In this month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I would like to share with you some excerpts from a beautiful article entitled “About the Sacred Heart and Saint Margaret Mary”from www.sanctuaires-paray.com: the website of Paray-le-Monial, the monastery that was the religious home of St. Claude de la Colombiere, the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary:
“Everywhere in society, in our villages, in our neighborhoods, in our factories and our offices,
in our meetings between people and races, the heart of stone, the dried up heart, must change into the heart of flesh, open to one’s brothers, open to God. The survival of humanity
depends upon it. It is beyond our power. It a gift from God, a gift of His love.”
(John Paul II, October 5, 1986, at Paray-le-Monial)
This gift of love was announced by the Prophet Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts” (Ez. 36:26). But how does this transformation come about, so necessary to the well-being of humanity and to the salvation of souls? How does the Holy Spirit come into the hearts of men? It is the work of Jesus Christ: on Calvary, the Heart of Christ, opened by the soldier’s lance, became the source from which the Heavenly Father would make flow the graces of conversion and participation in the divine life.
On the threshold of modern times, St. Margaret Mary was chosen by Divine Providence to remind the entire Church and the world of the depth of the love of Christ. She “knew the overwhelming mystery of Divine love. She knew all the depths of the words of Ezekiel: I will give you a heart. During all of her life hidden in Christ, she was marked by the gift of this Heart, which offers itself boundlessly to every human heart” (John Paul II, ibid.)
At a recent silent retreat I asked God the Father for that “new heart,” because, I told Him, my heart is irreparably damaged by the abuse and neglect that I suffered as a child, and by the damaging effects of the grievous sins of my young adulthood. Yet, Father, “nothing is impossible (nor irreparable) with You.” He responded to me: “It is the gift I have prepared for you. It is the gift. Believe in Me.” I believe that it is the gift He has prepared for me, the gift I see growing in me. I believe that it is the gift He has prepared for each of us, His children: a new heart. The heart of His Son Jesus.
The article about the Sacred Heart continues:
June 13, 1675. During an apparition, Our Lord, uncovering His Divine Heart, revealed to Sister Margaret Mary, “See this Heart which has loved men so much that it has spared nothing, to the point of exhausting and consuming itself to show them its love.” God wanted to become man so as to be able to love us with the Heart of a man. The ultimate goal of such a love is expressed in this phrase from the Gospel: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). But, before introducing us to the intimacy of divine life, God had to remove the obstacle constituted by sin, the greatest of evils that touch man. “To the eyes of faith, no evil is greater than sin and nothing has worse consequences to sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1488). The manifestation of Divine Love would thus take a particular expression; it would be called mercy.”
Mercy is at the center of the message confided by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary. To be merciful is to be moved to sadness at the sight of another’s misery as if it were one’s own. The effect of mercy is to eliminate another’s misery as much as possible…
At my retreat the Lord showed me that my deepest sin is self condemnation. I had an image of myself as a little child who is beaten each time I judge and condemn myself. When I woke up the next morning, I thought of that image of the beaten little child deep within me, and I was “moved to sadness at the sight” of my own “misery” and resolved to put my full effort, with the Lord’s grace, into trying to be as merciful to myself as I have experienced the Lord being merciful to me. I pray daily for the grace to do this.
When we open our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, He will show us our sin, so that, when we repent of that sin, He can “remove the obstacles-including unhealed wounds- to prepare to introduce us to the intimacy of divine life.”
Jesus to St. Faustina, from Divine Mercy in My Soul, #1577-78
“Tell souls not to place within their own hearts obstacles to My mercy, which so greatly wants to act within them. My mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it.
Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My mercy.
Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy.”
“Let souls who are striving for perfection particularly adore My mercy, because the abundance of graces which I grant them flows from My mercy. I desire that these souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in My mercy. I myself will attend to the sanctification of such souls, I will provide them with everything they will need to attain sanctity. The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is—trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is My desire to give much, very much. On the other hand,
I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts.”