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Devotions to the Sacred Heart in The Saint Ambrose Prayerbook

Taking a breather for just a second from recounting travels, let me inject the following —

In response to a question from Ryan Close regarding how the Sacred Heart devotions are presented in The Saint Ambrose Prayerbook:

The text used is identical to that in The Saint Augustine Prayer Book, with two significant exceptions and one or two minor exceptions that I am not convinced aren’t typographical errors (“heaven” instead of “haven”, for example).

The first significant difference is in the introduction. SAugPB says:

This devotion arose only in the seventeenth century. It is directed to that human heart taken by God the Son when he became Man. The heart is the seat of love and the human Heart of Jesus reveals the fundamental fact of religion that God loves us. Devotion to the Sacred Heart bestows a deeper insight into the Divine love and a surer confidence in it. As we see something of God’s love, we shall want to make a return in terms of love and this devotion enables us to express the love of our own hearts. (p. 242)

SAmbPB says, differences in bold:

The Western Orthodox use of this devotion — although the devotion didn’t develop until the 17th century, long after the schism between the East and West — is directed to the compassion of Jesus Christ, represented by His Sacred Heart. The devotion does parallel the Eastern Rite devotion found in The Akathist to the Sweetest Lord Jesus, which has been popular among Eastern Christians for centuries. It is not a devotion to a specific physical organ and body part, anymore than when we say of ourselves, “my heart within me is troubled,” but to Our Lord’s compassionate love for us. The heart is long been taken to be the symbolic seat of love and the Heart of Jesus reveals the fundamental fact of Christianity that God loves us. Devotion to the Sacred Heart bestows a deeper insight into the Divine love and a surer confidence in it. As we see something of God’s love, we shall want to make a return in terms of love and this devotion enables us to express the love of our own hearts. (p. 370)

The other noticeable difference is in the first Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. SAugPB renders it thus:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus! living and life-giving fountain of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, glowing furnace of love! Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Saviour! consume my heart with that fire wherewith thine is ever inflamed; pour down on my soul those graces which flow from thy love, and let my heart be so united with thine that my will may be conformed to thine in all things. Amen. (p. 242)

SAmbPB reads, again differences in bold:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus! living and life-giving fountain of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, glowing furnace of love. Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Saviour, consume my heart with that fire wherewith Thine is ever inflamed; pour from thy love, and let my heart be so united with Thine that my will may be conformed to Thine in all things. Amen. (pp. 370-71)

A couple of slight punctuation and capitalization differences, but the deletion of “those graces which flow” seems very deliberate and intentional. My guess is that the editor wants to eliminate any suggestion of the notion of created grace.

Otherwise, the text is identical, save for some differences in punctuation and capitalization conventions, and the Litany of the Sacred Heart beginning with the Greek Kyrie rather than the English, and containing an appeal to “Heart of Jesus, heaven of repose” rather than “haven of repose”. As I said, I’m not convinced that that’s not a typo.

A more thorough comparison of SAugPB and SAmbPB, to say nothing of a list of errata in this first edition of SAmbPB, is certainly in order; I’ll see if I can do that soon.

Hope this helps.

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6 Responses to “Devotions to the Sacred Heart in <i>The Saint Ambrose Prayerbook</i>”


  1. 1 Ryan Close 22 July 2009 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for this clarification. I know that this is a very controversial position to take, but I am convinced that Western Rite as it is “currently practiced,” especially in the form of the Antiochene Liturgy of St Tikhon is not as fully and gloriously Orthodox as it could be. I thoroughly believe that there should be an Orthodox Catholic Western Rite. Furthermore, I see the necessity of the Tikhon Liturgy as a missional concession to former Episcopalians. But I don’t believe the WR as it is “currently practiced,” is as glorious as it could be, particularly because of the philosophy and attitude of contemporary WR enthusiasts.

    • 2 Richard Barrett 22 July 2009 at 11:07 am

      Controversial or not, I tend to agree with you — at least in the abstract, since I’ve never actually seen a WRO Liturgy in action. The nearest parish is something like seven hours away (Fr. John Fenton’s parish in Detroit).

  2. 3 Ryan Close 22 July 2009 at 11:01 am

    The Western Rite Orthodox rendering of the Devotions to the Sacred Heart demonstrate what I mean. Their philosophy is simply to remove what is non-Orthodox or at least explain it away or preach around it. Of course the “Devotions to the Sacred Heart” can be understood in an Orthodox way, just as the Anglican Anaphora, Canon, or Eucharistic Prayer can be understood in an Orthodox way. But this does not change the fact that the original authors of these texts had very different intentions. In the case of the Anglican Canon, careful comparison of texts shows that Cramner wrote it as a polemical negation of the Roman Canon. In some WR parishes where both the Liturgies of St Gregory and St Tikhon are used side by side no one may notice that what is being said one day is directly contradicted on another day.

  3. 4 Ryan Close 22 July 2009 at 11:05 am

    The same thing with the 17th century “Devotions to the Sacred Heart.” The original authors were not Orthodox and, in the opinion of many Orthodox theologians, may have been expressing a form of Nestorianism by separating the human from the divine for veneration. Of course this is easily explained away and it is true that given proper teaching no WR Orthodox Christian will fall for the heresy of Nestorius, but why this zeal for publicly maintaining manifestly non-Orthodox forms and piety?

  4. 5 Ryan Close 22 July 2009 at 11:09 am

    While I dismiss simplistic objections to the WR that it is “not Byzantine,” I also reject the idea that a WR is somehow more missional or culturally relevant. Of course saints such as St John Maximovich, St Tikhon, and St Raphael Hawaweeny have supported the WR. But we don’t know if these saints would have approved of the WR “as presently practiced” because they were dead before these texts came into existence.

    Why is there such resistance to making the WR better? St Tikhon himself wished to reform the Byzantine Liturgy most notably by making most of the secret prayers audible again. There are many aspects of liturgical and personal piety not strictly in keeping with the Theology of the Orthodox Church among Byzantine Rite Orthodox Christians. Why do we assume that the Western Rite is immune to these problems and thus above further restoration like the rest of the Orthodox liturgical world?

    I love the Western Rite and hope for it’s full and glorious restoration!

  5. 6 Ryan Close 22 July 2009 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for replying. And sorry for the delay. I just re-found this post randomly in a search engine. Fr. John Fenton is one of the Antiochene Western Rite priests I think I respect. Overall I think the Western Rite in ROCOR and Milan is more authentic.


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