Sacred Heart: Rudolf Steiner and the Living Christian Tradition

In my endeavor to unite anthroposophy with the living stream of Christian tradition within myself, what is becoming increasingly important for me is a devotion to the Sacred Heart. This approach will no doubt sound strange to many ears, whether those ears are Anglican or anthroposophical. Yet this devotion is as old as the beginning of Christianity itself, when at the Last Supper the Beloved Disciple lay his head on the breast of Christ Jesus and listened to the heartbeat of humanity. We can consider these words of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, concerning this picture of head uniting with heart:

“The progress of humanity,” says Rudolf Steiner, “is from unconscious spirituality (pre-Christian), through intellectualism (the present age), to conscious spirituality, where the astral [i.e. the affective or feeling] and intellectual faculties unite once more and become dynamic through the power of the Spirit of Love, divine and human. In this sense, theology will tend to become theosophy” (An Esoteric Cosmology, Steinerbooks, 2008, p. 5). In other words we could fairly say that theology will tend to become the Holy Wisdom of God.

Or we can consider these words from Martin Israel, an English pathologist, Anglican priest, spiritual director, and author of numerous books on Christian life and teaching: “When we are healed of inner disorder, we ourselves can provide the chalice into which the wine of God may be poured. The wine itself is changed into the person of Christ, whose sacred heart is the pearl. To its precincts we proceed with awe and quiet joy. In the end we find the pearl in our own hearts as we give of ourselves in love to serve the world around us.” (The Pearl of Great Price, SPCK, 1988, p xiv).

Therefore, “to give of myself in love to serve the world around me”, I say every morning the following prayer:

In love and devotion I turn to Thee,
O Lord Jesus Christ,
And pray that through the consecration to Thy Sacred Heart
I become immersed in the stream of Divine Love and Mercy
flowing in the Blood and Water from Thy Sacred Heart –
In the Water that makes the soul righteous,
And in the Blood that is for the life of the soul.
Set Thy Sacred Heart in place of my heart,
That I be filled with Thy Divine Love and Mercy –
In the sign of the Rose Cross,
Whose Roses are the new Life bestowed through
The blood flowing from Thy Sacred Wounds.
Fulfill my prayer that the powers of evil withdraw from me,
And the Life of Shamballa flow into me. 
Lord, have mercy,
Christ, have mercy,
Lord, have mercy,
Grant us Thy peace. 

(See Robert Powell, Sophia Grail Circle: Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sophia & Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, Sophia Foundation of North America, 2007).

I say this prayer after the morning meditation as given by Steiner (Main Exercise and Subsidiary Exercises) in connection with the Lord’s Prayer study course/Our Mother study course as offered by the Sophia Foundation of North America. As a daily practice this has become for me a form of Holy Eucharist, an intimation of which I warmly now share with you, dear Reader:

In purest outpoured light shimmers the Godhead of the world (Transfiguration: Gospel).

In purest love toward all that lives radiates the Godhood of my soul (Crucifixion: Offertory).

 I rest within the Godhead of the world (Resurrection: Consecration).

There shall I find myself, within the Godhead of the world (Ascension: Communion).

Julian of Norwich (d.1416), the English anchoress and mystic, tells us of the following vision she had: “Then Our Lord looked into His Side and rejoiced. By this sweet look He had me gaze within this Wound. He showed me a fair, delectable place, and large enough for all mankind that shall be saved to rest in peace and in love. And therewith He had me recall His dear-worthy Blood and precious Water which He let pour out for love and He showed His blissful Heart.”

This practice is, for me, a potent way of turning theology into theosophy, the wood of the cross into a rose cross, dogmatic rigidity into the Holy Wisdom of God.

“What, essentially, is theology?” asks Steiner. “A knowledge of God imposed from without under the form of dogma, as a kind of supernatural logic. And what is theosophy? A knowledge of God which blossoms like a flower in the depths of the individual soul. God, having vanished from the world, is reborn in the depths of the human heart” (An Esoteric Cosmology, p. 5).

Or blossoms like seven flowers in the heart, or like seven roses on a cross in the heart, the wood of the cross transforming into the tree of life in the depths of that heart. Devotion to the Sacred Heart! What better way to begin the day – if we seek, that is, to give of ourselves in love to serve the world around us?

“I have come to cast fire upon the earth,” says the Lord, “and what will I but that it be kindled?” (Luke 13:49)

To kindle that fire! What better way to begin anew each day the great work of transforming the Earth into a Sun?

Continues Steiner, “In the Rosicrucian sense, Christianity is at once the highest development of individual freedom and universal religion. There is a community of free souls. The tyranny of dogma is replaced by the radiance of divine Wisdom, embracing intelligence, love and action.” (An Esoteric Cosmology, p. 5).

Although, as said at the beginning, devotion to the Sacred Heart is as old as Christianity itself, we have Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690) to thank for its becoming available to anyone and everyone as a regular religious practice. It was through her – through her visionary experiences of the Christ Jesus, and it was accordingly through His requests of her in these visions – that this practice has been able to flow as a stream of devotion into the living tradition of Christianity. In a time when the heart of Western European humanity was growing cold, Saint Margaret Mary, surely one of the greatest saints of her century, wrote, “The Sacred Heart is a hidden and infinite treasure desiring to manifest Itself, to be poured out and distributed so as to alleviate our distress.” 

Our distress, she says. Western humanity’s distress, Eastern humanity’s distress. In the post 9/11 world the distress of Catholics, the distress of Protestants, the distress of Eastern Orthodox, the distress of the whole of humanity, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews – yes, the distress even of Christian esotericists, by whatever name they might identify themselves. 

“The science which arises from this cannot be measured by its power of abstract reasoning but by its power to bring souls to flower and fruition,” declares Steiner. “That is the difference between Logia and Sophia, between science and divine Wisdom, between theology and theosophy” (ibid).

It is this “science”, i.e., theosophy, as Jacob Boehme tells us, that is “the Root to the fiery Mind, and . . . is in briefe the Root of all Spirituall beginnings, . . . the true Root of Soules [which] proceedeth through every Life, for it is the Ground from whence Life commeth.”

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is nothing less than the heart’s journey toward this hidden science, toward this “root of the fiery Mind”, which is Sophia herself, the Holy Daughter of God, the Wisdom of Creation.

Pax et bonum,
Randall Scott

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5 Responses to Sacred Heart: Rudolf Steiner and the Living Christian Tradition

  1. ianrobertclyne says:

    On the relationship between logia and sophia, the former must serve the latter. The sacrifice of the intellect to the heart. In his work on the Foundation Stone VT speaks of overcoming “the mistake of regarding spiritual science itself as the object of knowledge, whereas in reality the universe is the object, for the knowledge of which spiritual science is the means.”

    • In the same Studies on the Foundation Stone (III, 2) Tomberg says:

      “The power of the I to move from one outlook to another through the twelve ‘signs’ of the zodiac, was designated in antiquity as the power of ‘belief’; that was considered as being of a higher order than knowledge. If the process of cognition consists in attaining a certain outlook, then ‘belief’ transcends this in being able to pass from that outlook to others. It is the power of the I to be a wanderer through the circle of the modes of cognition. And it is this power of ‘belief” which will release mineral nature in the future from the spell of immobility. Hence it could be said in the Gospel (Matthew 17:20) that with faith but of the size of a mustard-seed it would be possible to move mountains.”

      Don’t we see offered here the utimate remedy (or solvent) for the mineral nature of dogmatic rigidity? Don’t we recognize in these words the royal road toward both the ideal of the Church Universal (Catholicism) and the ideal of the Universal Human Being (anthroposophy), reconciling the two outlooks? May mountains of immobility be moved!

  2. DoloresRose Dauenhauer says:

    We all know that “to move a mountain” is a metaphore for “obstacle”, and this obstacle can be anything from a thought to a physical thing in nature. And “to move a mountain” can be seen as a miracle. Rudolf Steiner said that there is no miracle that occurs that does not obey the laws of nature, however you perceive or understand these laws. Rudolf Steiner also said that in the future science will come to see (to prove) the spiritual at work in the physical. Of course, they will deny the spiritual in favor of the nautral, but who will ask the question?
    For example, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. Science can show a weather phenomina that caused this happening and actually show the land formation that was there at the time that lent itself to this miracle. But the question not asked was how did Moses know at this time, and/or in this condition, and exact place, this would occur? Would you call this faith, belief or knowing? Do we need the church for this, although today with the sense of morality and common sense decreasing, church seems to be more and more important. Yet there is still dogma on various levels and I remember a priest telling me that they cannot teach reincarnation and karma at this time.

    • Randall says:

      As long as the theology of Thomas Aquinas is the official theology of the Roman Catholic Church the teaching of karma and reincarnation will remain an impossibility in that church. Why? Because the Angelic Doctor closed the door firmly on any possibility of the pre-existence of the soul, teaching unambiguously that the human soul is created at conception. In any case one must question the wisdom and morality of any section of the Church actually teaching a doctrine of reincarnation, either now or in the future. Even the Christian Community (the movement for religious renewal that Rudolf Steiner helped to establish) is careful not to teach this. The reality of karma and reincarnation belongs to the domain of esoteric (i.e., intimate) experience – one either knows it to be true or not. Otherwise, if it became an exoteric teaching, it would become dogma, i.e., “a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritively affirmed”, a “truth” affirmed authoritatively apart from the personal experience of the vast majority of people. That priest was quite right to answer as he did, although “at this time” begs the question broached above.

  3. Did Aquinas not believe that the soul was created at the time that the embryo could be determined as either male or female – not at conception? I don’t have a reference for this but I do remember reading it when I was a theology student (rather a long time ago though).

    Interesting stuff though. I feel that Steiner asks a lot of the right questions even though I do not agree with all his answers. For example, he is clear that the spiritual claims of the gospel can’t be proven by historical investigation or source criticism. They are an issue of knowing (gnosis) rather than faith (pistis). Where he loses me is when he mentions Atlantis.

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