The seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries were difficult and tumultuous times for the Church in Europe. Prideful leaders announced that faith would not govern them but only reason. Freethinkers refused to accept any authority in intellectual matters.
Within the Church there were the heresies of Jansenism and Quietism in France. According to Jansenism, Christ did not die for all people, and most of the people were predestined to damnation. Only a small number of people were granted salvific grace, and only the “just” or predestined should receive Holy Communion. Jansenism was condemned by Pope Innocent X in 1653. God wills all to be saved and gives sufficient grace to all. Holy Communion cleanses the soul from venial sin and strengths it against mortal sin.
Quietism advocated total passivity in spiritual life. According to Quietism, a person only need to immerse oneself in God, and should be indifferent to everything, including temptation. Pope Blessed Innocent XI condemned Quietism in 1687.
During these difficult times, God raised up saintly teachers on the spiritual life in France—–St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), St. John Eudes (1601-1680), and St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)—-who directed people to the love of God.
At a very young age, Margaret felt herself continually persuaded to say these words: “O my God, I dedicate to you my purity and I make you a vow of perpetual chastity”. For four years Margaret was sick and not able to walk. But at fourteen she was instantly cured when, at her mother’s suggestion, she vowed herself to Our Lady.
In June, 1671, Margaret entered a convent of the Visitation order, and on December 27, 1673 she received her first revelations. Margaret heard Christ inviting her to take the place which St. John had occupied at the Last Supper. Christ told her that the love of His heart must be spread and manifested to mankind by means of her. “My divine Heart is so inflamed with love for mankind … that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its burning charity and must spread them abroad by your means.”
Margaret described that the Sacred Heart was on fire and surrounded by a crown of thorns. The flames represented his love for mankind, and the thorns represented man’s sinfulness and ingratitude. It was as though Christ took her heart and out it within His own, returning it burning with divine love into her breast.
Reparation for sins
Margaret had three more visions over the next eighteen months in which Jesus instructed her to make reparation for sins by frequent Communion, especially on the first Friday of each month, and by making holy hour on Thursday night. In the final revelation, the Christ asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be instituted.
Regarding the First Friday devotion Our Lord said, “The all-powerful love of my Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; my heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.”
Margaret suffered a great deal for her revelations. She was opposed by some of the nuns and the theologians who examined her did not believe in her.
By the providence of God, St. Claude de la Colombiere, a Jesuit priest, became the spiritual director of Margaret. He assured Margaret that her visions regarding the Sacred Heart were genuine.
The revelations of the Sacred Heart were eventually accepted by Margaret’s community. Before her death Margaret said, “I will not live much longer, for I no longer suffer.”
瑪加利大憶述燃燒著烈火的耶穌聖心，緊緊地被荊棘環綑著 —— 燃火代表愛人的熱火，但世人的罪衍和忘恩負義之心，傷透了耶穌的聖心，就如祂的聖心，緊緊地被荊棘環綑著一樣。耶穌好像把瑪加利大的心，放入自己的聖心，使聖女即時也感到那烘烈的愛火。