What does it mean for two hearts to be so closely united in love that they can speak to one another without words?
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had such a relationship with Christ, one in which her heart became fully absorbed into His, "like a tiny atom being consumed in that blazing furnace”. (St. Margaret Mary’s writings)
Because of her, millions of people around the world have become devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart which “is now a pledge of hope for every man and woman”. (Pope John Paul II, Angelus 6/23/02)
Margaret Alacoque was born in a small village in France in 1647, the fifth of seven children. She was raised by a loving family, but was also stricken with paralysis and confined to her bed for four years. She was consecrated to the Virgin Mary and healed instantly, giving some clue to what her future would hold. Then her father passed away when she was eight, and a corrupt relative took over the household finances which were not recovered for many years. She lived in complete poverty during that time, and was treated harshly. During those difficult years she leaned heavily on God, always taking refuge in his strong arms. She developed a real love for the Blessed Sacrament, and spent much of her time in quiet prayer.
Her family finances were finally recovered, but Margaret found she could not return to a life marked by frivolity. She read the lives of the saints and lived her life as simply as she could without drawing too much attention to herself. Finally she was allowed to enter the convent of Paray-le-Monial of the Order of the Visitation (founded by St. Francis de Sales). There she suffered being misunderstood and maligned, along with imposing severe penances on herself. In 1674 she had a vision of the Sacred Heart, “enthroned in flames, more dazzling than the sun and transparent as crystal, bearing that adorable wound; and it was ringed round with a crown of thorns signifying the sufferings our sins cause it; and there was a cross over it signifying that from the earliest instant of the Incarnation, that is from the very instant that the Sacred Heart was formed, the Cross was planted in it…”
Our hearts are thought to be the center of our emotions, our love, and in a sense the core of our very being. When we feel “heartache” we actually feel a pain, a heaviness, in our chest. For Christ to expose his heart to us is to make himself once again vulnerable, as he did on the Cross. Sr. Margaret Mary knew of that vulnerability, and wanted to make others aware of how much God loves us all. She had other revelations which instructed her to receive Jesus in Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month and to make a Holy Hour, lying prostrate, from 11 p.m. to midnight on each Friday. These she followed and once again Jesus showed her his heart: “Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, but has been poured out totally and consumed as proof of its love…”
Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a singularly loving relationship with Christ, and it is said that she died with His name on her lips. She was 43 years old, and before she died she exclaimed, “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”