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St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

On Oct. 16, Roman Catholics celebrate the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the French nun whose visions of Christ helped to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout the Western Church.Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in July of 1647. Her parents Claude and Philiberte lived modest but virtuous lives, while Margaret proved to be a serious child with a great focus on God. Claude died when Margaret was eight, and from age 9-13 she suffered a paralyzing illness. In addition to her father's death as well as her illenss, a struggle over her family's property made life difficult for Margaret and her mother for several years.During her illness, Margaret made a vow to enter religious life. During adolescence, however, she changed her mind. For a period of time she lived a relatively ordinary life, enjoying the ordinary social functions of her day and considering the possibility of marriage.However, her life changed in response to a vision she saw one night while returning from a dance, in which she saw Christ being scourged. Margaret believed she had betrayed Jesus, by pursuing the pleasures of the world rather than her religious vocation, and a the at the age of 22, she decided to enter a convent.Two days after Christmas of 1673, Margaret experienced Christ's presence in an extraordinary way while in prayer. She heard Christ explain that he desired to show his love for the human race in a special way, by encouraging devotion to “the heart that so loved mankind.� She experienced a subsequent series of private revelations regarding the gratitude due to Jesus on the part of humanity, and the means of responding through public and private devotion, but the superior of the convent dismissed this as a delusion. This dismissal was a crushing disappointment, affecting the nun's health so seriously that she nearly died. In 1674, however, the Jesuit priest Father Claude de la Colombiere became Margaret's spiritual director. He believed her testimony, and chronicled it in writing. Fr. de la Colombiere – later canonized as a saint – left the monastery to serve as a missionary in England. By the time he returned and died in 1681, Margaret had made peace with the apparent rejection of her experiences. Through St. Claude's direction, she had reached a point of inner peace, no longer concerned with the hostility of others in her community.In time, however, many who doubted her would become convinced as they pondered what St. Claude had written about the Sacred Heart. Eventually, her own writings and the accounts of her would face a rigorous examination by Church officials. By the time that occurred, however, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had already gained what she desired: “To lose myself in the heart of Jesus.� She faced her last illness with courage, frequently praying the words of Psalm 73: “What have I in heaven, and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God?� She died on October 17, 1690, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

A New Day, A New Life – A Sermon On Mark 10:17-31

Proper 23B – Mark 10:17-31 “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” I wonder what drove the man to Jesus. I wonder what was going on in his life that caused him to run to Jesus, kneel down, and ask his question. What’s the desperation behind his question? What’s his desire?  We could speculate about him but chances are there have been …

What Have We Confirmed? – A Sermon On Mark 10:2-16

Proper 22B – Mark 10:2-16 The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh has been completed. But here’s what I wonder. What have we confirmed? I am not speaking of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications or character. This is about more than particular individuals. We have confirmed more than a new Supreme Court justice.  We have confirmed our divorce from one another. We have confirmed our reliance on procedure over …

Irreparable Loss

Some losses are irreparable. The time is ruined. The suffering cannot be redeemed. There is no gain from this pain, no view long enough to eventually say, “It was worth it,” nothing that can compensate for what has been taken. And that’s okay. I do not want a salary for my suffering, I want salvation from it. This irreparable loss, this ruined time, this unredeemable …

First, Do No Harm – A Sermon On Mark 9:38-50

Jesus is once again asking us to look at ourselves, to be self-reflective. It’s as if he saying to John, “Don’t you worry about that other guy. You worry about yourself.” He’s asking us to look within. The greatest stumbling blocks are not outside us but within us: anger and revenge, the judgments we make of others, prejudice, our desire to get ahead and be number one, the need to be right, our unwillingness to listen, the assumption that we know more and better than another, living as if our way is the only and right way, pride, fear, being exclusionary, our busyness, lies, gossip, our desire for power and control. These, and a thousand other things like them, are what cause others and us to fall. 

I Want To Be Great, Don’t You? – A Sermon On Mark 9:30-37

For most of us, I suspect, Monday greatness is about being number one, a winner, a success. It’s about power, control, wealth, fame, reputation, status, and position. Have you ever seen the losing super bowl team dancing around with two fingers in the air shouting, “We’re number two, we’re number two?” Probably not and you probably never will. Can you imagine a political slogan about making America last or a servant of other countries? Besides, who wants to be the servant of all? That’s for the uneducated, minorities or foreigners, and those we can get away with paying less than a living wage. At least that’s often how it works today. Being last and servant of all is not what we usually strive for. That’s not the greatness to which we aspire.

Medicine For Our Disillusionment – A Sermon On Mark 8:27-38

I’ve recently begun wondering if one of the primary things that unites us as country today might not be disillusionment. It seems to be everywhere, and on all sides. Now we may not agree on what we are disillusioned about but I think it’s a common disease from which we are all suffering. There is disillusionment with our leaders and the political system, with economic opportunities, with endless wars and violence, with prejudice and oppression, with religion and the church. 

Could We Be The Bread of Life? – A Sermon On John 6:35, 41-51

We so often hear Jesus say, “I am the bread of life,” and we assume he is the only loaf in the basket. But what if that is not what he is saying? What if he is not claiming to be the exclusive loaf of bread in this world? What if he is teaching us is what the bread of life looks like so we can find it in this world, so we can become that bread, so we can be that bread for another?

Playing The Game Of Life – A Sermon On John 6:51-58

Proper 15B – John 6:51-58 Shortly before I began the fourth grade my mom, dad, sister, and I took a trip to Kansas City. We spent the night at the airport Holiday Inn. I remember us sitting around the pool and every time a plane flew overhead my mom would cry. The next morning we took my dad to the airport. He would spend the …

Life Interrupted: When Our Plans And The Unexpected Meet – A Sermon on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Here’s the first question. Have you ever made plans for your life? And here’s the second question. Have your plans ever been interrupted? Chances are you answered yes to both of those questions. We’ve all made plans. Maybe it was for an hour, a day, a weekend, a vacation, our work, our finances, our family. And we’ve all experienced the interruption of those plans by circumstances that changed or the unexpected that happened. Every one of us could probably say about today’s gospel, “Well… Darn. That’s all about me. That describes my life.” Today’s gospel describes the tension in which we live. And it’s the same tension in which Jesus and his disciples lived.