Margaret Mary Alocoque

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who wondrously revealed the unsearchable riches of Your Heart to blessed Margaret Mary, the Virgin, grant us, by her merits and through imitating her, to love You in all things and above all things, so that we may be found worthy to possess a lasting dwelling place in Your Heart itself.

Collect for the Feast of Margaret Mary

Today we have a little round up re: the Saint of the Day, who happens to be Margaret Mary Alocoque.

October 17 is the Feast of St. Margaret Mary, in the calendar for the Extraordinary Form.

St. Margaret Mary Aloque was a member of the Sisters of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the religious order founded by St. Jane de Chantal and her spiritual director, St. Francis de Sales.

St. Jane died in 1649, and St. Margaret Mary was born in 1647. The devotion to the Sacred Heart grew in prominence with the revelations of Jesus to Margaret Mary

The Visitation Sisters have an authoritative write up on her as follows:

One good source of inspiration for all vocations and lifestyles is the Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.  Saint Margaret Mary was a French Visitation nun who received revelations from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  For most of us, this holy nun who lived from 1647—1690 seems a very distant and obscure figure, one of those hagiographical wonders that are so far removed from our present reality as to be almost imaginary.  But reading the letters of anyone puts us in touch with a real-live person who existed in time and felt, thought, suffered, struggled, loved and enjoyed themselves just like we do.  When we read the letters of this holy soul we begin to see her as a human being so much like ourselves and in some ways, so much beyond ourselves.

Her words for priests are especially notable (to priests at least.) The same article linked above has beautiful advice for the laity too.

In a letter to a Mademoiselle Chamberland at Moulin in 1684, Margaret Mary proposes that she offer to the Lord her heart and affection without reserve.  Then she challenges her by asking if she has enough courage to put her words into practice.  “Can you die continually to your own inclinations, passions, pleasures,” she asks, “in a word to everything that belongs to unmortified human nature, so as to make Jesus Christ live in you by His grace and love?” (letter 25)  Then she firmly advocates seeking guidance from a spiritual director.  Her constant instructions call for simplicity, straightforwardness and sincerity.  She abhors subterfuge, dissimulation and exaggeration.
Letters to her brother who holds the office of town mayor are affectionate but always have a spiritual tone.  Saint Margaret Mary takes an interest in the lives and activities of her brother and his family.  She laments their trials, encourages their devotion to the Sacred Heart, promises them Our Lord’s blessings for all their efforts to love and honor his Sacred Heart, sympathizes with their griefs and illnesses.  But the spiritual must come first and their submission to God’s will, whether it be sickness or business upheavals, must be endured with patience and trust.  Assuring her brother of her prayers for his sick wife, she writes, “Do not lose courage.  Your sufferings borne patiently are worth a thousand times more than any other austerity.”  “Though God is willing to save us, He wants us on our part to contribute something, and without our cooperation He will do nothing” (letter 120).

The entry on Margaret Mary From the original Catholic Encyclopedia:

Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Margaret Mary Alacoque – Wikisource, the free online library

Religious of the Visitation Order. Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, born at Lhautecour, France, 22 July, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, 17 October, 1690. Her parents, Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, were distinguished less for temporal possessions than for their virtue, which gave them an honourable position.

Known as the Apostle of the Sacred Heart, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her frequently and conversed with her, confiding to her the mission to establish the devotion to His Sacred Heart.

Margaret Mary was inspired by Christ to establish the Holy Hour and to pray lying prostrate with her face to the ground from eleven till midnight on the eve of the first Friday of each month, to share in the mortal sadness He endured when abandoned by His Apostles in His Agony, and to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. …

He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart; He called her “the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart”, and the heiress of all Its treasures.

Catholic Encyclopedia

And of course that perennial question, how do you pronounce her name?

The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a beautiful practice to undertake on this day.

Sacred Heart Apostolate, Inc.

Creating a Civilization of Love through the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart

St. Margaret Mary, ora pro nobis.


Saint Callistus I

Saint Callistus

What a saint! What a life! And oh my goodness, what a story. paints Callistus as being maligned and slandered by a jealous rival in a tale fraught with drama and intrigue. “Callistus came to power during a crucial time of the Church. Was it going to hang on to the rigid rules of previous years and limit itself to those who were already saints or was it going to embrace sinners as Christ commanded? Was its mission only to a few holy ones or to the whole world, to the healthy or to the sick? We can understand Hippolytus’ fear — that hypocritical penitents would use the Church and weaken it in the time when they faced persecution. But Callistus chose to trust God’s mercy and love and opened the doors. By choosing Christ’s mission, he chose to spread the Gospel to all.”

St. Callistus I – Saints & Angels – Catholic Online

Imagine that your biography was written by an enemy of yours. And that its information was all anyone would have not only for the rest of your life but for centuries to come. You would never be able to refute it — and even if you couldno one would believe you because your accuser was a saint.

The only story of his life we have is from someone who hated him and what he stood for, an author identified as Saint Hippolytus, a rival candidate for the chair of Peter. What had made Hippolytus so angry?

Hippolytus was very strict and rigid in his adherence to rules and regulations. The early Church had been very rough on those who committed sins of adultery, murder, and fornication. Hippolytus was enraged by the mercy that Callistus showed to these repentant sinners, allowing them back into communion of the Church after they had performed public penance.

Callistus’ mercy was also matched by his desire for equality among Church members, manifested by his acceptance of marriages between free people and slaves. Hippolytus saw all of this as a degradation of the Church, a submission to lust and licentiousness that reflected not mercy and holiness in Callistus but perversion and fraud.

Trying to weed out the venom to find the facts of Callistus’ life in Hippolytus’ account, we learn that Callistus himself was a slave (something that probably did not endear him to class-conscious Hippolytus). His master, Carporphorus made him manager of a bank in the Publica Piscina sector of Rome where Callistus took in the money of other Christians. The bank failed — according to Hippolytus because Callistus spent the money on his own pleasure-seeking. It seems unlikely that Carporphorus would trust his good name and his fellow Christians’ savings to someone that unreliable.

Whatever the reason, Callistus fled the city by ship in order to escape punishment. When his master caught up with him, Callistus jumped into the sea (according to Hippolytus, in order to commit suicide). After Callistus was rescued he was brought back to Rome, put on trial, and sentenced to a cruel punishment — forced labor on the treadmill.

Carporphorus took pity on his former slave and manager and Callistus won his release by convincing him he could get some of the money back from investors. (This seems to indicate, in spite of Hippolytus’ statements, that the money was not squandered but lent or invested unwisely.) Callistus’ methods had not improved with desperation and when he disrupted a synagogue by shouting for money, he was arrested and sentenced again.

About nine or ten years later, the new pope Zephyrinus recalled Callistus to Rome. Zephyrinus was good-hearted and well-meaning but had no understanding of theology. This was disastrous in a time when heretical beliefs were springing up everywhere.

One minute Zephyrinus would endorse a belief he thought orthodox and the next he would embrace the opposite statement. Callistus soon made his value known, guiding Zephyrinus through theology to what he saw as orthodoxy. (Needless to say it was not what Hippolytus felt was orthodox enough.) To a certain extent, according to Hippolytus, Callistus was the power behind the Church before he even assumed the bishopric of Rome.

When Zephyrinus died in 219, Callistus was proclaimed pope over the protests of his rival candidate Hippolytus. He seemed to have as strong a hatred of heresy as Hippolytus, however, because he banished one of the heretics named Sabellius.

When you think you’ve had enough of Church drama in the 21st Century, it’s always helpful to simply look back into centuries past and see they had it just as bad.

And just as good.

We live in an imperfect world, and we always have to work at correcting injustices and imperfections. With grace, we look deeper into ourselves and our own lives, because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand if we have eyes to see, and ears to hear.

St. Callistus, pray for us!


Julia of Corsica

Julia of Corsica

“My liberty is the service of Christ, whom I serve every day with a pure mind. As for that error of yours, I not only do not venerate it, I detest it.”

St. Julia of Corsica

I’ve been fascinated with Julia of Corsica for an entire day now. When you’re praying for the guidance of the saints and one jumps out saying hello, why not look a bit further?

She was born in the 5th Century to a noble family in Carthage, and when the city was captured she was sold into slavery! Can you imagine having a good, no-doubt great upbringing in the Faith, with a no-doubt elegant life, then being sold as a slave? She remained strong in the Faith and in her noble character, denouncing the error of the enemy, refusing to worship false idols, and being put to death by crucifixion.

I wonder if she could have ever imagined I might be sitting here typing away so freely about her as she enjoyed the beatific vision. I wonder if she’s had her eye on me, wanting to assist me in my Faith life and in my work.

She’s patroness of those who suffer torture, as in slavery, trafficking. Those in torture due to addictions and the desires of the flesh and of the world, also invoke her aid in a special way. And – her last words decry error.

Trafficking, slavery, addiction, error… Now where have I encountered all of that before? #theresnoplacelikehome

St. Julia, pray for us. And thank you for your Faith, your aid, and your example.


*Image is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

A Cloud of Witnesses

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

I love this image in Sacred Scripture, from the readings for today. (We also hear ‘Talitha Koum‘ today, but that’s a separate story. Or is it Hmmm….)

But the image of the Saints and Angels in heaven, cheering us on is something I often call to mind. And I love looking up art pictures about it….heavenly witnesses

On the angels, from Hebrews 1:14… “Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”

Romans 8:35-39 – “Death does not separate the communion of the body of Christ because we are united in Christ.”

Ephesians 3:14,15 – “We are all one family united together, whether we are on heaven or on earth.”


Talitha Koum.

On The Feast of Catherine


 I love St. Catherine of Siena, and here are some quotes to live by:

“To a brave man, good and bad luck are like his right and left hand. He uses both.”

“Strange that so much suffering is caused because of the misunderstandings of God’s true nature. God’s heart is more gentle than the Virgin’s first kiss upon the Christ. And God’s forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being.”

Pax Christi…

The Rev. Kenneth Allen