Today in Canada we celebrate Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (+1690), a contemplative nun in France, who from childhood devoted herself to God, with some rather intense asceticism, and entered the Order of the Visitation in 1671. She was subject to various humiliations, including the delaying of her profession; she was assigned to work in the infirmary, the other Sisters being impatient at times with her perceived incompetence, but the good Sister persevered, and her patience, piety and zeal eventually won her acceptance. Soon afterward, starting in December 1673, and continuing for a year and a half, Sister Margaret began to receive remarkable visions and revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, emphasizing the very human love the Son of God has for us, a necessary antidote to the rigorous and cold Jansenism which was then infecting hearts and souls. The devotion to Christ’s human heart – symbolic of His infinite and always available love and mercy – met with much opposition from a France mired in the rigoristic heresy of Jansenism, but, with the help of her confessor, who is also canonized, the Jesuit priest Claude de la Colombiere, soon spread throughout the world.
She died on October 17th, in 1690. A year prior, the good Sister had exhorted the King of France, Louis XIV, to consecrate the nation to the Sacred Heart, with blessings and graces to follow, and dire warning if this were not carried out. This, tragically, the dissolute and distracted monarch failed to do, as did his successors, the XVth and XVIth. During the latter’s reign one hundred years later, the French Revolution broke out in 1789, crushing the Church.
But we hope, and pray, that God brings good out of all things, and trust in the Heart of His Son, the very Incarnation of the Love and Truth.