The feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, which we celebrate today, Saturday October 16, reminds us of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It was on December 27, 1673, the Feast of St John the Evangelist, when this French nun of the Visitation Monastery in Paray-le-Monial, received this incomparable grace of seeing the Lord Jesus Himself. Here is the witness Sr Margaret Mary herself gave of this Divine experience in writing:
The Lord said to me, ‘My Divine Heart is so passionately in love with humanity that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its ardent love. It must pour them out through [you], and manifest itself to them with its precious treasures, which contain all the graces which they need to be saved.
The Lord’s love for us, sinners, is not just empty words but, and as a matter of fact, they are translated into sound promises which he is supremely glad to fulfil on our behalf. In fact, when Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St Margaret Mary between 1673-1675, among the words he told her, he made twelve promises to those who would respond to the supplicating of His Heart and make an effort to return His love. Here are the promises Jesus gave to St Margaret Mary:
- I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
- I will establish peace in their homes.
- I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
- I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
- I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
- Sinners will find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
- Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
- I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart is exposed and honored.
- I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
- Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart.
- I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in My disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
This incredible almost unbelievable love of Jesus for us led St Margaret Mary to conclude:
I do not know of any other exercise in the spiritual life that is more calculated to raise a soul in a short amount of time to the height of perfection and to make it taste the true sweetness to be found in the service of Jesus Christ.
In her teachings St Margaret Mary Alacoque keeps showing us Jesus’ most loving and tender heart. She tells us: Our Lord Jesus Christ desires that we should, for sanctifying ourselves, glorify His all-loving Heart; for it was His Heart that suffered the most in His Sacred Humanity.
Jesus’ most Sacred Heart is our school of loving like Him! Most particularly our persecutors! St Margaret Mary advises you and me: Conform yourself as closely as possible to His humility and gentleness in dealing with your neighbor. . . Love those who humble and contradict you, for they are more useful to your perfection than those who flatter you. Moreover, Jesus’ Heart is the powerhouse for our peace in times of any sort of trouble which comes along our way. This holy French nun teaches us: Hope in His goodness and redouble your confidence in proportion as your troubles increase.
Jesus’ most loving and tender Heart can greatly help us to be God-focused as we encounter Him in our hearts during our short earthly lives. She gives us the following observation: We should always look to God as in ourselves, no matter in what manner we meditate upon Him, so as to accustom ourselves to dwell in His divine presence. For when we behold Him within our souls, all our powers and faculties, and even our senses, are recollected within us. If we look at God apart from ourselves we are easily distracted by exterior objects.
Jesus’ most loving and tender heart empowers us to avoid sin at all costs. St Margaret Mary reflects: I think that this fear which Our Lord makes you feel is the result of His very great love for you; for seeing that your love for Him is not powerful enough to make you do good and avoid evil, He mingles fear with love, that the two together may make you do what He desires of you.
If we really love Jesus most loving and tender heart we die to ourselves and love and serve Jesus in our neighbour, especially in those who are suffering. Alacoque notes: You see plainly that I do not mean to advise you to perform great austerities, but rather generously to mortify your passions and inclinations, detaching your heart and emptying it of all that is earthly, and exercising charity towards your neighbor and liberality towards the poor.
Complete trust in Jesus’ most loving and tender heart also means letting it convert us in its divine peace. St Margaret Mary encourages you and me with these words: Keep your heart in peace and let nothing trouble you, not even your faults. You must humble yourself and amend them peacefully, without being discouraged or cast down, for God’s dwelling is in peace. Hence, let us keep detaching ourselves from every affection towards others and ourselves. Sr Margaret Mary explains to us: If we wish to have the love of the Divine Heart as our guest, we must empty and detach our heart from its affection for creatures and for ourselves.
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is an assurance that Jesus is with us even, and especially, in the most troubling moments of our lives. St Margaret Mary tells us: We can tell Him all the secrets of our heart, disclosing our want and misery to Him Who alone can remedy them, and saying: O Friend of my heart, she whom Thou lovest is sick. Visit and heal me, for I well know that Thou canst not love me and yet leave me alone in my distress.
Finally, Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart convinces us not to attack, accuse or judge others save ourselves. She wisely counsels us: Be humble towards God and gentle with your neighbor. Judge and accuse no one but yourself, and ever excuse others. Speak of God always to praise and glorify Him, speak of your neighbor only with respect — do not speak of yourself at all, either well or ill.
In his homily marking the special Jubilee of Mercy for Priests of June 3, 2016, Pope Francis states: The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.
Let us daily consecrate ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the very same words of St Margaret Mary Alacoque!
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying Thee. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to Thee, and to do all for Thy love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease Thee.
I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in Thee, O Heart of Love, I hope all from Thine infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist Thee. Imprint Thy pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget Thee or be separated from Thee.
I beseech Thee, through Thine infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Thy Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of Thy devoted servants.