It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Sacred Heart, and that’s almost a travesty given that this is a blog dedicated to the Most Adorable Heart of Jesus! In reparation for this neglect, I would like to postulate an idea surrounding the actualizing principle, or esse, and the role of the Sacred Heart. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s define the philosophical principles known as ens, esse, and essentia.
Ens is a Latin term from scholastic theology which pertains to Being, or that which is. Being is the composition of a subject that is and to which the act of being belongs. This brings me to our next term, esse. Esse is the act of Being, or what moves a thing to be. Given the definition of ens above, we can see that it plays a vital role to the existence of a thing. Lastly, there is essentia which is commonly referred to as “essence.” Essentia is that which makes a thing to be what it is. So, you could think of the blueprint of a building as the essentia, the act of constructing the building as esse, and the completed building itself as the ens. Each of these philosophical terms relies on the other for a thing to come into existence, to be made actual.
What does this have to do with the Sacred Heart? Well, I would like to focus on the act of being or esse. Since esse is the actualizing principle between potential being and actual being, it can be viewed as an emanation from the Godhead. One way of looking at the Godhead is to see It as the Good Itself. Goodness being properly defined as the positive act of being, whereas evil would be a negation of an act of being. Therefore, to bring a thing from non-being to being is a good act. By this rationale, esse could be viewed as “goodness.” But I don’t think this quite yet reaches the function of the Sacred Heart with the nature of Being. Another way to look at an act of good is through love. Love is classically defined as “willing the good of another,” to bring about a perfection in someone else. And since to bring something into being is an ontologically “good act,” and to will the good is love, we can infer from this that esse, the act of Being, is Love. In other words, the esse is the act of Divine Love. God thinks of a creature, and He loves that creature, so this positive act of the Divine Will brings that creature into existence.
“The universe, as represented by St. Thomas, is not a mass of inert bodies passively moved by a force which passes through them, but a collection of active beings each enjoying an efficacy delegated to it by God along with actual being. At the first beginning of a world like this, we have to place no so much a force being exercised as an infinite goodness communicated. Love is the unfathomable source of all causality.”Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. 1994, pg. 183
Love, in this sense, is at the center of everything. Not in the sentimental notion which currently poison the post-conciliar Church and modernity, but pure Divine love of God. The desire for the Ultimate Good for oneself and the Ultimate Good of all others. To seek the Good for self is to seek the Good for all, as we can see through the words of Our Lord’s Great Commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself. Charity is the key to everything, as it allows all things to be. Without Love, there is a deficiency in creatures, a blight, an imperfection. And this is the core of God’s actualizing esse. Esse is Love.
The act of Being does not stop just at bringing a creature into existence, but also serves as how all creatures are perfected. Esse draws the creature upward to the Good, it works to make them better fulfill their essence. And since esse can be correlated to Divine Love, we can see that the Divine Charity, or Heart of God is at the center of all things. To adore, love, and worship the Heart of Jesus is to glorify Being, or the pure Essence of God.
As the flames of love expand forth from the Heart of Christ for all men, so we can see the function of the Divine Emanations, which is characterized as a fire. In the images of the Sacred Heart, there is a light and flame which expresses the overflow of Divine Love for men, signifying the effect of Divine Love in realizing and perfecting mankind. To grow close to this flame is to accept the actualizing effects of God on the soul, to grow in love of Christ is to grow in perfection. And to seek to transform one’s heart into the Sacred Heart is to conform to the Will of God of sharing in the Divinity of Christ.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is an important part of this perfecting esse as it purifies the hearts of men as required to ascend to the Divine Presence. Detachment from the vanities of this world removes those snares which can retard or halt our upward ascent to God. Detachment from self can allow us to ascend beyond this world. And pure love of God, who is love and love is Being, allows us to finally ascend beyond the mind or the self to the Divine Presence. Transforming the heart of the pious soul into the Immaculate and Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The sheerest way to attain that love of God essential to the Catholic life is to draw close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is by this narrow road that we can come to love the core and center of all Being and attain perfection through openness to the act of Divine Love.
Sources: Being (Ens), Essence (Essentia), and the Act of Being (Esse). Paul Gerard Horrigan, Ph.D., 2013.
The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Etienne Gilson, 1994, pg. 183