Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Purpose and Conditions for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart

Yesterday I awoke early, as usual, dealing with physical pain. Soon, the emotional pain set in with thoughts of how the physical pain has been a presence for nearly 21 years. The question presented itself: "Where is Dana Mansfield?" He drank and drove and careened his car into ours--being the impetus for major life changes and my vocation as a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart. It wasn't for several years, though, that I learned about victim souls. The priest who confirmed me in the Church told me about victim souls and diagnosed my condition.

Today I awoke early, as usual, dealing with physical pain. The traffic noise riled me, and I asked, "Lord, what am I doing here? Is this added annoyance which is driving me NUTS really a sacrifice you want me to make? Surely I could eliminate this one from the line-up of sufferings."

This is a point I am hoping to make in this writing, disjointed as it is between conversations at Panera and the pain: victim soul work takes on-going faith and focus. Even after years of experiences, prayer, spiritual direction and reading on the subject, I still lose my focus and at times have great doubts.

God always dispells the doubts and gets me re-focused for the tasks at hand, in the vocation of suffering. But I don't know if my weaknesses will ever disappear while in this body. I could just as easily go into a despair today as the first day I heard about victim souls and the good of the vocation.

Yesterday I was ready to fold it up and attempt another escape--this time to a rural setting. I decided my "assignment" here was finished, and I could do well enough with some on-going prayers and maintenance-suffering offered from a distance. I went to Mass. Then my attitude and focus got righted. The priest read the Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus tells the parable about the landowner going out at daybreak and other times during the day to hire workers. He returned at the 11th hour, and asked those he found standing around, "Why have you been standing idle here all day?"

They gave a lame excuse, but the landowner listened and sent them out into the vineyard to work. When the time came to pay all the workers, the ones hired last got the same pay as the ones who had worked all day. Of course, the ones who had worked all day felt this was unfair. The landowner explained, though, that he had given them their pay and not to be envious because he is generous to all.

The priest illuminated all of us at daily Mass on this Scripture. Personally, I was hit on the head. He pointed out that even though the workers griped at what they perceived as unfair, these all-day workers had agreed to the terms of the work--regardless of the workers who put in only an hour or two, for whatever their reasons. Suddenly, I remembered a dream in which a soul was reminded of agreeing to the work.

The person had a metal band around the head, sort of like a halo but quite different in function! The band was being tightened, bit by bit, and the soul complained loudly to the point of crying and rebelling. An angel stood beside the soul and calmly remarked, "But you agreed to this!"
In this case, the angel delivered a much-needed reminder.

So, too, I keep offering myself to do the work of a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the offering has long-since been accepted. The work goes on, and sometimes I am focused and courageous, but other times I gripe and complain, cry, balk and doubt. Repeatedly, I am reminded that I agreed to the terms and conditions of the great work of suffering, and there are many workers in the vineyard, and many more are needed and used. Some have been working all their lives; others like me have come mid-way, and others will come toward the end of their lives. Suffering is just as difficult no matter how long the duration. I must not resent these sufferings. I must not envy those who are called to other fields for now, and who might join the victim soul vineyard at later in their lives. Oh, how I have been a fair-weather, mediocre worker for the generous Jesus!

But don't be discouraged, any who offer yourselves as Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart! Even the great saints waffled in their resolve, surprisingly. St. Margaret Mary Alocoque kept being pulled back to the pleasures of the world--even when Jesus appeared to her in person! One time, she writes, Jesus appeared, covered with blood from the scourging and reproached her. "Dost thou sigh for pleasure? I never tasted any. I gave Myself up to all sorts of bitterness for they love and to gain they heart,--and thou dost still wish to dispute it with Me!"

For awhile, St. Margaret Mary desisted the temptation to comforts, but soon resumed her search for "vanities." On another occasion Jesus appeared and said, "I have chosen thee for My spouse, and thou didst promise fidelity [a promise she made when a young girl which precipated her miraculous healing from imminent death] when thou didst make to Me the vow of chastity. It was I who urged thee to make it before the world had any share in thy heart, for I wished to possess it pure and unsullied by any earthly affection."

The saint's biographer adds to this sequence: "Who would not believe that a heart like Margaret's, so pure, indeed so angelic, endowed with such generosity, would not enthusiastically respond to these tender and magnificent advances? Nevertheless, even at this moment she hesitated; and never, perhaps, in this terrible struggle of four years had she been more strongly tempted to yield." The devil, taking this foothold, worked her over more than ever, placing more doubts in her mind and trying to turn her completely from the idea of her vocation as a religious.

However, at a critical moment one day at Mass, after Holy Communion, Jesus came again to her to strengthen her resolve to His will. "Oh remember, if thou dost contemn Me, I shall abondon thee forever; but if thou art faithful to Me, I shall never leave thee. I will render thee victorious over all thy enemies. I excuse thy ignorance, because thou dost not yet know Me. But if thou art faithful to Me, I shall teach thee to know Me and shall manifest Myself to thee." St. Margaret Mary left Mass that day, renewed her vow, and accepted her vocation.

Now, to quote the Guide, you will be given encouragement as to the purpose of your making an offering of yourself as a victim soul.

"The Victim Souls abandon themselves unreservedly to the Adorable Heart of Jesus in order that He may dispose of them according to His good pleasure. Desiring nothing but His Holy Will, they accept in advance and in a spirit of reparation all the pains and sufferings, both of soul and body, that He may judge good to send them, in order that they may assist ever more and more in the extension of the Reign of the Heart of Jesus--in order to obtain the exaltation of Holy Church--abundant graces for the Priesthood and the salvation of souls."

If you desire to be a worker in Christ's vineyard of victim souls, the following conditions are offered, in updated form for this apostolate of The Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart.

1. To make with the consent of one's confessor or spiritual director, the Act of Immolation [or one written with the guidance and approval of one's confessor/director] and to be firmly resolved to persevere until death in this spirit of immolation.

2. To repeat the vow annually in the presence of one's confessor/director and to offer daily a shortened vow or equivalent prayer; and to adopt or wear an outer sign [recommend a Crucifix] as a private witness and reminder of one's personal life of sacrifice of one's soul in union with the Heart of Jesus perpetually immolated on the altar.

3. It is recommended that each member pray at least one Mystery of the Rosary daily; to recite the Seven Last Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross and conclude with the Precious Offering of the Blood and Water which flowed from the Wound in the Heart of Jesus; and to recite the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the first Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart.

4. Daily Mass [if unable to attend should make a spiritual communion] and weekly confession.

5. A daily Holy Hour [weekly, if daily not possible] and the Stations of the Cross [daily or weekly] are recommended.

What Jesus asks of Victim Souls of the Sacred Hearts:

1. Total devotion of all interests to the glory of God and for the needs of the Catholic Priesthood;

2. Absolute obedience to the directions of Holy Church;

3. An understanding and fulfillment of the Mass and Holy Communion;

4. A deep desire for the love of the Heart of Jesus to reign over souls, parishes, dioceses, and nations;

5. Confidence in Jesus' mercy and love and a willingness to sacrifice oneself to His will.


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