I’ve known about Princess Tutu since around 2004, but have only just decided to watch it due to Josh W’s influence. One does not expect a fantasy show revolving around ballet to be this good, and part of the entertainment lies in how little of the plot is straightforward. In the city where the tale takes place, storybook characters can enter the real world. Prince Mytho stands as one such person and so is his antagonist, the Raven. According to the book, written by an eccentric named Drosselmeyer, the Prince sealed the Raven’s power through shattering his own heart. Though Mytho succeeded in his object, he has become the shell of a human being. The heroine, Duck, is approached by Drosselmeyer and given the power to transform into Princess Tutu so that she might restore Mytho’s heart to its proper condition. However, restoring Mytho’s heart brings him pain and sorrow which he would never experience without a heart. Also, the advent of the Raven’s release from his imprisonment is simultaneously advanced by the restoration of Mytho’s 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.)
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.
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.
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.
This morning, I was reminded of one form of prayer which I have long neglected: the litany. Some Protestants have qualms about the litany and repetitive prayer in general, dubbing it “babbling like pagans” (Mt. 6:7), who thought that their prayer would be answered when they hit upon the right name for their god. But, Protestants ignore Psalm 135 (136 in the King James Bible), which repeats “for His mercy endureth forever” 27 times! Surely, the Bible is not to be judged as having vain repetition! Then, why ought a prayer form imitating Psalm 135 be judged as vain?
Another word for worship is adoration. The virtue of the litany lies in us being able to adore different facets of the same God, whose attributes, though perfectly simple in God, cannot be contained in one human word. And so, I recommend the Litany of the Sacred Heart to all in order to adore and recall the innumerable excellences of Jesus Christ, Noster Dominus et Salvator. One can also remind themselves of the excellences of his two parents, St. Mary and St. Joseph, as one begs their intercession. The Litany of the Saints is also a wonderful prayer, very long and happily so, because it reminds us of the various ways God led a great diversity of persons to heaven and so praises the Most Efficacious Salvation of God.
But, it is of immense importance to remind ourselves of God’s goodness, because suffering in our lives can cause us to forget God’s goodness, and the world, the flesh, and the devil try to blot out the memory of God. Rather than the true image of a Forgiving and Loving Father, they try to impose the image of a stern, demanding, and wrathful judge whose standards may never be met. Then, instead of approaching God with confidence that He will cleanse us from our iniquity, we shall rather run away and seek solace in amusements, which are often occasions of sin. The devil pounces on our own lack of faith to make us think that there is no longer hope of salvation–even though all that’s necessary is to be sorry and make a motion, even if only mental, to do the right! I myself confess that this morning, as I said the Litany of the Sacred Heart, doubts came to mind as I prayed verses about God’s mercy and patience, for which I repent in the bitterness of my heart.
This shows the necessity of constantly learning about God. One must never forget God’s goodness and mercy! Remembering God’s mercy allows us to approach Him without fear even if we have blackened our souls by the most vile and scandalous iniquity. After all, He did die for us, and it was not easy: an ordinary mortal would have died from agony to feel the anguish in Christ’s Heart as He said: “Amen I say to you, one of you is about to betray Me.” I write this because a certain atheist dubbed the Passion “a rough weekend.” If one considers the Most Dolorous Passion of Jesus Christ easy, that–as the atheist claimed–anyone might be willing to undergo it to save mankind, is it any wonder that this man supposes the Christ could take him or leave him? A most vile temptation of the devil! If we truly understood the anguish which racks the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the loss of a single soul, we would be willing to eat only bread and water for our entire lives to offer penance for them and beg their conversion. None of us can do that? Don’t worry: God holds none of our weakness against us even as he tries to make us more virtuous.
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!