St. Margaret Mary Alacoque knew poverty as a child: her family’s wealth was stolen by relatives after her father died. She had all her fine clothing and furnishings taken from her, and she and her mother were treated like servants. It is very similar to the story of Cinderella, and we can almost picture her sitting in ashes. But young Margaret Mary did not have a fairy godmother to rescue her – she had Christ. To Him, and Him alone, she poured out her heartache.
Rev. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, once wrote an insightful passage on Cinderella and: “…the concept of having ‘to sit in the ashes for a time’ as a necessary preparation for some deep joy or fulfillment…with the further idea being that, before she, or anyone else, gets to put on the royal clothes, go to the ball and dance with the prince, she must first spend some time sitting in the ashes, tasting some emptiness, feeling some powerlessness, and trusting that this deprivation and humiliation is necessary to help bring about the maturity needed to do the royal dance.”
In St. Margaret Mary’s case, this was preparation for clothing herself fully in Christ, her Prince, and becoming the Saint she was meant to be. And so it can be for us! We all need some time to sit in the ashes, to be a little smudged and tarnished, to recognize and reflect on our own poverty of spirit. It is only then that the Holy Spirit can work in us so we can be ready to “put on Christ” and transform into the being our Creator imagined.
So today, if you are going through heartache in your life, perhaps take this time as one of trust that you are meant to be there now, cobwebs and all, as a period of growth and preparation for your future life in Christ…
St. Margaret Mary, pray for us!