Fr. Scott A. Haynes
O Tempora! O Mores! “O the times! O the manners!” These words were uttered by the Roman politician, philosopher and orator Cicero during the troubled days of ancient Rome. And alas the times caught up with Cicero when he was murdered in 43 B.C. Like Cicero, we cannot help but cry out:
O Tempora! O Mores!
Such times we live in! What a degradation of behavior and morals our society has undergone! As modern society approaches ever closer to utter chaos, we can trust on in Jesus Christ to raise us up out of this crisis. The world is filled with sin and ugliness. Sin is glorified today. Ugliness and perversity are enthroned. And God and His Commandments are mocked.
The lessons of history tell us what happens when the nations are “unbelieving towards the Son” and live in disobedience to God. In 1673, Our Lord revealed the devotion to His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This was, she said:
“...a final effort of His Love to favor human beings in the last centuries of the world, and to withdraw them from the empire of Satan, which He intends to destroy and to replace with the reign of His Love.”
The revelations were followed in 1689 by a request from Our Lord for the consecration to the Sacred Heart of the nation of France, where the winds of atheistic world revolution were first stirring. According to St. Margaret Mary:
“The eternal Father, wishing to repair the bitterness and agony which the Heart of Jesus endured in the palaces of earthly princes, wishes to make use of the reigning monarch of France to proclaim public devotion of reparation to that Sacred Heart.”
The king was to erect a shrine to the Sacred Heart and to request the Holy See to authorize a new Mass. In return, Our Lord promised that the king would be the friend of His Sacred Heart and would have His blessing and protection from all his enemies. The reigning monarch was Louis XIV, who was nicknamed the “Sun King.” Louis XIV’s courts were rife with luxury and scandal.
The King failed to respond. Wars continued throughout the rest of his reign. France was defeated by the Netherlands, and by Spain in the war of the Spanish Succession. His son, Louis XV, also failed to respond. The bloody French Revolution came in 1789, exactly one hundred years after Our Lord made His request, destroying the monarchy and attacking the Church. King Louis XVI, the grandson of Louis XIV, was beheaded, together with the queen, and 2,400 bishops, priests, and nuns. France had to endure the “Reign of Terror,” in which three hundred thousand mostly innocent French citizens were guillotined.
In 1870, two hundred years after Our Lord's request, when France was on the losing side in the Franco-Prussian war, a group of lay persons petitioned the Archbishop of Paris to fulfill the requests of the Sacred Heart. The construction of a huge Basilica to the Sacred Heart, Sacre Coeur, was begun on Montmartre, the hill where early Christians had died for their faith.
The Archbishop, together with the bishops of France, at last consecrated the French nation to the Sacred Heart. Heaven was not slow to respond. In 1871 Our Lady appeared to a group of children at Pontmain, a village within the shadow of the invading German armies. In Her hands was a blood red crucifix. A scroll appeared at Her feet with the words:
“Continue to pray. My son allows Himself to be touched.”
At this, the German armies mysteriously retreated, and the war was over. But the revolution had already spread beyond the borders of France.
O tempora! O mores!