In 2011, Paray le Monial, France, I had the chance to speak with Msgr. John Esseff at the First Sacred Heart World Congress. Msgr. Esseff is one of the founders of the Sacred Heart Apostolate, sponsor of this event which brought laity, religious, and priests from around the world. Talks were given by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Robert Herman, Christendom College President Timothy O’Donnell, and EWTN show host and author Fr. Mitch Pacwa, as well as many others Why did they come to this small French community nestled in Eastern France? Because our Lord choice this place and two very remarkably humble saints to communicate the message of his Sacred Heart. He said to St. Margaret Mary:
“My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for mankind … that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its burning charity and must spread them abroad by your means.” She described that His Heart was on fire and surrounded by a crown of thorns. Our Lord told her that the flames represented His love for humanity, and the thorns represented man’s sinfulness and ingratitude. Jesus informed her that her mission was to establish the devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, and He revealed twelve promises that He would bestow upon all those who practice the devotion.
She had three more visions over the next year and a half in which Jesus instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays. Christ also inspired Margaret Mary to establish the Holy Hour and to receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the final revelation, the Lord asked that a feast of reparation be instituted for the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.
Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, a holy and experienced Jesuit, arrived as confessor to the nuns, and in him Margaret Mary recognized the understanding guide that had been promised to her in the visions. He became convinced that her experiences were genuine and adopted the teaching of the Sacred Heart that the visions had communicated to her.
Msgr. Esseff talks about that message, what it means for us today, and how we can live it out.