Friday, 21 October 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 53.

By  Rev. Joseph J. C. Petrovits, J.C.B., S.T.L.


The purpose of this chapter is to ascertain the contents of the letter whose authenticity has been considered in the foregoing pages. This step is necessary in order to form a clear idea as to the sense its wording conveys.

An insurmountable difficulty confronts us at the very outset. What form of the Twelfth Promise is to be accepted as the revealed one ? There are no fewer than four different formulas, from which we must make a selection. The writer referred to above states that " in the authentic life of Blessed Margaret Mary the promise occurs in two places." Then he gives the two forms in French, translates the first one into English and subjoins: " Unfortunately we have no means of finding out what Blessed Margaret Mary understood by the promise. She speaks of it in no other place, it seems, besides the two passages which we have given above, and in neither of them does she say anything about its meaning." The description is very realistic but misleading. It is true that there are two distinct passages in the Vie et Oeuvres de la Bienheureuse Marguerite-Marie, in which reference is made to the Great Promise. This work was edited by the Visitandines and consists of two volumes. The first volume, containing her life written by Les Contemporaines, gives the text by way of citation. In the second volume, which contains her own writings, the letter itself, directed to Mother de Saumaise, is given in full. The writer of the above mentioned article, therefore, has an erroneous idea which will permit a correction. His interpretation conveys the notion that the autobiography of Blessed Margaret Mary refers to the Twelfth Promise in two distinct places. Such a statement cannot be sustained, for it is not Blessed Margaret Mary herself that speaks. It is the Contemporaines (Visitandines) that quote her doubtful letter in the first volume, and the Visitandines of 1867 and 1876 respectively that republish the same letter from a transcribed source in the second volume. It is questionable whether even the Contemporaines had the autograph in their possession, since it was only a copy and not the original letter that they submitted to the Sacred Congregation. This latter statement is corroborated indirectly by the third and only authentic edition of the Beata's works which appeared in 1915 through the solicitude of Archbishop Gauthey.

Since there is no other criterion to enable us to form a correct estimate of the relative value of the subsequent remarks, it is necessary to acquaint ourselves with the works of Blessed Margaret Mary. The investigation will involve a somewhat complicated question without the understanding of which it is impossible to pass a judgment on the subject under consideration.

Blessed Margaret Mary by order of Mother de Saumaise, her Superior in the convent, and her confessors, Fathers de la Colombiere and Rolin, wrote a Memoir in which she relates the principal events of her life. Msgr. Bougaud says that the first edition of this manuscript of the Beata was published by Father Galliffet, who brought it out in conjunction with his treatise " Sur I'Excellence de la Devotion au Coeur de Jesus-Christ" In 1865, the same manuscript was re-edited by Father Daniel. Blessed Margaret Mary corresponded with both religious and lay persons. Her autobiography is still extant in the original, as also many of her autographic letters. Some of these were lost while others are preserved only in a transcribed form. In the year 1715, a movement commenced with episcopal approbation to collect juridical data preliminary to her beatification. On this occasion Srs. Peronne-Rosalie de Farges, and Frangois-Rosalie Verchere composed a Memoir under the title of Vie de la Bienheweuse par les Contemporaines, in which they give us an insight into her convent life. This manuscript was one of the sources from which Bishop Languet drew his information for the life of Blessed Margaret Mary. 8 After his work was finished he returned the MS. to the archives of Paray. The Visitandines undertook to combine this latter work with the Memoir of the Beata, and in 1867 published a work entitled Vie et Oeuvres de la Bienheureuse Margaret Marie, in two volumes. Thus the above mentioned work is a combination of two distinct compilations of manuscript Memoirs. The first volume confines itself to the Vie de la Bienheureuse par les Contemporaines, while the second contains the Memoire Scrit par la Bienheureuse, sur Vordre du Pere Rolin, son directeur. In 1876, the Visitandines issued a second amplified and revised edition of the same work, again in two volumes. Father Hamon expresses his disapproval of the changes and additions introduced into this latter edition. The third and the only reliable editon of all the documents appertaining to Blessed Margaret Mary was committed to print in 1915, of which we shall speak more extensively later.