October 11, 1998
Brother John Raymond
Jesus had a human heart that reflected the Divine Love of God for us. It was His loving Heart that spent Itself totally for us, even to pouring Itself out on the Cross when pierced by a soldier's lance. Wouldn't it be great to know the Heart of Jesus better? One person was graced with the mission of revealing the sentiments of His Heart to us.
Saint Margaret Mary was born on July 22, 1647 at Lautecour in the province of Burgundy, France. At the age of four Margaret was sent to her godmother's castle where she lived for some time. The castle had a chapel and here the pious child spent long hours kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. Margaret also had a tender devotion to Our Blessed Mother and prayed her Rosary fervently.
When she was eight years old Margaret returned home. Soon after her return her father died and Margaret was sent to a boarding school run by the Poor Clare Nuns. It was here that she made her First Holy Communion at the age of nine. Here also Margaret began to desire to become a nun. However Margaret had to leave this convent school and return home because of illness. She suffered from rheumatism, which kept her bedridden for four years. When Margaret promised Our Lady that if she were cured she would become one of Her daughters, that is, a nun, she was instantly cured.
The next few years were filled with suffering for Margaret; her mother became ill and several relatives who lived in the same house made life difficult for Margaret and her mother. These relatives remained in charge of the house until one of Margaret's brothers was old enough to take over.
During these years of suffering Margaret sought strength and consolation from prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. At times Margaret received a very special grace-Our Blessed Lord would appear to her. Margaret dedicated herself to the instruction of poor children in the catechism and taught them their prayers. In 1669 Margaret received the Sacrament of Confirmation and added the name Mary.
On May 25, 1671, when Margaret Mary was 23 years old, she entered the Visitation Nuns at Paray-le-Monial, a place that would one day become a great shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Visitation Nuns were founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantel in 1610. After three months Margaret Mary received the habit on August 25, 1671. Immediately she began receiving special graces. She saw and heard Our Blessed Lord; she felt Him close beside her.
On November 6, 1672 St. Margaret Mary made her vows. She was an excellent religious and was perfectly obedient. At times during her life as a religious St. Margaret Mary worked in the infirmary and also was in charge of the little girls who attended the school at the convent. Along with her intense spirit of prayer was a great amount of penance. She fasted much. She mortified her thirst. She put pieces of wood and even pieces of broken pots in her bed.
St. Margaret Mary's great love was the Blessed Sacrament. The sisters always knew where to find her-before the tabernacle. On Sundays and feasts, when she had more free time, she spent almost the entire day kneeling, immobile before the Blessed Sacrament.
On the Feast of St. John, the Beloved Apostle, December 27, 1673, the Saint herself related that during adoration on this day Jesus said to her, "My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for men, and for you in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning Charity, It must spread them abroad by your means and manifest Itself to them [mankind] in order to enrich them with the precious treasures which I reveal to you and which contain graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen you for the accomplishment of this great design."
The second great revelation of the Sacred Heart occurred sometime in 1674. We do not know the exact date. St. Margaret Mary states: "On one occasion, while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, feeling wholly withdrawn within myself by an extraordinary recollection of all my senses and powers, Jesus Christ, my sweet Master, presented Himself to me, all resplendent with glory, His Five Wounds shining like so many suns. Flames issued from every part of His sacred humanity, especially from His adorable breast, which resembled an open furnace and He disclosed to me His most loving and most amiable Heart, which was the living source of these flames. It was then that He made known to me the ineffable marvels of His pure love and showed me to what excess He had loved men, from whom He received only ingratitude and contempt. 'I feel this more,' He said, 'than all that I suffered during My Passion. If only they would make me some return for My love, I would think but little of all I have done for them and would wish, were it possible, to suffer still more. But the sole return they make for all My eagerness to do them good is to reject me and treat me with coldness. Do you at least console me by supplying for their ingratitude, as far as you are able...In the first place you shall receive me in Holy Communion as often as obedience will permit you. You shall, moreover, receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of each month.'"
It was after this revelation that St. Margaret Mary was to meet and be guided by the great Jesuit priest, St. Claude de la Colombiere.(d.1682) He would be the first, after St. Margaret Mary, to respond to these requests of the Sacred Heart. Our Blessed Lord, in speaking to St. Margaret Mary, even called him His "perfect friend."
It was in June of 1675 that the third revelation took place. St. Margaret Mary wrote: "Being before the Blessed Sacrament one day of Its octave [the eight days after the Feast of Corpus Christi], I received from my God special tokens of His love...(Jesus) revealing to me His Divine Heart, He said: 'Behold this Heart, which has loved men so much, that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them Its love and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges and by the coldness and contempt which they show me in this Sacrament of Love. . .Therefore, I ask of you that the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honor My Heart, by receiving Holy Communion on that day and making reparation to It by a solemn act in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall likewise honor It and cause It to be honored.'"
The rest of St. Margaret Mary's life was spent all for the honor and glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary had pictures made of the Sacred Heart. In 1856, Pope Pius IX established the Feast of the Sacred Heart for the entire Church.
St. Margaret Mary had completed her mission: devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was established in the Church. She stated: "I no longer wish for anything but to procure the glory of the Sacred Heart. How happy I should be if, before I die, I am able to do something to please Him!" And, "I can hardly express my joy at seeing the increase of devotion to the Sacred Heart of my Savior. I seem to live for that alone. Sometimes such an ardent desire to make It reign in all hearts is kindled within me that there is nothing I would not do and suffer to bring this about." On October 17 in 1690 at seven in the evening St. Margaret Mary died while pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus. The Apostle of the Sacred Heart passed on to Eternity.
Among the Twelve Promises of Our Blessed Lord to St. Margaret Mary for those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart (taken from her autobiography and letters) some stand out for families: 1) He will give peace in their families. 2) He will bless the homes in which the image of His Sacred Heart is exposed and honored. 3) His Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under His displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments; His Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
Father Francis Larkin, SS.CC., an American, founded the "Men of the Sacred Hearts" whose apostolate is to prepare families to enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in their homes. For information about this or their other Sacred Heart apostolates send a SASE to:
National Enthronement Center
3 Adams St.
Fairhaven, MA. 02719