Reflection on the Litany of the Sacred Heart from the Catechism pt. 22

My dear parishioners,
    Peace! The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the Heart of Jesus variously.  “Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since His Passover.  The phrase ‘heart of Christ’ can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known His heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure” (CCC, 112; cf. Luke 24:25-27, 44-46; Psalm 22:14).  how in view of the incarnation He loves with a human heart, and “the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation ‘is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that … love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings’ without exception” (cf. CCC, 470, 478; John 19:34; Pius XII Encyclical Haurietis aquas). One form of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Here we consider the twenty-third of the thirty-three invocations:  Heart of Jesus, loaded down with opprobrium.
    What does it mean to say that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is loaded down with opprobrium?  Our friends at the Oxford Dictionary point out that “opprobrium” refers to harsh criticism, censure, scorn, public disgrace arising from shameful conduct.  The Latin compound ob + probrum translates as “against + disgraceful act.”  Merriam Webster similarly points out that “opprobrium” refers to something that brings disgrace, especially public disgrace or ill fame that follows from conduct considered grossly wrong or vicious.  In the case of our Lord and His Sacred Heart it is our shameful conduct which are the source of our Lord’s opprobrium.  Whenever we sin, in thought, word, deed or omission it is shameful, disgraceful, grossly wrong and vicious.
    Sacred Scripture is echoed in the Litany.  In 1 Peter 2:24 we read that the Lord Jesus “Himself bore our sins”, which is to say he bore or was loaded down with our opprobrium.  In  Isaiah 53:4-5 the Lord’s Passion is predicted, how He bore “our infirmities and carried our sorrows” how we thought of Him “as one struck by God and afflicted.”  The Crucifixion of the Lord on Good Friday (cf. Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:24-39; Luke 23:33-46; John 19:16-30), when His Sacred Heart was pierced (cf. John 19:31-37; Zechariah 12:10-14), is between Deuteronomy 21:23 (“cursed is He who hangs from the tree” and Galatians 3:13 which cites Deuteronomy adding that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”  There are more than seventy occurrences of “obprobrium” in the Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome e.g. Lamentations 5:1; Psalm 69:8; Isaiah 4; 47:3; Jeremiah 20:8; Sirach 42:11; 1 Samuel 11:2; Judith 5:18.  The Hebrew kalam is sometimes translated as reproach, shame, taunt.  The Greek cherpah/charph translate variously as contumely, disgrace, rebuke, reproach, shame, to carp at, defame.  Fidelity to Christ Jesus and devotion to His Sacred Heart console Him in His Passion and foretell our redemption.
    God bless you!
    Father John Arthur Orr


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