Real Men Wear Red

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 12.03.09 PMToday marks the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Our Lord appeared in the 17th century.  Although devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had already been revealed to St. Gertrude centuries before, it is almost always thought of in conjunction with today’s saint.

This devotion to the Sacred Heart is not something that belongs to the past.  Like Our Lord Himself, it is outside of time, and it is still quite relevant today.   Most interesting is the devotion in connection with religious persecution.

What are we talking about?

On June 17, 1689 Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary saying that He wanted the King of France (Louis XIV) to consecrate himself and the nation to “my adorable Heart.  It wants to triumph over his and, through him, over the hearts of the great ones of the earth. It wants to reign in his palace, be painted on his standards, and engraved on his arms, so that they may be victorious over all his enemies. It wants to bring low these proud and stubborn heads and make him triumphant over all the enemies of holy Church.”

Regrettably for France, and the rest of the world, Louis XIV did not consecrate his kingdom to Our Lord’s Sacred Heart. Nor did his son. Nor did his grandson – until it was too late.  Exactly 100 years to the day that our Lord gave this message to St. Margaret Mary, the National Assembly stripped Louis XVI of his power.  Less than four years later he met his fate at the guillotine.  The night before his execution he consecrated France to the Sacred Heart, but the enemies of the Church were already well on their way to triumph.

How different might things have been if Our Lord’s request had been heeded.  Despite the lack of confidence those three kings apparently had in Our Lord, there have been many faithful who have painted the Sacred Heart on their standards and engraved It on their arms.  The Vendean army  in France, the Cristeros in Mexico, and the Catholic Carlists during the Spanish Civil War, all wore badges of the Sacred Heart of Jesus into battle.

As many in America grow more and more intolerant of Christianity let us entrust ourselves and our beloved nation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  During our time in this vale of tears we must hold fast to the promise He made to St. Margaret Mary: “Fear nothing, I will reign in spite of my enemies.”

The Consolation Prize

As I sat in the aircraft next to Mother Angelica, waiting for take off, I turned to her, and doing little to conceal my excitement, said, “After we have done the business side of things could we drive over to you-know-where to see you-know-who?”  She nodded a yes with a smile, and I sat back in my seat closing my eyes in blissful anticipation.

The where, was Avila, and the who was St. Teresa of Avila, one of my most favourite saints!

Mother Angelica, Sister Raphael, Sister Margaret Mary, and myself were on leg two of our trip.  Mother had spoken at Westminster hall in London, and now we were on our way to Madrid, Spain.

At home in Alabama, we were in the midst of building the monastery in Hanceville, and the reredos and many other items were being made by the company in Spain that we were on our way to visit, to check on the progress of everything.  Avila was only an hour or two away.

As exciting as it was going to be to see all the wonderful things being made for our new monastery, I was even more overjoyed at the prospect of going to Avila, the birthplace of St. Teresa.

We were in Madrid for three days, we finished our business, and on the morning of day three, we were set to drive to Avila.

And then disaster struck: Mother Angelica began to feel unwell.  We had been on a pretty grueling schedule, and her asthma was now acting up.  She said that we should still try to go to Avila, (even in her discomfort, she hated to disappoint us) but her suggestion was met with one of our own:  she should rest for the next day’s flight, and we should cancel the trip to Avila.

Fortunately, after a good day’s rest, Rev. Mother felt better the next morning , and we were able to fly back to the States.

So near and yet so far; we had almost made it to Avila!

As I sat in the plane I prayed, Well St. Teresa we did our best to come see you!  As I prayed, I remembered another Teresa, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who once said, “If you want to make God to laugh, tell Him your plans.”  Even though I was rather disappointed, I smiled thinking of that quote.

We arrived home, feeling pretty bedraggled.  It had been a good, but none the less tiring, trip.

I trudged back to my cell (bedroom), and as I opened the door, my bleary eyes looked over to my chair, on which had been placed a few pieces of mail which had come in while I was gone.

Sitting next to the mail was a small package, neatly tied in brown paper and string.  Even in my exhaustion, I was curious. I walked over and picked up the package, looking at the name of the sender, whom I did not recognize.  I began to unwrap it, and as I did so, a note fell out.

It read:  Dear Sr. Grace Marie, you don’t know me, but in one of the monastery’s past newsletters I remember reading about the different saints that each sister loves, and I remember one of your particular saints being the great St. Teresa of Avila.

She went on to say that lately, whenever she prayed, she got the distinct feeling that St. Teresa wanted me to have the enclosed item.  As I finished reading the note, I looked quickly down into the little box, pushing away the tissue paper that surrounded: a first class relic of St. Teresa of Avila!

I stood there for a moment, transfixed in disbelieving joy, taking it all in.

She had come to see me!  I had not been able to go to see her, but she had come to me!

I had in the past, heard it said that very often, even though we think that we are the ones who choose particular saints for our friends, it’s really the other way around, they choose us!  I think that’s very likely true!

We all need help on our journey towards heaven, as Tobit had the wonderful Archangel Raphael, sent by God to accompany him. So it is that the saints accompany us.

I love what St. Paul says in Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

So great a cloud of witnesses, our friends the saints, are urging us on.

St. Teresa, whose wonderful sense of humor comes through again and again in her writings, says that sometimes life can be like a night at a bad inn.  But it is also true to say that when we have friends to accompany us along the road of life, when we have those wonderful companions the saints, praying and interceding for us,  it somehow doesn’t seem quite so bad.

St. Teresa pray for us!