Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in Versovres, Autun, France on July 22, 1647 to a pious and relatively wealthy family. She was the fifth of seven children of Claude Alacoque and Philbert Lamyn, a Royal Notary who died when Margaret was 8. After his death, her mother and the family suffered domestic persecution from their relatives which drew her closer to prayer-closer to Christ. At this time, she was sent to the school of the Urbanist Nuns at Charolles where she received the only education she ever had. At the early age of 9 she was allowed to receive her first Communion. Shortly after, she became so sick and bedridden for several years. No remedy could be found for her illness so she was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary with a promise that if she recovered she would become a nun. As a beautiful young woman she recovered from the illness and later entered the Sisters of the Visitation at the age of 24.
Sixteen months into her vocation, she received the now famous Great Apparitions of the Sacred Heart.
"What was so special about Margaret Mary?", you may ask. That she had the "since childhood" desire for God? That such was her pure intention to become a nun? Maybe, maybe not quite. As children, we never really know what we want to be. As a young adult, she might even have entered with the intent to escape the hardships of dealing with her father's relatives. Whatever her reasons may be, it was, to her, like a leap of faith. She did not have any special powers that drew her to be God's chosen one for those apparitions. She was just as ordinary as you and me. She made decisions like any other human being would: She had a chance to live a "better" life and she took it.
The difference is what she made out of it.
Her experience with the Sacred Heart is like falling in love. When she encountered Christ for the first time, the attraction left her speechless, consumed and radiant. She literally couldn't eat, sleep nor participate in any activity with her fellow nuns. She was aglow and overwhelmed. Like a passionate lover to her Beloved, she was drawn to Him as He was to her. The more time she spent with Him, the more she got to know Him. The more she got to know Him, the deeper she fell in love. More importantly, their love grew as Christ shared the most intimate secrets of His heart to her, a gesture that can only be done by one who is in love. He chose her to bring forth this love story - His unconditional love for all humankind - to every man, woman and child in the world.
But as God created duality in all things, such love is accompanied by suffering. The mystical connection between love and pain can only be known when one experiences it first-hand. St Margaret writes “No one can love without suffering.", for in the course of "building her relationship" with Christ and his Sacred Heart, she experienced physical pain (she felt pain on her side every first Friday of the month whenever Christ appeared) as well as emotional persecution from people around who doubt her claims of the apparition. With this and her own personal struggles, her love was constantly put to the test; yet she fought for the truth and defended it with her very own "secret weapon": Silence.
The profound implications of such a noble virtue illicit humility, obedience and quiet strength to withstand persecution and injustice in the face of carrying out His mission for her; To listen with her heart and with her soul; To persist in spite of her self-doubt; To open herself up to the Sacred Heart as a selfless instrument of His Love and Mercy for mankind even if she was a "simple, ordinary woman who took a leap of faith to a better life."
A better 'eternal' life she got for her accomplished mission.
A better gift she gave to all of us who believe.
The Sacred Heart promised "I will comfort (my devotees) in all their afflictions." Margaret Mary exemplified the keeping of this promise. Because, as there is affliction and suffering in our humanity, the Sacred Heart shares it with us and provides the universal cure for our pain: Love.
Today, October 16th, we celebrate Margaret Mary's 322nd death anniversary. Let her love and simplicity be our inspiration to make our hearts like His.
Let us all be heartstrong like her, never giving up in our love for the Sacred Heart.
HAPPY FEAST OF ST. MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE!
Rev. Fr. Vic Y. Apacible