Spirituality for Today – February 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 7

Pure and Perfect

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Defined by its overall function, repairing it in a car would send an automobile mechanic directly to the water pump; repairing this item in a human body would send a doctor directly to the heart. This marvelous muscle performs an amazing amount of work during a person's average lifetime. In the course of nearly three billion beats, the human heart will pump a volume of blood equivalent to the storing capacity of a supertanker— three times! Obviously, when a heart is diseased or damaged, the need for resolution of the problem is immediate.

A photo of a model of the human heart

There is a true story told by a husband and wife who had to face the most serious of heart conditions   the need of a transplant. The husband had a heart so damaged that only a new heart would save his life. His wife had great devotion   appropriately   to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The 17th Century French nun, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque claimed to have visions of Jesus who called the faithful to turn to the love and mercy poured out through his sacred heart. The nun worked tirelessly to advance the need to pray to Jesus with emphasis on his loving heart. She attained the sobriquet   Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Catholics are familiar with the pictures of Jesus revealing his Sacred Heart and the Novena to the Sacred Heart. The wife placed the image of the Sacred Heart in her husband's room and told him to pray with her and to place his trust in Jesus. She was fond of saying that the doctor's would find a heart for him that was as "pure and perfect" as Our Lord's.

Time passed. The husband began to weary in spirit. He was losing hope that they would find a heart for him. The unflagging faith of his wife, however, gave him encouragement. Finally, the call came and he was rushed to the hospital for the long and perilous operation that would place a new heart in his chest. The operation was a success. The poignant aspect of this story came soon in the process of his recovery. He and his wife were talking as he convalesced in his hospital room. A nurse entered and spoke of the heart that he had received: "I have never seen such a pure and perfect heart." They were stunned at hearing the exact words that the wife had said to her husband regarding the heart that she was confident would be found for him.

Purity and perfection appear to the mind as ideals of beauty and grace, and of the highest manifestation of human potential and of divine perception. The image of that fleshy pump somehow embodies the notions of love, of compassion, of mercy, and of all that is noble in human nature. William Wordsworth's short poem My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold recalls how the beauty of nature touches and teaches the heart of a child and becomes rooted there. The vision of a rainbow awakens that pure and perfect ideal in the adult Wordsworth. One of his verses proclaim that the "Child is father of the Man." A person's oldest and most formative experiences occur in childhood and work to fashion the adult. If in the heart of the child there is placed the faith, and hope, and love of God, how much greater the possibility of something "pure and perfect" functioning in the heart of the adult.

The man's wife prayed for her husband's cure through the instrumentality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus   the image of God's love, mercy, and salvation. Perhaps, the most profound actions of life originate from that which is heartfelt. Yet, reason counsels against following the desires and passions of the heart lest they result in folly. Weighing the pure goodness and perfect virtue of the heart very well may entail that devout wife's admonition to her husband to trust in Jesus. Trust in the acts of human creativity and purpose that seek their approbation, their purity, and their perfection in the living and present Truth of Christ.