"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Sunday 15 January 2012

THE FUTURE BELONGS TO MERCY (The Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart)

Futur belongs to mercy - Sanctuary of... by Sanctuaires-paray
(above is a first class video on the shrine and devotion in HD)

from a website about pilgrimage of St Margaret-Mary’s relics in Australia in 2005

"Everywhere, in society, in our villages, in our neighborhoods, in our factories and our offices, in our meetings between peoples and races, the heart of stone, the dried up heart, must change into the heart of flesh, open to one’s brothers, open to God. The survival of humanity depends upon it. It is beyond our power. It is a gift from God. A gift of His Love" (John Paul II, October 5, 1986, at Paray-le-Monial).

This gift of love was announced by the prophet Ezechiel: I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts (Ez 36: 26). But how does this transformation come about, so necessary to the well-being of humanity and to the salvation of souls? How does the Holy Spirit come into the hearts of men? It is the work of Jesus Christ: on Calvary, the heart of Christ, opened by the soldier’s lance, became the source from which the Heavenly Father would make flow the graces of conversion and participation in the divine life.

On the threshold of modern times, Saint Margaret Mary was chosen by Divine Providence to remind the entire Church and the world of the depth of the love of Christ. She "knew the overwhelming mystery of Divine Love. She knew all the depth of the words of Ezechiel: I will give you a heart. During all of her life hidden in Christ, she was marked by the gift of this Heart which offers itself boundlessly to every human heart" (John Paul II, ibid.)

Saint Margaret Mary was the daughter of Philiberte Lamyn and Claude Alacoque, a judge and notary in the Charolais region of Burgundy. They already had three sons when a daughter came into the world on July 22, 1647, who received at Baptism, three days after her birth, the name Margaret. Towards the age of four or five years, Margaret made an extended stay at the home of her godmother, Madame de Fautrière. For the first time, the child heard about the life consecrated to God and of religious vows; Marie-Bénigne de Fautrière, her godmother’s daughter, was in fact a nun at the Visitation Monastery Sainte Marie de Paray-de-Monial. The little girl constantly felt compelled to say again and again these words: "O my God, I consecrate my purity to you and I vow to you my perpetual chastity." One day, she uttered this phrase between the two elevations of the Mass. These words took on such importance in her eyes that she recalled them, twenty years later, as having marked her life. Certainly, she had not made a commitment before the Church, but she had grasped that God wanted all of her for Himself. Later on, Jesus would say to her, "I have chosen you for my spouse. We were promised to one another when you made the vow of chastity, which I inspired you with before the world had a place in your heart."

This precocious consecration might surprise us. But sometimes Our Lord destines certain souls to exceptional works, and reveals to them, even at a very tender age, the secrets of His love. This was, for example, the case of the prophet Jeremiah (cf. Jr 1: 4-10). Such graces call for great fidelity to God from the soul which receives them.

Paralyzed for four years
Margaret was sent to the Poor Clares’ school in Charolles. Her fervor and her love for the Virgin Mary was noticed by all. Every day, she recited the Rosary with extraordinary devotion. But a lengthy illness interrupted her studies and obliged her to leave the convent at Charolles. She remained paralyzed in her bed for four years. The child then promised Mary to become a religious someday, and she recovered her health. "No sooner had I made this vow than I received this cure." This miracle aroused a new surge of Marian piety in her heart: "The Holy Virgin," she tells us, "made herself from then on the mistress of my heart. She regarded me as her own. She directed me as one dedicated to herself, correcting me of my faults and teaching me to do the will of God."

Yet, "having recovered my health," wrote Margaret Mary, "I did not think of anything but finding pleasure in the use of my liberty, without worrying about carrying out my promise." Thus began a period of spiritual laxity. No really serious fault slipped into her life, but, "naturally inclined to pleasure," she followed her inclinations and gave herself over "to the vanity and affection of creatures." A quite natural reaction after four years of illness and the entry into adolescence. But God made her understand quite quickly that "given birth to at Calvary, the life that the Lord gave her could not be sustained but by the food of the cross." After having discovered physical suffering, she went on to know moral suffering and then familial trials.

After the premature death of her husband, Madame Alacoque experienced the cruellest difficulties: involved in endless material disputes, she could hardly take care of her children. She left them in the care of their paternal grandmother, who was joined by an aunt and the aunt’s mother-in-law. All three assumed absolute rights over Margaret and her mother, the other Alacoque children being at boarding school. Margaret was treated worse than the servants, they themselves treated harshly by the terrible women. But Our Lord comforted her and made her understand that He had chosen her to share his painful Passion: "I want to make myself present to your soul in order to make you act as I myself acted in the midst of cruel sufferings endured for love of you." Margaret would later say, "Since that time, Jesus always remained present to me in the spirit, crowned with thorns, carrying His cross or crucified. I thus had so much compassion for Him and love for His sufferings that my troubles became light, and I desired greater sorrows in order to render myself similar to Him." And she added, "We must treat the adorable Heart of Jesus often to this meal so delicious to Him, I mean the precious humiliations, despisals, and abjections with which He feeds His most faithful friends here below."

How should we hear this language so little in keeping with our conceptions and apparently contrary to the legitimate care that we take to lessen our sufferings? Suffering is not in itself a good. Yet Jesus Himself accepted it so as to transfigure it, to give it a redemptive value for all those who would like to accept it with Him, out of love. Suffering then becomes, by God’s power, the means of our moral uprising after sin. "Why does God permit suffering?" someone asked Mother Teresa one day. "It’s difficult to understand-it’s the mystery of the love of God; that’s why we are not able to even understand why Jesus suffered so much, why He had to go through this solitude of Gethsemane and the suffering of the crucifixion. It’s the mystery of His great love. The suffering that we see now is as if Christ were reliving His Passion in us."

The "vanities"
Margaret was then eighteen years old. Her close relatives, and particularly her mother, thought of arranging her marriage. The young girl loved fineries and frivolities; she allowed herself to be charmed by worldly celebrations and her vocation was weakened by them. Yet God followed her even into the midst of these parties and dances. Sometimes, He squeezed her heart so severely that she felt herself forced to leave suddenly in order to go to lament her weakness at the church or in some secret place. Her face against the earth, she begged God’s forgiveness for her attachment to society life, but the next day, she would return to these dangerous entertainments.

One night when, having returned to her room, she had removed her festive dress and the jewels with which she had adorned herself with some indulgence, Jesus showed Himself to her in the state He was in after His cruel flagellation. "It is," He told her, "your vanities which have reduced me to this state. By your irresoluteness you are losing time which I will ask a rigorous account for at your death. You are betraying me with your infidelities. You would die of shame at all your ingratitudes compared to all the proofs of love which I have given you to attract you to me." Margaret, overwhelmed, then made the resolution to intensify her austerities and penitences. Jesus was not satisfied with this, for He wanted her to become a nun, as she had promised Him. Finally, after six years of struggling, she made her definitive decision.

On May 26, 1671, she went to the Visitation Sainte-Marie de Paray-le-Monial. As soon as she entered the parlor, an interior voice informed her, "This is where I want you." One month later, she entered the monastery forever. Her first order of business was to ask her novice-mistress to teach her to make mental prayer. The Mother answered her, "Go place yourself before Our Lord present in the tabernacle, and tell Him that you would like to be before Him like a canvas before a painter." The young postulant did not understand, but obeyed. Jesus explained to her interiorly, "This canvas is your soul. I want to paint there the strokes of my life, which passed in love and privation, in occupation and silence, and finally in the most absolute sacrifice I want to purify you of all the stains which you still have."

On August 25, 1671, Margaret received the religious habit and added to her baptismal name that of Mary. November 6, 1672, she took the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She was given the position of auxiliary nurse in the infirmary.

The symbol and the instrument of mercy
June 13, 1675. During an apparition, Our Lord, uncovering His Divine Heart, revealed to Sister Margaret Mary: "See this Heart which has loved men so much that it has spared nothing, to the point of exhausting and consuming itself to show them its love." God wanted to become man so as to be able to love us with the Heart of a man. The ultimate goal of such a love is expressed in this phrase from the Gospel: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life (Jn 3: 16). But, before introducing us to the intimacy of divine life, God had to remove the obstacle constituted by sin, the greatest of evils which touch man. "To the eyes of faith, no evil is greater than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1488). The manifestation of Divine Love would thus take a particular expression-it would be called "mercy."

Mercy is at the center of the message confided by Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary. To be merciful is to have a heart moved to sadness at the sight of another’s misery, as if it were one’s own. The effect of mercy is to eliminate the other’s misery as much as possible. Thus, God took pity on men in seeing the evil which sin had introduced into the world. And, although offended by our faults, He tirelessly offers us the grace of repentance and of His pardon. Mercy is His peculiar characteristic. "To show mercy is regarded as belonging in proper to God, and it is particularly in this that his omnipotence is revealed," teaches Saint Thomas Aquinas.

The Heart of Jesus, pierced through on Calvary by the soldier’s lance, is the symbol and the instrument of this mercy. From it flowed blood and water (Jn 19: 34), images of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism, which purify souls and open to them the way to salvation. Baptism, symbolized by water, cleanses us of all sin. The Eucharist, represented by the blood, applies to us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the merits of the Passion of Christ; it likewise feeds our souls by Communion. Jesus chose Sister Margaret Mary to remind men of these mysteries; He told her, "I want to show them the treasures of my Heart, and give them new graces to draw them from the pit of the eternal fire towards which mortal sin hurls them. In order to accomplish this, I have chosen you precisely because of your weakness and your ignorance. Thus will they see clearly that everything is coming from me."

"What is this invention of yours?"
The ingratitude and forgetfulness of mankind before the Divine Mercy wound the Heart of Jesus, as manifested by the crown of thorns which encircled it during the first apparition. Jesus complained about it to the saint: "In recognition (of my love) I receive from most nothing but ingratitude, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness, and scorn." And again: "Look how sinners treat me They have nothing but coldness and disdain for all my eagerness to do them good But at least give me the pleasure of making up for their ingratitude Share in the bitterness of my Heart."

In response to this expectation of Our Lord, the saint began to come closer to the mysteries of the Passion. Jesus asked her to unite herself to His agony at the Mount of Olives, in making a "holy hour" each Thursday from eleven to midnight, praying and asking forgiveness for sinners. She therefore had to obtain from her Superior permission to make this "holy hour." She went to seek it But what a disappointment! "No and again no! What is this invention of yours?" Sister Margaret Mary submitted. Shortly thereafter, she fell seriously ill: "Ask Our Lord to cure you," her Superior told her. "If He does, I will authorize you." She obeyed, and recovered her health-this time the Superior began to believe in the extraordinary ways by which the Lord was leading this soul. But in order to test her holiness, she heaped upon her reproaches, orders and counterorders, and humiliations of all sorts, which the Visitandine saint received silently and with good grace, but not without sharply feeling their thorns.

One day, Jesus ordered her to publicly reproach her sisters for the sins which were committed in the community and which He revealed to her. With the authority of her Superior, she complied, more dead than alive. Immediately the sisters protested; they became hot-headed, indignation was at its height. She was treated as a madwoman. They threw holy water on her so as to chase away the devil. Thus rendered similar to Christ in His Passion, she could say later, "Never have I suffered so much."

The frequent divine communications that Sister Margaret Mary received sometimes threw her into trouble-she feared that she was the plaything of her imagination or of Satan. But Our Lord sent as confessor of her convent a man of God, the Jesuit Father Claude La Colombière, who would eventually be canonized. He reassured her, "I assure you, on behalf of God, that all that which is happening to you comes from Him."

"I thirst to be loved "
"If you knew," Jesus said to Sister Margaret Mary, "how much I thirst to be loved by men, you would not spare anything for it I thirst, I burn with desire to be loved!" Is there indeed anything more painful than to love someone and to not be loved by them in return? The love of Christ impels us, says Saint Paul (2 Cor 5: 14); it impels us above all to return love for love.

A privileged means to manifest our love for Jesus is to honor Him in the Most Holy Eucharist, the "Sacrament of His Love." "I have a burning thirst," confided Jesus to our saint, "to be honored and loved by men in the Most Holy Sacrament and I find nearly no one who strives, according to my desire, to quench my thirst, by loving me in return." Our Lord desires in particular that Christians receive Him in Holy Communion in a spirit of reparation, offering to the Eternal Father His Heart truly present under the Eucharistic species. But what do we understand by "reparation"?

The soul which progresses in the way of holiness cannot prevent itself from considering its past. It then wants to make up for lost time and compensate for all its refusals or previous carelessness by a greater love. It also notices with distress that the goodness of the Divine Charity towards mankind is often unacknowledged. So it wishes to compensate for the indifference and the offences of many by a delicate and generous love towards the Saviour; it desires as well to unite itself to Christ and to participate in His work of reparation and salvation, after the example of Saint Paul: In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church (Col 1: 24).

But the spirit of expiation or of reparation does not constitute the fullness of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Its essential practice is the consecration, that is to say, according to the saint’s definition, a complete giving of oneself, of all one’s actions. Christ thus comes to live in us: "This Divine Heart of Jesus must be substituted in place of our hearts such that He alone lives and acts in us and for us that His affections, His thoughts, and His desires, but most of all His love, take the place of ours." Devotion to the Sacred Heart is also expressed by external signs, for example, the exposition of its image. In instituting this devotion, Our Lord did not want to add further demands nor make heavier our burdens, but to place us in a state to receive a new effusion of graces, according to the promises He made to St. Margaret Mary.

All Christians are called to honor the Heart of Christ, but especially consecrated souls and families. In return, this Heart will bring them a "special protection of love and union." During his pastoral visit to Paray-le-Monial on October 5, 1986, Pope John Paul II declared, "Before the open Heart of Christ, we seek to draw from it the true love which our families need. The familial cell is fundamental in order to build up the civilization of love." If the families of our age know too often trial and rupture, would it not be because our hearts, instead of being filled with real love which is self-giving, have been made as hard as stone in abandoning themselves to selfishness? Jesus opened his wounded Heart in order to transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, full of love towards all and of kindness towards those close to us.

Ways for today
Having transmitted the message of Divine Mercy to the entire Church, Sister Margaret Mary had accomplished her mission here below. October 17, 1690, she died, pronouncing this single word: "Jesus." Towards the end of her life, she would write to her spiritual director: "It seems to me that I will never be at rest unless I find myself in the gulfs of humiliation and suffering, unknown to the entire world and buried in eternal oblivion." If Our Lord led the confidante of his Heart to such humility, it was in order to have her participate in His glory, for whoever humbles himself shall be exalted (Mt 23: 12). Sister Margaret Mary, so little in her own eyes, is proclaimed today a saint by the Church, before the world. Faithful come from everywhere to meditate close to her relics and to implore her intercession. Paray-le-Monial has become the center of an intense spiritual life.

Pope John Paul II thus summarized the message of Paray-le-Monial in a message to the Reverend Father Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, October 5, 1986: "The abundant spiritual fruits which devotion to the Heart of Jesus has produced are widely acknowledged. Expressing itself notably by the practice of the holy hour, of Confession and Communion on the First Fridays of the month, it has contributed towards encouraging generations of Christians to pray more and to participate more frequently in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. These are the ways which it is desirable to propose to the faithful still today."

In devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us respond to our Saviour’s call full of tenderness: Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and your souls will find rest (Mt 11: 28-29). "What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in His love shows us the way to life" (Saint Benedict, Prologue to the Rule). May we follow Him on this path where inexpressible treasures of grace are prepared for our souls! Confident in the infinite mercy of the Heart of Jesus, we recommend to Him you, your families, your deceased, and all your intentions.

Dom Antoine Marie osb (extract from a website about pilgrimage of St Margaret-Mary’s relics in Australia in 2005)

A community/movement associated with Paray-le-monial and now with the pastoral care of the sanctuary of the Sacred Heart entrusted to it, is the charismatic Community of Emmanuel which has 9,000 members world-wide (including Lima) but is strongest in its native France.  People of all walks of life belong to it.   Here is a video of their audience with the Pope.


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