Sunday, June 1, 2008

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Short Account of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.
Extracted from the Apostolic Brief for her beatification in 1864.

BORN of a noble family at Lauthecourt, in the diocese of Autun in France, Margaret Mary Alacoque was distinguished even in her childhood for the docility of her disposition and the regularity of her conduct, so that her relations were led to believe that she would one day attain great sanctity.

Whilst yet a child, feeling only distaste for the amusements natural to youth, she retired to secluded corners in the house, and recollected herself in prayer.

As a young girl, she avoided society, and it was her delight to pass much of her time in church and to prolong her prayers for several hours. At early age she consecrated her self to God by a vow of virginity and began to mortify her body by fasts, the use of the discipline, and other austerities, desiring in this way to protect the flower of her purity. She was at all times a model of meekness and humility; for having lost her father, and her mother sinking under the weight of years and sickness, Margaret Mary was treated with such severity and harshness by those who were in authority in her home, that she was often in want of the necessaries of life. This state of things, as painful as it was unjust, lasted for several years; and was endured by her with the utmost patience; her consolation being to contemplate and imitate the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

At the age of nine she was admitted for the first time to receive the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; and this heavenly food enkindled in her heart an ardent love which was visible in her exterior.

Animated with a like charity for her neighbor, she grieved bitterly for the misery of so many children, who, neglected by their parents, were ignorant of the most essential truths of salvation, and were growing up in the practice of vice. For this reason she endeavored, with admirable patience, to instruct them on the mysteries of faith and to train them in virtue; and she constantly deprived her self of a good portion of her meals to feed these poor children.

Having fixed the choice of her heart on a Heavenly Spouse, she always refused the offers of marriage proposed to her, which would have been as honorable as advantageous; and in order to keep her word to her Divine Spouse, she thought of entering a cloister. After a long and serious consideration, and having sought to know the will of God in prayer, she went to a monastery of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the city of Paray-le-Monial, in the diocese of Autun; she had then attained her twenty-third year.

Having conducted herself in the novitiate with a piety in keeping with the generous fervour and innocence of her past life, she was admitted to profession, and pronounced her solemn vows.

After her profession she advanced rapidly in the ways of perfection, and afforded to her sisters in religion a brilliant example of all virtues. She was distinguished by great humility, an extraordinary readiness to obey; an invariable patience in suffering, a perfect observance of the rule in every detail, an unremitting practice of bodily mortification and a constant love for prayer to which she gave herself day and night, and often was her soul disengaged from the senses and inundated with the dew of divine grace. When meditating on the sufferings of Christ, her soul was so deeply moved, and the fire of her love was so ardent, that for a considerable space of time she seemed to lose consciousness. Her remarkable virtues having excited the admiration of her companions, she was entrusted with the training of the novices; and a person more suitable for this office than the venerable Margaret Mary could not have been found, nor one more capable of encouraging by her example those who had entered on the path of perfection.

One day previous to her appointment to this office, when she was praying with great fervor before the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus Christ made known to her, that it was His desire to see established the worship of His Sacred Heart burning with love for mankind, and He committed to her this great work.

The venerable servant of God was astonished; her profound humility persuaded her that she was unworthy of so sublime a mission; nevertheless, in order to obey the commands she had received from Heaven, and to satisfy the desires she herself had of enkindling the fire of divine love in the hearts of men, she did all in her power, both with the religious of her monastery and with those over whom she had any influence, to spread the devotion, so that the Sacred Heart might receive from them all possible homage.

St. Margaret Mary had much to suffer in this undertaking, and met with innumerable obstacles. She was, however, never discouraged; but sustained by her confidence in the divine assistance, she laboured with so much zeal and constancy, that with the help of God, and to the great profit of souls, the devotion spread and developed in the Church with wonderful rapidity.

Finally, desiring death as the means of being admitted to the heavenly nuptials, and wasted more by the flames of her love than by disease, she happily closed her life on earth the 16th of November, in the year 1690.

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