History of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Devotion
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque
Mystic and Visionary of the Sacred Heart
Specially chosen by the Lord to bring the Message of His
Sacred Heart to His children.
“What hast thou, dust and ashes that thou canst glory!”
With these words, Our Lord called Sister Margaret Mary to humility, reminding her that she was His, and that renewed, more powerful devotion to His Sacred Heart was His will and His design, not hers; cautioning her, she was nothing; He is all! She was simply to say Yes! to Him and not become puffed up that He chose her for His will on earth. Are not His words to St. Margaret Mary, to us the Faithful as well, lest we think otherwise and fall? Did not St. Paul tell us that no one may boast; for we have faith, and are part of the Mystical Body of Christ by the Grace of God and His merciful Love.
Our Lord, the Potter, has molded us from clay, from the very beginning. No one has ever been exempt from the need of His Grace and Love. Was this not Our Lord’s way of telling her and us that only two were born holy, without the stain of original sin, Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary? Is He not reminding us that even the Saints, Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists were sinners, subject to Him and His laws? Is He not trying to teach us that they were just souls who fell in love with the Lord, simply brothers and sisters like us, only specially chosen by the Lord for a mission on earth? Are they not to be an example to us of what God can do with our Yes? The choice was theirs; they could have said Yes or No. Here is the story of a sinner who said Yes and became a Saint.
From her earliest years as a child, the Lord prepared this Mystic and future Saint for her mission, by molding her into the vessel necessary to carry out His commands. She wrote in obedience to her spiritual director the following words to her Savior:
“O my only love! How indebted I am to You for having predisposed1 me from my earliest childhood, by becoming the Master and Possessor of my heart, although You well knew how it (my heart) would resist You! As soon as I could know myself, You made my soul see the ugliness of sin, and impressed such horror of sin upon my heart, that the slightest stain caused me unbearable torment; and to put a stop to my childish impetuousness one needed only to tell me it was offending God. This stopped me short, and kept me from doing whatever I was eager to do.”
The Molding of a Saint
Step into the Lord’s special helicopter and fly with us to Paray-le-Monial, a quiet little town with a great message. As we walk through the narrow streets of this quaint village nestled unobtrusively in the center of France, if we are still, we can hear Our Savior’s most passionate cries. Here Our Lord will speak to our hearts just as He did to a little nun in the 17th century, over a period of 17 years. Here, in a small Chapel, Our Lord shared His Sacred Heart, wounded and bleeding, because of His Love, unreturned.
Shhh! Pause a moment! You can still feel the presence of our Lord Jesus, as you climb up the steps to the Chapel. But not so keenly as when you enter the Chapel. He is here, a faithful God to an unfaithful people. Our Lord Who asked Margaret Mary to share His message of Love with those who had grown cold, who had traded Him in for lesser gods, He is here! You can hear Him with the ears of your heart, as He once again cries out that tremendous love that drew Him to become Man and suffer death on a Cross. He is the same God Who showed His wounded Sacred Heart to Margaret Mary, revealing the pain He feels because of the neglect and apathy of the family, for whom He suffered and died, the same One Who commissioned her to tell us that His Heart, pierced on the Cross, still bleeds out of love for us, His ungrateful children. “My enemies placed a Crown of Thorns on My Head, My friends on My Heart.”
Be still; close off all the distractions of the world and come with us into the real world of Jesus Christ. According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort, it most assuredly appears that we are in the days of great Saints. If your heart’s desire is to be a Saint, come with us, as we share with you, the life and visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the little nun who would suffer greatly and willingly for her Savior.
Margaret Mary consecrated herself to her Lord as His bride
Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in Charolles, a farming village bout twenty miles away from Paray-le-Monial, on July 25, 1647. Little did her family know when she was born, how powerfully the Lord would use her one day; nor did they have any idea that she was to be the instrument, He would use to bring about renewed2 devotion to His Sacred Heart, and the nine first Fridays.
Our little future Saint was baptized three days after she was born, in the little parish church of Charolles. Between the ages of four and eight, she spent much time at her godmother’s chateau. The saintly woman taught her the Faith, greatly influencing her future walk towards Jesus. At the age of four and a half, Margaret Mary made a vow of perpetual virginity in front of the statue of Our Lady in her godmother’s garden. She later wrote:
“Without knowing what it was, I continually felt the need to say these words: ‘Oh my God, I consecrate my purity to You.’ Once, I said these words between the two elevations of the Holy Mass, which I usually attended on my bare knees, however cold it might be. I did not understand what I had done, or what the word ‘vow’ meant either, any more than what chastity meant. My only desire was to hide in some forest, and the only thing that held me back was the fear of finding people there.”
Margaret Mary, first as a child and then as a young adult, spent long hours on her knees, adoring Our Lord Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament in her far-off parish church. The first nine years of her life were filled with joy and a family steeped in spirituality, praying the Rosary and going to Mass together. But this was to come to a devastating end. When her father died, Margaret’s only consolation was the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. But even that would be denied her. After his death, her whole family was left under the control of her father’s brother. As their home was jointly owned by her father and her uncle, Margaret Mary, her mother and two brothers were forced into a life of servitude, their uncle taking over full control of the property and his family treating them worse than servants.
By the grace of God, Margaret Mary was sent away to the Urbanist Poor Clares of Charolles, where at age nine she received First Holy Communion. She writes:
“I was placed in a house of Religious where I received Communion when I was about nine years old; this Communion made all pleasures and amusements so bitter to me that I could not enjoy any of them, even though I sought them eagerly. But when I wanted to engage in some of them with my companions, I felt something draw me away and call me into some little corner, giving me no rest until I complied. And then, it would make me pray, almost prostrate, or on my bare knees, or making genuflections, providing no one saw me. It caused me strange torment when someone saw me.”
Margaret Mary was strongly influenced by the nuns, and the stories they told of the Saints at the convent school she attended. Considering all nuns to be Saints, she watched them closely, believing if she became a nun, she too would become a Saint. This special time was to end for Margaret Mary when, at eleven years of age, she became ill and had to return to her home. She was struck down by a crippling rheumatism that would confine her to the prison of her bed for the next four years. Bedridden and with no sign of relief, recovery seeming hopeless, Margaret Mary prayed to the Virgin Mary. She made a vow, if Mother Mary would intercede for her to her Son, she would someday become one of her nuns. Margaret was immediately cured! Now under our Lady’s Mantle, Mary would be there for her in the difficult days ahead. She instructed Margaret in the ways and Will of her Son:
“The most Blessed Virgin Mary has always taken the greatest care of me, who turned to her in all my needs; she saved me from very great dangers. I didn’t dare address myself to her Divine Son at all, but always to her, to whom I offered the little crown of the Rosary (five decades of the Rosary) kneeling on my bare knees, or genuflecting and kissing the ground each time I said a `Hail Mary.’”
To Margaret Mary, her vow to the Blessed Mother to be one of her daughters as a nun, meant becoming a nun of the Order of the Visitation, because these nuns were called “Daughters of Mary.”
But nine years elapsed before she asked for admittance to the Order. What happened to the child who had made a vow to the Lord at four and a half years old, and the girl who had made a promise to Mother Mary to be one of her daughters?
As with so many of us, she was healed through the intercession of Mother Mary, and then she went about her life enjoying her great health, not paying much attention to, if even remembering, the vows she had made. But God had a plan for her and He executed it, taking away all earthly pleasures from Margaret Mary from age fifteen until she reached eighteen.
The persecution suffered by her mother at the hands of her father’s family was now to be shared by Margaret Mary, with even the family’s servant inflicting insults on them and taking delight in their acts of tyranny. Mother and daughter could do nothing or go nowhere without prior permission of at least three persons. Everything was under lock and key, often depriving them of something presentable to wear to go to Mass. Without any earthly consolation, Margaret Mary again turned to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At that time she had no knowledge of devotion to the Sacred Heart. But even the Lord in His Real Presence was to be denied her. When one of her familial jailers agreed she could go to church and spend time with the Blessed Sacrament, the other two refused. When Margaret Mary begged to be allowed to go to Mass, she was accused of wanting to sneak off and meet young boys.
Unable to be with her Lord present on the Altar during Mass, or afterward when He awaited her in the Tabernacle, Margaret Mary went off to a secret place and stayed days on her knees, pouring out her heart to her Lord Jesus through the intercession of Mother Mary. Margaret Mary neither ate nor drank; she was so engulfed in their love and consolation, it was enough for her. But when she returned home, the recriminations began, again. The family took turns berating her, inflicting abuse upon abuse, never giving her an opportunity to say a word in her defense. They accused her of misconduct and selfishness, leaving the house, neglecting the children (the uncle’s children) in her care and not doing her household duties. Crying, her heart breaking, Margaret Mary turned to her Lord on the Crucifix.
The Crucifix speaks to Margaret Mary
Our Lord told Margaret Mary He wanted to be Master of her heart; that it was only through sharing His life of suffering, she could ever be one with Him; it was only from unity with the Cross that she could understand the love that He had for His children which strengthened Him to endure the pain and the rejection, He suffered at their hands and from their hearts. As she came to understand the Cross, she was not only able to forgive her tormentors, she began to look forward to the pain they inflicted on her. But Our Lord was careful to remind her always that it was only through His grace that she could love them, desire to do for them and to speak kindly of them.
Margaret was to carry ongoing, excruciating crosses in her walk with Jesus. One of the most painful was the one ladened down by the suffering of her mother, at the hands of the family who never let up, in their pursuit of cruelty toward mother and daughter. Although Margaret Mary had through Jesus been able to grow in sanctity, achieving peace as she accepted and even welcomed the abuse she received at the hands of her persecutors, her mother’s suffering was a pain that ripped away at her whole being. It would cause her great anguish when she would be called to choose between the Lord and His will and her mother’s Purgatory on earth. Just when she thought her world could not get any more traumatic, that nothing could happen to equal the agony she endured, as she watched her mother dying inch by inch from abuse, her two brothers died.
Margaret Mary turned more and more to the Lord in His Eucharist, desiring frequent Holy Communions and time before the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord Jesus taught her how to talk to Him and listen to Him, preparing her to receive the message He would entrust to her.
“His goodness kept me so completely engrossed in the pursuit of `mental prayer’3 that it gave me a distaste for vocal prayers which I could never say before the Blessed Sacrament, where I felt so completely engrossed, I was never bored.”
Very often, we are so busy talking to the Lord, we do not hear the Lord speaking to us. We need to spend quiet time with Him, to just be with Him, to spend one hour with Him, as He asked of the Apostles, consoling Him with our presence for all those who do not believe and hurt Him with their disbelief. Margaret Mary was so completely consumed by the Lord and His Presence, she could spend hours before Him, not eating or drinking. Although it caused 11
her embarrassment, she would go up to the Altar, kneeling as close as she could to the Blessed Sacrament. She considered herself specially blessed by the Lord to be able to do so.
Margaret Mary - new temptations and crosses
Our Lord Jesus required much discipline of Margaret Mary. To those whom much is given, much is required. Margaret Mary’s vow of chastity, given when she was four and a half years old, never died or even waned. But her mother, who depended on Margaret Mary marrying to get her out of this life of servitude and cruelty, tried to dissuade her daughter from a vocation as a religious. Although Margaret Mary had this gnawing desire to be a Bride of Christ, she felt herself being pulled in two directions - the Lord on one side, her mother and her needs on the other.
She tried to drown out the sound of the Lord knocking at the door of her heart. When she decided to accept her father’s family’s decision to marry, her persecution ceased. They began not only to give permission for her to go out, they encouraged her, dressing her in the finest clothes. Margaret Mary writes that at this time, she committed a crime she would grieve over the rest of her life. When she was a teenager, trying to please the family, she went to a carnival. She took part in the masquerade and dressed in an ornate costume. Right in the midst of the festivities, Jesus appeared to her, scourged from head to toe, His precious skin hanging helplessly, almost falling away from His Body scarred and bruised, ropes painfully rubbing against His hands. His Eyes were hurt as they pierced her heart. He told her that He suffered those wounds and hurts because she had dressed in that fashion, not only because of the worldliness of her attire, but because she had chosen human respect over His Divine Love. Margaret Mary, to the end of her days, considered this one of her greatest sins.
The devil busy at work, never let up; he persisted sending the most eligible suitors to pursue Margaret Mary, the most handsome young men with good and honorable intentions asking for her hand in marriage. This caused her great turmoil. She knew she was consecrated to the Lord and could never be happy separated from Him, but then the devil used as a tool her mother crying constantly, telling Margaret Mary her marriage was her mother’s only hope of escaping this life of misery. A terrible battle raged with God on one side, the devil on the other, and poor Margaret Mary in the middle.
Margaret had many temptations. “Were the vows she took at age four binding? Would it be selfish for her to enter the convent when it meant leaving her mother to suffer never-ending humiliation, abuse and servitude?” A genuine problem was the love that Margaret Mary had for her mother. The devil plagued her with his “How will you be able to be separated from your mother whom you love so tenderly?” So, Margaret Mary went out socially in obedience to the family and loyalty to her mother. She tried to enjoy herself at the parties she attended. But try as she may, she could not, for that Voice within her heart spoke clearly and sternly to His future Bride.
“At night, when I took off those cursed gifts of Satan, those vain adornments, the instruments of his malice, my Sovereign Master would appear to me, as He was in His scourging, all disfigured, reprimanding me in a strange way; that my vanity had reduced Him to this state - and that I was losing such precious time for which He would require a strict accounting at the hour of death; that I was betraying Him, after which He gave me so many proofs of His love and His desire that I conform to Him!”
Margaret sets out to be a Saint
Margaret Mary wanted to be a Saint. She had read the Lives of the Saints and thought they had never sinned. Believing herself the greatest sinner, she used many harsh forms of mortification, to make up for the sins that she felt she had committed when she had put human cares, and acceptance, before her Lord’s Will. Our Lord Jesus came and chastised her, scolding her that she was doing her will and not His, for it was not His desire, she practice these extreme atonements for her sins. He told her she was to remember always that He was the Master of her soul, not she.
He began to infuse her with love and compassion for the poor. She gave what little money she had to poor children. They came back to her and through this, she was able to teach them Catechism, about a God Who cared. As this was not in keeping with her family’s agenda, Margaret Mary lost her freedom, again. Therefore, when she requested permission to teach the children, the answer was No! The excuse given was, the children would dirty the house and soil the furnishings. 13
Margaret Mary tended the sick, ministering especially to those suffering from the most odious, ulcerated sores. Although she was greatly repulsed by the odor and the sight of the open festering lesions, she cared for them with the merciful love she had received from her Lord. At times, when she could barely handle it, when she thought she would be sick, she would kiss their wounds. Our Lord, in turn, protected her from the highly contagious, most transmittable diseases and miraculously healed her patients with no other medication than His Healing Providence.
The battle never ended for Margaret’s hand, the Lord pursuing her and the enemy following right behind trying to entice her with his tricks. But the Lord never gave up, no matter how many times He felt her weaken. Margaret Mary loved life! She was very much like us, falling victim to all the lures and attractions of the world and its promises, falling but also getting up. One day, Our Lord said to her:
“I chose you as My spouse and we promised to be faithful to each other when you made your vow of chastity to Me. It was I who pressed you to make it, before the world had any part of your heart (age four and a half years old), for I wanted it to be perfectly pure and unsullied by earthly affections. And to keep it that way, I removed all the malice from your will so it could not be corrupted. Then I placed you in the care of My Holy Mother, so she might fashion you according to My wishes.”
Margaret Mary’s devotion to Mother Mary continued to grow as she walked the only path to her Lord Jesus through His Mother. In 1667, four years before entering the convent, she vowed to fast every Saturday in honor of Our Blessed Mother, to pray the Office of the Immaculate Conception,4 and recite the seven decades of the Rosary while genuflecting, meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Six years before St. Louis Marie de Montfort was born, Margaret Mary practiced the holy slavery of Mary. She wrote:
“I made myself her slave forever, asking her not to refuse me this role. I used to talk to her simply, like a child to a good Mother for whom I already had a truly tender love.”
Once Margaret Mary decided that she would enter the Convent of the Visitation, attacks began with a fury that made all other bouts with the devil seem like child’s play. He taunted her with, “Poor wretch, you will never persevere. You do not have the stuff to be a holy nun. You and your family will be the laughing-stocks of the village when you give up the habit and leave the convent.”
Although her mother never cried in front of her, everyone told her that her mother wept, every time she spoke of Margaret Mary entering the convent. Well-meaning friends of her mother scolded, she would be the cause of her mother’s death, and that Margaret Mary would have to answer to God for abandoning her.
Just as she was about to succumb to the attacks of the enemy and consider marriage, Mother Mary came to her and scolded her for weakening. Then Our Lord came to her and reminded her of her vow to Him. One day, after she received Communion, Our Lord showed Himself to her as the most handsome, the wealthiest, the most powerful, the most perfect of all spouses. He asked her how, since she had been promised to Him since childhood, she could think of going with another. He remonstrated,
“Oh, know that if you scorn Me in this way, I shall abandon you forever. But if you are faithful to Me, I shall not leave you, and I shall be your victory over all My enemies.”
Now, as with other Mystics, Margaret Mary had a dilemma discerning whether this was from the Lord and His Mother, or was it the work and words of the devil.
“When Jesus said this to me, He instilled such a great calm within me and my soul felt such great peace, that I determined then and there to die rather than change.”
This peace was the sign for Margaret Mary, of the Lord’s presence. The stronger her resolve to become a nun, the more this peace covered her, strengthening and protecting her, breaking the enemy’s hold on her.Home, at last
Margaret Mary would never cease having problems. Even when her family finally accepted her resolve to become a nun, there was strife; they insisted she enter one Religious Community of nuns and she was determined to enter the Convent of the Visitation. She walked through the doors of the Visitation Sisters in Paray-le-Monial on June 20, 1671, to begin her life as a religious and she would never turn back. In the parlor of the convent a warm peace settled over her; she heard inwardly: “This is where I want you!” She answered, she would “never be anywhere else.”
Out of obedience, she shared her desire for humiliation and mortification as well as her “mental prayer” (with the Lord), with her Superiors. Although a former Mother Superior felt strongly that Margaret Mary’s special walk was of the Lord, her taking of vows would be delayed for two and a half months.
During the ten-day retreat in preparation for the ceremony, as Margaret Mary was praying in the garden of the convent, Our Lord Jesus appeared to her. He spoke gently, softly, instructing her in the mystery of His Passion. It was the beginning of a very intimate relationship between Margaret Mary and Our Lord Jesus. He told her,
“Here is the wound in My side, so that you may make of it your present and perpetual dwelling. There you will be able to preserve the robe of innocence in which I have clothed your soul, that you may live henceforth by the life of a God-Man, as though (you are) no longer living, so that I may live perfectly in you.”
Before the day of the ceremony, All Soul’s Day, Margaret Mary knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and begged the Lord’s forgiveness for all the times she had betrayed Him. She then offered herself as a sacrificial victim to Him, her Divine Master. In reply, Our Lord said:
“Remember that it is a crucified God you intend to wed. That is why you must conform to Him, by bidding farewell to all the pleasures of life, for there will be no more pleasures for you except those of the cross.”
Do we want to wed the crucified Lord? Do we want to conform to the crucified Lord? Is this what we mean when we say, we desire to know Our Lord better? Is this the Lord Whom we pray everyone sees, in place of us, when we say “I must decrease and He increase?” Or is it the Lord Who walked on water, the One Who healed, Who preached, the popular Lord Whom everyone followed, the Lord they wanted to make King?
“I belong forever to my beloved; I am forever His slave, His ervant and His creature, since He is all mine, and I am His unworthy spouse, Sister Margaret Mary, dead to the world. Everything from God and nothing from me; everything God’s and nothing for me!”
With these words, on November 6, 1672, having made her vows, Margaret Mary became Sister Margaret Mary, Nun, Bride of Christ and future Saint.
Jesus blesses Margaret with His Presence
One of the greatest blessings Sister Margaret Mary received after her profession was that of now being able to see Jesus her Spouse, to feel Him close to her, to hear Him more clearly than when she had seen and heard Him solely with her heart. She could not bear to turn away from Jesus, even for a moment with His Real Presence so visibly before her. Sometimes, I wonder, do we truly believe that Jesus’ Real Presence is before us, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament, after our priest says the words of consecration? He is present in the Tabernacle or exposed in a Monstrance. Do we spend an hour with Him in Eucharistic Adoration? Do we believe? Are we distracted at these times? Do we believe?
“He promised never to leave me, saying: ‘Always be ready and eager to receive Me, for I want to make My dwelling in you, to converse and talk with you.’”
Is this not what Our Lord says to us, as He opens His Arms and Heart to us, in His Eucharist, every day?
Margaret Mary embarks on the Way of the Cross
Jesus’ gift to Margaret Mary was a mixed blessing, if we look at it with the eyes of the world; it brought her unfathomable joy and peace; it brought her great pain and humiliation from within her Community. They did not embrace this kind of spirituality. They did not understand it or her and so they rejected Margaret, delivering the persecution Jesus spoke of when he addressed those who sacrifice for His sake,
“Amen I say to you, there is no man who has left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the gospel, who shall not receive a hundred times as much, now in this time; houses and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come life everlasting.”5
But because of her obedience to her Superiors and her Community, as with St. Teresa of Avila, she was protected from the heresy of Illuminism.6 Our Lord demanded she be faithful and obedient to even the smallest regulation of religious life. Although she did not fully understand what the Lord was telling her, she shared it all with her Superiors.
Our Lord showed Margaret Mary a large cross, covered with flowers, saying this was the bed prepared for His chaste spouses; He told her the flowers would fall and all that would be left were the thorns which would pierce her so deeply, she would need to summon all her strength from His Love to endure the excruciating pain. Rather than running from the prospect of such agony, Margaret Mary wrote, she longed more and more to join Jesus in the agony of His Passion, to love Him and receive Him often in Holy Communion, and to die so she would be finally united to Him in Paradise. Oftentimes, we are so delighted with God’s gift of roses to us, we fail to recognize His gift of thorns; we embrace the bouquet and reject the thorns.
The devil never left Sister Margaret Mary. He made her fall, caused her to drop things, then taunted her with: “You clumsy fool you; you never do anything worthwhile.” The devil would push her down the stairs, and bruise her seriously; but not one bone would be broken. This was a promise the Lord had made to her and He never goes back on a commitment. The devil would try everything and anything to crush her spirit so totally, she would be too weak to relate everything to Mother Superior. He did this, knowing the only way to block his power over her was by obedience and openness to her Superior.
Margaret Mary receives the First Great Revelation
When Our Lord spoke to Margaret Mary through “interior locutions,” He would bid her to ponder (as Mother Mary before her) on the Wound in His Side. Although all His Wounds brought deep sorrow to Margaret Mary, it was this Wound, this wounded Heart, pierced by Longinus’7 sword which caused her the greatest pain. I wonder if this was not the greatest Wound, the greatest hurt Our Lord suffered, not so much from the sword (as He was already dead) but the pain to His Heart through the rejection of His children. [It reminds us of the time, Our Lord appeared to John of the Woods in Bois Signeur Isaac, His Body covered with welts, bruises, and open bleeding cuts. “(His) Eyes pierced (Lord Isaac’s) eyes... Finally He spoke, “Look how they have mistreated Me.”8]
When Our Lord Jesus showed His Precious Heart, pierced out of love for us, was He preparing Margaret Mary for His mandate: “Tell My children they can soothe My Wounded Heart, through renewed devotion to My Sacred Heart?” Although devotion to the Sacred Heart was not new to the Church, existing in some form or another, many Saints meditating on Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, the Lord chose Margaret Mary to promote this devotion in a way which would touch the hearts of all the faithful. He desired, it become an official devotion throughout His Church, throughout the world, for all time in memoriam.
Up until this time Our Lord had made His will and presence known to Margaret Mary interiorly, but that was to change December 27, 1673. Margaret Mary was twenty-six years old. She had been professed for almost fourteen months. Her job in the Infirmary brought her nothing but rejection, insults and adversity. Her only solace was on her knees, her body pressed against the grill, as close to the Blessed Sacrament as she could get. She found herself enveloped by Our Lord’s heavenly presence. “He opened His Heart” to her “for the first time.” He said,
“My Divine Heart so passionately loves all men and you in particular that, no longer able to contain the flame of its burning charity (love), it has to pour forth through you, and it must manifest itself to them, to enrich them with its precious treasures, which I am revealing to you, and which contains the sanctifying and salutary graces necessary to snatch them away from the abyss of perdition (sin). And I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the fulfillment of this great plan, so that everything may be accomplished by Me alone.”
“After that, He asked me to give Him my heart, which I begged Him to take, and this He did. He placed it within His own adorable Heart, in which He made me see my heart as a tiny atom being consumed in this flaming furnace, and then, drawing it out like an intense flame in the form of a heart, He put it back where he had taken it, saying to me: ‘Beloved, here is a precious pledge of My Love, which implants in your side a tiny spark of its most intense flames, so as to serve as your heart and consume you until the last moment;....its intensity will not die out or find refreshment except to a small degree in bloodletting,9 which I shall mark so completely with the Blood of My Cross,....it will bring you more humiliation and suffering than relief. That is why I want (you) to practice what is commanded of you by the rule, so as to give you the consolation of shedding your blood on the cross of humiliations. Although I have closed the wound in your side, you will feel the pain of it forever, and although you have taken only the name of My slave, I now call you the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart.’”
With this revelation of her future mission, Jesus made it plain to Margaret Mary that He had chosen her, but to save her from any slight possibility of pride in Him having chosen her, He revealed she was totally unworthy and ignorant. We hear again the message of Saint Bernadette when she said if the Blessed Mother could have found someone less worthy and more stupid, she would have chosen her instead of Bernadette.
Margaret Mary receives the Second Great Revelation
Every first Friday Our Lord would reopen the wounds in her heart. It was probably on one of those first Fridays, a couple of months after the first Great Revelation, that Our Lord appeared to her a second time. She writes that each revelation was richer than the one before. Our Lord dared not show her all that He had in store for her, that she might not die. We often say, if we knew God’s total plan for us, we would die of ecstasy, our hearts would burst, unable to contain all His Gifts of Grace.
During this revelation, Our Lord’s Sacred Heart appeared “as a brilliant sun of blinding light, whose rays fell directly on (her) heart.” The red-hot flames were so intense, Margaret Mary felt they “would reduce (her) to ashes.” He showed her His Sacred Heart “on a throne of flames.” His Heart, pierced by our sins, was surrounded by a crown of thorns. He told Margaret Mary, “My enemies placed a crown of thorns on My Head, My friends on My Heart.” A cross rose from the top of His Heart symbolizing the cross that He carried in His Heart from the time of His Incarnation, the cross of humiliation, 20
abandonment, rejection, pain and mockery that He, in His Sacred Humanity, would suffer and endure throughout His Life up to His Death on the Cross.
Jesus told Margaret Mary He wanted to save mankind from eternal damnation, and He would accomplish this through His Sacred Heart with Its Love, Mercy, Grace, Sanctification and Salvation. He requested that she tell His children His Heart was to be honored in the form of Flesh10 and the Image of His Heart, surrounded by a crown with a cross above it, was to be exposed in their homes and on their hearts. He promised that wherever His Sacred Heart was displayed and honored, He would pour out His Graces and provide protection from the enemy.
This was not to come to pass without much questioning and great opposition from her own Community.
The Third Great Revelation - Jesus makes His Will known
Approximately six months passed before Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary, again. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed. Most likely, it occurred on a Friday, during the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Our Lord was radiant, brilliantly clothed in glory, “His five Wounds glowing like five suns,” flames leaping out from every part of His Sacred Humanity. Most pitiful were those flames from His Sacred Breast which was like a roaring furnace. Jesus bared His Breast, revealing His Sacred Heart which was filled with love for His children, although they wound Him so deeply.
He shared that the rejection and ingratitude of His children today pained Him even more than that which He had suffered during His Passion. But if only they would return His love, He said, in even some small way, He would count all the pain He had endured for their sake during His Passion little, compared to what He would desire to do for them. But He cried, “They repay love and mercy with coldness and indifference.”
He asked Margaret Mary to console Him by doing as much as she could to make up for their ingratitude, to be what they refused to be, and to do what they have failed to do. When Margaret Mary pleaded, she was weak and had not the strength to bring about His mission for the Church, He told her He would be her strength. She was to receive Communion as often as obedience to her Superiors would permit, but most especially on the first Friday of each month.
Then Jesus asked Margaret Mary to make a Holy Hour every Thursday from eleven to midnight. From that time till her death, she made this Holy Hour, prostrating herself on the floor, sharing Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane with Him. Was Our Lord trusting her with the hour, He had offered to His closest Apostles, that precious hour when He suffered, shedding blood and tears for the sins and agony of the world? Was He asking this from her as reparation for the sins which so excruciatingly wounded Him then and wound Him now? Or was it to strengthen her for her Way of the Cross?
Had the Apostles understood? Did they not realize how very much Our Lord in His Humanity, needed them to share this painful time in His Life? Days before, Peter, James and John had not wanted to leave Mount Tabor. We often thought the Lord brought them to the Mount of the Transfiguration to fortify them for His final Walk - to the Cross. And, we still believe that, but now, we wonder if this Holy Hour was not also what the Lord was offering His trusted Apostles to strengthen them for the days and then the years to follow? Would they have slept if they had known that they would no longer have their Lord with them, that He would be taken away from them? Did they take Him and His being with them forever for granted? Do we take Him for granted? If we knew that we would never be able to attend Mass or spend time before the Blessed Sacrament again, that as in some European nations, we would not have Our Lord Jesus in our midst for hundreds of years, would we have to be asked to participate in the Mass or spend one hour with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration? Would we not only kneel during the Consecration, would we not desire to prostrate ourselves before Him?
When Margaret Mary had protested she was too weak to carry out her Master’s Will, what did He offer her, to strengthen her? Reception of Holy Communion as often as obedience would allow and a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. What is the Lord offering us to strengthen us to do His Will, to save His Church, to console Him in these days of crisis and infamy? Reception of Holy Communion often and to spend a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. It is always the same, my brothers and sisters; Jesus is with us; Jesus is alive; Jesus is our power and strength - always present to us in 22
The Eucharist. The weapons which He gave Margaret Mary in the 17th Century are the same He gives us, today. God is constant, consistently, faithfully all-giving.
In this Great Revelation, Jesus gives us two ways to express our love for Him and to make reparation for those who do not.
First to receive Holy Communion often, especially on the first Friday of the month. To make reparation for those who mocked and taunted Our Lord, those who crucified Our Lord, those who stood by and did nothing that first Good Friday, that Jesus suffered and died for us and our sins.
Second, He asks us to spend a Holy Hour with Him, especially on Thursday evening. This is in memory of Jesus’ suffering agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and in thanksgiving for His Great Gift of Life and Love, the Eucharist - at the Last Supper. Can we spend an hour with Him, the hour we could not spend with Him that first Thursday in Gethsemane? What will we feel, the next time we attend Holy Mass and receive Our Lord eternally with us in Holy Communion? Will we give love for Love, our poor limited love in exchange for the Heavenly Love he bore us that Last Supper, a Love so great His last thoughts were of us, the night before He would face death on the Cross?
The nuns found Margaret Mary unconscious. She had been that way throughout the Third Revelation. Seeing she was so weakened physically, not able to walk or talk, they carried her to the Mother Superior. Imagine the Superior’s predicament. On one hand, she knew that Margaret Mary was virtuous, but she had misgivings, having an ongoing problem with all the phenomena that had occurred in Margaret Mary’s life. She thought, “Oh not again!”
Margaret Mary crumbled on her knees before the Mother Superior. Seeing her on the floor, burning with fever, trembling uncontrollably and having difficulty sharing what the Lord desired of her, Mother Superior refused to grant her any of Our Lord’s requests. Instead, she replied, wielding a strong tongue lashing, heaping humiliation upon disbelief, forbidding Margaret Mary to comply with any of her claimed decrees by the Lord. Margaret Mary obeyed!
Now this must have been horrendous for Margaret Mary. She knew this was the Lord and His wishes, but as with the Mystics and Saints before her, she obeyed her Superiors. And through this obedience, 23
she was able to scuttle the devil’s plan. The devil, beginning with the Old Testament in the Garden of Eden, has always tried to get those specially chosen by God to disobey. When Our Lord walked the earth, He gave us the perfect example if we would be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Our Lord always obeyed first His Father in Heaven, then His earthly foster father Joseph and Mother Mary. Over the centuries of our beloved Church’s history, whenever Jesus appeared to the Saints and Mystics, like St. Teresa of Avila, He always told them to obey their Superiors and He would work through their obedience.
Margaret Mary became seriously ill, so debilitated, it came to her Superior Mother de Saumaise’s attention. She became alarmed. She had an idea; this would solve all her questions. She turned to Margaret Mary: “Why don’t you ask God to cure you? In this way, we’ll know if this comes from the Holy Spirit. Then I will grant you permission to receive Communion on First Fridays, allow your Thursday evening hour vigils - I’ll allow everything.”
As she was to obey her Superior in all things, she asked the Lord to heal her. Our Lady, along with her Angels appeared to Margaret Mary; she embraced her and said,
“Take courage, my dear daughter, in the health I give you in the Name of my Divine Son, for you have still a long and painful road to travel, always bearing the Cross, pierced with nails and thorns and lacerated by whips. But have no fear, I shall not abandon you and I promise to protect you.”
Margaret Mary was restored to perfect health immediately, the sign her Superior accepted as proof her messages were of the Lord. But the battle was not over. Her Mother Superior judged wisely that Margaret Mary needed a strong Spiritual Director to guide her and to discern the messages she was receiving. As with St. Teresa, many potential Spiritual Directors came; they did not understand mental prayer; they had never received interior locutions or experienced an apparition by the Lord, and so, out of ignorance, they completely rejected the Revelations as coming from a Divine Source.
Saint Claude Colombiere comes into Margaret Mary’s life
Our Lord Jesus had promised Margaret Mary that His Work would triumph, in spite of His enemies; He kept His promise by sending a loyal son, a Jesuit priest, highly reputed for his wisdom, to His 24
little servant. He sent Father Claude Colombiere, who saw the holiness of Margaret Mary and believed in her Revelations. Now Father Claude was not to have Margaret Mary’s complete trust and openness in the beginning, until one day as she was confessing to Father Claude, she heard a Voice inwardly tell her: “Here is the one I am sending you.”
As Father Claude was hearing Margaret Mary’s confession with a darkened grille covered by a black cloth between them, he could not see who the nun was that was receiving messages from the Lord. After he had heard all the nuns’ confessions and the black cloth was drawn aside, he was able to see all of them seated on the other side of the grille. He looked right at Margaret Mary and said to her Superior, Mother de Saumaise, “That is a soul of Grace!” With this, her Superior had no more misgivings and ordered Margaret Mary to reveal everything to Father Claude.
As she learned to trust her confessor, Father Claude, more and more, she experienced more and more peace and tranquility. The battle was not over, however. There was still much suspicion and mistrust among the other nuns who could not accept that which they did not know. Having a Visionary in their house was tantamount to having the devil himself in their midst. They even resorted to dousing Margaret Mary with holy water. This anger and furor would continue even after her death. Margaret Mary rejoiced as this was simply part of the life she was called to by the Lord. She welcomed it as it was as close as she could be to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus when He, too, was accused of being in league with the devil.
Margaret Mary’s only pain was seeing the Community’s anger and wrath turn on her confessor, Father Claude. The nuns knew little of what had transpired between Margaret Mary and the Lord. But they did know and never forgot how she had been severely chastised by Mother Superior after having been so terribly weakened from a vision of the Lord. To compound the problem, permission had been granted to her to receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month and to spend a holy hour every Thursday evening with the Blessed Sacrament. This was not the mode of religious life known to them, and they looked upon it as very unorthodox.
It took all the faith and strength Father Claude had, not to abandon Margaret Mary as others had when the going got rough. More than belief that she had truly received Divine Revelations was the evidence of her holiness, through her obedience that most heavily persuaded him to persist with the little nun. He later wrote that this spirit of humility and obedience she possessed was the key for him, for as a son of Ignatius Loyola, Fr. Claude had learned that,
“The devil is capable of doing many things, but he will never, never inspire humility, obedience, love for the Cross - in a word, love for Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Although Father Claude was to share in the agony with Margaret Mary, he also was to share in the ecstasy. When we speak of the Heart of Jesus, His most Sacred Heart, are we not speaking of Our Lord in the Eucharist, the Heart of our Church? Our Lord always came and revealed the great Revelations to St. Margaret Mary during the Sacrifice of the Mass. It was after the Consecration that Jesus united His Heart with her heart and that of Father Claude. It was then He gave her the Image of His Sacred Heart.
“One day when he (Father Claude Colombiere), came to say Mass in our church, the Lord granted signal graces both to him and to me. As I went up to receive Him in Holy Communion, He showed me His Sacred Heart as a burning furnace, and two other hearts were on the point of uniting themselves to It, and of being absorbed therein. At the same time He said to me: ‘It is thus My pure love unites these three hearts for ever.’ He afterwards gave me to understand that this union was all for the glory of His Sacred Heart, the treasures of Which He wished me to reveal to him (Father Claude Colombiere) that he might spread them abroad, and make known to others their value and utility.”
The Fourth Great Revelation
Father Claude directed Margaret Mary to write down all that Jesus told her. Although she found this greatly distasteful, not wanting to draw attention to herself, she did so out of obedience. Then she burned all she had written as soon as she was finished. In this way, she thought she had fulfilled the requirements of obedience set down by Father Claude. But when she confessed this, he forbade her to burn her writings. Our Lord came shortly after and revealed to Margaret Mary The Fourth and last Great Revelation.
June, 1675, again during the octave of Corpus Christi, the Lord gave Margaret Mary His Fourth and last Great Mandate. It was the Eucharist! Jesus told Margaret Mary that although there are those who love and adore Him, there are those who return His unconditional Love Which vulnerably comes to them in the Eucharist, with coldness and indifference. He went on to say that although there are those who claim they believe He is truly present in the Eucharist, and that His Real Presence comes to us at the time of Consecration during the Mass, they go up to the Altar without having gone to confession, receiving Him while in a state of sin. He cried, there are those who claim that they believe His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is truly present in the Host reposing in the Tabernacle, and reserved in the Monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration, yet they have no time to go and visit Him. This Revelation called for reparation for sins committed against Jesus in His Sacrament of Love.
Margaret Mary was before the Blessed Sacrament when the Lord appeared to her, uncovered His Divine Heart and gave her His last Great message. He told her that she could do no better than to return His great love by doing what He asked of her:
“Behold this Heart Which so much loved men, that it spared nothing, even to exhausting Itself, in order to give them testimony of Its love, and in return I mostly receive ingratitude, through their irreverence and sacrilege, and through the coldness and scorn that they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. What causes Me most sorrow is that there are hearts consecrated to Me who treat Me thus.
“Therefore, I ask of you that the first Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast in honor of My Heart, by receiving Communion that day, and by making solemn reparation and honorable amends to make good the insults that It receives when It is exposed on the Altars. I promise you that My Heart shall deign to shed abundantly the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who rend It this honor and induce others so to honor It.”
Father Claude Colombiere directed Margaret Mary to comply fully with the Lord’s Will. In addition, his heart was so touched by this Great Revelation, he desired to be the first to do what the Sacred Heart of Jesus mandated.
Ten years passed before the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be instituted in the Monastery of the Visitation where the Revelations took place, and this because Father Claude Colombiere had suggested they do so.
Those next ten years would be hard ones for Margaret Mary. Mother Saumaise, who had come to believe and support her, left the Monastery to become a Superior at another Monastery. But before she left, she insisted Margaret Mary tell the nuns what the Lord had commanded her to relate to them. Margaret Mary, more dead than alive, reluctantly obeyed. In front of her whole Community, she shared the punishments that the Lord said He would release upon them and the Monastery. She remained kneeling, humbly in the midst of very angry, rebellious, belligerent, threatening sisters. She later wrote:
“If I had been able to gather together all the sufferings, I had experienced until then, and all those I have had since, and if all of them had continued until death, this would not seem comparable to me to what I endured that night!”... “I was dragged from one place to another, with unbelievable humiliations.”
Most of the nuns felt they had gone too far, and so the next day there were not enough confessors to hear their confessions. The following day, Margaret Mary heard the Lord say that at last peace had returned to the Monastery, and through her sacrifice His Divine Justice had been satisfied.
Mother Greyfié became the new Superior. She did not understand Margaret Mary nor her spirituality, and so now we have the new Mother Superior joining in with some of the nuns who persisted in making life the Way of the Cross for Margaret Mary.
Our Lord had appeared to her; He had issued a mandate. But He didn’t make it easy for Margaret Mary to bring about this devotion to the Sacred Heart. She knew great pain as everyone opposed her. It was only when the Monastery of the Visitation had a new Superior, Mother Melin, that things would begin to happen. With the advent of a new Superior, devotion to the Sacred Heart started to take Its first steps toward being accepted.
Against her will, Margaret Mary was appointed as assistant to the Superior as well as Mistress of Novices. She reluctantly obeyed, protesting her unworthiness. Little did she know that it would become part of the Lord’s plan to bring about devotion to His Sacred Heart.
Her life continued to be a roller-coaster, with the greatest highs and the lowest lows. But Margaret Mary, now Mistress of Novices, was to suddenly see her sorrow turn into joy. One day, to her amazement and her delight, she came upon her novices kneeling before an Image of the Sacred Heart which they had made and placed on the Altar of their little oratory.
As her Feast Day was approaching, her novices planned a celebration in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, knowing nothing could please their Mistress of Novices more. Imagine how surprised and shocked they were when one of the most devout nuns refused to attend, stressing the young novice advise her Mistress of Novices to teach sound devotion, according to the Rule and Constitution of their Community. But this attitude was about to change.
Sister Margaret Mary’s dear confessor and spiritual brother Father Claude had died in 1682. As God would have it, shortly after his death, his book Spiritual Retreat was published. He had been so moved by Jesus’ last Great Revelation to Margaret Mary, he took what she had written with him when he left for England, and later included this message from the Lord at the end of his book, Spiritual Retreat.
Here it was ten years after Claude Colombiere had shared great spiritual experiences with Margaret Mary and he was still helping her. As Father Claude had always been considered holy, and his teachings reliable, the nun in charge of choosing the readings for the refectory never bothered reading the book of the day ahead of time. Toward the end of the book, Father Claude was sharing his experience before the Blessed Sacrament, how his heart would “overflow” on the point of bursting, with an elation and joy from the Lord he did not understand himself:
“I realized that God wanted me to serve Him by carrying out His wishes concerning the devotion He recommended to a person to whom He reveals Himself very freely, and for whose sake He has deigned to make use of my weakness.”
His words touched not only the nuns, but Margaret Mary herself as she recalled the experiences she shared with the Lord and her deceased spiritual brother Claude Colombiere. But she was to awaken from her reverie of days long past. The nun continued reading. Near to finishing the book, she came to Margaret Mary’s account of the last great Revelation to her from Jesus, written under obedience to Father Claude. The realization that the one whose writings were being read was their own Margaret Mary, excitement spread throughout the refectory. After all, this book was written by the widely respected Jesuit priest, Father Claude Colombiere!
Margaret Mary bowed her head, praying no one would recognize her as the person to whom Father Claude Colombiere was referring. She had had no idea he had kept her accounts of the Revelations, no less included them in his book. She was happy that the nuns were listening to the Lord’s Revelations through Father Claude; she was just unhappy her sisters might focus on her as the recipient, rather than on the message. But inside, she knew that this was the beginning of the fulfillment of the Lord’s mandate to her. Margaret Mary had waited ten years for this moment. At last devotion to the Sacred Heart would spread and spread throughout the Church as her Savior had commanded.
Margaret Mary’s other Apparitions
Margaret Mary knew (and had apparitions) of Jesus, not only as the God-Man but He even came to her as a Baby. It was the vigil of the Feast of the Visitation. Margaret Mary was in Choir with the rest of the nuns. They were singing “Te Deum,” when suddenly Margaret Mary lost her voice. She tried to sing; she opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She couldn’t sing! All at once, the Baby Jesus appeared in her arms. Her voice returned, and she sang with the rest, in praise and glory of Our Lord.
On another occasion, as she was praying with the other nuns in the garden, Margaret Mary’s mind and heart left her sisters and she had a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by Seraphic Angels. The Angels made a pact with Margaret Mary at this time: They would suffer with her. She in turn would rejoice with them. It is said that once Our Heavenly Family visit a place, their presence never leaves. This garden has become a special shrine where we often bring our pilgrims to pray. It has been renamed fittingly, “The Garden of the Seraphim.”
The Chapel of the Visitation, Yesterday and Today
We have entered the Chapel of the Visitation and celebrated Mass many times over the last nineteen years of leading pilgrimages to the Shrines. As we kneel at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer, we find our eyes and hearts drawn to the area above the Altar of Sacrifice where there is a powerful mural depicting that moment when the Heart of Jesus united Itself forever with St. Margaret Mary’s heart and that of St. Claude. We see Our Lord Jesus hovering over St. Margaret Mary, His Heart on fire out of love for her and for us.
We cannot fail to ponder: Is Our Lord not offering to unite His Heart with ours at the moment we receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, that He might envelop our hearts inside His, that we might love and forgive with His Heart, our heart no longer alive but His Heart in us, beating with every thought we have, every act we perform? As we kneel there, the years melt away and we are present at the Mass, that fateful day when St. Claude Colombiere brought Margaret Mary Holy Communion, and Jesus united Himself forever with His two faithful servants.
Our eyes travel to the right side of the main Altar where there is a grille till today, where the nuns still hear Mass and receive Holy Communion. It is here, behind this very grille, that Margaret Mary heard Mass and received Holy Communion. This is where she went into ecstasy, where Our Lord Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the Altar, gave her the message of Love she was to spread to the whole world. It was here that He showed her His wounded Heart and asked her to establish a Feast in honor of His Sacred Heart.
We are kneeling. It is over 300 years later. Our priest has just consecrated the host and the wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. As we prepare to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, we must ask ourselves if we adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, as Margaret Mary Alacoque adored Him? She longed for the Eucharist and knew great suffering because she was not allowed to receive the Eucharist daily or often times weekly. It’s really ironic that we have been given this gift to receive Our Lord often, daily if we wish, through the compassionate actions of our saintly Pope St. Pius X in the early years of the twentieth century, and we take it for granted. The dear Saints who preceded us, longed for Jesus in the Eucharist, and out of obedience, had to be content with the once a month, or once every few weeks, they were allowed to receive Him. To try to understand, we need to hear with our hearts what Margaret Mary Alacoque was to say:
“I could have passed whole days and nights there, (in front of the Blessed Sacrament) without eating or drinking, or knowing what I was doing, except that I was being consumed in His Presence like a burning taper, in order to return to Him love for love....
“...I never failed to go as near as I could to the Blessed Sacrament.
“I envied and counted those alone happy (only happy those) who were able to communicate (receive Communion) often and who were at liberty to remain before the Most Holy Sacrament.
“It happened that once before Christmas, the parish priest gave out (said) from the pulpit that whoever should not have slept on Christmas Eve could not go to Communion; as in punishment for my sins I was never able to sleep on the vigil of Christmas, I did not dare communicate (receive Communion). That day of rejoicing was consequently for me a day of tears which took the place of food and pleasure.
“My greatest joy, in the prospect of leaving the world (in becoming a religious), was the thought that I should be able to receive Holy Communion frequently, which up to then I had not been permitted to do.
“I would have thought myself the happiest person on earth, had I been allowed to do so often and pass the nights alone before the Blessed Sacrament...On the eves of Communion, I found myself rapt in so profound a silence, on account of the greatness of the action, I was about to perform, that I could not speak without great effort; and afterwards I would have wished neither to eat nor drink, to see nor speak, owing to the greatness, consolation and peace which I then felt.”
Margaret Mary goes Home to her Lord and Savior
Sister Margaret Mary predicted the day of her death. On the evening of October 17, 1690, she commended her soul to her Savior. Above her tomb in the Church of the Visitation there is a sign which reads: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.” Jesus had loved God the Father with His whole Heart. Margaret Mary had 32
loved Jesus with her whole heart. And so at last, she was able to plunge herself into the heart of her Savior Whom she so dearly loved to the exclusion of all else. Her last words were, “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the Heart of Jesus.”
Sister Margaret Mary was not to see the Lord’s wishes and her hopes for Devotion to the Sacred Heart fulfilled before she died. But three short years later, in 1693, Pope Innocent XIII began a momentum which would spread to the four corners of the earth. He issued a papal bull granting indulgences to all Visitation Monasteries, which resulted in the institution of the Feast of the Sacred Heart in most of the convents. The establishment of Confraternities of the Sacred Heart was followed by cities, dioceses, and entire nations clamoring for a Feast of the Sacred Heart. In 1765, Pope Clement XIII introduced the Feast in Rome!
Then, in 1856, Pope Pius IX extended the Feast to the entire Church! And with this, Devotion to the Sacred Heart became a perpetual part of the Liturgy and Devotions of the Catholic Church. So, although our Visionary was never to see the promise, she was to salute it from afar.
Not only were the revelations to Margaret Mary from Our Lord Jesus accepted by the Church, but because of the virtuous, selfless life of this nun, she was raised to the Communion of Saints in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
We have discovered, through our journeys of faith into the lives of the Saints, that there are Saints and Saint-makers. Just nine years after the Canonization of Margaret Mary, her confessor Father Claude Colombiere became Blessed Claude Colombiere; Pope Pius XI beatified him in 1929. And then in 1992, Blessed Claude joined his spiritual sister Saint Margaret Mary as he became Saint Claude Colombiere. Mother Church, through one loyal son, Pope John Paul II, honored her other son, by raising him to the Company of Saints. So the two friends, spiritual brother and sister on earth were reunited, still at work, only now in Heaven, promulgating honor and glory to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lord Jesus promised that wherever the Image of His Sacred Heart had a place of honor in the home, “He would pour forth His Blessings and Graces.” Margaret Mary said that this was the last act of His Love that He would grant to all men, in the latter days, 33
in order to save them from Satan. When priests like St. Claude Colombiere, and religious like St. Margaret Mary, and every member of the Body of Christ really understand this promise, when all become completely immersed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Heart from which the Church flowed, when His Sacred Image becomes a stamp upon their hearts, when every action of their ministry will flow out from a promontory inspired by a tender devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Catholic Church will know a renewal in the fervor and passion of the most beautiful and glorious era of our Christian heritage.
1to make receptive beforehand
2We say here renewed devotion to the Sacred Heart, because this devotion is found in the Gospel itself when Our Lord Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble of Heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” On the Cross, we again see Our Lord’s Heart when It is pierced by the Centurion Longinus’ sword; it is that Sacred Heart from which the Church sprung. When we think of the heart, do we not think of love, the love we have for one another? Our Lord’s Sacred Heart was pierced on the Cross, out of love for us. Our Lord showed His Sacred Heart to the doubting Thomas, one of the Apostles He had chosen. Our Lord manifested His Sacred Heart in the Miracle of the Eucharist of Lanciano when the consecrated Host turned into a Human Heart.
3St. Teresa of Avila described “mental prayer” as merely having a conversation with Someone Who loves you.
4Although this Dogma had not as yet been proclaimed, it was the belief and teaching of the early Church Fathers from the very beginning of the Church. It was made an Infallible Dogma of the Church in 1854.
6Illuminism - a form of Gnosticism, a heresy which flourished during the early Christian centuries that claimed, salvation comes through enlightened knowledge. Then, in 16th century Spain, there were pseudo-mystic Spaniards who claimed to act always under 34
illumination received directly and immediately from the Holy Spirit, and independently of the means of grace dispensed by the Church.
7read about Longinus, the centurion and how he became a Martyr, in Bob and Penny Lord’s book: This is My Body, This is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist Book I
8excerpt from Chapter XVIII: Bois Seigneur Isaac in Bob and Penny Lord’s first book: This is My Body, This is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist Book I
9bloodletting - This is referring to an old practice of bloodletting prescribed, at one time, for individual religious by a Superior of a convent who deemed it necessary for their spiritual life.
10Our Lord manifested a Miracle of the Eucharist in Lanciano having the Host turn into Human Flesh, a Human Heart. Read more about this and other Miracles of the Eucharist in Bob and Penny Lord’s book: This is My Body, This is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist, Book I12cf Heb 11:1335
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About the Authors:
Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors of many best selling books about the Catholic Faith. They are hosts on EWTN Global Television and have written over 25 books. They are best known as the authors of “Miracles of the Eucharist books.” They have been dubbed, “Experts on the Saints.” Many of the ebooks are now available at Smashwords.com.