Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Act of Consecration

Some may remember my post on the Belgian mystic Berthe Petit. According to Berthe, Christ requested the consecration of the world to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. During World War I, she also reported that Christ desired the solemn consecration of Belgium and England to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. This was the formula she believed Our Lord had revealed to her:
O Lord Jesus, Who on Calvary and in the Holy Eucharist hast shown Thyself to us as God of Love and Mercy, kneeling humbly at Thy feet we adore Thee and beg once more for Thy forgiveness and Thy divine pity. And remembering that by Thine own act on Calvary, the human race, represented by Thy beloved disciple John, gained a Mother in the Virgin of Sorrows, we desire to honour the sufferings and woes of our Mother's Heart by devoting ourselves to it in solemn Consecration.

It is but just O Mary, that our souls should strive henceforth to venerate thee with special homage under the title of Thy Sorrowful Heart, a title won by sharing in the whole Passion of thy Son and thus co-operating in the work of our redemption - a title due to thee in justice, and dear, we believe, to Jesus and to thine own Heart, torn by the wound in His.

We consecrate therefore, O Mary, to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart ourselves, our families, our country and those who are fighting for its honour. Have pity on us; see our tribulations, and the anguish of our hearts in the midst of the mourning and calamities that lay waste the world. Deign, O Mother of God, to obtain mercy for us that, being converted and purified by sorrow, and made strong in faith, we may henceforth be devoted servants of Jesus Christ and His Church, for whose triumph we pray. O Mary Immaculate, we promise to be faithful clients of thy Sorrowful Heart. Intercede for us, we beseech thee, with thy Son that, at the cry of thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, His divine Power may speedily bring to pass the triumph of right and justice.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have pity on us.
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us and save us.

(The Art of Divine Love or Berthe Petit, Rev. I Duffer, M.S.C, 2003, p. 37)
Berthe was always highly respected by the church authorities, and England's Cardinal Bourne solemnly performed the consecration as she had urged. Belgium's Cardinal Mercier, however, did not. Apparently, he privately consecrated Belgium to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, but never in a public, solemn manner. What a pity. I do not see what harm it could have done, and it might have helped Belgium in the decades to come...


MadMonarchist said...

That's a shame. I've always liked what I heard about the Cardinal -of course that concerns only the WW1 period.

May said...

Some day I hope to post on Mercier himself. I used to think well of him, but now am not so sure. I've heard claims he was influenced by Modernism, and this may have affected his attempts at "ecumenism"- talks with the Anglicans and so forth. (Not that I'm against dialogue and attempts at reconciliation, but one cannot compromise the truth to achieve this). In one biography of Mercier, if I remember correctly, he is said to have blessed a young Protestant German soldier (in the last days of WW1, when the Germans were retreating) saying it was a "blessing from one man who tried to do his duty, to another." That may sound nice but it completely passes over the fact that this was a Catholic Bishop, attempting to bless a man who, however well-intentioned, belonged to a (from the Catholic viewpoint) heretical sect. We are not even supposed to pray together with heretics. Maybe I sound fussy but, smoothing over all these differences with a vague sense of "we are all men of good will here" does seem characteristic of Modernism.

Mercier certainly seemed very inspiring during the war and occupation, however, I know the King actually had some conflicts with him over the right line to take...he considered Mercier's attitude might actually make the Belgians' situation worse by inviting German reprisals, and that the Cardinal should be more moderate in his tone. As I recall, the King wrote in his diary: "A Cardinal ought to be an element of moderation..."

Also, Albert seems to have thought that Mercier was too intransigent about conditions for a possible peace, and even wrote him a long letter explaining that the Belgians' only war aims ought to be restoration of their independence, compensation for damages, etc. He also said: "Even when you are in your rights and have suffered injustices, there can be a certain intransigence which approaches pride." He emphasized that Belgium's role would be most beautiful if after following the "way of honor" in defending her neutrality, she could contribute to the reconciliation between the warring powers. He seemed to think Mercier was too willing to go along with all the Allies' more intransigent or harsher war aims. In any case, it seems odd that the King should have to be preaching to the Cardinal.

I'm no expert on Mercier, and will have to find out more, but some things make me wonder...then there is this odd failure to make the consecration as requested- you would think someone devoted to God, King and Country, as the Cardinal claimed to be, would be eager to fulfill this request...