Mother Alphonse Marie and Her Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
For Mother Alphonse Marie, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was an extraordinary expression of Jesus' love, God’s love for humans. The Immaculate Heart of Mary was, for her, a refuge from the snares of the world, as well as the mediation of God's grace.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the last years weakens. Many people consider the image, litany and other prayers, songs, etc. of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, too sweet, trashy and emotional. Even the thought of repentance, which is associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is not fit for many.
The heart is more touchy feelings than the mind. Therefore, the symbol of heart possibly does not express true feelings and all words with great meaning - heart, love, and “God” - tend to be diminished and abused.
The heart is, probably in all cultures, an expression for man's interior. In many cases, a heart is an expression for a person, is innermost feelings and emotions, for thinking, and existence. The heart is crucial for understanding. This is expressed by unaccountable words and phrases. If anyone says: ”I lost my heart in Pittsburgh, Greensburg, etc.“, it is sure he would not find it in “Lost-and-found”.
If someone is “broken hearted” by loosing loved ones, the cardiologist cannot help in this case. If someone “has poured his heart” to a friend, the friend doesn't need a bucket to catch it but he has to be “open heart”. “The heart has reasons but the mind doesn’t have ideas.“
In the Bible, the heart is not only the seat of emotions but also the seat of understanding, will and decisions. The heart is the innermost of the man is essentials. The Psalms speak about heart often. “He says in his heart” (Ps 10:11); “Therefore my heart is glad” (Ps 16:9); “Though you test my heart” (Ps 17:3); “My heart exults in the Lord” (1 Sam 2:1).
When Samuel was sent by God to anoint David as king, God said to him: “Man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart“ (1 Sam 16:7). In the Letter to the Ephesians the author asks: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened by God...” (Eph 1:18). (This thought poet Saint-Exupéry formed: “With the heart, one can see rightly.”) Jesus is “grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mk 3:5), found in many other places in the Bible.
The Bible says even about the Heart of God. It is written very nicely in the eleventh chapter of the Prophet Hosea. The Prophet leaves God to speak about His love to Israel and hardened hearts of people, and He, their God, had to destroy the nation because of their infidelity. Then God says: “My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.“ (Hos 11:8). The heart of God is more merciful than justice!
God has heart for His people. Thus, this Heart is called Jesus. His compassion for us asks God not destroy us, we shall lest perish, but to save us. Even at the cost of His own Son! God gives Himself to Jesus in death. The death of Jesus, therefore, is the fulfillment of God's love. The love that is given to great lengths. In his dying Jesus bore all the sufferings and sins of the whole world. He bore it all with the ability of love and the suffering of His Heart. Jesus' death is the highlight (or deepest point - as could also be explained) God's love for us (Jesus descends in the biggest depth). John, in his Gospel, says that the soldier pierced the side of Jesus (the word 'heart' in not here but understood). From the open side of Jesus and the wounded Heart of Jesus spurt blood and water; from there comes salvation to people.
Mother Alphonse Marie, unceasingly, meditated on Jesus’ suffering. Not because the suffering was something good, but rather due to the fact that through it revealed in Jesus, the great love of God. Love taking all the pain and the Heart that bears the suffering.
Mother Alphonse Marie venerated the Heart of Jesus, the fount of love. Characteristically for her was her esteem not emotion or self-centered, but, practical. Only the soul that burned with love for God’s suffering and abandoned humanity, tested by the fire of suffering, could take place the idea of such a rendition of work. Therefore the title, of the oldest text of the Constitutions was: “Order of the Daughters of the Divine Redeemer for the care of the sick, poor and the support of other poor people, founded for the honor of the Divine Heart of Jesus and the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Like the Heart of Jesus, Mother Alphonse Marie, venerated, also, the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After all, since childhood she had an intimate relationship to Mary. After she learned to speak the first thing she learned was the prayer to the Blessed Mother, Mary. Later and indeed throughout her life she, also, turned to the Virgin Mary, calling to her for help. As a child, when she neglected her duties in caring for siblings, full of pain, begging the Mother of God to obtain for her forgiveness and she doing penance.
She often prayed the Virgin Mary: “O Mary, my beloved Mother, you have taught me how to pray. Please, teach me, also, how I should love Jesus.” “Mary, my Mother, I want to follow you. Yes, I want to follow your virtues. Help me dear Mary.”
Mother Alphonse Marie was aware that Mary has such a tender heart that even if we were to forsake her, Mary would never forsake us. Therefore, she asked, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, to reach the required graces with Jesus: “Mary, my Mother, pray for me, that I get to know all my poor passions. My Divine Bridegroom, even should You refuse to hear me, You will not refuse Your Mother, who is also my Mother.” She begged Blessed Mother: “Through your holy virginity and your Immaculate Conception, O most pure Virgin, purify my heart and my body.” How often should we say such words to heal again our wounded families? How pride, self-love and selfishness divide them!
Here is the example of Mother Alphonse Marie: When she became Superior of the new order by making Religious Profession, she stayed for long time into the night in her room in thanksgiving prayer before the image of the Blessed Mother of God and prayed with great confidence: “Mary, my beloved Mother, have pity on me and accept me as your child. Look, now I am assuming the role of a mother to these children. How can I handle myself when I'm so poor? Have pity on me! Obtain for me in your Son, my Divine Bridegroom, an affectionate motherly heart, like yours. Obtain for me the gift of prudence, wisdom and knowledge.” Then she asked Jesus: “Look, my Divine Bridegroom, I put my heart into Yours, take it and give me Yours. I'm afraid You are offended or grieved by the leading the Community. Do not let it be! Accept my will and removed, what would offend You or sadden You.
She laid all of the children entrusted to her at His feet and asked blessings for them and, also, His grace. Similarly, we can and have to do it, and not only our own children and grandchildren, but all, who are entrusted to us, who ask us for the prayer and those for whom no one prays. Then Mother Alphonse Marie asked: “See, there is so much to be done for these daughters of Yours. It is You who can mend and make new their hearts. I am poor and weak. You must do the work.”
In the First Rules, it is written: “The most beautiful way of honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary is to show God's mercy to people“. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary cannot only stay by her. It is not enough that she may experience the love of Jesus and of Mary. She wants and needs to give further love. It can be said that it is "courageous" devotion. Thus the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary have to be, also, venerated by her Sisters and all followers.
What is manifested in this veneration? This is manifested by the kindness, the ability to love and to do good, charity, in view, a smile, a word, a handshake, every gesture, attitude, and just every expression of man. Kindness is understood by everyone without words and its effect is so bewitching that it wins the hearts. It also shows in accommodating attitude, not only the foreign, but also the closest, which is always a little harder. It is manifested by joy, discretion, openness, ability to discover what in the specific time a person needs, as well as extreme sensitivity to internal needs, desires and mood of another person. It is, literally, the "art" of understanding others. Our life program is made visible by the merciful and redeeming love of Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, take us into Your Sacred Heart as You have accepted our Foundress, Venerable Servant of God, Mother Alphonse Marie.
You are in us and we are in You. United with You, we desire you, the eternal light, truth, and the source of our life endless love. Help us to love our neighbor and all your creatures. Pour into our hearts the desire for the virtue of kindness, spread around us love and peace. Help us leave all that separates us from You. We want to faithfully fulfill our mission and make present in the world Your merciful and redeeming love. We want to love and to act only on behalf of Your love. We want to light the world by Your love and, by imitating, venerate Your Sacred Heart and the Heart of Your Mother. Amen.