Today’s feast of Marguerite-Marie Alacoque is a reminder for most Tradistanis of the Sacred Heart Devotion, something which, while an occasionally troublesome example of Catholic devotionalism, serves at the very least to remind us of that ancient truth of God’s love first revealed in the Pentateuch:
From heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might teach thee. And upon earth he shewed thee his exceeding great fire, and thou didst hear his words out of the midst of the fire, because he loved thy fathers. (Deut. 4)Throughout the Hebrew dispensation, this truth was reiterated by the prophets:
“For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. Since thou becamest honourable in my eyes, thou art glorious. I have loved thee, and I will give men for thee, and people for thy life.” (Isa. 43)
And the Lord said to me: “Go yet again, and love a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress; as the Lord loveth the children of Israel, and they look to strange gods.” (Hos. 3)
“I have loved you,” saith the Lord. And you have said, “Wherein hast thou loved us?” “Was not Esau brother to Jacob,” saith the Lord, “and I have loved Jacob, but have hated Esau?” (Mal. 1)A greater revelation of God’s love for his people came with the Incarnation and with the ministry of Christ:
And Jesus looking on him, loved him. (Mk. 10)
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” (Lk. 13)
The Jews therefore said, “Behold how he loved him.” (Jn. 11)
“As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love.” (Jn. 15)Marguerite-Marie’s visions were of Christ enrobed in fiery splendor, much as he appears in the Apocalypse and at the Transfiguration. He is here surrounded by seraphim, and his heart is described as a “sun” issuing forth rays she fears will burn her to ash. But where the scriptural assurances of God’s love are passionate but brief, Marguerite-Marie writes endlessly about the emotions and thoughts that spring up at the fresh revelation of Christ’s heart, “burning with thirst for the salvation of sinners.” For the average Catholic, a simple re-reading of the Gospels is likely to be more invigorating to the virtue of charity than the French nun’s emotional roller coaster.
I have to think, though, that St. Marguerite-Marie’s visions were indeed a revelation to the Counter-Reformation cultural Catholicism of her time. The Church was heavily focused on tightening regulations and preventing more losses to Protestantism and secular movements, and in such times it is too easy to lose sight of the offer of friendship that God extends to all men.
As to the general practice of the Sacred Heart devotion, I do not have much to add beyond what His Traddiness has written before. The following short book on the supposed promises of Christ to St. Marguerite-Marie is very useful in gaining perspective on the devotion, and for dissuading people from getting too carried away.
A blessed feast to you all!