By VERY REV. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O.S.M. Consultor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, etc.
Holy Church, which Jesus has made His he-loved Spouse by the marvelous union which He contracted with her, is yet again His Daughter by the regeneration He procured for her, the symbol of which is the water that issued from His sacred side, by which she was brought to life again. Hence, Jesus Christ loves the Church with a twofold most ardent love: first, as His immaculate Spouse, and secondly, as His only-begotten Daughter.
Now, Holy Church is all pure and stainless, "not having spot or wrinkle" (Eph. V, 27.) and this intrinsic beauty all redounds to the glory of her Spouse and Father, Jesus Christ. But the main beauty of the Church is within, consisting in this, that she possesses the most signal virtues and chiefly an ardent charity which makes her live only for her beloved Spouse. Nevertheless, the Church is also clothed in robes of various colors, by which are meant the outward signs of religious worship, such, for instance, as the beauties of holy ritual and the pomp of sacred ceremonies performed in magnificent temples. In fact, all these things are ordained to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the loving Spouse and Father of the Church, better known, revered and loved, that Heart which is the abyss of all virtues, "Cor Jesu, virtutum omnium abyssus" worthiest object of all praise and honor, "Cor Jesu, omni laude dignissimun,"
But the glories with which the eternal Father chose to invest the Heart of His beloved Son made Man, do not stop here. From this mystical espousal of Christ with the Church a numerous offspring arose, regenerated through the word of truth, and destined to holiness and royal dignity: "A chosen generation, a kingly priesthood,, a holy nation." (I Peter II, 9.) These illustrious children, while reproducing the virtues of their beloved Father, Jesus , Christ, bestow on His adorable Heart a marvelous increase of honor and glory. They form around His forehead a beautiful crown composed of the glorious chorus of prophets, the triumphant army of martyrs, the white band of virgins. All these, irradiated with the shining light of that most Sacred Heart, contribute to increase, in an accidental way, its beauty and splendor.
Just as all the colors of the rainbow are virtually contained in one ray of the sun, so in the Sacred Heart of Jesus are found together, as though in a shining constellation, all those prerogatives which in individual saints shine like single stars. And as that white ray of sunshine, when refracted into a prism, breaks up into many colors, distinct and in fair order, so the ray of the charity of Jesus, springing from His loving Heart, when received into the souls of His saints, becomes the origin of all that beautiful variety of virtue and sanctity which distinguishes one from another.
So, we see that the holy apostles, brought up in Our Lord's own school and filled with the abundance of His spirit, are each presented to our admiration with an especial halo of sanctity. In St. Peter we admire the generosity of purpose in following his Master even to death. St. John shines out among the others for the purity and chastity of his life. St. Paul enraptures us with his burning love for Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he protests that he wishes to know nothing else but Him and Him Crucified. In times nearer our own, we are struck dumb by the spirit of penance of a Francis of Assisi, the heroic humility of a Philip Benizi, the contempt of the world of a Juliana Falconieri, the patience of a Joseph Calasanctius, the gentleness and sweetness under every test of a Francis de Sales, and so forth.
Now, what are all these prerogatives, if not so many manifestations and refractions, so to speak, of the ineffable goodness of the divine Heart of Jesus? As the different colors of the prism, when united together again, give back a single ray of light, so the different qualities which are resplendent in each of the saints, when put together, make up that heavenly halo which surrounds the divine Heart of Jesus. The Holy Ghost traces in each saint one line or other of the figure of our King; so that all put together, the varied qualities of the different saints may give us an idea, though inadequate, of the ineffable beauty of that adorable Heart in which the Father was well pleased.
Taking, then, all the virtues which have ever adorned mankind—prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, humility, meekness, patience and charity—and making of these one transcendent virtue carried to its highest degree, we have the perfection of the Heart of Jesus, a perfection which no pen can describe, no intellect human or angelic can fully conceive.
Rising on the wings of contemplation up to the throne of our adorable King, Jesus Christ, we may see displayed before Him all the saints, offering Him—the apostles their crowns, the martyrs their palms, the virgins their white
lilies, the pontiffs their stoles of honor, all singing with one voice: ff Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen." (Apocal. VII, 12.)