Paray-le-Monial and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque
Photos taken by Elizabeth S Westhoff (@ESWesthoff on Twitter) at Paray-le-Monial during her trip to France. May 2015.
Reflection on the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lord suffered so much, in order to show how much He loves us, and how greatly God is offended by sin. A single word of Christ would have fully sufficed to redeem us, but it was not enough to make manifest the love of God. It is because of the great love Christ displays towards us, that we venerate the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart is the centre of the physical life; from it the blood flows into every part of the body, maintaining its vitality. And since there is an intimate connection between body and soul, the heart is spoken of as the centre of the spiritual life, whence all the thoughts and feelings take their rise. Hence we say: “My heart rejoiced, my heart is grieved, etc.” The heart is regarded pre-eminently as the seat of love. When we venerate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we call to mind His exceeding great love for us, and are stimulated to return love for love. God made use of a French nun at Paray-le-Monial, named Margaret Mary Alacoque, to propagate this devotion. Our Lord appeared to her repeatedly, showing her His Heart pierced by the lance, emitting flames of fire, surrounded by a crown of thorns–to signify the pain sinners cause to Our Saviour–and surmounted by a shining cross. Our Lord intimated His desire that pictures of this Heart should be exposed for veneration, and promised signal blessings to all who should practice this devotion. He also commanded the festival of the Sacred Heart to be kept on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. This day is a most appropriate one, for it was on a Friday that Our Lord by His death gave the greatest possible proof of His love, and His Heart was pierced by the lance. Moreover the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar affords abundant testimony to the love of the Saviour, for as the sun’s rays are focussed in a lens, so the rays of the sun of divine love are concentrated in the Sacrament of the Altar. Hence the feast of Corpus Christi is a special memorial of the love of Christ for man. The devotion to the Sacred Heart, opposed at the outset, as are all works that are of God, spread rapidly over all the earth, and was attended by signal blessings.
Litany of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Sacred Heart, hear us.
Sacred Heart, graciously hear us.
For the forgetfulness and ingratitude of men,
We will console Thee, O Lord. *
For the way Thou art deserted in Thy Tabernacle, *
For the crimes of sinners, *
For the blasphemies uttered against Thee, *
For the sacrileges which profane Thy Sacrament of Love, *
For the coldness of the greater part of Thy children, *
For the abuse of Thy grace, *
For our own unfaithfulness, *
For the incomprehensible hardness of our hearts, *
For our long delay in loving Thee, *
For Thy bitter sadness at the loss of souls, *
For Thy long waiting at the door of our hearts, *
For Thy loving sighs, *
For Thy loving tears, *
For Thy loving imprisonment, *
For Thy loving death. *
Learn of Me:
Because I am meek and humble of heart.
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who know Thee not,
Have mercy on me as Thou seest best. **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who do not believe in Thee, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who are inconstant and ungrateful, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow during the whole course of Thy mortal life, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow in Thy agony and in Thy death, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who neglect their eternal salvation, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who offer the most Holy Sacrifice unworthily, **
Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for the scarcity of those who love Thee fervently, **
Sweet Heart of Jesus:
Be not my Judge but my Saviour.
O Jesus, loveliest of all beauty, wash me more and more from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin, that, purified by Thee, I may approach to Thee, the pure One, and may be worthy to dwell in “Thy Heart all the days of my life, that I may both see and do Thy will. For this cause was Thy side pierced, that an entrance might be opened for us. Who is there who would not love this wounded Heart? Who would not return love for love to Him that hath loved so well? Amen.
O adorable Heart of Jesus, if men did but know Thee: How they would love Thee!
Litany of the Twelve Promises
Heart of Jesus; burning with love for us:
R. Inflame our hearts with love of Thee.
O Heart of Jesus, behold us prostrate before Thee, to adore Thee, to praise Thee, to thank Thee, to make reparation for our past faults, and to consecrate ourselves to Thy love.
Bearing in mind Thy magnificent Promises to those who honor and love Thy Sacred Heart, we say to Thee with the utmost confidence:
Heart of Jesus, give us all the graces necessary for our state in life. Thou hast promised it, O Jesus. *
Heart of Jesus, grant peace to our families. *
Heart of Jesus, console us in all our sorrows. *
Heart of Jesus, be our safe Refuge during life, and above all at the hour of our death. *
Heart of Jesus, pour abundant blessings on all our labors. *
Heart of Jesus, be for sinners the Source and Infinite Ocean of Mercy. *
Heart of Jesus, make indifferent souls fervent. *
Heart of Jesus, make fervent souls advance rapidly to perfection. *
Heart of Jesus, bless the houses where Thine image is exposed and honored. *
Heart of Jesus, give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts. *
Heart of Jesus, engrave on Thy Heart forever the names of those who propagate this devotion. *
Heart of Jesus, give those who receive Holy Communion nine consecutive First Fridays, the grace of final repentance, that they may not die under Thy displeasure, but, strengthened by the reception of the Sacraments, may Thy Heart be their secure refuge at their last hour. *
O sweetest Heart of Jesus, I implore:
R. That I may ever love Thee more and more.
Lord Jesus, remember the promises which, in the infinite mercy of Thy Divine Heart, Thou didst make to Saint Margaret Mary. Be the Protector of our life, the Strength of our weakness, the Repairer of our faults, the Completion of our virtues, our Refuge at the hour of death. Amen.
O God, Who hast prepared for those who love Thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: pour into our hearts such love toward Thee, that, loving Thee in and above all things, we may obtain Thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Memorare to the Sacred Heart
Remember, O most sweet Jesus, that no one who has had recourse to Thy Sacred Heart, implored its help, or sought its mercy was ever abandoned. Encouraged with confidence, O tenderest of hearts, we present ourselves before Thee, crushed beneath the weight of our sins. In our misery, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, despise not our simple prayers, but mercifully grant our requests.
(Indulgence 7 years)
Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
My loving Jesus, I (N. N.) give Thee my heart; and I consecrate myself wholly to Thee out of the grateful love I bear Thee, and as a reparation for all my unfaithfulness to grace; and with Thine aid I purpose never to sin again.
( Indulgence of 100 Days, once a day, to all who shall make this offering with contrite hearts–1807)
Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the ” Pater Noster,” etc.
(Indulgence of 300 Days, granted previously, once a day, to all the faithful who shall say with devotion the following prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with three Pater noster, three Ave Maria, and three Gloria Patri–Pope Pius VII, 1808)
The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt amongst us.
Eternal Word, made Man for love of us, humbly prostrate at Thy feet we adore Thee with our soul’s deepest veneration; and to repair our ingratitude towards this great boon of Thy Incarnation, we join our poor hearts with the hearts of all who love Thee, offering Thee with them our humble prayer of thanksgiving and praise. Pierced with the thought of the exceeding great humility, goodness, and tenderness which we behold in Thy Divine Heart, we pray Thee of Thy grace, give grace, that in our lives we too may be Thy followers in the practice of these virtues to Thee so dear.
Pater noster. Ave Maria. Gloria Patri.
He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried.
Jesu, loving Saviour, humbly prostrate at Thy feet we adore Thee with our soul’s deepest veneration, and to give Thee proof of our real sorrow for our hardness of heart towards Thee, in all those outrages and woes which Thy loving Heart made Thee suffer for our salvation in Thy sad Passion and most bitter Death, we here unite ourselves with the hearts of all who love Thee, and with them we give Thee thanks with our whole soul. We marvel at the boundless patience and the generosity of Thy Sacred Heart; and we pray Thee fill our poor hearts with the spirit of true Christian penance, that thereby we may courageously embrace all suffering, and make Thy cross our greatest comfort and our glory.
Pater noster. Ave Maria. Gloria Patri.
Thou didst give them bread from heaven to eat, In whose taste was every heavenly sweetness.
Jesu, burning with love for us, humbly prostrate at Thy feet we adore Thee with our soul’s deepest veneration; and in reparation for the outrages which Thy Sacred Heart daily receives in the most holy Sacrament of the altar, we unite ourselves with the hearts of all those who love Thee, and give Thee tenderest thanks. We love too, in that Sacred Heart of Thine, the incomprehensible fire of Thy love of Thy Eternal Father; and we pray Thee inflame our poor hearts with burning charity towards Thee and towards our neighbours.
Pater noster. Ave Maria. Gloria Patri.
Lastly, most loving Jesu, we pray Thee, by the sweetness of Thy Sacred Heart, convert the sinner, console the sufferer, help the dying, succour the souls in purgatory. Make our hearts one with Thine in the bonds of true peace and charity, deliver us from death sudden and unforeseen, and grant us death holy and peaceful. Amen.
V. Heart of Jesus, burning with the love of us,
R. Set our hearts on fire with love of Thee.
Let us pray:
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who glory in the Most Sacred Heart of Thy well-beloved Son, and renew in our minds the remembrance of the great benefits of His heavenly charity towards us, may feel the delight of those same benefits by their operation and fruit within our souls. Through the same Christ our Lord.
Sacred Heart of my Jesus! I adore Thee with the three powers of my soul; I consecrate to Thee my thoughts, my words, my works, myself. I purpose to give Thee like acts of adoration, love, and glory, to those Thou givest Thine Eternal Father. Be Thou, I beseech Thee, the reparation of my transgressions, the protection of my life, my refuge and asylum in the hour of my death. By Thy sighs, and by that sea of bitterness in which Thou wast drowned for me throughout Thy whole mortal life, grant me, O grant me true contrition for my sins, contempt of earthly things, burning desire of eternal glory, trust in Thy boundless merits, final perseverance in Thy grace.
Heart of Jesus, all love! I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself and for all who unite with me in spirit to adore Thee; vouchsafe of Thy great goodness to hear and answer them, chiefly for that one of us who first shall close this mortal life. Sweet Heart of Jesus, pour into his heart in his death-agony Thine inward consolations; take him within Thy sacred wounds; cleanse him from all stains in that Furnace of Love, that so Thou mayest soon open to him the gate of Thine eternal glory, there to intercede with Thee for all those who tarry yet in this their land of exile.
Holiest Heart of my most loving Jesu! I purpose to renew and offer Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers for myself the wretched sinner, and for all who are associated with me in adoration of Thee, every moment that I live, down to the last moment of my life. I recommend to Thee, my Jesus, the Holy Church, Thy well-beloved Spouse, my own true Mother, the souls who are satisfying Thy justice, the sinner, the sorrowful, the dying, all men on the whole face of the earth: let not Thy Blood be shed in vain for them; and vouchsafe lastly to apply it to the relief of the souls in purgatory, and above all to those who in life were wont devoutly to adore Thee.
Most loving heart of Mary, who amongst the hearts of all God’s creatures art at once purest, most inflamed with love for Jesus, and most pitiful towards us poor sinners, gain for us from the Heart of Jesus our Redeemer all the graces which we ask Thee. Mother of mercies, one throb, a single beat of thy burning heart offered by Thee to the Heart of Jesus has power to console us to the full. Grant us, then, this favour; and then the Heart of Jesus, full of that filial love He had for Thee, and will ever have, will not fail to hear and answer our request. Amen.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I offer myself entirely through Mary.
(Indulgence 300 days, once a day.–Pius IV 1860)
Praised be the most loving Heart and the sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His glorious Virgin Mother Mary forever and ever.
(Indulgence 200 days, once a day–Pius X. 1908)
Praise, honor, and glory be to the Divine Heart of Jesus.
(100 Indulgence, once a day.– Pius IX. 1860)
Homily of St. Bonaventure
That the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as He slept on the cross, and the Scripture be fulfilled which says: They shall look on Him whom they pierced; it was permitted by divine ordinance that one of the soldiers should pierce that sacred side, opening it with a lance, in so far as, when the blood and water gushed forth, the price of our salvation might be poured out, as if issuing from the hidden fountain, as it were, of the Heart, and might give power to the sacraments of the Church to bestow the life of grace, and, moreover, might be as a saving drink of living waters, bubbling up to life eternal, for those who were already living in Christ. Arise, then, O soul beloved of Christ, do not stop your watching, place thy lips there, and drink the waters from the saving fountains.
Since for a single time we have found our way to that most sweet Heart of the Lord Jesus, and it is good for us to be here, let us not easily be torn away from it. O how good and pleasant it is, to dwell in this Heart. Thy Heart, O most dear Jesus, is the good treasure, the pearl of great price, which we find by digging in the field of Thy body. Who would cast aside this pearl? Yes, rather I will give all my pearls, I will exchange for it all my thoughts and affections and I will purchase It for myself, turning all my thoughts to the Heart of the good Jesus, and without fail It will support me. Therefore, O most sweet Jesus, finding this Heart that is Thine and mine, I will pray to Thee, my God: admit my prayers into the shrine of hearkening: and even more draw me altogether into Thy Heart.
For to this end was Thy side pierced, that an entry might be open to us. To this end was Thy Heart wounded, that in it we might be able to dwell secure from alarms from without. And it was wounded none the less on this account that, through the visible wound, we might see the invisible wound of love. How could this ardor be better shown, than by His allowing, not only His body, but even His very Heart itself, to be wounded by a lance? And so, the wound in His flesh shows forth the wound in His spirit. Who does not love that Heart, so deeply wounded? Who would not return love for love to One so greatly loving? Who would not embrace One so pure? And so still abiding in the flesh, let us, in so far as we are able, return love for love to That which loves us, embrace our wounded One, Whose hands and feet, side and Heart, have been pierced by wicked husbandmen; and let us pray that He may deign to bind our hearts, still hard and impenitent, with the chain of His love, and wound them with the dart thereof.
Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
from the Liturgical Year, 1879
Our readers will not expect us to do more than give them this general view of the great, mystery, and tell them how the holy Doctors of the Church spoke of it. As far as St. Bernard and St. Bonaventure are concerned, the devotion to the mystery of Christ’s side opened on the Cross, is but a part of that which they would have us show to the other wounds of our Redeemer. The Sacred Heart, as the expression of Jesus’ love, is not treated of, in their writings, with the explicitness wherewith the Church would afterwards put it before us. For this end, our Lord Himself selected certain privileged souls, through whose instrumentality, He would bring the Christian world to a fuller appreciation of the consequences which are involved in the principles admitted by the whole Church.
It was on the 27th of January, in the year 1281, in the Benedictine Monastery of Helfta, near Eisleben, in Saxony, that our Divine Lord first revealed these ineffable secrets to one of the community of that house, whose name was Gertrude. She was then twenty years of age. The Spirit of God came upon her, and gave her her mission. She saw, she heard, she was permitted to touch, and what is more, she drank of, that chalice of the Sacred Heart, which inebriates the elect. She drank of It, even whilst in this vale of bitterness; and what she herself so richly received, she imparted to others, who showed themselves desirous to listen. St. Gertrude’s mission was to make known the share and action of the Sacred Heart in the economy of God’s glory and the sanctification of souls; and, in this respect, we cannot separate her from her companion, St. Mechtilde.
On this special doctrine regarding the Heart of the Man-God, St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde hold a very prominent position among all the Saints and mystical writers of the Church. In saying this, we do not except even the Saints of these later ages, by whom our official, worship, which is now given to his Sacred Heart; these Saints have spread the devotion, now shown to it, throughout the whole Church; but they have not spoken of the mysteries it contains within it, with that set purpose, that precision, that loveliness, which we find in the ‘ Revelations ‘ of the two Saints, Gertrude and Mechtilde.
It was the Beloved Disciple, who had rested his head upon Jesus’ breast, at the Supper, and perhaps heard the beatings of the Sacred Heart, the Disciple who, when standing at the foot of the Cross, had seen that Heart pierced with the soldier’s spear, yes, it was he who announced to Gertrude its future glorification. She asked him how it was that he had not spoken, in his writings in the New Testament, of what he had experienced when he reclined upon Jesus’ Sacred Heart: he thus replied: “My mission was to write, for the Church which was still young, a single word of the uncreated Word of God the Father, that uncreated Word, concerning which the intellect of the whole human race might be ever receiving abundant truth, from now till the end of the world, and yet it would never be fully comprehended. As to the sweet eloquence of those throbbings of His Heart, it is reserved for the time when the world has grown old, and has become cold in God’s love, that it may regain favour by the hearing such revelation.” (The Legate of Divine Love. Bk. iv. ch. 4.)
Gertrude was chosen as the instrument of that revelation; and what she has told us, is exquisitely beautiful. At one time, the Divine Heart is shown to her as a treasure, which holds all riches within It; at another, It is a harp played upon by the Holy Spirit, and the music which comes from It gladdens the Blessed Trinity, and all the heavenly court. It is a plenteous spring, whose stream bears refreshment to the souls in Purgatory, strength and every other grace to them that are still struggling on this earth, and delights which inebriate the blessed in the heavenly Jerusalem. It is a golden thurible, whence there ascend as many different sorts of fragrant incense, as there are different races of men, for all of whom our Redeemer died upon the Cross. It is an altar, upon which the Faithful lay their offerings, the elect their homage, the Angels their worship, and the eternal High Priest offers Himself as a Sacrifice. It is a lamp suspended between heaven and earth. It is a chalice out of which the Saints, but not the Angels, drink, though these latter receive from it delights of varied kinds. It was in this Heart, that was formed and composed the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater noster; that Prayer was the fruit of Jesus’ Heart. By that same Sacred Heart, are supplied all the negligences and deficiencies which are found in the honour we pay to God, and His Blessed Mother and Saints. The Heart of Jesus makes itself as our servant, and our bond, in fulfilment of all the obligations incumbent on us; in it alone, do our actions derive that perfection, that worth, which makes them acceptable in the eyes of the divine Majesty; and every grace, which flows from heaven to earth, passes through that same Heart. When our life is at its close, that Heart is the peaceful abode, the holy sanctuary, ready to receive our souls as soon as they have departed from this world; and having received them, it keeps them in itself for all eternity, and beatifies them with every delight (Preface to the Revelations of St. Gertrude, translated into French from the new Latin Edition, published by the Benedictine Fathers of Solesmes).
By thus revealing to Gertrude the admirable mysteries of divine love, included in the doctrine which attaches to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was, so to say, forestalling the workings of hell, which, two centuries later on, were to find their prime mover in that same spot. Luther was born at Eisleben, in the year 1483. He was the apostle, after being the inventor, of theories the very opposite of what the Sacred Heart reveals. Instead of the merciful God, as known and loved in the previous ages, Luther would have the world believe Him to be the direct author of sin and damnation, Who creates the sinner for crime and eternal torments, and for the mere purpose of showing that He could do anything, even injustice! Calvin followed; he took up the blasphemous doctrines of the German apostate, and rivetted the protestant principles by his own gloomy and merciless logic. By these two men, the tail of the dragon dragged the third part of the stars of heaven (Apoc. xii. 4). In the 17th Century, the old enemy put on hypocrisy, in the shape of Jansenism; changing the names of things, but leaving the things unchanged, he tried to get into the very centre of the Church, and there pass off his impious doctrines; and Jansenism, which, under the pretext of safeguarding the rights of God’s sovereign dominion, aimed at making men forget that he was a God of mercy, Jansenism was a favourable system, wherewith the enemy might propagate his so-called Reformation. That God Who so loved the world (St. John. iii. 16)! beheld mankind discouraged or terrified, and behaving as though in heaven there was no such thing as mercy, still less, love. This earth of ours was to be made to see, that its Creator had loved it with affectionate love; that He had taken a Heart of flesh in order to bring that infinite love within man’s reach and sight; that He made that human Heart, which He had assumed, do its work, that is, beat and throb from love, just as ours do, for He had become one of ourselves, and, as the Prophet words it, had taken the cords of Adam (Osee. xi. 4); that Heart felt the thrill of joy when duty-doing made us joyous; It felt a weight and pang when It saw our sorrows; It was gladsome when it found that, here and there, there would be souls to love Him in return. Sacred Heart reveals.
How were men to be told all this? Who would be chosen to fulfil the prophecy made by Gertrude the Great? Who would come forth, like another Paul or John, and teach to the world, now grown old, the language of the divine throbbings of Jesus’ Heart?
There were then living many men noted for their learning and eloquence; but they would not suit the purpose of God. God, Who loves to choose the weak (and often it is, that He may confound the strong [Cor. i. 27]), had selected for the manifesting of the mystery of the Sacred Heart, a servant of His, of whose existence the world knew not; it was a Religious woman, who lived in a monastery which had nothing about it to attract notice. As, in the 13th Century, He had passed by the learned men, and even the great Saints, who were then living, and selected the Blessed Juliana of Liege as the instrument which was to bring about the institution of the Corpus Christi Feast, so in this present case: He would have His own Sacred Heart be glorified in His Church by a solemn Festival; and He imparts and intrusts His wish to the humble Visitandine of Paray-le-Monial, now known and venerated, throughout the world, under the name of Blessed Margaret-Mary. The mission thus divinely given to her, was to bring forward the treasure, which had been revealed to St. Gertrude, and which, all the long interval, had been known to only a few privileged souls. Sister Margaret-Mary was to publish the secret to the whole world, and make the privilege cease, by telling everyone how to possess it. Through this apparently inadequate instrument, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a heavenly reaction offered to the world against the chillness which had settled on its old age: it became a touching appeal to all faithful souls that they would make reparation for all the contempt, and slight, and coldness, and sins, wherewith our age treats the love of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.
“I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament on one of the days during the Octave” (of Corpus Christi, June, 1675,) says the Blessed Margaret, “and I received from my God exceeding great graces of His love. And, feeling a desire to make some return, and give Him love for love, He said to me: ‘ Thou canst not make Me a greater, than by doing that which I have so often asked of thee.’ He then showed me His Divine Heart, and said: ‘Behold this Heart, which has so loved men, as that it has spared nothing, even to the exhausting and wearing itself out, in order to show them Its love; and, instead of acknowledgment, I receive, from the greater number, nothing but ingratitude, by their irreverences and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt wherewith they treat Me, in this Sacrament of love. But what is still more deeply felt by Me is, that they are hearts which are consecrated to me, which thus treat Me. It is on this account, that I make this demand of thee, that the first Friday after the Octave of the Blessed Sacrament be devoted to a special Feast in honour of My Heart; that thou wilt go to Communion on that day; and give it a reparation of honour by an act of amendment, to repair the insults It has received during the time of Its being exposed on the Altar. I promise thee, also, that My Heart will dilate itself, that it may pour forth, with abundance, the influences of Its divine love upon those who shall thus honour It, and shall do their best to have such honour paid to It (Vie de la Bienheureuse, corite par elle-meme).”
By thus calling His servant to be the instrument of the glorification of is Sacred Heart, our Lord made her a sign of contradiction; just as He himself had been (St. Luke, ii. 34). It took more than ten years for Blessed Margaret to get the better, by dint of patience and humility, of the suspicions wherewith she was treated by the little world around her, and of the harsh conduct of the Sisters who lived with her in the same Monastery, and of trials of every sort. At last, on the 21st of June, in the year 1686, the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, she had the consolation of seeing the whole Community of Paray-le-Monial kneeling before a picture, which represented the Heart of Jesus as pierced with a spear; it was the Heart by Itself; it was encircled with flames, and a crown of thorns, with the Cross above it, and the three Nails. That same year, there was begun, in the Monastery, the building of a Chapel in honour of the Sacred Heart; and Blessed Margaret had the happiness of seeing it finished and blessed. She died shortly afterwards, in the year 1690. But all this was a very humble beginning: where was the institution of a Feast, properly so called? and where its solemn celebration throughout the Church?
So far back as the year 1674, our Lord had, in His own mysterious way, brought Margaret-Mary to form the acquaintance of one of the most saintly Religious of the Society of Jesus then living, it was Father De la Colombiere. He recognized the workings of the Holy Spirit in this His servant, and became the devoted apostle of the Sacred Heart, first of all at Paray-le Monial, and, then, later on, in our own country of England, where he was imprisoned by the heretics of those times, and merited the glorious title of Confessor of the Faith. This fervent disciple of the Heart of Jesus died in the year 1682, worn out by his labours and sufferings; but the Society, in a body, inherited his zeal for the propagation of devotion to the Sacred Heart. At once, numerous confraternities began to be formed, and everywhere there began to be built Chapels, in honour of that same Heart. Hell was angry at this great preaching of God’s love. The Jansensists were furious at this sudden proclamation, at this apparition, as St. Paul would say, of the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour (Tit. iii. 4); and the men who were proclaiming it, were aiming at restoring hope to souls, in which they, the Jansenists, had sowed despondency. The big world must interfere; and it began by talking of innovations, of scandals, of even idolatry; at all events, this new devotion was, to put it mildly, a revolting dissecting of the sacred Body of Christ! Erudite pamphlets were published, some theological, some physiological, to prove that the Church should forbid the subject! Indecent engravings were circulated, and witticisms, such as indignation can make, were made, in order to bring ridicule upon those for whom the world had coined the name of Cordicolae, or Heart-Worshippers.
But, human wisdom, or human prejudice, or even human ridicule, cannot withstand God’s purposes. He wished that human hearts should be led to love, and therefore worship, the Sacred Heart of their Redeemer; and He inspired His Church to receive the devotion, which would save so many souls, though the world might not take heaven’s view. The Apostolic See had witnessed all this; and, at last, gave its formal sanction. Rome had frequently granted Indulgences in favour of the devotions privately practiced towards the Sacred Heart; she had published innumerable Briefs for the establishment of local Confraternities, under that title; and, in the year 1765, in accordance with the request made by the Bishops of Poland and the Arch-Confraternity of the Sacred Heart at Rome, Pope Clement the Thirteenth issued the first pontifical decree in favour of the Feast of the Heart of Jesus, and approved of a Mass and Office, which had been drawn up for that Feast. The same favour was gradually accorded to other Churches, until, at length, on the 23rd of August, 1856, Pope Pius the Ninth, of glorious memory, at the instance of all the Bishops of France, issued the Decree for the inserting the Feast of the Sacred Heart on the Calendar, and making obligatory its celebration by the universal Church.
The glorification of the Heart of Jesus called for that of its humble handmaid. On the 18th of September, 1864, the Beatification of Margaret-Mary was solemnly proclaimed by the same Sovereign Pontiff, who had put the last finish to the work she had begun, and given it the definitive sanction of the Apostolic See.
From that time forward, the knowledge and love of the Sacred Heart have made greater progress, than they had done during the whole two previous centuries. In every quarter of the globe, we have heard of Communities, Religious Orders, and whole Dioceses, consecrating themselves to this source of every grace, this sole refuge of the Church in these sad times. There have been pilgrimages made of thousands, from every country, to the favoured sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial, where it pleased the Divine Heart to first manifest Itself, in its visible form, to us mortals.