Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Twenty-Eighth Day of June

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, and France.

"GOD loves the Franks," said St. Gregory of Tours, "and it is through the Franks that He loves to manifest His power." All nations are equally dear to God, but France must, indeed, be an object of predilection to Jesus, because it was in France that He revealed the ineffable tenderness and infinite riches of His Divine Heart. It was in that favored country, that Jesus first manifested and proclaimed that His Sacred Heart was open to all men. How great and magnificent a gift was this and what a signal honor! On account of the wonderful apparition at Paray-le-Monial, where Jesus appeared to His humble servant, a French nun, may we not say of that privileged town, what the prophet said of Bethlehem: "Thou art not the least of the cities of Juda." To the general favors bestowed on all countries, the Savior willed to add a special one to France, the nation once called most Christian. "My Heart wills to reign in the palace of her kings, to be emblazoned on her banners and engraved on her arms, in order to render her victorious over all her enemies and those of Holy Church. I am preparing for France a torrent of graces when she shall be consecrated to my divine Heart, and all nations shall profit by the blessings that I shall bestow on her" Jesus Himself, when speaking to Saint Margaret Alacoque of the king of France, called him "the eldest son of my Sacred Heart." He promised to that favored land a torrent of graces which would be a treasure and pledge of hope for that now unhappy country, distracted by her infidel children. France was the cradle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, France was the first to receive the glorious mission of being its apostle, of propagating and defending it throughout the world by the voice of her missionaries, by the pastorals of her bishops, and the blood of her martyrs. "We should bless the Lord who has loved and favored France with such privileges, and instead of being jealous of her honors, we should rejoice and exclaim: "He hath not done thus to every nation" (Ps. 147). But, alas! we have no need to envy France. May we not tremble at her fate, for has she as a nation returned Jesus love for love? No, a culpable indifference and a proud rationalism have drawn down upon her the most dreadful punish ments, and that country, according to universal testimony, is passing through the most sorrowful and critical period of her history.

Christians, let us not lose courage at the sight of the miseries which overwhelm that once privileged land, or our own beloved country; let us have recourse to the merciful Heart of Jesus. It is that Heart alone that can find a remedy for the social evils we see on all sides. "How powerful is this Divine Heart," said St. Margaret Mary, "to appease the anger of divine justice provoked by the multitude of our sins, and to avert the terrible calamities with which we are threatened." Let us beg of that tender Heart to bless our country, and to bless also and restore religion to France, that she may deserve to bear once more, the glorious title of "the most Christian nation and eldest daughter of the Church." Then her brave sons will be able to cry out as did their forefathers of old; "May Christ reign who loves France."


Paris was besieged by the Prussian army. Rome had just fallen into the sacrilegious hands of the Piedmontese, and the Communists were plotting in secret their terrible plans. Who was there to come to the assistance of the Holy Father? Who was there to save France? Holy souls cried out, "It is the Sacred Heart of Jesus which will save us; let us make to It a national vow." And what was this national vow? It was a promise to offer in the name of the whole nation, the solemn expression of their repentance by raising a memorial church in Paris, dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Paris, which had been the scene of the greatest disorders, possessed no temple in honor of the divine Heart of Jesus: in no place therefore would an expiatory church be better placed or become more publicly known. There is a spot in Paris which in former times was bedewed with the blood of St. Denis and his companions, called the quarter of Montmartre, or the hill of the martyrs, and it is there that the memorial church of France was built. The national vow was addressed to the Sacred Heart, because this divine Heart is the highest expression of the love of God for men; and because France has in a particular manner wounded the Heart of Jesus which has loved her so much; it is therefore to the Sacred Heart that the expression of repentance and hope should be addressed. Nothing, indeed, could be more Christian or more patriotic than such a vow; it received the blessing of the holy Father and the sanction of the French episcopate. Alms were asked, the funds increased, and subscriptions flowed in from all sides; the first stones were laid and blessed, and now there arises from the heights of Montmartre, the great Basilica which bears testimony to the regret of the French people for the past and their confidence for the future. On its principal front is engraved in letters of gold, the following dedication:

"Christo ejusque sanctissimo Cordi,
Gallia poenitens et devota!"

"To Christ and His Most Sacred Heart
from a devout and repentant France."


Remember O infinitely good and infinitely merciful Heart of Jesus, Thy love for your repentant children. Remember the blessings which Thou hast showered down on us and Thy mercies towards us. However guilty we are, reject not our humble prayer, and bring all nations to the happiness and truth of the Catholic faith. Amen.


Pray for the conversion of all nations to the Reign of the Sacred Heart.

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