Too often religious believers, and in particular the orthodox, are considered mad by their betters. To accept the teaching of Christ as given, and to love the Church, are often seen as proof that there is something wrong or infantile about us. Today's feast offers us a corrective to this presumption.
On one of my visits to Paray-le-Monial, I was speaking with one of the Visitation Sisters - we were discussing St Margaret Mary, whose feast it is today. I asked if her body was incorrupt - it had been said in some quarters that it was, yet the "body" which lies in the chasse in the Visitation Chapel, is a wax model.
Most of her body, I was told decayed naturally: however some parts were found incorrupt. "Which parts?" I asked. "Well, for one her brain is incorrupt", the sister explained. When I asked her why this organ was left intact the sister suggested that the Lord preserved it so it could be seen that Margaret Mary was not mad - her visions were authentic and not the effects of a physical defect.
It is an interesting theory, and examination of the visionary's brain did prove that it was the brain of a normal, healthy woman - so she was sane. That is an interesting place to start. But Margaret Mary was more than just a sane woman, she was a lover. Indeed, as a symbol of this, her heart is also incorrupt.
Being in love with Christ and his Church explains why so many religious believers are so devoted. Love can be a difficult to understand, and submitting to this love can seem like madness to those who approach religion and truth from a different direction.
Margaret Mary teaches us that, at the end of the day, we are called to love - to fall in love with God who loved us first. That love of God is symbolised by the human Heart of Jesus Christ, pierced for us and on fire with love for us. What we learn about the faith is meant to deepen our love - so this Year of Faith is one in which we lay firmer foundations for our love affair with God. How we live and act is to be a response in love to God's love for us, and an essential element in this is obedience - obedience to God's will, his teaching and the path he has laid out for us.
So, why are the orthodox so dogged in their adherence to the teachings of the Church? Well, I think love has a lot to do with it.
In other news, I have been asked by people from pro-life groups to post this video which challenges the pro-abortion lobby's argument that abortion is required to save the life of a mother. Glad to oblige.
Just to keep you updated: there will be protest in Belfast on Thursday organised by Precious Life, from 10am to 4pm, on Great Victoria Street. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 048 902 78484 (from the Republic)/ 028 902 78484 (from the UK).