Friday, October 3, 2014

First Friday Devotion - You still have a few hours left

St. Margaret Mary's vision of Sacred Heart

Today is the first Friday of the month, so if you go to Mass today and receive communion, and keep that up for nine consecutive Fridays, you will not only receive the grace of final repentance, you won't die under God's displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be your assured refuge in your last hour.

That is a promise St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 AD - 1690 AD) received from Jesus Christ himself.  This promise was given in a vision; from her youth, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had been granted many visions of Jesus (she at first assumed everybody got them).  In the course of these visions St. Margaret Mary received from Our Lord many tender expressions of his great love for mankind, along with many promises of graces to those who  practiced devotion to his Sacred Heart.

At the age of 9, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had made a vow to enter religious life, but she did not enter a Visitation convent until she was 24 (after having been reproached by Jesus, in a vision, for not keeping her vow).  According to her fellow novices, St. Margaret Mary was humble, simple and frank, but above all kind and patient.  Jesus seems to be drawn to this type.  St. Margaret Mary was assigned to the infirmary,where she wasn't very good at her tasks.   Jesus also doesnt seem to care much whether you're a superstar at your job or not.

Her lifelong visions continued in the convent, but St. Margaret Mary had a lot of trouble convincing her superiors to take these visions seriously.   They eventually did, though a panel of theologians which investigated the visions did not consider them authentic.  St. Margaret Mary's own religious community shared the theologians' skepticism, and they made her life miserable for many years.   Finally, St. Margaret Mary visions found support among influential religious persons, in particular the Jesuits, who began to foster the devotion to the Sacred Heart taught by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary, and this devotion began to grow.

However, for nearly a century, the teachings and revelations of St. Margaret Mary, as well as her own personal qualities, continued to undergo a severe scrutiny.  At last, in 1928, St. Margaret Mary's visions and revelations received official approval in Pope Pius XI's encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor (Most Merciful Redeemer).   In the words of the encyclical:

"[T]here is surely no reason for doubting, Venerable Brethren, that from this devotion piously established and commanded to the whole Church, many excellent benefits will flow forth not only to individual men but also to society, sacred, civil, and domestic, seeing that our Redeemer Himself promised to Margaret Mary that "all those who rendered this honor to His Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces."

Other promises Jesus made to those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart here; I like this one very much:

I will give peace in their families.

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