‘The Church describes the heart of her Incarnate Lord as a treasure-house of all wisdom and knowledge. Most evidently, the popular devotion which tinges our prayer during the month of June is a devotion to the whole of our Lord's sacred humanity, not to one single part or aspect of it. That we should treat the Sacred Heart as the symbol of his emotional nature is not surprising. The language of lovers has claimed the heart for its symbol ever since the Middle Ages, and we have learned, in consequence, to treat it as the centre of the feelings, relegating the intellect to the head. The “heart-work” which John Wesley was for ever vindicating against its critics was precisely the enlistment of the emotions in the service of religion.
But from the beginning it was not so. To the Hebrews, as to the Romans, the heart was the seat of the intellect; “My son, give me thy heart” is only an appeal for the pupil’s attention, and the “largeness of heart” granted to King Solomon was wisdom, not sensibility. This habit of speech is found in the New Testament as in the Old; nor is the distinction between heart and head observed in the liturgy, where cor and mens seem be to almost interchangeable. Have we a right to limit the range of the Sacred Heart by making it a symbol of our Lord's human tenderness, nothing else?
It is well that the sinner should find pardon, the mourner comfort, in the source from which pardon came to the Magdalen, comfort to the widow of Naim. But there are other burdens that may be cast, if we will, on those patient shoulders. There is (for example) a kind of intellectual fatigue which overtakes us when we are introduced to the daring speculations of modern science; we cannot understand the very terms of them. Well, here is the effigy of that Heart which is the treasure-house of all wisdom and all knowledge. We have found a fresh avenue of approach; “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee”’.
from Lightning Meditations, 1959, by Mgr Ronald Knox, 1888-1957
Fr Lee Kenyon