St. Margaret Mary’s experience of the eternal love of Christ helps us see that God’s love conquers all evil. In his unconditional love, revealed to us in Christ, we, too, can find the strength to accept the reality of our world and transform its darkness and pain into the love and joy of resurrection. Therefore,
Christ speaks to St. Margaret Mary: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love. In return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt they have for me in this sacrament of love.... I come into the heart I have given you in order that through your fervor you may atone for the offenses which I have received from lukewarm and slothful hearts that dishonor me in the Blessed Sacrament"
The Church has set aside October 16th to celebrate the holy life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and asks all Catholics to receive Holy Communion in memory of His crucifixion agony on the first Friday of every month with Adoration on the Thursday preceeding..
Mortification:The thing which makes me uneasy about St Margaret Mary is her constant use of "extreme" mortification. She fasted and went without sleep to the point where she almost died several times; at one point she cut the Name of Jesus across her chest. According to her writings, Jesus sometimes appears to be asking her to take it easy and other times He seems to be encouraging her to damage herself. Her mortifications are similar to what many Saints dating back to Biblical times encouraged and practiced. The object was to tame their bodies from all worldly attachments and become totally and completely obedient to Jesus Christ without reservation or resistence. At least some form of mortification is supported in scripture and in the Catechism ( Mt16:24-25 Ro8:13 CCC2015 ).
Some comments on mortification:
- EWTN&deMontfort: Defines mortifications as "The deliberate restraint that one places on natural impulses in order to make them increasingly subject to sanctification through obedience to reason illumined by faith" or to superiors... and as "accepting our life as it is and living it patiently everyday by enduring our bodily ailments, the inconveniences of the weather, and the difficulties arising from other people’s actions is mortification enough. To this we may add some voluntary penances and mortifications, such as fasts, vigils, and other austerities practiced by holy penitents"... Interior mortifications are more important than exterior ones, even though the latter are not to be disregarded. The conquest of selfishness, or self-will, is the greatest challenge... "Mortification" performed for its own sake has [no] value. The pains and agonies of an athlete in order to get in shape cannot be considered for that reason alone as mortifications.
- Catholic Encyclopedia: From [the scriptural] use of the term, we see that mortification, though under one aspect it is a law of death, under another and more fundamental aspect it is a law of life, and does not destroy but elevates nature. What it slays is the disease of the soul, and by slaying this it restores and invigorates the soul's true life... It oversomes sin by inducing the will to accept hardships rather than yield to temptations. Thus, earnest Catholics are constantly found denying themselves even in matters which in themselves are confessedly lawful... Mortification is thus viewed as a means of curing bad habits and implanting good ones. It is also performed as expiation for one's own sins, and as reparation for the sins or others, in addition to the complete expiation performed by Jesus Christ on the Cross.
- VaticanNews: The mortification practices of saints throughout the centuries, are examples of uniting oneself "to Christ with self-sacrifice and by participating in His sufferings", particularly His sufferings on the Cross... Ascetical practices are part of the Christian tradition, but should be used in moderation and under the guidance of a mature spiritual director... These practices include fasting to moderate flagellation, and are centuries-old methods of self-discipline and exercising one's freedom... to be free from the bonds of the body, of sleep, of food, of undesired thoughts... But mortication, or corporal penitence can become pathological if it becomes an aim in itself. Masochism starts when a person feels pleasure in pain
Some thoughts regarding St Margaret Mary:
- She felt "invested" with the presence of God, though always afraid of deceiving herself. The request of Christ was that his love for humankind be made evident through her... By her own love she was to make up for the coldness and ingratitude of the world—by frequent and loving Holy Communion, especially on the first Friday of each month, and by an hour's vigil of prayer every Thursday night in memory of his agony and isolation in Gethsemane. He also asked that a feast of reparation be instituted.
- Our scientific-materialistic age cannot "prove" private revelations. Theologians, if pressed, admit that we do not have to believe in them. But it is impossible to deny the message Margaret Mary heralded: that God loves us with a passionate love. Her insistence on reparation and prayer and the reminder of final judgment should be sufficient to ward off superstition and superficiality in devotion to the Sacred Heart while preserving its deep Christian meaning.
- Following her death in 1690, Margaret Mary's mission to establish a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus caused great controversy in the Church, and its practice was not recognized until 1765. She was pronounced "Venerable" in 1824, Blessed in 1864, and was canonized in 1920.
- Re the Devotion: Devotion to the Sacred Heart is but a special form of devotion to Jesus... The Heart of Jesus, like all else that belongs to His Person, is worthy of adoration, but this would not be so if It were considered as isolated from this Person and as having no connection with It... The worship, although paid to the Heart of Jesus, extends further than the Heart of flesh, being directed to the love of which this Heart is the living and expressive symbol.
- This act of devotion is required by the very object of the devotion, since devotion to the love of Jesus for us should be pre-eminently a devotion of love for Jesus. It is characterized by a reciprocation of love; its aim is to love Jesus who has so loved us, to return love for love. Since, moreover, the love of Jesus manifests itself to the devout soul as a love despised and outraged by many people, especially in the Eucharist, the love expressed in the devotion naturally assumes a character of reparation, and hence the importance of acts of atonement, the Communion of reparation, and compassion for Jesus suffering. But no special act, no practice whatever, can exhaust the riches of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. The love which is its soul embraces all of us.