I've seen questions recently about relics. I am the proud-possessor of the "tertiary relic" of St.Margaret-Mary Alocoque, brought back from Rome for me when I was a Curate in Hackney, by the sweetest, most-devout Catholic lady, Miss Griffin. Nothing ever got to her. When things were good, her stock reply was "Isn't God good!". When things were not so good - "Isn't God good!". Oh that my faith could be as strong as hers.
I had no idea who St.Margaret Mary was, but I had had a sneaky devotion to the Sacred Heart from my teenage years. Of all Catholic devotions, it seemed to be the most "evangelical" - a reminder of God's deep love for each one of us, loving us so much that Christ died for us on the Cross.
Margaret-Mary was born in France
in 1647. She had an unhappy childhood, and readily embraced the Religious Life in 1671. She received visions of Jesus, manifest as The Sacred Heart. In those visions she heard Jesus instruct her to initiate devotion to Him in the Sacred Heart, to foster people's understanding of the great love God has for all that has been created. It is her feast-day today, 16th October.
From an article in "Jesuits in Britain":
“On December 27, 1673, the feast of St. John, the Beloved Apostle, Margaret Mary reported that Jesus permitted her to rest her head upon his heart, and then revealed to her the wonders of his love, telling her that he wanted to make them known to all humankind. From 1673 to 1675, Christ appeared to her in a series of mystical visions. Like St. John the Beloved, she was allowed to rest her head on Jesus’ breast, and he revealed to her his passionate love for all humanity and his sorrow at the world’s indifference.
‘And He [Christ] showed me that it was His great desire to be loved by all people and to withdraw them from the path of ruin that made Him form the design of revealing His Heart to all people, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to give Him all the honour and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which His heart is the source.’ (from Revelations of Our Lord to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque)
At first, her community questioned her mystical visions. Margaret Mary was overcome by anguish and uncertainty. However, the Lord had promised her that he would send her "my faithful servant and perfect friend" to help her fulfill the mission for which he had destined her: that of revealing to the world the unfathomable riches of his love. God sent her a gifted spiritual director, the Jesuit priest St Claude de la Colombiere SJ. He recognized the authenticity of her extraordinary experience and helped her spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, helping others to experience the wonderful love of Jesus, His ‘ocean of mercy’, in the Eucharist. The devotion to the Sacred Heart was fostered by the Jesuits and was officially recognised by the Church 75 years later.”
Pour out on us, we pray, O Lord,
the spirit with which you so remarkably endowed Saint Margaret Mary, so that we may come to know that love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge,
and be utterly filled with your fullness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Almighty God, whose Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was moved with compassion for all who had gone astray and with indignation for all who had suffered wrong: inflame our hearts with the burning fire of your love, that we may seek out the lost, have mercy on the fallen, and stand fast for truth and righteousness.
Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11: Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who labour and are over-burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
"This divine heart is an abyss of all blessings, and into it the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need." Margaret Mary
Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Spirit of the living God,
you breathe on all that is inadequate and fragile in us.
You make living water spring even from our hurts;
and, through you, the valley of fears becomes a place of wellsprings,
your continual presence in the Heart-beat of your love brings refreshment.
Create in me a new heart, O Lord,
and put a new spirit within me.
What is a tertiary relic? A tertiary relic might have come into contact with
items that have touched the body of the saint, or the burial place, and are believed to absorb some of the "holiness". Tertiary relics allow for the power of the holy to spread beyond the place of pilgrimage, as the pilgrim carries into her or his home
the sacredness of the place visited. At very least it is a focus, a sign, of the sacred.