Rorate Caeli

Holy Hatred and Perfect Love: A Lesson from the Sacred Heart

Photo by Fr Lawrence Lew OP
The impossibility of progressing to a destination without withdrawing from some origin is obvious. No one can go somewhere without leaving some other “where.” But the impossibility of increasing our love for God without simultaneously hating the world is less obvious. We tend to think that we can love the world and love God too, that we can enjoy our earthly lives and enjoy God too.

God is the author of the bible, and He tells us, “If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” And He commands us, “Do not love the world, or the things which are in the world.” And He is very emphatic: “Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with this world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” To love the world is to hate God.

Isn’t this a bit too harsh? Not really. Imagine a young woman who gets married to a handsome young man. They start a family. Soon he is drafted to go off to war. For years she writes to him each week, and from time to time, he responds. Then, the day comes for his return. She goes to the airport with the children to greet him. They stand with balloons and signs eagerly awaiting him, they finally see him turn the corner. And then they watch as he walks into Chilis to eat lunch, comes back an hour later, and greets them with a hug. Would this not break their hearts? If gooey applesauce and juicy steak keep a man from running to his family, he is a bad man, and needs to cultivate a holy hatred for culinary delights. If anything at all keeps us from running to God, we are bad, and need to cultivate a holy hatred for whatever holds us back or slows us down.

The feast of the Sacred heart is a feast of true love. God’s heart burns with love for us. Knowing that our true happiness consists in loving Him perfectly, he commands us not to love anything earthly. He is a jealous God because He is a loving God.

What God commands in scripture, the Roman Liturgy prays for. In Advent, as we prepare for the coming of Christ, we ask during mass that God teach us how to “despise what’s earthly and to love what’s heavenly.” As the seasons progress through Christmas, Septuagesima, Lent, Passiontide, Eastertide, and Pentecost, we finally arrive at the two final feasts of this major liturgical cycle: the feast of Corpus Christi and the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The melodies of Christmas come back for Corpus Christi, along with the preface for Christmas. And in the very last prayer for the feast of the Sacred Heart, we once again pray for this holy hatred and perfect love.

Christ was born at Christmas in order to die on Good Friday. His choice to love the Father despite all earthly suffering perfectly rectified our desire to love earthly things to the expense of loving the Father. By following His journey from Christmas to Good Friday, we learn to join Him in His ascension, raising above all earthly things to seek and enjoy the things of heaven alone. The burning love in Christ’s heart can only be ours if we hate the things of earth, and love the things of heaven. Like the soldier in the airport, we must look past everything in order to run home to our family in heaven.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on Us.

Fr. Peter Miller
Prior, Whitestone Monastery