A FEW SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF ST. MARGARET MARY
The Promises of the Sacred Heart
The twelve promises which we find in prayerbooks and manuals of the devotion to the Sacred Heart do not contain all the promises made by our Divine Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. They are not even a summary of them, but are rather a selection of those promises best calculated to arouse sentiments of love for Our Lord in the hearts of the faithful and to induce them to practice the devotion. These twelve promises are found in the writings of St. Margaret Mary, but not all in one place.
We give here the complete list of the various promises, as found in Monsignor Gauthey's edition of the writings of St. Margaret Mary, but we do not give the full text. Those who wish to have the full text of the promises will find it in The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Essence of Christianity, pages 48 to 69. But first, we present the basic twelve promises without commentary: Near the conclusion of this section. St. Margaret Mary writes an explanation of how the Nine First Fridays are to be practiced. The Prayer for Daily Neglect was not written by St. Margaret Mary but because it is so invaluable an aid with have included it here as it is a prayer to the Sacred Heart that is to be said daily, thus it can be incorporated into the practice of the Devotion easily, it is short and known to be efficacious.
THE NINE FIRST FRIDAYS DEVOTION AND THE TWELVE PROMISES OF THE SACRED HEART MADE TO ST. MARGARET MARY WITH ADDED PRAYER FOR DAILY NEGLECT
1. I WILL GIVE THEM ALL THE GRACES NECESSARY FOR THEIR STATE OF LIFE.
2. I WILL GIVE PEACE IN THEIR FAMILIES
3. I WILL CONSOLE THEM IN ALL THEIR TROUBLES.
4. THEY SHALL FIND IN MY HEART AN ASSURED REFUGE DURING LIFE AND ESPECIALLY AT THE HOUR OF DEATH.
5. I WILL POUR ABUNDANT BLESSINGS ON ALL THEIR UNDERTAKINGS.
6. SINNERS SHALL FIND IN MY HEART THE SOURCE AND INFINITE OCEAN OF MERCY.
7. TEPID SOULS SHALL BECOME FERVENT.
8. FERVENT SOULS SHALL SPEEDILY RISE TO GREAT PERFECTION.
9. I WILL BLESS THE HOMES IN WHICH THE IMAGE OF MY SACRED HEART SHALL BE EXPOSED AND HONORED.
10. I WILL GIVE TO PRIESTS THE POWER TO TOUCH THE MOST HARDENED HEARTS.
11. THOSE WHO PROPAGATE THIS DEVOTION SHALL HAVE THEIR NAME WRITTEN IN MY HEART, AND IT SHALL NEVER BE EFFACED.
12. 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 THE SACRAMENTS; MY HEART SHALL BE THEIR ASSURED REFUGE AT THE LAST HOUR.
This devotion consists in attending Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion in reparation for those who do not receive Our Lord, who do not love Him and who wound Him by their sinful lives.
"I promise you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments, My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
-----Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary
ETERNAL FATHER, I offer You the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all its love, all its sufferings, and all its merits.
First, to expiate all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall ever be, world without end. Amen.
Second, to purify the good I have done poorly this day and during all my life. Glory be, etc.
Third, to supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this day and all my life. Glory be, etc.
HISTORY: Soon after death, a Poor Clare nun appeared to her abbess, who was praying for her, and said: "I went straight to Heaven because I paid all my debts by virtue of this prayer."
PRAYERS AND HEAVENLY PROMISES, COMPILED FROM APPROVED SOURCES
By Joan Carroll Cruz
PROMISES ATTACHED TO THE VENERATION OF
THE IMAGE OF THE SACRED HEART
a) BLESSINGS PROMISED TO NATIONS THAT PUT THE IMAGE OF THE SACRED HEART ON THEIR STANDARDS:
". . . Our Divine Lord does not wish to stop there: He desires, it seems to me, to enter with pomp and magnificence into the houses of princes and kings, in order to be honored there as much as He was outraged, despised and humiliated in His Passion, and to receive as much pleasure at seeing the great ones of this world abased and humiliated before Him, as He felt bitterness at seeing Himself annihilated at their feet."
b) BLESSINGS PROMISED TO FAMILIES WHERE THE IMAGE OF THE SACRED HEART IS HONORED:
"Our Divine Lord assured me that He takes a singular pleasure in being honored under the figure of His Heart of flesh, the image of which He wishes to be exposed in public in order to touch the unfeeling hearts of men. He promised that He would pour out in abundance into the hearts of all those who would honor His Heart all the gifts with which It is filled, and that everywhere this image is exposed and honored, it would draw down all kinds of blessings."
c) BLESSINGS PROMISED TO COMMUNITIES:
"He promised that He would pour out the sweet unction of His ardent charity on all those communities in which this divine image would be honored; that He would turn away from them the thunderbolts of the just anger of God, and that He would restore them to His grace, if they should have the misfortune to fall into sin."
d) BLESSINGS PROMISED TO INDIVIDUALS:
"He promised to pour out into the hearts of all those who honor the image of His Heart all the gifts which It contains. He promised also to imprint His love on the hearts of all those who would wear this image on their persons, and that He would destroy in them all disordered movements."
PROMISES ATTACHED TO THE CONSECRATION TO THE SACRED HEART
Consecration to the Sacred Heart is the principle, the resume and the final term of all the devotional practices demanded by our Divine Lord for His Sacred Heart.
a) THIS CONSECRATION REJOICES THE SACRED HEART AND TERRIFIES THE DEVIL, AGAINST WHOM IT IS A POWERFUL WEAPON.
"Let us renew often our consecration to the Heart of Jesus," writes St. Margaret Mary, "and let us live that consecration faithfully. The Sacred Heart takes a singular pleasure in it.
"The devil has a most intense fear of the devotion to this loving Heart, because of the salvation of the multitude of souls which it effects in favor of those who consecrate themselves completely to the Sacred Heart for the purpose of loving It, honoring It, and glorifying It."
b) CONSECRATION 10 THE SACRED HEART IS A SOVEREIGN REMEDY AGAINST MORTAL SIN.
"I cannot believe," writes St. Margaret Mary, "that those consecrated to the Heart of Jesus will fall under the domination of Satan through mortal sin, if having consecrated themselves to the Heart of Jesus, they endeavor to honor It, love It, and glorify It, by conforming themselves in all things to Its holy maxims."
c) CONSECRATION PUTS SOULS ON THE ROAD TO PERFECTION.
"There is no surer means of attaining perfection than to be consecrated to the Heart of Jesus. If therefore, we wish to attain that perfection which the adorable Heart of Jesus desires of us, we must make an entire sacrifice of ourselves, and of everything that depends on us, to the Sacred Heart and live entirely for It."
d) CONSECRATION WILL PROCURE PEACE.
"Establish your dwelling in the amiable Heart of Jesus, and you will find unalterable peace, strength to carry out all your good desires, and a protection against voluntary faults."
e) CONSECRATION IS THE KEY WHICH OPENS THE SACRED HEART TO US.
"Our Lord gave me to understand that He wishes to be known, loved and adored by men, and for that end He would give them many graces, provided they consecrated themselves to the devotion and love of His Sacred Heart."
f) CONSECRATION TO THE SACRED HEART IS A PLEDGE OF SALVATION.
"There is no surer means of salvation than to consecrate oneself to the Divine Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. "The loving Heart of Jesus will not allow any of those consecrated to It to perish, so great is His desire that His Sacred Heart be known, loved and honored by His creatures. In this Sacred Heart they will find assistance during their life in all their necessities; It will be their secure place of refuge at the hour of their death, into which they will be received and protected from their enemies."
PROMISES MADE IN FAVOR OF SINNERS
THE DEVOTlON TO THE SACRED HEART IS AN EFFICACIOUS MEANS OFFERED FOR THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS.
"My Divine Master:' writes St. Margaret Mary, "revealed to me that it was His ardent desire to be known, loved and honored by men, and His eager desire to draw them back from the road to perdition, along which Satan is driving them in countless numbers, that induced Him to manifest His Heart to men with all the treasures of love, mercy, grace, sanctification and salvation that It contains, in order to have a means of satisfying Its desire to pour out on them abundantly Its mercies and Its graces. It is by this means that the Sacred Heart of our loving Jesus wishes to save many souls from eternal perdition . . . This Divine Heart is like a fortress or a secure place of refuge for all poor sinners who wish to take shelter in It from the Justice of Almighty God, the thunderbolts of whose wrath, like an impetuous torrent, would overwhelm sinners and their sins, on account of the enormous number committed at the present time."
THE DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART IS A SOVEREIGN REMEDY AGAINST TEPIDITY.
"Our Lord wishes through this devotion to His Divine Heart to rekindle the charity that has grown cold and has almost been extinguished in the hearts of the greater part of Christians; He wishes to give men a new means of loving God by His Sacred Heart, as much as He desires and merits, and of making reparation for their ingratitude.
"If we are cowardly, cold, impure, imperfect, the Sacred Heart is an ardent furnace in which we must purify and perfect ourselves like gold in the crucible. It will purify all that is imperfect in our actions; it will sanctify those that are good."
PROMISES MADE IN FAVOR OF THE JUST
"There is no shorter way of attaining perfection than to render to the Divine Heart an the homage, love, honor and praise in our power.
"I do not know of any other exercise in the spiritual life more calculated to raise a soul in a short time to the height of perfection, and make it taste the true sweetness that is to be found in the service of God; if it were known how pleasing this devotion is to Jesus Christ, there is no Christian, however little his love for our amiable Savior, who would not begin to practice it immediately."
"The names of beginners," writes St. Margaret Mary, "are written on the adorable Heart of Jesus only with ink. This signifies the initial grace given us to combat and conquer our imperfections, especially our proud self-love, which insinuates itself everywhere, sullying and disfiguring our holiest actions. These black letters should be purified from the earth which they contain and made bright in the crucible. This means that our inclinations and actions should be purified in the furnace of the love of the Divine Heart from all that is earthly and human and from all self-seeking.
"These black letters will gradually brighten in the crucible of Divine Love, and become like silver, which signifies purity of heart. But when in the process of purification all the black letters are changed into letters of silver, we must not stop there, we must continue until they are changed into gold.
"It is love that will change them into gold. Charity is the divine gold that will write our names on the Heart of Jesus in letters never to be effaced. We shall then become like holocausts, consumed completely in the ardent flames of the loving Heart of Jesus."
PROMISES FOR THE AFFLICTED
a) THE HEART OF JESUS CONSOLES HIS SERVANTS
IN THEIR PRIVATE CALAMITIES.
b) THE HEART OF JESUS IS THE TRUE SOURCE OF CONSOLATION
IN PUBLIC CALAMITIES.
PROMISES THAT HAVE REFERENCE TO OUR LAST END
THE GREAT PROMISE
This promise is contained in a letter written in May, 1688, by St. Margaret Mary to Mother Saumaise:
"On a Friday during Holy Communion, He said these words to His unworthy slave, if I mistake not: I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that Its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of the month consecutively, the grace of final repentance; they will not die under My displeasure or without receiving their Sacraments, My Divine Heart making Itself their assured refuge at the last moment."
With regard to this promise it may be remarked: 1) that Our Lord required Communion to be received on a particular day chosen by Him; 2) that the nine Fridays must be consecutive; 3) that they must be made in honor of His Sacred Heart, which means that those who make the nine Fridays must practice the devotion and must have a great love for Our Lord; 4) that Our Lord does not say that those who make the nine Fridays will be dispensed from any of their obligations or from exercising the vigilance necessary to lead a good life and overcome temptation; rather He implicitly promises abundant graces to those who make the Nine Fridays to help them to carry out these obligations and persevere to the end; 5) that perseverance in receiving Holy Communion for nine consecutive First Fridays helps the faithful to acquire the habit of frequent Communion, which Our Lord eagerly desires; and 6) finally, that the practice of the Nine Fridays is very pleasing to Our Lord since He promises such a great reward, and that all Catholics should endeavor to make the Nine Fridays.
PROTECTION PROMISED BY OUR LORD AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH.
"The Divine Heart of Jesus again gave me to understand and assured me," writes St. Margaret Mary, "that the pleasure which He takes in being known, loved and honored by His creatures is so great that He promised me that none of those who practice this amiable devotion and are devoted to His adorable Heart will ever perish."
SPECIAL REWARDS IN HEAVEN FOR THOSE WHO ARE DEVOTED TO THE SACRED HEART
"The adorable Heart of Jesus has shown inexpressible favor to our Holy Founder [St. Francis de Sales] because the devotion has been established in our Institute. Never has his accidental glory been so much increased as by this means. [The order is the Visitation Order.]
"Our good Father Claude de la Colombiere by his intercession in Heaven is the cause of what takes place here on earth for the glory of the Sacred Heart."
PROMISES MADE FOR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD AND THEIR FAMILIES
"Our Divine Lord assured me," writes St. Margaret Mary, "that He takes such pleasure in being known, loved and honored by His creatures, that He promises: 1) that people in the world will find through this amiable devotion all the helps necessary for their state of life, that is to say; 2) peace in their families: He promised me that He will unite families that are divided. Our Divine Lord wishes us to have great charity for our neighbor; He wishes us to pray to Him for our neighbor as we would for ourselves, for it is one of the special effects of this devotion to unite hearts divided and to bring peace to souls; 3) consolation in their afflictions; 4) solace in their labors: He promised that He would protect and assist families that were in any necessity, if they addressed themselves to Him with confidence; 5) the blessings of Heaven on all their enterprises; 6) that in His Sacred Heart they would find refuge during their life and especially at the hour of their death."
SPECIAL PROMISES MADE TO PERSONS CONSECRATED TO GOD
PROMISES MADE TO RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
"Our Divine Lord promised me," writes St. Margaret Mary, "that as His Sacred Heart is the source of all blessings, He will pour out the sweet unction of His ardent charity on all those communities where His Sacred Heart is honored and who place themselves under Its special protection.
"He promised me that He would keep their hearts united so that they would form but one.
"He promised me that He would turn away the thunderbolts of Divine Justice from them and restore them to favor, if they should fall.
"Let religious embrace this amiable devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for they will draw from It such help that no other means will be needed to reestablish in their first fervor and in the most exact observance of their rule those communities that have become lax, and to bring to the height of perfection communities that are already fervent."
TEN PROMISES FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE SACRED HEART
FIRST PROMISE FOR APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
"My Divine Master;' writes St. Margaret Mary, "showed me the names of several persons written in letters of gold on His Sacred Heart, names of which He will never allow to be effaced. These are the names of the persons who have labored the most to make His Sacred Heart known and loved."
SECOND PROMISE FOR APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
"The Sacred Heart of Jesus has such a great desire to be known, loved and honored by men; He wishes so ardently to establish the empire of His love in all hearts by destroying in them the empire of Satan, that He promises great recompenses to all those who devote themselves with their whole hearts to establishing the reign of His Sacred Heart according to the lights and graces which He gives them."
THIRD PROMISE FOR APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
In addition to the friendship of the Divine Heart, the apostles of the Devotion are assured of the protection of the Blessed Virgin and of the Saints, especially of St. Margaret Mary.
She writes: "Oh! what happiness for us and for all who contribute in making the loving Heart of Jesus known and glorified! For they will draw down upon themselves the friendship and eternal blessings of this unique Love of our hearts. The Blessed Virgin will be their special protectress, she will assist them in attaining to the perfect life."
FOURTH PROMISE FOR APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
The apostles of the Sacred Heart will make rapid progress in virtue. The Sacred Heart of Jesus will sanctify and glorify them.
"The loving Heart of Jesus," writes St. Margaret Mary, "has made known to me that He will take care to sanctify and glorify us before His Heavenly Father in the measure in which we exert ourselves to procure glory for Him and to increase the reign of His love in the hearts of men."
FIFTH PROMISE FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
The apostles of the Sacred Heart will receive the grace of the pure love of God.
"The zeal with which you labor to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved will gain for you in an ever increasing degree the crowning gift of the pure love of God."
SIXTH PROMISE FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
The apostles of the Sacred Heart will draw down special blessings on their native land and on their families.
"Oh! what happiness for those who contribute to making the adorable Heart of Jesus known, loved and glorified! By what means they will secure a powerful Protector for their native land."
SEVENTH PROMISE FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
Great blessings are reserved for the works of zeal undertaken by those apostolic workers who propagate the devotion to the Sacred Heart. They will make great conversions.
"My divine Savior," writes St. Margaret Mary, "assured me that those who labor for the salvation of souls will have the art of touching the hardest hearts and will obtain marvelous success, if they themselves are animated with a tender devotion to His Divine Heart.
"He will penetrate the most unfeeling hearts by the words of His preachers and faithful friends. He will so pour out the sweet unction of His ardent charity with such strong and powerful graces on their words that He will make them like a flaming sword which will cause the most frozen hearts to melt in His love. The words of these apostles will be like two-edged swords, which will penetrate the most hardened hearts and make the holy fountain of penance spring up in them, purifying and sanctifying the most obstinate sinners and rendering them susceptible to the love of this Divine Heart. By this means the most criminal souls will be led on to salutary penance."
EIGHTH PROMISE FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
It will be given to the apostles of the Sacred Heart to understand the inestimable value of the Cross, and they will obtain strength and consolation in their difficulties.
"The adorable Heart of Jesus," writes St. Margaret Mary, "wishes to establish the reign of His pure love in all hearts. Happy are those whom He will employ to aid Him to establish His reign! But He did not tell me that His friends would have nothing to suffer, for He wishes them to make their greatest happiness consist in tasting its bitterness."
NINTH PROMISE FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
The apostles of the Sacred Heart will obtain the grace of final perseverance and of a holy death.
TENTH PROMISE FOR THE APOSTLES OF THE DEVOTION
The Sacred Heart Itself will be the reward of Its apostles. "Happy are those," writes St. Margaret Mary, "whom the Sacred Heart of Jesus will employ in establishing His reign. For it seems to me .that It is like a king who thinks only of recompensing His friends while He gains victories and triumphs over His enemies. When this Heart reigns victorious on Its throne, It will be Itself their eternal recompense."
PARTICULAR PROMISES MADE AND SPECIAL MISSION ENTRUSTED TO THE ORDER OF THE VISITATION AND TO THE JESUIT FATHERS
"This mission," writes Father Ramiere, S.J., "is not of an exclusive character. It is a source of joy for the Sisters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the confreres of Blessed Claude de la Colombiere to see their efforts shared by religious of the various orders and congregations, by secular priests of every rank and even by the simple faithful."
DEVOTION TO THE SOULS IN PURGATORY AND THE DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART
Among the devotions which should form a crown of honor around the Sacred Heart, St. Margaret Mary gives a privileged place to devotion to the Souls in Purgatory. She herself had an extraordinary devotion to these Souls and called them her good suffering friends. The revelations which she received about the sufferings of these Souls, about our Divine Lord's tender love for them and His eager desire for their deliverance, of the great efficacy of the devotion to the Sacred Heart for their early release, and the fact that St. Margaret Mary, the apostle of the public devotion to the Sacred Heart, combined these two devotions so intimately in her own person, indicate that there is such a close connection between the two devotions that the devotion to the Souls in Purgatory may be said to form a part of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Her extraordinary compassion for these suffering Souls may be said to be a share of the compassion of the Divine Heart for them; she called the devotion to the Sacred Heart the sovereign remedy for their relief.
It is a remarkable fact that our Divine Lord demanded of the two pioneers of the public devotion to His Sacred Heart an act of consecration of themselves to It, and a total donation in favor of the Souls in Purgatory of all the satisfactory merits of their lives and of all the prayers, Masses and good works offered for them after their death, and that they were the first to make this heroic offering.
St. Margaret Mary was in constant communication with the Souls in Purgatory; our Divine Lord allowed many privileged Souls among them to visit her, to tell her of their great sufferings and what it was that caused them, and to appear to her in glory after their deliverance. Towards the end of her life this became known outside the convent and people came to inquire from her about their deceased friends. While she usually declined to give any reply at the time of the inquiry, later on she sometimes declared that such a person was now in Heaven and exhorted the relatives of others to continue their prayers.
MARVELOUS EFFICACY OF THE DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART TO SUCCOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
"Would that people knew;' writes St. Margaret Mary, "with what eagerness the poor Souls in Purgatory ask for this new remedy which is so powerful to relieve their sufferings. They call the Devotion to the Sacred Heart the 'Sovereign remedy,' and ask particularly for Masses in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus."
ST. MARGARET MARY RECOMMENDS NOVENAS IN HONOR OF THE SACRED HEART FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
Writing to Mother de Saumaise she says: "There is a Soul in Purgatory that I cannot comfort as much as I desire. She told me to apply to you and ask you to have three Masses said for her, and, in addition, to offer your Rosary and all the practices of our holy rule for nine days, and a general
Communion. She said that these things would greatly alleviate her pains and that she would not be ungrateful."
ST. MARGARET MARY WAS ACCUSTOMED TO OFFER HER PRAYERS TO OUR BLESSED LADY THROUGH THE SOULS IN PURGATORY, AND IN A LETTER TO MOTHER GREFIÉ SHE EXPLAINS THE REASON:
"It is not through any want of confidence in Our Blessed Lady that we ask the help of the Holy Souls in Purgatory; it is in order that they may join their supplications to ours and offer them up to this Good Mother to obtain for us the continuation of her maternal assistance. By doing so we confess that, after God, it is from the Blessed Virgin that all good comes to us."
Of all the practices for the relief of the Holy Souls, the most efficacious is that which is called "the Heroic Act of Charity," which, as already stated, both St. Margaret Mary and Blessed Claude de la Colombiere made at our Divine Lord's request. It consists in offering up in favor of the Souls in Purgatory all our satisfactory merits and all the indulgences we can gain during our lives, and all the prayers, Masses and good works offered for us after our death, thus reserving nothing for ourselves and trusting completely in the mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary makes reference to it in several of her letters.
PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SOULS
O Divine Heart of Jesus, grant I pray Thee, eternal rest to the Souls in Purgatory, the final grace to those who are about to die this day, true repentance to sinners, the light of faith to pagans, and Thy blessing to me and to all who are dear to me. To Thee, therefore, O Most Merciful Heart of Jesus, I commend all these souls, and in their behalf I offer unto Thee all Thy merits in union with the merits of Thy Most Blessed Mother and of all the Angels and Saints, together with all the Masses, Communions, prayers and good works which are this day being offered throughout Christendom.
O Most Holy Heart of Jesus, shower Thy blessings in abundant measure upon the Thy Holy Church, upon the Supreme Pontiff and upon all the clergy; to the just grant perseverance; convert sinners; enlighten unbelievers; bless our relations, friends and benefactors; assist the dying; deliver the Holy Souls in Purgatory; and extend over all hearts the sweet empire of Thy love. Amen.