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Silenced Hearts (Sacred)

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"Murke's Collected Silences" (Doktor Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen) is a short story by Heinrich Böll, first published in the Frankfurter Hefte in 1955 and in English in 1963. The story examines the relationship between the generations in post-war Germany and the country's post-war surge in religious belief.


The Murke of the title is a psychology graduate whose first job is as editor for the Cultural Department at Broadcasting House. Everything irritates him about the building: "The rugs were impressive, the corridors were impressive, the furniture was impressive, and the pictures were in excellent taste." He takes a little card his mother has sent him, with a picture of the Sacred Heart and "I prayed for you at St. James's Church," and sticks it up in one of the corridors behind an assistant producer's door frame.

Murke begins his days with a "panic-breakfast" by jumping onto the paternoster lift and travelling to the empty space at the top for a brief dose of fear that it might get stuck. He has also started collecting discarded tape – tape containing silence, where the speaker has paused – which he splices together and takes home to listen to in the evening. Soon he advances to recording his girlfriend sitting silently in front of a microphone.

The story centres on Murke's editing of two radio lectures on The Nature of Art by the powerful cultural critic Professor Bur-Malottke, author of "numerous books of a belletristic-philosophical-religious and art-historical nature". Working with Bur-Malottke, Murke "suddenly knew the meaning of hatred":

[H]e hated this great fat, handsome creature whose books – two million three hundred and fifty thousand copies of them – lay around in libraries, bookstores, bookshelves, and bookcases, and not for one second did he dream of suppressing this hatred."

Bur-Malottke had converted to Catholicism in 1945, the high point of post-war German guilt, but now has second thoughts about his Nature of Art tapes, fearing he "might be blamed for contributing to the religious overtones in radio". The tapes contain the word "God" 27 times, and Bur-Malottke wants them changed to "that higher Being Whom we revere", a phrase more consistent with his pre-conversion beliefs. He asks that the technicians record the new words, then splice them in instead of "God", rather than have him re-record the talk.

The editing is complicated by the need to record different cases – nominatives, as well as genitives and vocatives ("of that higher Being Whom we revere" and "O Thou higher Being Whom we revere!") – much to Bur-Malottke's irritation and Murke's satisfaction. Half a minute will have to be cut from each Nature of Art lecture to accommodate the extra words. "It was clear that Bur-Malottke had not thought of these complications; he began to sweat, the grammatical transposition bothered him."

Bur-Malottke pursed his lips toward the muzzle of the mike as if he wanted to kiss it, sweat ran down his face, and through the glass Murke observed with cold detachment the agony that Bur-Malottke was enduring; then he suddenly switched Bur-Malottke off, stopping the moving tape that was recording Bur-Malottke's words and feasted his eyes on the spectacle of Bur-Malottke behind the glass, soundless, like a fat, handsome fish. He switched on his microphone and his voice came quietly into the studio, "I'm sorry, but our tape is defective, and I must ask you to begin again at the beginning, with the nominatives."

Bur-Malottke approaches the director afterwards to ask that the station review all the tapes he has recorded since 1945: "I cannot bear the thought that after my death, tapes may be run off on which I say things I no longer believe. Particularly in some of my political utterances, during the fervor of 1945 ..."

Murke's boss later congratulates him for having been able to sit through Bur-Malottke's lectures. The boss once had to listen three times to a four-hour Hitler speech. When he began the editing he was still a Nazi and by the time he had finished he wasn't – "a drastic cure ... but very effective".

A technician gives 12 of Bur-Malottke's "Gods" to an assistant producer who is editing a play about an atheist whose questions are answered by silence. "Atheist (louder still): 'And who will remember me when I have turned into leaves?' (Silence)." The producer wishes he had a voice saying "God" at those points, and is amazed when the technician hands him Murke's tin of "Gods" ("you really are a godsend"). The technician resolves to keep the producer's spare silences for Murke's collection. There had been no silences at all in Bur-Malottke's Nature of Art lectures.

The story ends with the producer taking a crumbled piece of paper out of his pocket ("Funny, isn't it, the corny stuff you can come across in this place?"), the card Murke had stuck in his door frame earlier that day: "I prayed for you at St. James's Church."



Sacred Heart

The devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, taking Jesus Christs physical heart as the representation of His divine love for humanity. This devotion is predominantly used in the Roman Catholic Church and among some high-church Anglicans and Lutherans, the devotion is especially concerned with what the Church deems to be the love and compassion of the heart of Christ towards humanity, and its long suffering. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism. The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross. Sometimes the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart, the wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

Historically the devotion to the Sacred Heart is an outgrowth of devotion to what is believed to be Christs sacred humanity, there is nothing to indicate that, during the first ten centuries of Christianity, any worship was rendered to the wounded Heart of Jesus. Devotion to the Sacred Heart developed out of the devotion to the Holy Wounds, the first indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart are found in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Saint Bernard said that the piercing of Christs side revealed his goodness, the earliest known hymn to the Sacred Heart, Summi Regis Cor Aveto is believed to have been written by the Norbertine, Blessed Herman Joseph of Cologne, Germany. This hymn begins, I hail Thee kingly Heart most high, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the devotion was propagated but it did not seem to have developed in itself. It was everywhere practised by individuals and by different religious congregations, such as the Franciscans, among the Franciscans the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has its champions in Saint Bonaventure in his Vitis Mystica, B.

John de la Verna and the Franciscan Tertiary Saint Jean Eudes, Bonaventure wrote, "Who is there who would not love this wounded heart. Who would not love in return Him, who loves so much." It was, nevertheless, in the sixteenth century, the devotion passed from the domain of mysticism into that of Christian asceticism. The historical record from that shows an early bringing to light of the devotion. Ascetic writers spoke of it, especially those of the Society of Jesus, the first to establish the theological basis for the devotion was Polish Jesuit Kasper Drużbicki in his book Meta cordium - Cor Jesu. Not much Jean Eudes wrote an Office, and promoted a feast for it, père Eudes was the apostle of the Heart of Mary, but in his devotion to the Immaculate Heart there was a share for the Heart of Jesus. Little by little, the devotion to the two Hearts became distinct, and on August 31,1670, the first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated in the Grand Seminary of Rennes. Coutances followed suit on October 20, a day with which the Eudist feast was from on to be connected, the feast soon spread to other dioceses, and the devotion was likewise adopted in various religious communities.

It gradually came into contact with the devotion begun by Margaret Mary Alacoque at Paray-le-Monial, according to Thomas Merton, Saint Lutgarde, a Cistercian mystic of Aywieres, Belgium was one of the great precursors of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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