The Revelation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Paral-le-Monial, France
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It was to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Order of the Visitation of Our Lady that Our Lord chose to reveal to the world His Sacred Heart, thus opening a New Era of Grace and Mercy in the history of the Church and the world. These private revelations took place during the years 1673-1675, and are drawn from the diary of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the witness of her fellow sisters, and that of her spiritual director, St. Claude de La Colombiere.
The First Apparition: December 27, 1673
On the Feast of St. John the Evangelist Our Lord came to St. Margaret Mary, while she was in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and granted her the same privilege as He had done to St. Gertrude. This is how St. Margaret Mary describes the event in her autobiography:
"One day, having a little more leisure-for occupations confided to me left me scarcely any-I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, when I felt myself wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence, but to such a degree that I lost all thought of myself and of the place where I was, and abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, yielding up my heart to the power of His Love. He made me repose for a long time upon His Sacred Breast, where He disclosed to me the marvels of His Love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart, which so far He had concealed from me. Then it was that, for the first time, He opened to me His Divine Heart in a manner so real and sensible as to be beyond all doubt, by reason of the effects which this favor produced in me, fearful, as I always am, of deceiving myself in anything that I say of what passes in time. It seems to me that this is what took place:"
"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 needs spread them abroad by your means, and manifest Itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the accomplishment of this great design, in order that everything may be done by Me."
"After this He asked me for my heart, which I begged Him to take. He did so and placed it in His own Adorable Heart where He showed it to me as a little atom which was being consumed in this great furnace, and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart, He restored it to the place whence He had taken it saying to me:"
My well-beloved, I give you a precious token of My love, having enclosed within your side a little spark of its glowing flames, that is may serve you for a heart and consume you to the last moment of your life; its ardor will never be exhausted, and you will be able to find some slight relief only by bleeding. Even this remedy I shall so mark with My Cross, that it will bring you more humiliation and suffering than alleviation. Therefore, I will that you ask for it with simplicity, both that you may practice what is ordered you and also to give you the consolation of shedding your blood on the cross of humiliations. As a proof that the great favor I have done to you is not imagination, and that it is the foundation of all those which I intend further to confer upon you, although I have closed the wound in your side, the pain will always remain. If before, you have taken only the name of My slave, I now give you that of the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart."
"After such a signal favor which lasted for a long time, during which I knew not whether I was in heaven or on earth, I remained for several days, as it were, on fire and inebriated (with divine love) and so completely out of myself, that I had to do myself violence in order to utter a single word. The effort I had to make in order to join in recreation or to take food was so great that it was all I could do to overcome myself, which was a cause of considerable humiliation to me. I was not able to sleep, because of the pain of the wound, which is so precious to me; it produces such heat within me that it burns and consumes me alive. I also felt such a plentitude of God, that I could not explain myself to my Superioress, as I should have wished, regardless of any suffering and confusion which the recital of these favors might cause me. I would rather have accused myself of my sins before the whole world than speak of these graces on account of my extreme unworthiness. It would have been a great consolation to me had I been permitted to read aloud my general confession in the refectory, in order thereby to make known the depth of corruption which is in me, so that none of the favors I received might be attributed to me."
Our Lord makes known the Devotion of the First Fridays: June 1674
"On the First Friday of each month, the above-mentioned grace connected with the pain in my side was renewed in the following manner: the Sacred Heart was represented to me as a resplendent sun, the burning rays of which fell vertically upon my heart, which was inflamed with a fire so fervid that it seemed as if it would reduce me to ashes. It was at these times especially that my Divine Master taught me what He required of me and disclosed to me the secrets of His loving Heart. 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 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 an excess He had loved men, from whom He received only ingratitude and contempt.
"I feel this more than all that I suffered during My Passion. If only they would make Me some return for My Love, I should 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."
"On representing to Him my inability, He replied:"
"Behold, this will supply for all that is wanting to you."
"And at the same time His Divine Heart being opened, there issued from It a flame so ardent that I thought I should be consumed, for I was wholly penetrated with it, and being no longer able to bear it, I besought Him to have pity on my weakness."
"I will be your strength. Fear nothing, but be attentive to My voice and to what I shall require of you that you may be in the requisite disposition for the accomplishment of My designs. In the first place you shall receive Me in Holy Communion as often as obedience (to your confessor and superiors) will permit you, despite the mortification and humiliation it may cause you, which you must receive as pledges of My Love. You shalt, moreover, communicate on the First Friday of each month. Every night between the Thursday and the (first) Friday I will make you share in My mortal sadness which I was pleased to feel in the Garden of Olives, and this sadness, without you being able to understand it, shall reduce you to a kind of agony harder to endure than death itself. And in order to bear Me company in the humble prayer that I then offered to My Father, in the midst of My anguish, you shall rise between 11 P.M. and midnight, and remain prostrate with Me for an hour, not only to appease the divine anger by begging mercy for sinners, but also to mitigate in some way the bitterness which I felt at that time on finding Myself abandoned by My Apostles, which obliged Me to reproach them for not being able to watch one hour with Me. During that hour you shall do what I shall teach you. But listen, My daughter, believe not lightly and trust not every spirit, for Satan is enraged and will seek to deceive you. Therefore, do nothing without the approval of those who guide you; being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient."
Our Lord Purifies His Servant
After this apparition St. Margaret began to suffer from a mystical fever. The Most Holy Trinity appeared to her on another occasion. At the request of her religious superiors, she was asked to pray for a cure to her strange sickness. In response the Blessed Virgin Mary came to her and granted her request. The next year (1675) Our Lord came and asked her for a bitter sacrifice to appease His justice which was aroused by the sins of a single house of religious. She accepted to make this sacrifice. And so, on the vigil of the Presentation (February 2), for the length of one long night she suffered mystically the indescribable tortures of hell and volunteered herself for an extraordinary public penance, which in her humility she does not describe for us. The next morning, at Mass, Our Lord spoke to her:
"At last peace is restored, and My Sanctity of justice is satisfied by the sacrifice you have made in honor of that which I made at the moment of My Incarnation in the womb of My Mother. I wished to renew and unite the merit thereof with this act of yours in order to apply it in favor of charity, as I have shown you. Hence it is that you must no longer lay any claim to whatever you may do or suffer, either to increase your merits or to make satisfaction by penance or otherwise, since everything is sacrificed in favor of charity. Therefore, in imitation of Me you must act and suffer in silence without any other interest than the glory of God, in the establishment of the Reign of My Sacred Heart in the hearts of men, to whom I wish to manifest It by your means."
Thus Our Lord spoke to her, after she received Him in Holy Communion.
Our Lord Requests the Devotion of First Fridays be practiced: June 16, 1675
During the octave in preparation for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, while St. Margaret was close to the choir grate, Our Lord appeared to her upon the Altar.
"Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus. 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 communicating 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 thus honor It, and cause It to be honored."
The Devotion is Made Known to the World
Our Lord had St. Margaret ask that a Feast in honor of His Heart be offered Him by the Church on the Friday after the Solemnity of His Body and Blood (Corpus Christi), that such homage be paid to Himself by the King of France, and that the mission of propagating this devotion was to be entrusted to the Order of the Visitation Sisters and to the priests of the Society of Jesus.
After St. Margaret made this known to her spiritual director, the future St. Claude de la Colombiere. He consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and began to spread the devotion. From Paray-le-Monial, her convent, this devotion spread rapidly, under the care of the Jesuits, to the entire Church. Today, just out side of Paris, France, you can visit the Basilica built as a Act of National Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which commemorates the Apparitions of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She is buried at Paray-le-Monial, which is between Lyons and Paris. Her feast day is October 16.
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