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.

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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!

El Cazador de la Bruja and the Spirit of the World vs. the Spirit of Christ

Today, I started pondering why so many people become atheists, agnostics, and deists in their early twenties. I concluded that they must have been deceived by the spirit of the world—the most dangerous of our three foes. I wish to illustrate exactly how the spirit of the world conflicts the spirit of Christ through using episode eleven of El Cazador de la Bruja.

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This episode features a con artist who poses as a witch to deceive people into giving donations to a phony religion. *Spoilers ahead, but only pertaining to this episode.* Our heroines, Nadie and Ellis, enter the town when the witch is placed in a bind.  Fortunately for her, Ellis releases her power in such a manner as for the witch to use it to protect her hold over the villagers.  In gratitude, the witch allows them to stay a few days at her place. Once inside the house, the witch confesses that she had been a con artist in her younger days, but that she does have one real power: reading people’s memories—not very lucrative. After Ellis and Nadie leave, she reports Ellis to the government, hoping to gain some money from the government as well as protection for all three of them. She honestly believes that she can work out a deal such that all three of them can live in a house in Beverly Hills! However, some shady individuals murder her for placing the call.

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From my description of the episode, it is apparent that the witch places the highest value on money. Authors like George Bernard Shaw reveal that the spirit of the world might be known from how it quantifies everything. Nothing can be enjoyed for its own sake. Rather worldliness looks at things on a scale of how they benefit us. It can even infect the way our relationship with friends, family, and oneself such that we become incapable of enjoying them.

A picture of George Bernard Shaw.  Sinister looking, isn't he?

A picture of George Bernard Shaw.

The reason that worldliness afflicts the spirit especially around the age of twenty lies in the fact that people start to be evaluated for the marketplace and desire to impress other people. It is important to earn a living, but the market operates strictly on the principle of efficiency. People are weighed and often found wanting. They discover that worldly people are considered cool, and try to lift their status by befriending them. Realization of the benefits of money drive people to seek money and compare people on the basis of their possessions and earnings.

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But, the great problem with the spirit of the world lies in that this manner of quantifying everything and entering into relationships for what another person can offer rather than for their own sake.  This is counter to the spirit of Christ. How can a system of weights and measures comprehend an infinite God? And so, Matthew 6:24 states: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” After all, what can we give God that he does not already have? Someone might say that we can serve Him by good works and supporting the cause of religion. Well and good: God has seven billion people who can do it better. Sure, God-fearing people are God’s instruments for spreading His reign, but His alone is the grace that actually converts hearts. He could turn a stone into a child of Abraham and spread the gospel more effectively with this instrument than any of us!

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As much as other people find us weighted and wanting, how much more easily might God do the same when every sin has infinite consequences. We are all infinitely unworthy of salvation and infinitely worthy of the wrath of God. For a Christian of a spiritual mind, this possesses no problem; but, it depresses the mind of a worldly Christian. This realization of one’s uselessness and culpability in the sight of God can allow such bitterness to enter into devotion that the crucifix turns from being a sign of hope and reconciliation to a sign of condemnation. The bitterness of God’s justice chokes the sweetness of devotion. A wrathful God takes the place of a loving God in his imagination. Then, he looks at the evils in the world and finds fault with God. Bitter toward God and suffused with an ideology of weights and measures, he decides that God is a figment of the imagination: the seed of faith sown among thorns has choked.

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Yet, the desire for love never quits a human being—however warped his understanding of love becomes. Even as the witch I mentioned earlier desires her two friends to be kept safe from harm in the same breath as she hopes for riches. Another sharp difference between the spirit of the world and the spirit of Christ lies in that worldliness desires to have while the Spirit of Christ desires to give. While the worldly man sees himself as furthest from God and the cross as a reproach, Christ is cut to the quick for this lonely and isolated soul. Christ cries “I thirst!” for the soul of this man so that he might not thirst eternally in hell. Does the soul proceed to lead others away from Christ and heap up sins upon itself? Christ fights ever more desperately for a soul in proportion to its misery and sins. Then, you say, God is unhappy because He does not have our love—that solves the problem of what God gets out of saving us! No! “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). God’s happiness is unchanging and eternal, but He is happy in making us happy! Moreover, He does not wish to be happy without us being happy too! All our sins and sufferings Christ bore both on the cross and throughout his life so that He might share our miseries completely. Christ did not measure the blood He shed but emptied Himself so that He might be an ocean of mercy for poor sinners.

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In the final moments of the El Cazador de la Bruja episode to which I alluded, my heart ached to watch the final moments of the witch alone in her house. Happiness seems to have eluded her for her entire life: she grew up knowing little save the pursuit of money, this pursuit prevented her from pursuing her individuality, and she had just tasted a few drops of love before having her life cruelly extinguished. Why does God allow such cruelty? Especially perhaps the cruelest joke that her pursuit of money brought no happiness at all? One can only hope that God will say to such people who are so spiritually impoverished along with Lazarus: “…and Lazarus [received] in like manner evil things; but he is comforted here…” (Luke 16:25). For without love, no amount of possessions can make someone happy. One might ask: “Would God really care about the welfare of a soul which spent itself in the pursuit of money?” Well, would you take care of a weeping child who appeared on your doorstep? Then, how much more would God take care of one of His weeping children no matter how wayward!

Divine Mercy Novena Reminder

Hello, dear readers!  I just want to remind you to say the Novena of the Divine Mercy Chaplet this year.  It starts on Good Friday and includes saying a prayer intention for a different group on each day: All the World especially poor sinners, Priests and Religious, Pagans, Heretics and Schismatics, Faithful Christians, Meek and Humble souls, those who glorify God’s mercy by meditating on the Sacred Passion, the Souls in Purgatory, and those who have become lukewarm.  We are all in need of God’s mercy, and praying for others both increases our charity and obtains mercy for ourselves.

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I was thinking to myself how God’s mercy, love, and our faith are so important.  Unless we show mercy, mercy shall not be shown to us.  Unless we love others, we cannot love God.  Unless we live in both love and mercy, we cannot have faith.  For, faith is trusting that God loves us to death and that His mercy is without limit.  But, if we ourselves don’t show mercy or love others as unconditionally as possible, if we’re selective in who we love or who we’ll forgive, then we may begun to think that God is selective or that limitations are placed on His love.  But, this is false.  God is unconditional love, constantly looking for the least excuse to bring each and every one of us into His kingdom.

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Ultimately, love is unitive: one wishes to be united to all, to suffer when they suffer, to rejoice when they rejoice, to know everything they know, and even to be punished when they are punished.  One would not go wrong if they loved the very worst people imaginable, felt themselves guilty of the sins committed by these people, and did penance for them.  That is the highest state of the Christian vocation.  Love, forgive all offenses, strive to remain pure, honestly admit one’s failings, don’t fear to love, and show mercy to everyone you meet.  Try to imitate the Heart of the Master, and contemplate on the lengths he went to redeem you so that you may take some of His Love with you in order to share it with others.  Then, God will take you up into Heaven and place your head upon the very Heart you strove to imitate.

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Lest the obstacles which are sure to sprout up thwart you, have recourse to prayer.  Don’t overdo it, but be sure to pray enough for your needs.  In this way, you may feel fatigued, but not discouraged.  Plagued by sins and defects, but not despairing.  Perhaps the greatest prayer for this goal is to meditate on the Passion of Christ while praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Just pray the Sorrow Mysteries as if doing the rosary or concentrate on one mystery, on certain wounds, on the Stations of the Cross, or on Our Lord’s Sacred Heart.  You might just find your favorite devotion and will certainly please the Divine Master.

Divine Mercy

And here’s a link to information about this chaplet and novena: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/dmmap.htm and Divine Mercy Novena.

The End of Samurai Deeper Kyo: All About Heart

The extent to which the Samurai Deeeper Kyo manga has captivated me is well known to my dear readers from my last article on the subject.  I must say that no manga ending in recent memory has quite satisfied me as much for all the time and effort that went into reading it–I’ll likely take up this 308 chapter manga again!  Unlike so many series, one can see that the author had a clear ending in mind.  This prevented the series from wandering due to a lack of focus prevalent in so many manga.  (One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, I’m pointing at you!)  The ending in particular, for all its catering to the fans, possessed many interesting themes running through it: so much so, that I doubt having completely understood it.

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Anyway, let me begin my only slighly spoilerific discussion of the manga–with the exception of the last paragraph, anyway, which contains the biggest spoiler in the work.  One of the most interesting facets of the manga is the clever use of Christian imagery–the cross in particular.  The use of such symbols tends to make the Christian otaku/anime junkie (whichever you prefer) a little nervous considering  the Japanese inclination to scatter random Christian symbols throughout their works.  However, one perceives a purpose to the use of this symbol throughout SDK.  The fanservice and downright roguish characters rather obscure this, but one see how the themes of love, self-sacrifice, and suffering out of love run through this manga–more so as one approaches the end.  (This is not apparent in the anime and must be considered the reason for its lackluster performance.)  I almost wish to label Demon Eyes Kyo a Christ figure, but his lack of decency causes me to hesitate–someone else may make the connection if they like.  Interestingly, this manga is one of those which refuses to paint black black or white white: one must carefully consider the person or matter at hand before labeling anything.

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The ways Kyo approximates Christ lies in his strong loyalty toward his “servants.”  Kyo himself tends to take up the lion’s share of combat unless one of his friends absolutely insists or he finds himself too weak for fighting.  At which point, he refuses to lend his companion a helping hand–no matter how poorly the fight turns out for that guy.  In order to refer this quality to Christ, let us remind ourselves that, although we cannot do anything without God’s grace, He sometimes wishes us to triumph in situations where He appears absent and in agonies which require all our effort–though, it is not really we who conquer, but Christ in us.  This affords an opportunity for growth–if Christ pulled us out of all our difficulties by overwhelming force, we could neither develop the virtues of fortitude, faith, hope, and love, nor nor understand how weak we are in ourselves.

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Then, one is struck by how much mercy and compassion the protagonists show toward their fallen foes: by the end, only one enemy, who appears to lack any kind of empathy or compassion, is willfully killed–nevermind, one other person of a similar caste met the same fate.  Often, our heroes will mourn over the deaths of certain foes or convert their foes into allies in their quest to bring down the infamous Mibu clan–thus, showing the triumph of charity and a good-will.

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The main villain, the Aka no Ou or Crimson King, is deluded rather than truly evil.  He wishes to create a paradise free from suffering through the means of a violent conflict.  But suffering, at least in the current version of reality, is inseparable from love.  On the more humanist side, Schopenhauer claimed that compassion derives from us suffering and therefore being able to understand the sufferings of others.  And indeed, people who have kept themselves from suffering are often those least able to empathize with others.  Our Lord, the Man of Sorrows, revealed the fullness of his love during His Sacred Passion.  We even see an essential transformation in Kyo: as the manga progresses and Kyo suffers more with the other characters, his love increases toward them, and he risks himself more for them.

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But, the very end contains a striking symbol of love (the whopping spoiler to which I refer): the treasure which the Mibu had been closely guarding was the Crimson King’s heart, which he had removed from his body.  Kyo’s final victory over the Crimson King convinced the king to place his heart back in his chest.  Not only is his treasure a heart, but it has a cross engraved upon it.  This displays the truth that some things cannot be understood save through the heart, especially a heart that has suffered.  So, the Crimson King is persuaded to abandon his idea of a painless Utopia, since a Utopia as he envisions would be a loveless place–perhaps, even because people would not be able to suffer.  And the cross upon the Crimson King’s heart cannot but recall the Sorrowful and Sacred Heart of Jesus, which comprehends all things.

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So, do you know of any Christ figure in anime or any anime which uses Christian figures well, my dear readers?

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Suffering and Christmas

Well, this blog has been full of the Christmas spirit, hasn’t it?  To tell you the truth, I think that sweetpea616 succeeded more in immersing herself in the Christmas spirit than I did–and she’s pagan!  At any rate, I think that it will be worthwhile to write about how suffering relates to the holiday of Christmas.

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I can already hear someone asking: “How can suffering possibly relate to such a joyous holiday?  What a morbid, moribund, and melancholy person!”  (And I can tell that this speaker does not know me personally.)  But do not forget that the colors green and red symbolize the Christmas holiday.  Green obviously symbolizes rebirth and renewal–and how did Christ accomplish our rebirth?  By pouring out His red blood on the Cross.  Verily, He was born in order to die.  We Christians celebrate the Invincible Love of God in sending His only Son so that Jesus Christ would redeem us through a painful death upon a cross and give us new life by His Resurrection.  In the same way, Christians are baptized into the Passion of Christ and reborn into His Resurrection.  Since “the disciple is not above his master” (Lk 6:40), we must suffer many things and courageously bear the cross God gives us so that we may be steadily transformed into the image of Christ until we reach that perfection which God has destined for us in Paradise.

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The Church calendar seems to reinforce the idea of suffering even in the midst of this joyful time of year: the day after Christmas we celebrate the martyrdom of St. Stephan, the feast of the Holy Innocents today, and tomorrow recalls the murder of St. Thomas à Becket.  Only St. John the Evangelist seems not to fit in until we remind ourselves that he suffered a white martyrdom.  How could it be otherwise?  In support of this idea, we have all the suffering John endured in spreading the Gospel and his gospel itself, which enters more fully into the divinity of Christ than any other gospel.  John’s gospel evidences his suffering because no one can understand God so fully without meditating on and participating in Christ’s sufferings daily.  How much grief must have filled St. John’s soul in recalling those three interminable hours at the foot of the Savior’s cruel cross?  To always have before his eyes the visible memory of Christ’s wounds and the sorrowful last words of Christ ringing in his ears?  And on the thirtieth, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family: after Christ’s whose sorrows are meditated on more frequently or were more severe than St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s?  These two saints have more glory in heaven than all the rest because they both played a larger role in Salvation History and suffered more greatly than all the other saints combined.

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So, suffering, doubts, anxiety, grief, and pain do not seem out of place this time of year.  In my case, I lack a certain talent to suffer–if I may call it so.  Suffering has the propensity to make us focus inward, to disregard the people around us, and overly seek consolations for oneself–anything to cause us to forget or diminish our pain or angst.  But, the talent or skill which one should strive to attain is to ignore our miserable condition and manifest joy to the world–especially around Christmas.

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The most memorable scene from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the meeting of Jesus and His Mother on the Way of the Cross, demonstrates this attitude perfectly.  What does Our Lord say to His Mother?  After being insulted and beaten constantly, being mocked, unjustly condemned, scourged, crowned with thorns, and even to this point being shown every form of contempt and disdain?  “Behold, I make all things new.”  This carries the idea that Christ’s attention was focused mainly or even purely on the good his sacrifice would do humanity rather than all the evils humanity was pouring on him–even though these sins pierced His Heart like the crown of thorns did His Brow.  Rather than indicate any pain, He joyfully boasts of the salvation He brings to the human race.  For, not even an ocean of sin can extinguish the Love of God.

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Remember what the red and green symbolize when you look next time at a Christmas wreath.  There is joy because Our Savior has come to restore the human race; on the other hand, He restores it through His Sorrowful Passion.  Neither pain or sorrow is out of place in this holiday nor ought one to forget the Passion of Our Lord in this or any season.  So, one must rejoice in spite of suffering, since Christ has come to save poor sinners–us–and these very sufferings, especially when we strive to suffer with love, bring us closer to Christ.  This quote from G. K. Chesterton seems appropriate here: “He is a sane man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.”

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Sharing the Faith and the Sacred Heart

Well, dear readers, a certain level of ignorance has been lifted from my mind this day.  You see, my spiritual life has been not only stagnant but even painful for the past while.  In my incredible ignorance, I could not perceive how I strayed from the right path; but, God has mercifully waited upon my understanding, which may be likened to an abyss of ignorance, to be opened.  Perhaps the greatness of our ignorance and misery move God to show more mercy than the human mind can conceive.  Here’s a little story given by a deacon in a homily which adequately illustrates my fault.

God gave a certain mystic a vision of heaven and hell.  God led the mystic to two doors.  Upon opening the first, he saw a round table which held a pot of stew whose aroma caused the mystic’s mouth to water.  Seated around the table were a bunch of miserable individuals having very long spoons strapped to their forearms.  While these spoons were capable of reaching the pot, they could in no wise bring the stew to their lips.  And so, they sat around the table starved and miserable.  God informed the mystic that this was hell.  Then, God brought the mystic into a second room, in which there was the same table and pot of stew.  Only, everyone was happy and well-fed and yet they all bore spoons in the same way that those in the first.  The mystic began to wonder how these people were so well-fed.  Upon asking God, God informed him that all the souls in heaven fed each other, a concept beyond those in hell.

This allegory is particularly apt for the point I wish to make.  What may the stew be likened to except God?  The greatest torment of hell is eternal separation from God, who is Love itself.  The damned lost God because they were unable to love their fellow men.  Is not every good work a kind of sharing of God’s love?  This makes it abundantly clear to me that the Christian must share the knowledge and love of God with his fellow men.  God wishes the Kingdom of God to grow and encompass the whole world, like the mustard seed which “grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches” (Luke 13:19).

One must be careful that one does not attempt to shrink the Kingdom of God by either providing a bad example or not speaking of it.  By acting in this way, a Christian seems to reduce the Kingdom of God, which is supposed to be a mustard tree, to a sad, twisted bonsai tree, which cannot grow because every effort of its roots to expand is cut off.

And this was my error: not sharing the faith enough.  I did not realize this until during a drive with my younger sister.  I tried to describe how important living a Christian life focused on serving God is, clearing up certain misconceptions, speaking about the mystery of the Cross in our lives, and explaining certain sayings of Padre Pio.  After which I felt much better.  At which point, it hit me that I had not been doing enough to serve God.  That I had been keeping whatever I had learned about God, all my riches, to myself rather than offering these riches to others.  In other words, I acted as the servant who buried the talent, and various sufferings quite rightly fell to my lot.  One must try to remember that God is always giving, and one of the ways to fulfill the command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) is by giving of oneself–whether it be talent, time, or treasure.

St. Martin of Tours seeing Our Lord clothed in the part of the cloak which St. Martin had given a beggar earlier that day.

And so, I would like to share with you some thoughts about Our Lord’s sufferings, especially as he suffered in his Sacred Heart.  First, consider the immense love of God–a being who has perfect happiness and is free from all suffering–in taking on a human body in which He could suffer, and that these pains were rendered even more acute by the tenderness of His love.  Even now that His Passion has ended, He still suffers in His Sacred Heart over the loss of poor sinners–as he revealed to St. Faustina, in whose heart He would try to find relief from the mortal anguish caused by the loss of souls.

Imagine what this most perfectly tender heart suffered during the time before the Crucifixion.  The crowds constantly misunderstood His message.  How painful this must have especially been after the feeding of the five thousand.  He reveals His flesh to be true food and His blood true drink, but people only want some bread loaves.  He expresses His desire to give His very self to them for their sake, to be their best and greatest Friend, and they only want to use Him for meals.

Not only did this suffering extend to being misunderstood by the crowds, but He was often misunderstood by His Apostles.  How truly alone He must have felt to not have one friend to whom He could relate.  Remember a time when you found yourself in a crowd of people with whom you had nothing in common, and you will have only scratched the surface of the alienation felt in this Heart which is more tender than a mother’s.

I’ll try to think of more ways to meditate on the Love of God in the future, but may this provide good material for contemplating the Sacred Heart for you.

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!