event I mentioned.

Not a spoiler. You know this kind of things had to happen once, and it’s unrelated to the traumatic event I mentioned.

However, losing her heart does not increase Lime’s happiness.  She comes to realize that the joy of loving Otaru is worth all the pain she meets in life.  In a similar way, the Sacred Heart was tempted not to love us during the Agony in the Garden, especially in seeing how many souls would either not care about His Passions or prefer hell to the Source of Goodness and Love.  Despite the many thorns with which humanity has pierced the Sacred Heart of Jesus, He chose to accept all the pain of loving us, even the reprobate, for the joy of seeing us happy.  The hardships endured by Christ through His entire life which culminated in His Sacred Passion produced the most magnanimous Heart ever to beat in a man’s breast.  Christ is divine but also human, and His humanity required Him to grow through experience: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  We must never forget that God Himself knows suffering and the misery of the human condition even more personally and perfectly than ourselves.

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This picture of the Agony in the Garden hangs in my room. One of my favorite paintings

Those who wish to follow Christ must endure similar struggles knowing that perseverance in love and righteousness enlarge the heart.  The grace of God is so infinite that God can use loving imperfectly or outright sinning–through repentance–to building up the heart as long as we keep our gaze on Him.  So, let us celebrate today the love with which this Sacred Heart burns for us, which came down from heaven to remove our stony hearts and to give us hearts of flesh.  One day, we’ll see that our hearts are no longer small and stony, but large and ardent–pointing to that Heart which fashioned all our hearts.

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Medieval Otaku Takes a Holiday

Well, dear readers, as you can see from the title, I have decided to place this blog on hiatus until the 151st anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gettysburg.  (To write more succinctly, July 1, 2014)  My posts feel belabored of late.  This means I need to perfect my hurricane before I can serve some refreshing articles to you.  After all, my best articles require me to make connections between anime, literature, and religion.  This leads me to the conclusion that I must use my leisure to study these things more; but, I want to leave you all with a final ramble.

Medieval Feast

While reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Prayer and the Contemplative Life, I discovered the three etymologies he offered for religion.  He draws the first from Cicero, who gives relegere, “to read again,” as the basis for the word religion, since the religious man reads things pertaining to worship repeatedly.  The next two come from the hand of St. Augustine, who claims that religion either derives from religere, “to choose again,” orthe most famous derivation–religandum, “binding again.”  The religious man chooses again those things which he has lost by his negligence–prayer, charity, virtue, holiness, etc.–and binds himself once more to the divine.  The three words above recall that religion is about perseverance.  If someone could be virtuous and follow all the precepts of the Church without effort, would we call them religious?  Maybe, but the man who falls and continues to turn back to Christ and metanoiein–to have a change of heart–every day strikes me as more religious.  Even Our Lord and Lady struggled in the maintenance of their spotless characters.

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People mess up, but God is always ready for our repentance–yet another important religious concept beginning with the prefix re-.  Let us use the month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, to once again study His life, choose again the virtue, wisdom, knowledge, and grace contained therein, and bind ourselves yet again to the Fire of Divine Love emanating from this Heart.  We have already celebrated the feasts of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.  Let us now prepare ourselves to remember Corpus Christi (June 22) and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24).  Then, this month will end with the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 27), Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 28), and Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29).  Let us remember the two hearts which love us best and the Church through which the fruits of Christ’s Sacred Passion purify and make fervent the hearts of believers daily.

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Besides my wish to study more some literature and religion, I hope to do away with my need for watching anime with subtitles by the end of the month.  In my last experiment, I found Manga-san to Assistant-san to easy to understand, Nisemonogatari ranging from average to impossible, and, at the beginning of Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii episode 9, I just caught the word tabi, “journey,” and realized that it was too hard.  May that give you an idea of my present listening skills!  To the end of improving them, I’ll study my kanji learner’s dictionary and read Busou Renkin and Slayers.  (I read only the finest literature, you see. 🙂 )  If I want to add something hard, Kinoko Nasu’s Kara no Kyoukai or Natsume Soseki’s Within My Glass Doors will find their way on my reading list.

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You’ll still see me posting about literature and poetry on Aquila et Infans or American history and politics on Aquilon’s Eyrie.  Hopefully, these efforts will generate more interesting things to read by July 1st.  Should some kind individual claim that my articles are still interesting, I must also confess to wanting a break from this blog–even if just for about a fortnight.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus bless and keep you all!

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus This Friday

Dear Readers, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus occurs this Friday. Even though it’s not a holy day of obligation, it would be good if you could find some way to attend Mass. If not, try to spend some time meditating on the great love this Heart has for us, particularly how He loved us so much that He endured terrible suffering and death for our sakes.

This is how the Sacred Heart is traditionally depicted. The Flames indicate the burning Love which this Heart has for all mankind, the thorns symbolize the insults, contempt, ingratitude, and sins with which so many men grieve the Sacred Heart, and the Cross reminds us to often meditate on His Passion, in which He showed us the depth of His Love. So, I encourage everyone to read an account of His Passion and meditate on it, particularly by praying through the Stations of the Cross.

The following day is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I already have a page dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, so you may read that for ideas about how to honor her on this day–besides attending Mass, of course.

By the way, devoutly praying “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee” carries an indulgence of three hundred days.  So, if any of you are worried about having too much time in purgatory, say it often!