Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Heart of the Matter is the Sacred Heart of Jesus: a reply to de Quiros

In his article, Heart of the Matter, de Quiros made three main points:
  1. Pope Francis, had spoken emphatically about the Catholic Church needing to stop its obsession with things like contraception, and devoting its attention instead to things like poverty.
  2. It’s not the easiest thing to keep the faithful faithful by harping on the imaginary evil of the imaginary mass murder of imaginary children by contraception, when your boss himself harps only about the very real evil of the very real mass murder of very real children by grinding poverty. 
  3. It’s no small irony that the bishops condemn RH on grounds of morality. When the boss of their boss, the son of a carpenter, kept broadly hinting to them what morality was. By saying things like, not all who say, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of God. By saying things like, whatever you do for the least of your brothers, you do for God. For his devoted followers at least, like Pope Francis, that is the essence of their faith. That is the heart of the matter. 

REPLY

1. What Pope Francis actually said

In my previous article, How Philippine media distorts Pope Francis's words on contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage, I provided the following excerpt of Pope Francis' words, which were taken from Big Heart Open to God, published in America Magazine.  The bold fonts are mine:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
What Pope Francis said is this: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods."  If we take this sentence outside the paragraph, we can see from its grammatical structure that this sentence written in the negative may be equivalently written in the positive: We can also insist on other issues outside of abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.  Poverty can be one of these other issues that we should also insist on.  This means that it is possible to insist against two evils: contraception AND poverty.  What de Quiros wants is to make us insist that the Pope wishes us to choose only on one of the two evils: contraception OR poverty.  And in this case, de Quiros said, we must choose poverty over contraception. But clearly, de Quiros is logically mistaken here: AND is different from OR.

2. The True Heart of the Matter is the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Actually, abortion, gay marriage, contraception--and even poverty--are not the true heart of the matter.  The true heart of the matter for Pope Francis is Christ Himself as proclaimed in the Gospels.  For Pope Francis, a missionary must not begin his proclamation by discussing abortion, gay marriage, contraception--and even poverty, if you wish.  Rather, the missionary, he said, must proclaim Christ first, because it is the Sacred Heart of Christ--pierced by a lance, crowned with thorns, and burning aflame--Who makes the heart burn like the travelers at Emmaus, and a burning heart leads to conversion.

Pope Francis' predecessor Pope Pius XII wrote the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas on the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

23. It is of course beyond doubt that the Sacred Books never make express mention of a special worship of veneration and love made to the physical Heart of the Incarnate Word as the symbol of His burning love. But if this must certainly be admitted, it cannot cause us surprise nor in any way lead us to doubt the divine love for us which is the principal object of this devotion; since that love is proclaimed and insisted upon in the Old and in the New Testament by the kind of images which strongly arouse our emotions. Since these images were presented in the Sacred Writings foretelling the coming of the Son of God made man, they can be considered as a token of the noblest symbol and witness of that divine love, that is, of the most Sacred and Adorable Heart of the divine Redeemer.

95. But surely the most distinguished place among those who have fostered this most excellent type of devotion is held by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who, under the spiritual direction of Blessed Claude de la Colombiere who assisted her work, was on fire with an unusual zeal to see to it that the real meaning of the devotion which had had such extensive developments to the great edification of the faithful should be established and be distinguished from other forms of Christian piety by the special qualities of love and reparation.
Blessed Claude de la Colombiere is a Jesuit like Pope Francis and it is the Jesuits who spread the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  But sadly, in recent years, their fervor waned as their former Superior General Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ pointed out.  As written in American Magazine:
In time, though, devotion to the Sacred Heart fell off to such an extent that Pedro Arrupe, SJ, then the superior general of the Society of Jesus, had to remind his brother Jesuits in 1981: “I have always been convinced that what we call ‘Devotion to the Sacred Heart’ is a symbolic expression of the very basis of the Ignatian spirit.” He told them that the Sacred Heart is "one of the deepest sources of vitality for [my] interior life." Yet Father Arrupe acknowledged, "In recent years the very expression ‘Sacred Heart’ has constantly aroused, from some quarters, emotional, almost allergic reactions."
Proclaim Christ first.  This is what Pope Francis wants missionaries to do.  One excellent example illustrating this directive is the story of Apostle Philip in the Acts of the Apostles. An Ethiopian Eunuch was on a chariot, riding his way to Jerusalem to worship. He was reading the Book of Isaiah and he could not understand the meaning of the texts that talks about the Suffering Servant:
Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. 36 k As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” 37 * 38 Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 as what happened also to the Eunuch when Philip explained to him about (Acts 8:34-38)
Proclaim Christ first, says Pope Francis. And only after doing this can the missionary proclaim other things, e.g. abortion, gay marriage, contraception, and poverty:
The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
Christ provides the context for the proclamation of the doctrinal teachings of the Church, which Pope Francis also abides, because he is a son of the Church. And regarding the poor, Christ even said:
The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. (Mt 26:11)
 3. Missionaries of the Poor and the Most Blessed Sacrament

Let us take, for example, the Missionaries of the Poor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Yes, they take care of the poor by giving drink to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked.  But this is not the heart of their work, because others can easily install a water purifying plant like the US Navy, cook a million hamburgers for World Youth like Jollibee, and give thousands of T-shirts for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda like DSWD.   All these companies and organizations donate not necessarily out of love, because donations are also good investments if understood as advertising.  What distinguishes the Missionaries of the Poor is that their love for the poor is rooted in their love for Christ--something that Atheists and Agnostics cannot do.  The Missionaries of the Poor sees Christ in the Poor, so that by taking care of the poor they also take care of Christ.  And in doing so, they take to heart the words of Christ which de Quiros also quoted: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mt 25:40).  The little acts of kindness of the Missionaries of the Poor become more meritorious because they do it for the love of Christ, just like the sinful woman who anointed Jesus' feet with ointment, washed it with her tears, and dried it with her hair (Lk 7:44-47).  As Mother Teresa said:
I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor. It was an order. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.

I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Ask yourself “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?” Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.
Without Christ, Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of the Poor can do nothing.  That is why, if someone asks them to work in a particular place of the poor, her first requirement is that there must be a chapel to worship Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament:

"The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth."
"I know I would not be able to work one week if it were not for that continual force coming from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament."
Bishop Stanley Ott also met with Mother Teresa and learned about the secret of her vocation:
When his excellency, Bishop Ott, spoke to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he asked her "how she got so many women to join her religious order". She explained: "We were just like other religious congregations with few vocations. Then at our chapter in the 1970s we made a decision to have a holy hour in all our convents each evening. Many blessings resulted from this Holy Hour the Bishop witnessed, for Blessed Mother Teresa continued, "We began to see more clearly our mission to serve the poor in Christ’s name. We began to live a more fruitful family life among ourselves. We experienced double the number of vocations in our congregation. And we grew personally in our intimacy with the Lord present in the Eucharist." The Bishop is "confident" that this will occur in his diocese too.
Now, how can you have the Blessed Sacrament if there is no priest to consecrate the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Holy Mass, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?  The Holy Eucharist is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, as stated in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church Lumen Gentium of Vatican II.  And these are echoed in Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life."   Without the Eucharist, all missionary activities fail and become meaningless.

Prayer

Let us end with a prayer, the Three O'Clock Habit:
You died, Jesus, but the source of life flowed out for souls and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fountain of Life, immeasurable Divine Mercy, cover the whole world and empty yourself out upon us. O Blood and Water which flowed out from the heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You! Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and the whole world. (3 times) Jesus, King of Mercy, we trust in You!

A Big Heart Open to God: A Conversation with Pope Francis
A Big Heart Open to God: A Conversation with Pope Francis
The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium
The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium
Pope Francis: Spiritual Leader and Voice of the Poor (Essential Lives)
Pope Francis: Spiritual Leader and Voice of the Poor (Essential Lives)
Sacred Heart of Jesus Poster, 13" x 17" - MADE IN ITALY
Sacred Heart of Jesus Poster, 13" x 17" - MADE IN ITALY
The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: Apostle of Devotion to the Sacred Heart
The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: Apostle of Devotion to the Sacred Heart
These Three Hearts: Blessed Claude De Colombiere, Saint Margaret Mary And The Sacred Heart
These Three Hearts: Blessed Claude De Colombiere, Saint Margaret Mary And The Sacred Heart
In Him Alone Is Our Hope: Texts on the Heart of Christ (1965-1983) by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ
In Him Alone Is Our Hope: Texts on the Heart of Christ (1965-1983) by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ
Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta
Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta
Where There Is Love, There Is God: A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others
Where There Is Love, There Is God: A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others
Rosary Meditations From Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Loving Jesus With the Heart of Mary: Eucharistic Meditations on the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary
Rosary Meditations From Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Loving Jesus With the Heart of Mary: Eucharistic Meditations on the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary
Visits To The Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Visits To The Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Divine Mercy In My Soul-Diary of Sister M. Faustina Kowalska
Divine Mercy In My Soul-Diary of Sister M. Faustina Kowalska