Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

During the centuries of 1550 to 1850 France would undergo what would become known in history as the 'little ice age'. This would also bring major economic problems to the infrastructure of France, and its ability to grow produce in its agricultural provinces.

The bitter frost and winds destroyed crops and made any farming difficult, which then brought much hardship to all in France, as many were dependent upon the land to earn their living.

The weather would not be the only problem for France as its government embarked on a series of wars, which expanded its territory, especially when France intervened in what would be known as 'the thirty year war'.

But, it would be under the leadership of King Louis XlV that France would become one centralised Government, even though it would be riddled with internal divisions for many years to come.

Into this seething political hotbed that was France would come a daughter of the Church, Margaret Mary who was born in the year 1647. Both her parents, Claude Alacoque and his wife Philiberte, were overjoyed at their latest arrival who would join her four other siblings.

The Alacoque family were known for their piety and both parents faithfully instructed all their children on the Church's Teaching. Margaret Mary would prove to be an apt pupil as she listened intently to her parents, and through their guidance Margaret Mary grew in fervour as she longed to receive Communion. But sadness touched the family when her Father died in 1755; Philiberte was distraught at losing her beloved Claude.

So it was decided to send Margaret Mary to the Urbanist Nuns at Charolles, where she stayed for the next 2 years to receive further instruction on the Faith, and to further her education. Because of the good grounding she had received from her parents Margaret was able to partake of Holy Communion at the young age of nine.

But it was after this that a strange malady struck Margaret Mary and she was unable to remain with the nuns as her condition worsened and she became bed ridden. Upon her return home her family was worried for her and wondered if their beloved Margaret would ever walk again. So they along with Margaret Mary began a prayer vigil, and it was when Margaret consecrated herself to the Blessed Mother, that she was miraculously healed.

Margaret Mary attributed her healing to the intervention of the Blessed Mother and vowed to become a Religious herself, for Margaret had longed for this, even at the early age of four.

During all this Philiberte kept up her daughters spirits even though she herself was enduring much stress from inner wrangling with some members of her family. Even though the Alacoque family had been left in good financial circumstances due to her father’s position at court, many members of the family tried to interfere with Philiberte's handling of her children and home. This led to the family being taken advantage of, and Philiberte lost much of her financial independence.

After the family conflict had abated Philiberte tried to marry off her lovely Margaret Mary to a man of substance, and though for a while Margaret immersed herself in society dances and balls she could find no solace in such vanities. So Margaret refused and held fast to her longing to enter the Religious life, for she intended to keep her promise made to the Blessed Mother. It was also during this internal family warfare that Margaret turned increasingly to prayer and spent many hours praying to her beloved Lord and Our Lady, seeking guidance in which direction to take.

It was during this time that Margaret Mary would see a vision of Christ, who appeared before her as if he had been freshly scourged, a most pitiful sight which tore at the young Margaret’s heart. Our Lord rebuked Margaret for forgetting her promise, and this was to touch Margaret’s heart with an inner remorse that would stay with her for life.

So it was that in the year 1671 Margaret Mary entered the Visitation Order situated at Paray and in 1672 Margaret made her final vows. During all this our Lord continued to appear to Margaret Mary, showing through his throbbing and bleeding Heart how much sin grieved Him and his Heavenly Father, and it was through this vision of Christ's most Sacred Heart that a devotion would spring to appease the sins of the world, through this particular devotion of prayer.

These visions of our Lord would also bring much pain to Margaret Mary as many in her community became jealous. Though many were cruel to her, Margaret remained loving and docile, and this won over the hearts of her Superiors and fellow sisters.

It was also through these visions given to Margaret Mary as a Gift from God, that Jesus wished to establish the devotion to His Sacred Heart, by instituting a Holy Hour on the first Friday of each month. For Jesus longed for Reparation from the Faithful when in His hour of need He had been alone, and to afford all those who would keep Him company during this devotion to the Sacred Heart the immensity of His Divine Mercy and Love to Sanctify all who pray in reparation and keep Him company during His agony.

Then in 1675 a holy Priest Claude de la Colombiere was sent to the parish of Paray and became confessor to the Visitation Nuns, which included Sister Margaret Mary. It would be through this young Priest that the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus would be promoted, through his writings.

For both Sister Margaret Mary and Fr. Claude had a devout love for Jesus and longed to keep Him company when he was deserted by all. Through their combined love of God they were to spread this mission and devotion throughout the world and the promises contained for those who follow this devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sister Margaret Mary died in 1690.

St. Margaret Mary was canonised in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

These are the twelve promises of Jesus for those devoted to His Sacred Heart.

1: I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life

2: I will establish peace in their families.

3: I will console them in all their troubles.

4: They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.

5: I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6: Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.

7: Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8: Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9: I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10: I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.

11: Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.

12: The all-powerful love of My 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 my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)

October 4
Saint Francis was born at Assisi, in Italy, in the year 1182. His father, a rich merchant, intended him for trade, and Francis applied himself with aptness to this employment, in which, though fond of show, he exhibited, at an early day, a particular love for the poor. Agreeable and amiable, affable and kind to all, he was beloved by all around him, and the world sought to draw him to its side. But, enlightened from above, and by heavenly apparitions rendered attentive to the call he was about to receive, he followed the leadings of grace which drew him on to imitate Christ in poverty and humility. Hearing one day at Mass the words of the Gospel: "Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff" (Matthew 10:9,10), he began to regulate the whole manner of his life according to this precept of the Gospel, and at once began to preach penance with such evangelical poverty, and with such power, that all who heard him were moved to tears. Disinherited by his father, who was greatly displeased at his poverty and open-handedness towards the poor, he threw himself altogether upon the providence of his Father in heaven, dividing with the poor the alms he thus received. The extraordinary manner of his life soon brought around him disciples, and as the number of them increased daily, he wrote for them a rule, and then set out for Rome, to procure from the Pope a confirmation of it. He came back, rejoicing in the Lord that everything at Rome had gone according to his wish, and established himself about a mile from his native city, at a small church belonging to the Benedictines, which he called Portiuncula (little portion). Here he led a life of the severest penance; here he prayed day and night, and here he laid the foundation of that Order which has filled the world with the splendor of its virtues. Here in this church, dedicated to the virgin Mother of Jesus and to the holy angels, he received from Christ Himself the celebrated indulgence known throughout the whole Christian world as the Portiuncula Indulgence; for while the saint was praying there with glowing devotion, on the day of the dedication of the church, in the year 1221, the Lord appeared to him and said: "Francis, ask whatever thou wilt for the salvation of the nations." He answered: "I desire the remission of guilt and punishment, a plenary indulgence for all who shall visit this church with contrite hearts and sinccrely confess their sins." The Lord replied: "Go then to My representative, the Pope, and ask the indulgence in My name." Forthwith he went to Pope Honorius III, who first, by word of mouth, and afterwards by a proper bull, confirmed to him the indulgence. The same indulgence was, at a latter day, extended to all churches of the Franciscans, and by Pope Pius VII to all parish churches (at least to all in Bavaria), and may be gained on the first Sunday in August of every year.
Burning with desire for the salvation of the people, Saint Francis with his brethren, whom he sent out two by two to preach penance and. the peace of God, labored to establish everywhere the kingdom of heaven. His love for sinners, and his ardent zeal for the salvation of souls, impelled him to visit remote parts of the world to preach the Gospel to unbelievers. For this he was rewarded by God with miraculous graces, among which there is particularly to be mentioned that which was granted him upon Mount Alverno. While he was there engaged, separated from the world, in fasting and praying for forty days, as he was accustomed to do often, the Saviour appeared to him in the form of a seraph on the cross, and imprinted the five wounds of His own body on the body of Saint Francis. On acconnt of this, and for his ardent love for Jesus crucified, Saint Francis received the surname of Seraph.
After this event the saint lived two years in manifold bodily distress and sickness, without murmur or complaint, with perfect resignation to the will of God. Some time before his death he caused his will to be written, in which he left to his brethren poverty as an inheritance in which they should find great treasure for heaven. As the hour of his dissolution drew nigh he had the passion of Christ read to him; he then said the one hundred and forty-first psalm, and at the words, "Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise Thy name," he expired happy in the Lord, 4 October 1226, in the forty-fifth year of his age.
Saint Francis founded three Orders: the first and proper Order of Franciscans, or the Order of Friars Minor; then the Order of Franciscan nuns, or Clares, so called from Saint Clare, their first superior; and lastly, that called the Third Order, for people in the world, of both sexes, who aim at perfection, but do not desire to make the vows of the cloister. This last Order, which has been approved by many Popes, particularly by Gregory IX, Innocent IV, and Nicholas IV, has spread throughout the whole world, and is becoming in our day more and more flourishing.
O God, Who by the merits of blessed Francis dost increase Thy Church by a new progeny, grant us by imitating him to despise earthly things, and ever to rejoice in the participation of heavenly gifts. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Epistle: Galatians 6:14-18
Brethren: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And whosoever shall follow this rule, peace on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man be troublesome to me, for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body. The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30
At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me by My Father. And no, one knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither doth anyone know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is sweet and My burden light.
-- Goffine's Devout Instructions

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