The Immaculate Heart Prevents Modern Errors on the Sacred Heart

I like that the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are back-to-back. This year, I am also tickled to share my name day on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as well.

Notre Dame Today

I noticed a new book pushed out by Notre Dame University, it is a $79 book of a doctoral dissertation. The title should be your first hint that something is wrong:  “Being Salvation”: A Reinterpretation of Rahner’s Christ as Savior by author Brandon R. Peterson. A quick scan of the book in google books reveals a long discussion about the sacred heart statue on the campus of Notre Dame and how that firey heart calls people to join it. Nice enough sentiment, but the title “being salvation” and the name Rahner is all we need to know that something is wrong. You see, Rahner is a modern that I believe is what we can best call a “process theologian” (the academic hairsplitting starts here and I know some will disagree…. that’s fine).

I want you to notice that this is a product coming out of Notre Dame TODAY.

McBrien is the Root of This Rahnerworld

I can’t blame a doctoral candidate at Notre Dame for feeling the pressure to cast off the relics of medieval oppression and get with the times, however. It was Fr. McBrien in his book Catholicism that told us that the Sacred Heart is something of the past to be ignored. Says McBrien at pp. 469-470 of that title:

Catholic Christology from the time of Aquinas to the middle of the twentieth century remained essentially the same in structure and in content…The residual medieval influence was particularly evident in the raising of subsidiary questions—e.g., whether Christ could have been called a human being or the Christ while he lay in the tomb between Good Friday and Easter Sunday; the reconciliation of the “sadness of Christ with his smilessness; the legitimacy of devotion to the Sacred Heart.”

That’s how Richard McBrien explains his view of “The Christ of Twentieth Century Theology”. I’ll explain briefly why this should be concerning.

Modern Process Theology Fantasyland is Focused on “The Force”

Moderns are afflicted with worshipping themselves, for one thing. They speak of God, but they mean a vague supernatural force. Many times, they mean an artifact of their own thoughts (an abstraction of the neopaganism Fr. Hardon spoke of).

And it’s worse among Catholics who fall into the pit of process theology (such as the Tielhard de Chardin hell). For them, they make the hypostatic union into some sort of eternal evolution wherein man will divinize himself (get the error there… himself? man cannot save himself) by evolution of time. The fantasyland here is that they think the universe is evolving. It isn’t. It’s falling apart. Entropy itself and the laws of thermodynamics stand to prove that they’re wrong unless there is a God intervening and making things better for us.

Catholics who follow the idiot (my opinion, at least) Karl Rahner are susceptible to this as well. Said Rahner, “The permanent beginning and the absolute guarantee that this ultimate self-transcendence, which is fundamentally unsurpassable, will succeed and has already begun, is what we call the ‘hypostatic union.’  That’s from Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith, p. 181.

self-trascendence? Think about that…  man cannot trascend.

Only God who condescended to become a man, Jesus, can transcend. It is by His power –as a human that resurrected from death- that any man transcends.

What do these big word self-transcending people like Rahner mean? They see God as a faceless energy or math equation in the universe. Almost like some sort of vedic guru, they think one merely needs to get on the evolutionary path and you will evolve into God energy or something…

How Mary and Her Immaculate Heart Gets in Their Way

The problem here with self-transcendence and neopagans is Mary. A faceless process of evolution does not have a Mother. It doesn’t even care to be sure that you are loved by a Mother. It wouldn’t care about that. No, only a real person, one with a heart like ours wants to be sure that everyone is loved by His Mother.

St. Kolbe wrote:

[T]he Divine Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, who are guilty, has found to this end a means most worthy of divine wisdom. He gives to us His own dear and beloved Mother as mother and protectress […] In addition, He has given her a most magnanimous heart, so much so that she could never fail to spot even the smallest teardrop on earth or neglect to worry about the salvation and sanctification of every man.

There lies a bridge to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. […]

Kolbe, Rycerz Niepokolanej, June 1925, pp. 131

He goes on to explain that Mary never fails to obtain the grace to help even the most diseased soul. She gets those graces from the Heart of Her Son.

They Need to Remove Her if They want to Play in Fantasyland

Earlier this week, I mentioned St. Robert Bellarmine’s shredding of Martin Luther, and his expose of Luther’s hatred of the Blessed Mother. One should be able to tell that Luther could not understand the Sacred Heart of Jesus, because Luther failed to acknowledge Jesus’s gift of own His Mother to us. He HAD to remove Mary from the picture in order to create his erroneous Christology.

The same is true of all heretics.

The Sacred Heart is a Human Heart that was Loved by a Mother’s Heart

Only by considering our own hearts could we even come close to understanding the Sacred Heart. It is human like ours, after all. If you care for another, then you want them cared for. You want your Mom to care for them the way she cares for you.

That’s what Jesus did on Calvary.

The love burning in His heart for us drove Him to the Cross. There, He went overboard to care so much more for us, that he then wanted us to have the same care and love from His own Mother. He gave her so much grace that the angel hailed her as “full of grace.”

I’m not just sapping Hallmark sentiments on you here. Pius XII speaks of this in his encyclical on the Sacred Heart:

“In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined. For, by God’s Will, in carrying out the work of human Redemption the Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably linked with Christ in such a manner that our salvation sprang from the love and the sufferings of Jesus Christ to which the love and sorrows of His Mother were intimately united.

P.Pius XII Haurietis Aquas (On Devotion To The Sacred Heart) at 112.

and again, he makes the point that her Fiat was cherished by Our Lord because it gave Him the human heart with which He could love us.

Another most precious gift of His Sacred Heart is, as We have said, Mary the beloved Mother of God and the most loving Mother of us all. She who gave birth to our Savior according to the flesh and was associated with Him in recalling the children of Eve to the life of divine grace has deservedly been hailed as the spiritual Mother of the whole human race. And so St. Augustine writes of her: “Clearly She is Mother of the members of the Savior (which is what we are), because She labored with Him in love that the faithful who are members of the Head might be born in the Church.”

id. at 72.

While Luther himself never seemed to have issue with God taking a human body, therein is where trouble for moderns begins. The hypostatic union is a stumbling block to smart people today the same way that the cross itself is a stumbling block to the Jews and Gentiles.

That Mary is a gift of Jesus to us means that He was not a symbol of a human, nor was He merely masquerading as a human…  He truly became a human. He has a real heart in His chest just as you and I. And that heart loves you.


Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

This article, The Immaculate Heart Prevents Modern Errors on the Sacred Heart is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benziger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.
  • Joan Pernicano says:

    “He gave her some much he angel called her “full” of grace.” ???

    • John B. Manos says:

      Acck. Typos kill me! That should say “He gave her so much grace that the angel called her “full of grace”. Thanks.

  • Brandon R. Peterson says:

    As long as you’re correcting typos, my name is Brandon (not Brian) Peterson, and my Ph.D. is from the University of Notre Dame (not Notre Dame University).

    I should also note (as I do a couple of times in my book) that Rahner in no way wanted to move beyond devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart — in fact, one of the last essays he wrote before his death lamented that the devotion had declined in recent decades. He made the case multiple times for reviving its practice and popularity. He’s one of your allies in the regard, not an enemy.

    And though you may regard it as “hairsplitting,” I must make the point that Rahner’s is a far cry from process theology, which holds that God constantly “becomes” and undergoes change. Perhaps you can go after Balthasar for having a few process tendencies (as Rahner himself suspected), but Rahner was a staunch advocate of the traditional doctrine of God’s immutability.

    I’m glad that you found my book worth writing about, but please do more than just read the introduction and decide that since it includes “Rahner” and comes out of Notre Dame, you can just fill in the gaps. Rahner is a much more nuanced figure than you present in this caricature.

    Christ’s peace!

    • John B. Manos says:

      Dr. Peterson,

      I am sorry for getting your name wrong! Besides embarrassing, it is worse because that should be so easy to get right!

      Now that you have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into a study of Rahner, would you agree that he is a process theologian? As you can tell, I no longer have much respect for Rahner, especially after I read Keefe and Quay. I am one who always likes the forensics of wrecks, accidents, and explosions, so I do find the continued study of Rahner to be interesting. It is a benefit that in our day, his works weren’t burned for the propagation of his “transignification” baloney, though. It is not a “symbol” of Christ — it is really, truly, substantially Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

      Now that you’ve made it past the academic game, I do hope you will broaden beyond Rahner and try some of the true giants of the 20th century. Keefe is very dense, but both his phd dissertation on Tillich and his Covenantal Theology are at the same time more engaging and far more rewarding than anything I’ve seen from Rahner. More importantly, though, try Quay’s Mystery Hidden for Ages in God. I realize that you must keep such a title hidden lest you be scorned, but it can be our secret. It really is the best exposition of the Catholic faith written in the 20th century.

      Rahner’s nuance, in my opinion, is a labyrinth disguising the characterization I gave in this blog post. He wasted much, and whether he intended to or not, his transignification has ruined eucharistic understanding worldwide. I am certain he’d emphasize this point and try to correct it today, if he were able to reach across the chasm the separates him from us now.

  • Brandon R. Peterson says:

    Whatever you make of the “transiginification” proposals being floated in the 1960s, Rahner does not deny Jesus’ true, substantial presence in the Eucharist; indeed, he opines that medievals like Thomas actually don’t go far enough in establishing an intrinsic relationship between Jesus, the Eucharist, and the Church. Hence his theology of das Realsymbol — and don’t let the word “symbol” in there give you the wrong impression (as it does for so many other people) — das Realsymbol is not “symbol” as in simple “sign,” but more like “sacrament”, something that genuinely makes present the “other” (a “signum efficax”, as Rahner puts it by drawing on traditional language). Seriously, check out chapter 2 of my book — Rahner’s not laying the groundwork for any denial of real, substantial presence (an unfortunate and pervasive misunderstanding).

    And again, Rahner is no process theologian, a descriptor that would require that he abandon his vehement defense of divine immutability. Such a label is closer to theologians like Moltmann and Balthasar (perhaps even E. Johnson in some respects), but not Rahner. He certainly talks about Jesus as the culmination of humanity (whose orientation toward “transcendence” is really just God’s gracious invitation to further gifts of grace — a very Thomistic idea!), and so shares some overlap with Teilhard, I suppose. But in doing so, Rahner’s drawing on Paul (“New Adam” in Rom 5) and St. Irenaues (recapitulation), not Whitehead and the process folks. Throughout his writing Rahner consistently goes out of his way to explicitly distance himself from Hegelian theologies of God undergoing change out of some necessity for growth, so the charge of “process theology” is honestly a head-scratcher for me.

    You’ll be relieved to know that I’m not simply a Rahner disciple, though I have enormous respect for him. My main area of research is more soteriology throughout the ages, and I’ve published on Thomas, Anselm, Ratzinger and the Church Fathers in addition to Rahner.

    I hope that you get a chance to read a bit more of Being Salvation to see that Rahner doesn’t quite fit the impression that you seem to have formed about him (from whatever sources you’re drawing on).

    Christ’s peace

    • John B. Manos says:

      I got most of my opinion of Rahner from reading his own stuff. I went to Jesuit schools so that was the hot thing to read him and discuss the new theology. Lay on the floor and practice transcendental meditation. I thought de Chardin was the prototype of process theology — or at least that’s what I was told. There is an eerie undercurrent to them. Once I read Paul VI’s Mysterium Fidei, one cannot ignore that he was taking on Rahner and Schillebeeckx directly. So there is quite a challenge for your assertion that transignification and transfinalization have salvageable parts.

      When I got into college, I later found Hugo Rahner and thought it fascinating that he was studying the solar cults and their attempts to hide in the Church (Greek Myths and Christian Symbolism). One has to wonder if he wasn’t attempting to figure out just what his brother was up to. Others think he was helping his brother. There’s probably a thesis in that topic alone.

      Tell me more about your choice for the title: Being Salvation. Why the “being” part? The read of the title implies that the reader can “be” salvation.

      I really think you would enjoy Paul Quay SJ. He spent much time synthesizing the Rahners, and as far as I can tell is the leader on that. It’s a shame he is ignored. Your interest in Rahner really makes me want to push you into Quay because he went on this journey you are traveling along. Even Quay’s title and the selection of “mystery” hidden for all ages in God is a hint that he is exploring Rahner’s quest.

  • Brandon R. Peterson says:

    On the title Being Salvation, it’s explained in the introduction and again in much more depth in chapter 1! But I’ll give it a go here too.

    The title does not describe the reader but rather Christ (it is a book on Rahner’s christology and soteriology, after all, and Rahner was quite averse to Pelagianism and made great efforts to safeguard his own theology from it). The cover art, with the Sacred Heart icon of Jesus, should serve as a fairly strong indicator about this Christological purpose of the title as well.

    The “being” (taken from Foundations of Christian Faith, quoted at the heading of the introduction to which you refer in your blog post above) is meant as a counterbalance/supplement to Jesus’ “doing” salvation. Many soteriological schemata (at least in the Christian West) tend to focus on Jesus saving through what he does — e.g. making an act of satisfaction (Anselm) or standing in as a penal substitute (Calvin). Rahner’s soteriology draws on the patristic insight (also recognized by his brother, Hugo) that who Jesus is, as the one who is both fully God and fully human, is itself salvific for us. In other words, Jesus doesn’t just “win” our salvation, but he is our salvation.

  • Mark Moris says:

    N.D. “We are made in the image of God”. Sorry Darth Vader. Feel God’s Force ! P’S “Their is nothing new under the Sun”.

  • Mark Moris says:

    I am a evolving student of God who was Created by God, as All things that are in His Loving Creation.

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