Franciscan University since 1978 has offered a household system to its students. It literally transformed the University. Households are small communities based off the Cursillo Fourth Day group method but lived in a more intense way. They all have a particular devotion and spirituality associated with them. The household I joined was called Hearts of Fire. It had a special devotion to St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Our household lived out this spirituality through nightly recitation of the Holy Rosary, Praise and Worship on Wednesdays, community Mass on Fridays and the Lord’s Day Celebration on Saturday at dusk. This community deeply influenced and supported my spiritual life for my four year tenure and the friends I made have been more like family for the past 21 years.
As you might imagine, the Church’s celebration of St. Margaret Mary’s memorial is very close to our hearts. Reflecting upon this devotion, I believe that it is one that has fallen out of style but needed more than ever. The basis of the devotion is the reception of our Lord’s love for us and offering our hearts to him. At first glance, the practice of this devotion seems easy but the implications are vast.
We live in a society that does not know how to love – it knows how to use or be used. See, most young people I run into today or work with are starving for love. They are willing to do anything, and I mean anything, for a taste of love. Combine that with a disposable fast-food attitude and you get impatient souls who drop people and activities because they no longer amuses them. People and relationships are commodities and if there is no appreciable return on investment, well, move on.
This devotion, however, is an answer to our need as a society and persons. Jesus offers His heart and love to us freely. Even the image, shows Him handing His heart to us with a countenance that seems to say, “Please, Please! Let me share my love and life with you.” He desires to give His mercy which too is free for the taking if only we receive that same heart from Him. Why do so few of us take Him up on the invitation? I believe it is fear.
We fear what we do not know and would rather settle for the imitation that we do. We do not want to change and instinctively, we know that a relationship with Christ requires change on our part. Not because He needs us to change but we begin to realize we are less than we ought to be. We fear that we will lose our identity when really we will discover who we are. We think that a boy/girlfriend or spouse will fill the longing in our heart. To be honest, married couples are some of the loneliest people I know. My wife and I have worked with a number of them over the past 15 years and have been saddened by the deep desire for love each of the spouses yearns for, which neither can give. Only the Lord can fill that deep place in our heart. We can fill it with anything and everything but eventually, the deprivation will catch up with us.
I would encourage you today to accept our Lord’s invitation and receive the gift of the Sacred Heart He offers you. How? Go to adoration, look at Him, ask for His heart and commit yourself to listening to His voice. That just requires a commitment to reading Scripture and a spirit of stillness during prayer. Oh, and the willingness to listen to what you fear the most. What is the scariest sentence to hear from Jesus? “I love you and you are mine.”
Short History of St. Margaret Mary
A self-effacing nun in the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial, France, was inspired by the Lord Jesus to establish the devotion of the Holy Hour. Her name was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and from the age of seven, when she received her first Holy Communion, she had always manifested an intense love of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord appeared to her often, usually as the Crucified Christ. Her simplicity caused her to feel that these apparitions were also granted to others who had recourse to Jesus in the sacrament of His love. Once the Master appeared to the young girl as she was returning from a dance and reproached her for not espousing Him.
When twenty-four years of age, Margaret entered the cloister, choosing the most menial tasks. Gifted with intelligence and common sense, she made great progress in holiness. Our Lord entrusted to her the mission of establishing the reign of the Sacred Heart among the children of men. Criticism did not hamper her zeal, and her charity toward her opponents won them over to the cause of the Master.
In the first revelation of the Sacred Heart to the nun, Our Lord made known His burning desire to be loved by all men, and His design of manifesting to them His Sacred Heart with its treasures of mercy. Margaret Mary communicated Our Lord’s wish that the faithful receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month and observe the Feast of the Sacred Heart on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.
After nineteen years in the convent, St. Margaret Mary died October 17, 1690. Many pilgrims to her tomb have sought and obtained favors. Through her apostolate of devotion to the Sacred Heart many sinners have repented and found grace with God.
12 Promises for Those Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give 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 death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and 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 in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.
12. I promise thee in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that its all-powerful Love 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 the Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.