St Margaret Mary Alacoque

Virgin (entered heaven in 1690)

Dear Marge,

It doesn’t surprise me that your commendable and considerable efforts to get that sorority back into shape have gone unacknowledged.  Now everyone is enjoying a lively and healthy atmosphere and engaging in productive and worthy activities, and no one gives you any thanks at all – they even pass over you when it comes to electing officers.  I’m not surprised, because, well, as difficult as it may be to accept, that’s the way we human beings are: ungrateful.  But far from causing you discouragement, you can take advantaged of the experience to purify your intentions (the more we do things to please God instead of to win fame, the freer we become to love him and to receive his love), and to grow closer to Christ, who has never stopped experiencing monstrous ingratitude from the very souls he came to save.

That was the core of his message to today’s saint.  Margaret Mary was a talented and popular young lady of French nobility (well, near-nobility), well educated and with a bright future in high society.  But something held her back from acceding to her suitors.  Brooking consistent and energetic opposition from her family, she entered the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial when she was 22.  There she continued living out the virtue she had practiced since childhood, especially humility, charity, and a love for our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist.  But her years in the convent were filled with suffering as well as spiritual consolation.  She was treated harshly by some of her superiors for her clumsiness and inability to follow the ordinary spiritual itinerary of a Visitation nun.  Of course, it wasn’t her fault, since it was Jesus himself who was leading her down the extraordinary paths of contemplative prayer, visions, and strong interior manifestations.  But she persevered in obedience both to her religious superiors and to the Lord, who rewarded her virtue with a series of apparitions (over the course of a year and half between December 1673 and June 1675) in which he spoke to her of what would later become known as the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  For the rest of her life, Margaret Mary would propagate this devotion through her prayer, her fidelity, and her influence on another saint who became her confessor, Claude de la Colombiere.  Through it all, her trials never ceased, and she had to suffer ongoing contradiction from her sisters and superiors, along with intense interior temptations and trials.  Such is the lot of all who closely follow our Lord!

It would do you well to read a detailed biography (and the autobiography) of this chosen soul, but I would like to leave you with some of the most famous of Christ’s words to her.  In these words you will find meaning for your own current dilemma, and you will see what a grace God has given you, to experience a little bit in your own life what Jesus has been experiencing so intensely for centuries.  In his final apparition to St Margaret Mary, our Lord showed her his heart and told her, “Behold the heart which has so much loved men that it has spared nothing, even exhausting and consuming itself in testimony of this love.  Instead of gratitude I receive from most only indifference, by irreverence and sacrilege and the coldness and scorn that men have for me in the sacrament of love [i.e. the Eucharist].”

So if your sorority sisters have shown you ingratitude, you can better identify with Christ’s suffering.  Therefore, you will better be able to accompany him and relieve his loneliness by visiting him in the Blessed Sacrament.

Prayerfully yours,

Uncle Eddy

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