Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Feast of St. Margaret Mary

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.  Her role in promoting the devotion to the Sacred Heart is sufficiently well known not to need repeating in this post.  At the start of this project we asked her to pray for us - and especially for Ian as he wrote the icon. On such a day it is well just to reflect on the significant role of women in spreading the devotion -  and it is a very long list indeed! When I reflect on the icon, the images of the Virgin and St. Mary Magdalene often prompt me to ask all holy women who have had a special devotion to the Heart of the Saviour to pray for us. A short list, would include:

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us.
St Mary Magdalene, first to see the risen Christ, Pray for us. 
St. Clare of Assisi, Pray for us 
St. Mechthild of Magdeburg, Pray for us.
St. Mechthild of Hackeborn, Pray for us.
St. Gertrude the Great, Pray for us.
St. Catherine of Siena, Pray for us.
St. Teresa of Avila, Pray for us.
St. Jane Chantal, Pray for us.
St. Margaret Mary, Pray for us.
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, Pray for us.
St. Louise de Marillac, Pray for us.
St. Faustina, Pray for us.
St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross, Pray for us.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us. 
All holy women, Pray for us.

That is just my short list of women of the Sacred Heart who come to mind as I reflect on the images of the Virgin and St Mary Magdalene in the icon.

In reflecting on the 'women of the Sacred Heart', I think it is also important to pray for all women in the Church.  This was a very important issue for Teilhard who argued a long time ago, that the role of women and the 'feminine' in the Church was in need of urgent reform!!   And on this day, therefore, we should offer our prayers for Pope Francis who has put the issue of women high on the agenda - and about time too!  Recently, for example, whilst recalling the 25th anniversary of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, Francis reminded us that the role of women is critical to the future of the Church:

“ I would like to underline how the woman has a particular sensitivity for the ‘things of God’, above all in helping us to understand the mercy, tenderness and love that God has for us,” he said. “ And it pleases me to think that the Church is not ‘il Chiesa’ [‘the Church’, masculine]: it is ‘la Chiesa’ [feminine]. The Church is a woman! The Church is a mother! And that’s beautiful, eh? We have to think deeply about this....From here, we must restart that work of deepening and of promoting, for which I have already hoped many times. Even in the Church, it is important to ask oneself: what presence does the woman have? I suffer – speaking truthfully! – when I see in the Church or in some ecclesial organizations that the role of service that we all have, and that we must have - but that the role of service of the woman slips into a role of “servidumbre” [Spanish: servitude]. . . But when I see women that do things out of “servitude” and not out of service,” said Pope Francis. “And that it is not understood well what a woman ought to do. Can she be valued more? It is a reality that is close to my heart and for this I wanted to meet … and bless you and your commitment. Thank you, let us move this forward together! May most holy Mary – a great woman, eh? – the Mother of Jesus and of all God’s children, accompany us. '  Read here

Saint Margaret Mary, pray that the Church may once again be set alight by the power of the Sacred Heart, and that the role of women in the Church may be valued more and more.

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