Sunday, August 07, 2005

Heart of Jesus, Victim of Love

A monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani shared a most wonderful prayer. He had an illustration to go along with it, to emphasize the interactions of this prayer. The prayer is an old one, and holy:

Heart of Jesus, Victim of Love, vouchsafe that I become
a living, holy, pleasing holocaust in Thy sight.

Bro. Rene said that I would find joy in repeating this prayer. I repeat it frequently during the day, some days, and especially when in front of a Crucifix or at Communion time during Mass. The illustration depicts a large heart with a lance piercing it; the heart is Jesus' heart (and could represent, also, the heart of a victim soul, united with the Sacred Heart). Drops of blood from the pierced heart are caught by a large chalice above which is a Host, and of which the person, the victim soul, eats and drinks. Joy is the result: the victim soul is joyful in the unity with Christ's sufferings and is fed by His Body and Blood through the Eucharist.

Last night I prayerfully reviewed the issue of whether or not victim souls need to be Catholic. I had written that they did not need to be Catholic, but I cannot fathom what it would be like, or to what degree, a person could be a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart without the benefits of Catholicism. While I was a Protestant and suffering, it is true that Jesus was beckoning me into His Church. I won't now go into the details and ways, but they included invitations from people, nudges from dreams and supernatural means, and a growing interest in Catholic writers and saints, and finally a tremendous desire for the Eucharist (the Body and Blood present by means of consecration and resulting transubstantiation of the bread and wine). I pray I am explaining this correctly; if not, I beg forgiveness and ask for correction, as I am simply trying my best and praying for help from the Holy Spirit and those in the Church who are proper theologians!

So, while I still think anyone, including non-Catholics can offer themselves as Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart, and that Jesus will receive any of us with loving hearts and pure intentions, I suspect the degree of utilization might be hindered if one does not have the full benefits He can provide through the Catholic Church. For example, the Eucharist is a very real strength as a physical and supernatural food. Read John 6 and pray for understanding of Christ's words regarding His Real Presence in Eucharist. The Sacrament of Confirmation, as well as Confession, also, are physical and supernatural means of grace. Then, I consider how I was before becoming a Catholic, and while I suffered, I also was receiving much help through Catholic sources and saints which opened my heart and mind to more understanding. After I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, had my first Confession and first Communion, the suffering took a far greater turn in utilization and meaning. Well, it all flowed in a continuum of invitation and acceptance.

Jesus would not give a Victim Soul of His Sacred Heart more than what he or she could bear. By having the Sacraments and the support of the Mystical Body of Christ, a person can bear far more than otherwise. So, yes, a victim soul can be other than Catholic, but the degree of utilization would necessarily be commensurate with knowledge of Christ and His Church (including His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the whole mystery of redemptive suffering, the helps given by angels and saints of the Church Triumphant, of the prayers and sufferings of the souls in Purgatory). Comprehending the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is rather integral to the life and sustenance of a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart. There is a fullness of faith which facilitates the life and joyful suffering of a victim soul.

I would imagine that, as in my small case, once a soul makes a step toward offering, then Jesus makes leaps toward that soul in furthering the invitations and graces. It would be probable, then, that the soul would desire to love all the more, and to offer all the more, the sufferings. With this increased offering and love, the soul would also desire and need more help, which would open up the full assistance of Holy Mother Church. If the soul could not come to being open to the full assistance of Jesus through His Church, it would simply mean that not even the best-intentioned victim soul could withstand nor appreciate to the full degree, the joy of suffering in reparation to the Sacred Heart. Does this make sense? It is not to be considered a punishment, as Jesus does not punish in this way. It is simply a natural and supernatural limitation that the soul would choose. Jesus does not choose limitations for souls.

By praying the prayer Heart of Jesus, Victim of Love, vouchsafe that I become a living, holy, pleasing holocaust in Thy sight, the hopeful victim soul begs Jesus to "vouchsafe" the results. If a soul is asking to be a living, holy, pleasing holocaust in His sight, it is presupposed that the soul is willing to do whatever necessary to cooperate. From knowledge of Jesus and His loving immolation for our salvation, we come to a great love of Him, and in this love we are disposed to make an act of the will, to love in return. Yes, He loves us first, and we may choose to respond. This perhaps helps understand these words: Love to suffer, suffer to love.

With this more or less understood, I continue to quote from a section of the old Guide for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart. (Just relating with the terms, theology of suffering, and the truths of the Catholic Church give example as to why it is a benefit, at minimum, if one is open to if not already Catholic.) Three aims are explained for victim souls:

"1. Victim souls offer themselves to the Sacred Heart to atone for their own sins and for the deep ingratitude and offenses committed against our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Their main purpose in all they do is to make reparation for sin, although this does not prevent them from other kinds of prayer and intentions. Meditating on the heinousness of ingratitude and on the love and thirst of Christ for souls, they become consciously aflame with the love of atonement.

"2. They work and offer themselves especially for the conversion of sinners. Millions of souls are swallowed up by ignorance and evil. The victim soul volunteers to save them from the damnation into which they are drifting. Not only an occasional prayer or an occasional good work, but all the works and sacrifices of [his or] her whole life are directed to obtain the one thing necessary: the grace of God. Again, such great zeal and love does not exclude offering holy Mass and Communion, or pious works, for [himself or] herself, for others or for the Poor Souls [in Purgatory]. It is important to remember, however, that these personal offerings to convert sinners have no meaning or efficacy apart from the merits of Jesus Christ. Hence, the practice of uniting all to the most Precious Blood of Christ, which He offers on the altars of the world for the conversion of sinners.

"3. Victim souls have a special love for the priesthood. They labor and offer themselves for priests to obatin abundant blessings on their apostolic work. Through the ordained ministers [in holy orders of the Catholic Church] of Christ they glorify God on earth, spread the Kingdom on earth and sanctify souls more and more. They are the hidden power to make priests zealous and effective in the confessional, on the pulpit, with the dying."

These are the basic purposes, or aims, for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart. Admittedly, I did not comprehend these in such organized fashion when I gradually realized that Jesus had asked me to be a Victim of His Love, or a Victim Soul. When, 21 years ago at this time, I prayed fervently for Him to "use me in whatever way He wanted--but to just use me", I wasn't humanly prepared for what would follow. But, I didn't have to be; Jesus handled all of the preparations not only of the physical realm but very much so from His supernatural glory. Yes, I resisted being Confirmed a Catholic for over ten years, but within months of my earthly "crucifixion" (a life-disrupting car accident) at age 33, I was opening to Catholic writers and thinkers. Yes, while I wandered into other belief systems in an attempt to answer some of the mystical aspects of suffering, Jesus kept putting Catholics in my path and even through Martin Luther and various Protestant denominations, He brought me right into the Catholic Church where I found all the answers and assistances I would ever need on earth and for Heaven.

I am grateful to be allowed to share from the heart and from holy information and direction about victim souls. I pray that you who may want to offer sufferings as a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart may do so without the struggles, resistances, questioning, doubts, and wanderings to which I've been subject--much through ignorance and some through weakness of faith. I pray my informal format is not an obstacle. I am writing as if in conversational prayer.


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