France: Jubilee Anniversary in Paray-le-Monial

Source: FSSPX News

Basilica of Paray-le-Monial

In the midst of so many jubilees, from Toulouse to Rome, it is appropriate to stop at Paray-le-Monial, which is celebrating an anniversary ​​from December 27, 2023, until June 27, 2025. They are celebrating 350 years of the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. On this occasion, the Church offers an indulgence to pilgrims who come to pray at the chapel of the apparitions.

This jubilee hides another, because in 2025 there will be another anniversary celebrated, also linked to Paray-le-Monial: one hundred years of the feast of Christ the King, established by Pope Pius XI, and accompanied by the splendid encyclical Quas Primas on the social reign of Our Lord. We should be particularly attached to this jubilee, since the issue of the Kingship of Christ was at the heart of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's fight, and is still at the heart of that of our Society of Saint Pius X.

Historically, Paray-le-Monial was the starting point of the great movement which led to this celebration... But these historical circumstances are only the reflection of a much deeper truth: the link between the Sacred Heart and Christ the King.

The great desire of St. Margaret Mary was to see the Heart of Our Lord reign: “This divine Heart will reign, despite those who wish to oppose it. Satan will remain confused with all his adherents. Happy will be those whom he uses to establish his empire! It seems that he is like a king who does not think of giving his rewards while he makes his conquests and triumphs over his enemies, but does so when he reigns victorious on his throne.”

“Let us therefore not fear the pain and suffering which will be encountered in this holy work. … But it is a devotion which does not want to be forced or constrained. It is enough to make it known and then leave it to this divine Heart to penetrate the hearts He has intended for Himself, with the anointing of His grace. Happy are those who will be of this number!”

“Torments and death would be a pleasure to me provided that He reigns! I find no consolation in life except in the progress and happy successes of this devotion to the Sacred Heart and when I hear news of it.” [1]

This reign, which she burned to see spread, did not only concern individuals, but also societies: “He therefore desires, it seems to me, to enter with pomp and magnificence into the house of princes and kings to be honored there as much as He was outraged, despised, and humiliated in His Passion.” [2]

In the same line, a whole movement of thought whose center was in Paray-le-Monial had campaigned since the mid-19th century in favor of the establishment of a feast in honor of the social kingship of Christ. This momentum took on particular importance in the 1920s, thanks to the zeal of Mr. and Mrs. Georges de Noaillat, and on the occasion of the canonization of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

The Noaillat couple were received on several occasions by Benedict XV and then Pius XI, who blessed them, but told them that such a celebration could only have real significance if the request came from the entire Church.

They were told that, “His Holiness found the project beautiful, very grand, very appropriate, but that precisely because of its grandeur and its importance it deserved a worthy, grandiose, worldwide realization, which would be epoch-making, which would give shake up souls; that it was therefore necessary to have a deep and extensive preparation of the masses, so that on the day when His Holiness would sanction it, the people would understand the scope of the Pontifical act.” [3]

Comforted by papal encouragement, Georges and Marthe de Noaillat undertook from Paray-le-Monial the titanic task of arousing such a demand, as much among the bishops as among the priests and the faithful. A petition to the pope was signed by 36 cardinals and almost 780 bishops. Among their main supporters are Fr. le Floch who, at the same time, was preparing a certain Marcel Lefebvre for the priesthood, at the French Seminary in Rome of which he was director. 

On December 11, 1925, Pius XI published the encyclical Quas Primas, on the social reign of Our Lord, before establishing and celebrating for the first time the feast of Christ the King, on December 31 of the same year, closing of the Holy Year. He also asked that, on the day of this feast, the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Christ the King be renewed annually.

Historically linked to the Sacred Heart, the feast of Christ the King is even more so theologically, if we remember that the kingship of Christ is nothing other than a kingship of love. It is about recognizing individually and socially the creative and redeeming love of Christ through His Sacred Heart, and repairing the refusal of this kingship.

At a time when the infinite love of God made man is misunderstood or distorted; at a time when we hear all too often this cry “of the unfaithful crowd” of which the liturgy of Christ the King speaks: “We do not want him to reign over us.” [4]

At a time when the President of the Conference of Bishops of France, following the last Council, explains that it is a waste of energy to “carry around the nostalgia of a Catholic State,” the Society of St. Pius X – also called the “Society of the Apostles of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary” – cannot fail to celebrate this double jubilee in Paray-le-Monial.

The Society does not forget these lines from Quas Primas: “In international conferences and in Parliaments, the very sweet name of our Redeemer is covered with a heavy silence; the more unworthy this conduct, the higher our acclamations must rise, the more must be propagated the declaration of the rights conferred on Christ by His royal dignity and authority.” 

These beautiful anniversaries will be an opportunity for each of us to better experience the kingship of the Sacred Heart. On our souls, first, by letting ourselves be touched by His call to love; then our families by placing Him at the center of our homes. On the city, finally, by renewing our zeal to restore, according to our humble means but strong in the grace of God, the social reign of the Sacred Heart of our God and Savior.

Fr. Bernard Jouannic, SSPX

Note: During the jubilee year in Paray-le-Monial, it is possible to receive a plenary indulgence once a day, for oneself or for a deceased person, but not for another living person.

[1] April 10, 1690 letter, to Sister Joly, of the Dijon Visitation Sisters.

[2] June 1689 letter to Mother de Saumaise.

[3] Letter from Cardinal Laurenti to the Noaillat couple – February 1924.

[4] Vespers Hymn for the Feast of Christ the King