Following Christ is like falling in love

 

 

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Theresa Civantos Barber10/16/21

St. Margaret Mary’s life reveals the truth that the Christian life is a love story for every person.

Young love. A childhood promise. Family opposing the match. Finally, a lifetime happily in love with each other.

It sounds like the plot of a romantic novel, doesn’t it? But it’s the real story of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the saintly French nun whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Margaret Mary was a rather unusual child. She deeply loved the Eucharist from a young age, much like Blessed Carlo Acutis. She was said to prefer silence and prayer to rowdy childhood games.

When she was 13, her years of private prayer and sacrificial love for Christ came to a head. She secretly promised the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would consecrate herself to religious life. 

But this promise was to be sorely tested a few years later. In her late teens, St. Margaret Mary heeded her family’s urging to search for a suitable husband. She began to attend dances and parties and meet eligible young men, all with marriage in mind.

All this social excitement came to an abrupt end, however, when Christ reminded her of her early promise: One night upon her return from a ball, she had a vision of Christ as He was during His scourging, reproaching her for infidelity after He had given her so many proofs of His love.

She forgot all about the young men she’d met and desired once more to take Christ as her bridegroom. But there was one major obstacle: her family. Her mother and older brother wanted her to marry.

When her brother urged her to marry immediately, Margaret responded by describing her true love, Jesus:

“He is the most beautiful, the richest, most powerful, most perfect and accomplished of all lovers and I am promised to Him.”

Her brother was unimpressed. He continued to oppose her entering the convent for some time, until at last, a Franciscan priest visited the family and convinced him of Margaret Mary’s vocation.

At least, after so many years, St. Margaret Mary’s dream was realized. She would be united forever to her great love as a nun in a Visitation convent.

While St. Margaret Mary was to endure more trials in her life, Christ’s burning love and constant presence always consoled her. It was “love ever after” not just for a lifetime but in Heaven beyond.

The rest of her life was dedicated to making Christ known throughout the world, especially through devotion to his Sacred Heart, which she steadfastly promoted:

[Christ] called her “the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart,” and the heiress of all Its treasures. The love of the Sacred Heart was the fire which consumed her, and devotion to the Sacred Heart is the refrain of all her writings. In her last illness she refused all alleviation, repeating frequently: “What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God,” and died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.

St. Margaret Mary’s life sounds like a love story, but with Christ in place of an ordinary man. But what’s most extraordinary about it is that a love story with Christ is not something reserved only for the holiest people. It’s something to which every Christian is invited.

St. Margaret Mary was unusual in preferring silence and prayer to excitement and play, but you don’t have to be like her to fall in love with Jesus. Each and every one of us is called to our own love story with Christ. And these love stories will be as distinct and unique as each person.

A Jesuit priest, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, beautifully captured the reality of a relationship with Christ in a reflection called Fall in Love:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

St. Margaret Mary shows us what it can look like to fall in love and stay in love with Christ.

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