Friday, 28 October 2011

Following the Sacred Heart to Paris: (3) The road to the rue du Bac

The sad thing about so many of the 'tourist trap' churches in Paris, especially Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur is the fact that they are over-run by tourists.  That is not so bad.   But it is a fact that so many tourists simply do not understand that they are walking on sacred ground.  They show no or little respect.  It is difficult to pray in such places. How different it is if one takes the road to the 'other Notre Dame ' in Paris hidden away in the rue du Bac: number 140, to be precise.   Unlike the tourist dominated and monumental Notre Dame, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is small, and if you did not know it is there, you might easily pass by! And although can be  VERY busy, it is one of the most prayerful  places in Paris.

 The  Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous medal was originally dedicated to the Sacred Heart (1815)  and subsequently re-named after the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to Saint Catherine Laboure in 1830.  A visit to the chapel was a must for this trip for so many reasons - not least because of the close associations with the the Chapel,  the Daughters of Charity and the medal with the Sacred Heart.   You can find out all about the Chapel and the Medal and the Daughters of Charity by visiting their website : here.

For now I can only note that I found the Chapel very moving and inspiring.   It gave me a renewed sense of what the medal is all about : the mystery of salvation and the role of Mary - the Immaculate Conception -  in the redemption of the human race.  If the Sacred Heart is the summa of our faith, and the Rosary is the 'doorway' into the Heart of Christ,   then it seems to me that the medal is a summary of God's plan for mankind and the central role of Mary in this plan. To wear it is to be constantly aware of God's plan, and its message of hope.  In promoting this constant awareness of the fact that we are children of God the little medal is truly miraculous!   And, in terms of the Sacred Heart on the back of the medal  in particular, it provides a powerful symbol of the Alliance of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The original seal used by St. Louise de Marillac.
I think that the medal, in conjunction with the seal of the Daughter's of Charity  (see HERE) which states that 'La Charitie de Jesus Crucifie Nous Presse' - The Charity of the Crucified Jesus  urges us.' * gives us a most profound insight into the meaning the Sacred Heart should have for how we are called to live our lives.  It should energise, activate and drive, push and urge us on.  To devote ones life to the Sacred Heart is -  it seems to me now -  to live a life  energised and vitalised by the love of God.  We can see what this can look like when we reflect on the history of the Daughters of Charity established by St. Louise and the Society founded by St. Madeleine-Sophie in Paris all those years ago.  


* Sometimes the Latin form is used by the Daughters of Charity: 'Caritas Christi Urget Nos' .  Which is, of course, St. Paul, Corinthians 2.  5:14

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