BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
What the Enthronement Is
How to Put It into Practice
THE Enthronement is “the Official and Social Recognition of the loving Kingship of the Heart of Jesus in a Christian family.” This recognition is made manifest by giving the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus a place of honor in the home which is thus solemnly offered Him by an act of consecration. The God of infinite mercy said in Paray-le-Menial: “Being Myself the fount of all blessings I will distribute these abundantly wherever the image of My Heart has found a place, to the end that It may be loved and honored.” And further: “I shall reign in spite of My enemies and all those who attempt to oppose Me.”
The Enthronement then is simply the realization, not of this or that one of the requests made by Our Savior to St. Margaret Mary, but the complete and integral realization of all of them, calling forth the fulfilment of the splendid promises with which the King of Love has enriched them. Note that we say “integral realization” of all the requests made in Paray; for the supreme end of the Enthronement is not, and ought not to be, to further a new pious practice, but to sanctify the home, and convert it into a living and social throne for the divine King.
Truly, in order that the world may be transformed and saved, it is absolutely necessary that the Nativity should be not only a great feast, but a living and lasting reality; in other words, that Jesus, our Emmanuel, should be really and truly, dwelling among us, His banished brethren, who are much more weak than evil. Let us not deceive ourselves; in order to bring about the day, be it far or distant, of the Social Reign of Jesus Christ, proclaimed and revered as King ruling by Sovereign right throughout the whole of human society, it will be necessary for us to re-fashion the society of today from its very basis, that is to say to rebuild it on the model of Nazareth. Every nation is worth what its family life is worth, for a nation has ever been, either in holiness or corruption, that which the home is. There has never been any exception whatever to this rule.
In this connection, I remember what a great convert once said to me: “Father, you cannot exaggerate the transcendent importance of the crusade which you are preaching. I know what I am speaking about: the Freemasons, of whom I was one for so many years, have but one single aim, and that is the dechristianizing of the family. Once this object is attained, in whole or in part, they may safely leave in the possession of Catholics all the cathedrals, churches and chapels. Of what importance are these buildings of stone when they have taken possession of the sanctuary of the home? In the measure in which this sectarian strategy is successful, the victory of Hell will be secure. It was thus I reasoned, and for this I worked, Father, when I was in the ranks of Freemasonry.” Alas, what the Gospel says will always be true, that “the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” (Luke xvi, 8.)
The great evil, the evil of evils, in our society today is that the sense of the supernatural, of the Divine, is lost. But there is assuredly a remedy for it, and that is to take again the road of the Gospel, and return to Nazareth. The Eternal Wisdom willed to found the redemption of the world on the corner stone of the Holy Family. In it the Word, Jesus, our Brother, commenced His work of redemption. By no other way than this ought we to try to save the modern world; we must mold it after the pattern, so simple, yet so sublime, of Nazareth.
How eloquently men have described and illustrated by photographs the hideous destruction of churches and shrines in what was the immense field of battle in the Great War! Cathedrals, monasteries, chapels were razed to the ground in the inevitable swaying back and forth of armies. How much more appalling is the moral ruin of this thrice holy sanctuary which is the home. Basilicas and cathedrals, however magnificent and venerable they be, will not redeem the world, but holy families will do so. This is logical, for the family is the source of life and the first school of the child. Hence, if the fount is poisoned, the nation will perish. Our purpose then, in this campaign, is to inoculate the home, and the principle of education in the home, with Jesus Christ and the sap of His Divine Love in such a way that the tree may finally be Jesus Christ Himself in the blossom and fruits it bears.
The Enthronement, then, properly understood, is, to put it briefly, Jesus King of Love, coming to the threshold of the home and asking for His place in it; one which belongs to Him by divine right, the same which He was offered in the villa of Bethany. And it is a place of honor because He is King (John xviii, 37.) Who, at no distant time and by His loving conquest of the families, will reign over the whole world. It is also a place of intimacy because He wants to be in very truth the Friend. (Cf. Cant. v. 16.) In a word, the Enthronement teaches us how to dwell with Jesus in our homes.
Alas! How little Jesus is known! and consequently how little He is loved! … The majority of those who call themselves Christians fear Him, and keep far from Him…. If not with their lips then by their works, they say to Him: “Remain in Your Tabernacle, O Lord, that we may live our family life as we wish, without Your intruding too intimately upon it. Do not come too close to us, do not speak to us, lest we die of fear.” (Exod. xx, 19.)
Thus did the Jews speak to Jehovah, thus do His children go on speaking to their Father and Pastor! We persist in not seeing in Jesus our Savior, Who is so sweet, so accessible, so gentle and so simple, the King of Love, Whose “delights are to be with the children of men,” (Prov. viii, 31.) Who in His mortal life rejoiced to lodge in the house of sinners, (Matt. ix, 11.) or to preside at the Marriage in Cana, (John ii, 2.) showing us in a thousand enchanting and marvelous ways that the delight of His Heart was to share our life with all its difficulties and joys.
We plead our unworthiness! What an absurdity! As if Zacheus was worthy, who out of curiosity and for no other reason, put himself in the path of his Savior. As if such persons as the woman of Canaan, the woman of Samaria, Simon the Pharisee, and so many other sharers in our moral leprosy and fallen state were worthy. No, not one of them was worthy; but they believed in the merciful love of the Master and accepted in all simplicity of heart His divine condescension. Happy those unfortunates whose afflictions attracted and moved the Heart of the Redeemer! For, with Him, salvation, peace and conversion entered those houses and those souls. “This day is salvation come to this house.” (Luke xix, 9.) And what a Pharisaical pretext is respect! It is indeed effrontery and insolence, when the God of all Majesty strips Himself of His kingly robes, calls us, holds out His arms, and offers His hand, that we should presume to read Him a lesson by maintaining our distance, as if we would say: “Remember that Thou art God and King, withdraw Thyself apart.” There are thousands and thousands of pseudo-Christians, who in spite of the Redemption, pretend to serve their Redeemer by establishing between Him and them valleys, mountains, abysses, and all this out of respect!
Respect is a manifestation of love, and not a matter of etiquette, at any rate with Jesus. By His explicit will, respect is not a keeping at a distance, since He annihilated distance by His Incarnation and in the Eucharist. But in so doing He exacted, nevertheless, an adoration more complete and more perfect than that which the Jews rendered Him trembling at a distance. How many Christians there are whose baptism is but skin-deep, who in their souls are Jews, and live in a state of exaggerated fear; who if Jesus should speak and say to them, “Filioli,” “My little children,” or ”Amici mei,” “My friends,” would die not of emotion and love but of terror! As for me, I can but say over and over again: “Let Moses and all the prophets be silent; let them hold their peace, however sweet sounding their voices, they do not impress me, for my soul yearns to hear but Thee, Jesus, Who hast the words of eternal life and of love. Let me hear Thy voice, that I may preach Thee, the true Jesus, the Love of loves, the Son of God and the Son of Mary.”
I remember a gentleman who considered himself to be a good Catholic saying to me: “What! expose in my room an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Never, Father! What a want of respect! It would be the height of absurdity!” What would that bright specimen of a Catholic have done if he had seen with his own eyes the King of Kings conversing with sinners, seeking the confidence and intimacy of publicans and of so many other people by no means respectable or distinguished? This is but disguised human respect and hidden pride. As if the Jesus, Whom the bride and bridegroom of Cana invited to preside at their wedding feast, could not feel Himself honored, and in His place, in the drawing room of a Christian family. Is He not the King of Kings? (Apoc. xvii, 14; xix, 16.) How sad and true it is to say that after twenty centuries of Christianity this “Love is not loved!” We do not sufficiently preach the love of Jesus Christ, and yet this love is not weak sentimentality. It is a love full of fire and life.
And all this comes, in part at least, from people not reading, still less meditating on the Gospel, in every page of which Our Lord’s desire for familiar intimacy with man is clearly expressed. Do you think they were afraid of Jesus, those little ones of Galilee who threw themselves into His arms, were fascinated by His look, and rested on His Heart? When they were dragged from Him by force how quickly they returned to Him, attracted as by a magnet to the bosom of the Master. He can never be known, and loved with divine passion, if our faith and piety do not lead us to live in close intimacy with Him. How can we love Him with a holy and delicious rapture when we see but a distant and distorted image of Him? On the contrary, who is there who having once seen His beauty will not hold all else as dull and miserable?
Call to mind a scene which I venture to term a Gospel one, though we do not find it textually in the Gospel. Let us call it the first four visits of Jesus to Bethany. If you read with your heart you will surely say: The frame may be adorned, but the picture is a happy reality. Something of the kind, and still more touching, must have happened in Bethany.
The first time Jesus came as a visitor, Mary was as yet a wandering and erring sheep, and He was received by Lazarus and Martha with a certain reserve not exempt from a legitimate curiosity. Close to them there was the famous Nazarene, whose miraculous deeds were being talked about everywhere. They kissed His hand and listened to Him. Who could He be? A rabbi? A prophet? Lazarus and Martha certainly felt flattered by such an honor and their interest was roused by so great a personage. Something mysterious which emanated from His whole person had secretly touched and conquered the inmost fibers of their hearts, and so it came about that when bidding Jesus goodbye at the threshold of their home they were carried away by an emotion they had never felt as yet and said: “Master, come back to Bethany. Do not forget us.” And Jesus, with a smile which gave them a glimpse of heaven, promised to return.
See Him on His second visit. There were flowers, there was expectancy as for a feast. Lazarus and Martha could scarcely control their joy. The Nazarene was approaching; with loving impatience they went out to watch for His arrival. The respect they now felt was much greater than on His first visit, for love was beginning to dawn in their hearts. This time they were not merely content with listening to Him, they had sufficient confidence to ask Him questions, so the conversation was almost familiar. How simplehearted and good the Master is, they said to themselves! How sweet and yet impressive is His Majesty! His look refreshes and enlightens, His words transfigure and His Heart enraptures. This time, when He went away, Lazarus and Martha could scarcely restrain their tears, and both with one accord implored Him with simplicity and humility to return again, saying: “From now on, it will be difficult for us to live without Thee; come back to us, Lord; this home is Thine, look on us as Thy friends!” And Jesus was touched and said to them: “I will gladly be your Friend, and, since you love Me, Bethany will be the oasis of My Heart.”
What an outburst of joy and feast of love there was when Jesus returned for the third time! We may call this the loving welcome of the Enthronement. Lazarus and Martha had counted the hours to His return. Since the day when Jesus had said to them: “I will return, and as a friend,” their life had been one of unbearable loneliness and longing. Nothing could calm their anxiety, nothing could make them smile. The one golden dream, or rather the one reality was Himself. Jesus had taken them by storm. At last, He for Whom they had longed approached; they ran to meet Him; they fell at His feet and kissed His Sacred Hands. In a real ovation of love and tenderness, they called Him with holy audacity “Friend” and talked to Him with the holy familiarity of disciples who knew themselves to be favored, understood and loved.
Suddenly when the dialogue was at its warmest, there was a hush; Lazarus drew yet closer to the Master, and throwing himself at the Feet of his divine Friend, broke out into sobs.
“Why weepest thou?” Jesus asked him.
“Thou knowest all things,” answered Lazarus.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “I know all things; but since we are true friends, speak, confide to Me thy whole soul.”
And while Martha hid her flushed face in her hands and wept in silence, Lazarus explained·: “Master, we are two, but we were three in this house. Mary, our sister, covers us with grief and shame, they call her the Magdalen. We love her so much and she is now the dishonor of Bethany. Jesus, if thou art our Friend, restore her to us cured, saved, and purified.” And Jesus, mingling His tears with theirs, replied: “Your sister shall return, she shall live and Bethany shall be happy!” When He took leave of them that evening, at the threshold of their home, Jesus blessed His two friends and repeated: “Mary will return to the fold for My Father’s glory and Mine.”
The Gospel narrates the rest: the resurrection of the Magdalen, how she broke at the Savior’s Feet the alabaster box — symbol of her repentant heart — and anointed her Redeemer’s Head and Feet with precious perfumes. And when the Lord returned for the fourth time to the house of His friends, the first to come out to greet Him, singing Hosanna, was Mary Magdalen, and from that time on, in that sanctuary restored by the Prince of Peace and King of Love, the three lived for many years inseparable, as they had been before. But now the Heart of Jesus has strengthened the bond between the brother and sisters.
The Lord well knew the bitter grief which weighed upon this home, nevertheless to relieve it He waited till the afflicted brother and sister wept upon His Heart, and confided their tribulation to Him. He waited till He was the King-Friend of Bethany, and only then did He work the miracle as a reward for their love, their friendship and their trust.
I repeat, these scenes are not met with in the Gospel, but is it not true that something similar and still more beautiful must have taken place in that favored household? Is it not true that you better understand now the beauty of the Enthronement? What is there strange in the fact that the King of Bethany, ever constant in tenderness, should daily ratify by wonders and prodigies, that which we have just asserted concerning the confidence of the true lovers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Happy the home which says when welcoming Him: “Mane nobiscum,” “Stay with us,” (Luke xxiv, 29.) while the doors are, as it were, locked on Jesus, Who finds Himself bound forever with the bonds of love.
The great need of modern days is, then, the reconstruction of Nazareth, or if you prefer, the reproduction of the holy Family of Bethany, the home of the true friends of Jesus. I say “Bethany” because Nazareth, in its sublimity, will be unique throughout all ages, whereas in Bethany are creatures of our own condition, cast in our mold of clay, and therefore this home is wholly and perfectly imitable. And how many homes have, as Bethany had, what we can never conceive in Nazareth, souls like Magdalen’s, and prodigal sons. Call to the Master, hearken to Him, treat Him as an intimate Friend, and you will witness resurrections even more marvelous than that of Lazarus, and conversions as wonderful and touching as that of Magdalen.
Unfortunately Jesus is too often refused admittance even in homes which make profession of Christianity, and you will find Him, the King of kings, seeking a shelter and begging for love and compassion on the threshold of a home which so sorely needs Him! And if, here and there, He is occasionally admitted, there is more formality than love in receiving Him; He is not a friend, but merely a passing guest, a stranger to whom a formal courtesy must needs be paid. In such homes — and they are many — Jesus has to content Himself with empty forms and, so to speak, crumbs of love, He Whose Heart is aflame with infinite Charity.
The moments we can devote to God in church are few, for our duties compel us to live our daily life at home. Unfortunately most of our religion is limited to those rare moments, and when we return to our homes, we find them untenanted by Him Who should be the center of our lives, the Lord and Friend of our homes. This is a very grave error, for we neither live, nor struggle for existence, nor suffer, nor in all probability do we die in church. We live, struggle, suffer, and most likely die in our own homes. In them, therefore, we ought to live in close fellowship with Him, our Cyrenean and the companion of our exile, so that, on the last day, He may be, not the inexorable Judge, but the King of Love and the devoted Friend. Indeed the very pagans had some sort of glimpse of such a need and that is why they invented their Household Gods. For a long period, also, the early Church allowed fervent Christians to keep the Blessed Sacrament in the bosom of their homes.
We are reviving and realizing something, now, of this most beautiful and consoling presence of Our Lord by the “Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Home.” We certainly do not pretend to compare the symbol of love with His real and substantial Presence in the Consecrated Host. However, by means of the Enthronement, Jesus really enters the home to have a part in and guide the whole life of the family, His love becoming the soul of both parents and children and His Heart their shrine.
Great and close relations exist between the cult of the Sacred Heart and that of the Blessed Sacrament. In our Crusade also, the link between the two tabernacles — the altar and the home, the Eucharist and the family hearth — ought to be close and intimate; in both of them, wherever the spirit of the Enthronement exists and is understood, there is the same living King and Friend, Jesus. Our object in fact is to form thousands and thousands of Eucharistic families by means of this Crusade; then He will truly be the Master, the King.
What does this Prince of Love do in a home which is really His own, as were Nazareth and Bethany? To use St. John’s words, I might say that if I were to write all that I have seen and felt of the mercy and loyalty of the Sacred Heart, “the world itself would not be able to contain the books that should be written.” (John xxi, 25.) If there is, indeed, anything that perplexes me in the pulpit, it is to make choice amongst the innumerable marvels I might relate and which no one can gainsay. My eloquence consists solely in that I can say I have seen mountains moved, I have heard the stones cry out, that is to say I have seen so many struck to earth on the road to Damascus!
It is because of this that I one day said to His Holiness Pope Benedict XV: “Holy Father, I am losing faith in miracles, for in order to believe it is necessary not to see, and I am daily seeing and feeling marvels.” The most common case is that of a mother, daughter, or wife who, having made the Enthronement with fervor and lived according to its spirit, has wrested from the Lord a miracle of Mercy: the stupendous and apparently hopeless conversion of a beloved one. To take one instance: I keep in the archives of the Work, among a thousand other trophies, the diploma on parchment of a Freemason of high rank, Master of his Lodge; and God only knows the number of those who after him have been caught in the nets of this Work.
Would you like another example and a most moving one? It concerns the father of a family whose wife prayed and did penance for his conversion. She one day heard a sermon on the Enthronement, and said within herself, “This is my only hope.” But how was she to proceed, what steps was she to take, her husband being a lapsed Catholic? Suddenly a happy idea crossed her mind. Her birthday was drawing near and both her husband and her daughters were preparing for her feast; she would seize so favorable an occasion with boundless confidence in the Sacred Heart. Having offered fervent prayers and sacrifices for the success of her plan, she approached her husband and begged, as proof of his affection, that she might be allowed to enthrone the Sacred Heart in their house on her birthday. To her great surprise, he consented to give her pleasure, but warned her that he would not assist at the ceremony. The first part of the miracle was accomplished; but Jesus never does things by halves.
The day arrived; the ceremony was carried out with great love; and mother and daughters begged for the soul of the master of the house, promising in return to lavish love on the faithful Friend of Bethany. All being over, the husband entered the room out of curiosity, and looked at the picture. Here, radiant with love, was Jesus, the King of his house! He lowered his eyes as if dazzled, paced up and down the room and looked at it again. This time he was struck to the heart. Thinking his emotion might proceed from overstrung nerves, he sought to crush down his feelings and went out of the room to get some fresh air; but attracted as if by an irresistible magnet he re-entered and, in spite of himself, raised his eyes to the picture: There He was, He the Conqueror, offering him His Heart! With tears in his eyes, he drew aside his wife and stammered: “Whom have you let into the house? For some hours there has been someone in the house, I assure you. I do not see Him, but I feel Him. There is someone in the house.” The mother called her daughters, they renewed their entreaties, and, at the end of the prayer, the father was on his knees behind them.
That very evening, his confession made, this new Lazarus, brought to life again, praised with his family the mercy of the King of Love. These facts excite our surprise and admiration; yet we should feel no astonishment, for, however extraordinary they appear to us, they are nothing but the faithful fulfilment of the promises made by Jesus in favor of the friends and apostles of His divine Heart. He Himself said:
I will touch the most hardened hearts.
I will establish peace in their families.
I will bless all their undertakings.
I will grant them all the graces proper to their state of life.
I will reign by My Heart.
If, then, after these and other wonderful promises there were to be no miracles in the homes of the Heart of Jesus, in those “which are truly His, it would be to me the greatest disappointment; but I shall be spared this because God is true, entirely worthy of our trust, and Jesus is God!
Therefore, receive Jesus into your homes as a King and a Friend. He is a King, as He Himself said with sublime majesty to the cowardly Pilate, and He desires that every family and every nation should recognize and proclaim His Kingship over human society. Jesus asks and exacts this of you because He is King by right of Creation and Redemption: Jesus Nazarenus, Rex. (“Jesus of Nazareth, King.”) He asks it of you as an act of reparation, and a consolation to His Heart. See Him stand at the doors of countless houses, rich and poor, crowned with thorns, His hair wet with the dew of the night, begging and imploring to be admitted, asking for a shelter from the tempest that has broken out against Him in the world. He has been ousted by parliaments and courts of justice, banished from laws and schools, and even sometimes from His very churches. Behold Him wandering like a pilgrim, travel stained, sad and destitute, on lonely roads, “loaded with insults,” offended by the outrages heaped upon Him by ungrateful traitors. Hearken to Him: He is knocking with His wounded hand and saying to you: I am Jesus, be not afraid, I am the King of Love. Open to Me!
St. Francis of Sales used to say: “Poor Jesus!” Have compassion on Him, at least you, who call yourselves His friends. Give Him shelter, for the mob in its madness is pursuing Him with stones, shouting with raucous voices: “Away with Him, He is guilty of death. Crucify Him! We will not have Him to reign over us.” To make up for this blasphemous cry throw your doors wide open and say: “Lord, we love Thee and we beg Thee to reign over this house. Be Thou the King.” And be assured that this hospitality which He asks of you with divine persistence will be the greatest of blessings to you; He wants to enter for your good.
He Who calls at your door is the great, the unique Consoler. Have you, perchance, no tears to be wiped away, no griefs for Him to soothe? Why ask such a question which serves but to re-open many a wound? Who can tend these wounds? Do you still believe in the healing power of creatures? You know that He, the God-Man, the Man of sorrows, has reserved for Himself the gift of bringing consolation. No one will ever be able to pour balm on the open sore in the heart of a mother, widow, or daughter, mourning for a loved one, no one except Jesus. What a long training is needed to be able to heal the wounds of the body. Is there no sublime, divine Red Cross to heal these hearts which have been rent with grief? Certainly, there is the loving Reign of the Heart of Jesus in the home. During the dark hours, He redoubles His knockings and calls to you again and again. “Do not delay,” He says, “for I know there are desolate hearts here. Open to Me quickly, for I am Jesus.”
Out of compassion for yourselves, open to Him and admit the Cyrenean of all your crosses. Open to Him, the Friend of Man, Who is ever disinterested and true, Who will never change, never betray you, and never die. Open your Bethany to Him, for it is never too late for the Friend Jesus. How sad it is that so many should mourn and suffer far from that Friend! For tears without Him poison the soul, and afflictions without Him are a foretaste of death. If He had been there, as Martha said, in our hours of bitterness, we should have found honeycombs in the open desert and flowers growing among the rocks. But we will not believe He calls us to a life of intimacy with Him. We look at Him from afar and then, like the apostles, who saw Him walking on the waters of Genesareth, we take Him for a phantom whereas John His beloved disciple knew Him at once: “It is the Lord.”
We must live close to Jesus if we are to know Him as He is. It is by daily intercourse that members of a family learn to know and love one another. It should be just the same with this our Elder Brother. He wants to comfort us, but above all to save our souls. Even if we were saints we should need this help to work out our salvation. When you choose Him for your King in spirit and in truth He will overwhelm you with graces.
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Now let us say a few words about this simple and beautiful ceremony [the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart]. Choose an image as beautiful and artistic as possible; set it in the place of honor in the house, for, behind this labarum, this standard, the divine King will come and take possession of the home to remain forever in it as the adorable Friend.
And here I wish to say that love and a living faith will give the Enthronement a note of eagerness and enthusiasm which constitutes its proper character; for, here, there is certainly no place for cold and formal ceremony. Let the parents and children assemble at this solemn hour, friends and relations may also be invited, they will form the court of the King, and learn a lesson of social adoration. All gather around the “throne” of the King; father, mother and children nearest to the priest,* who is standing facing the image of the Sacred Heart.
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*”The tendency today is to relegate the priest entirely to the church and sacristy, making him, so to speak, the jailer who keeps the divine King under lock and key. Thus Our Lord and the priest are hindered in their work of salvation. It is pre-eminently in the home, and when presiding at such a family festival as this, that the minister of Christ will get an opportunity of addressing a few words which often he might not be able to say in church, or which would not be listened to then. It is from every point of view necessary that the priest, wearing a white stole, should enter the home before that day when, summoned hurriedly or too late, he will have to come with a purple one to help the dying to a good death.”
(Father Mateo’s Circular)
After the priest has blessed the picture or statue,* he (or if more convenient the father or mother) will solemnly install it in the place of honor prepared for it.
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*The ceremonial is printed in the Appendix of this book, and may also be obtained on a separate leaflet from the National Center of the Enthronement, Fairhaven, Mass.
This is the symbolic act of Enthronement. Then all stand while the Apostles’ Creed is said as a proclamation of the faith of this Christian family. At this point the priest will address a few words to those present about the ceremony, after which all will kneel while the priest recites the official Act of Consecration. An Our Father and a Hail Mary are then said for all the absent members of the family (whose photographs have been placed around the throne). Here follows a prayer of thanksgiving; an act of homage to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; the blessing by the priest and the signing of the family document.
But this pious ceremony is more than a consecration, for, in the Enthronement there is, in addition, the acknowledgment and social acclamation of the Divine Kingship of Our Lord; there is, too, the hosanna of love and reparation, the “Ave Rex” (“Hail, King!”) of the family, in the name of the great fatherland, the nation. This is why we use the word Enthronement. And precisely because you are receiving the King of Kings, display all the pomp you possibly can, so that Jesus may not reproach you as He did Simon the Pharisee: “I entered into thy house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet … thou gavest Me no kiss…. My head with oil thou didst not anoint.” (Luke vii, 44-46.)
You would not receive an important personage, a victorious general, say, or a Papal legate, except with great honor and solemnity; but when Jesus comes, because He is silent and humble you put Him in some back room, with an indifference which must surely wound His Heart. Receive Him royally like the King that He is, as if you saw Him descending from Thabor. For Him alone the place of honor! Tepid faith and lack of love invent strange reasons about the inconvenience of receiving this Sovereign where the Bishop or the King would be admitted. There is no real argument but that of timidity, and a well founded fear of the reverence Our Lord will exact. He can and should preside over everything, and that which cannot be said or done in His presence, cannot be said or done either in the house, or in the street.
Give Him the seat of honor, the first place, the best room you have in the house. Make reparation in this way for the outrage of Herod, and so many of the great and powerful, who relegate Him to the background and worse. St. Margaret Mary says on this subject: “He desires to enter with pomp and magnificence into the abode of princes and kings, in order that there may be rendered to Him as much honor as He suffered outrage and humiliation in His Passion.”
But Jesus wants to reign just as much among the lowly, the poor, and the simple. See how gladly He returns to His favorite friends, the humble, He Himself the humblest of them all, stripped of all appearance of grandeur and majesty, with no more power than that of His wounds, and His Heart for His only wealth. See Him calling at the door of some hovel, or laborer’s hut, He, the Artisan of Nazareth, born in a stable. “Open to Me quickly,” He says, “for I have known, as you do, the gloomy uncertainty of what the morrow will bring, the hardships and anxieties of the poor. Out of love, I willed to be born and to live in poverty.” No one has ever loved the lower classes as did Jesus, the adopted Son of Joseph the Carpenter; hence His longing to win them to Him by His Heart, and to make them happy by His Love. He wants those — for whom in His divine compassion He multiplied the loaves and fishes (John vi, 9) — to know how different it is to suffer, to labor, and to endure hardships, when they have Him as a Compensation for their privations and a Consoler in their tribulations.
Oh! enthrone Him, the Poor One of Nazareth among the poor, His friends. How sweet it is for Him to preside over a frugal meal, in the cottage of some working people and to find Himself surrounded, as in ancient times, by hungry children and parents out of work and who need to be consoled. He will make these simple hearts understand why He said: “Blessed are the poor…. Blessed are they that mourn.”( Matt. v, 3, 5.) He will make them realize that the matchless treasure is Himself, His Heart.
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The Enthronement presupposes, as we have seen, a sincere homage of social adoration to and a loving dependence on Christ the King. This homage is of more importance today than ever, seeing that the modern crime is a social and national apostasy. It is impossible therefore to insist too much on this Christian act of faith and reparation which is implied in the suggestive title and the whole work of the Enthronement.
But this homage, for all its beauty and eloquence, constitutes neither the whole spirit nor the sole program of our Crusade. In the home which acclaims the Heart of Jesus as its King of Love, the Enthronement ought to be the beginning of a new life, far more intimate in faith and much more ardent in charity. Thus, far from being a mere formality, the consecration is lived. I mean that by virtue of a great Christian and supernatural spirit, the Heart of Jesus will become, little by little, the divine soul of the family, whose one law will be that of the Gospel, and whose sole happiness will be to obey the Master of the house. This means sharing our family life with Jesus to Whom a throne has been offered precisely in order that He may remain and abide with His friends, blessing everything in the house, from dawn to twilight and from the cradle to the grave. How much easier it is to live and struggle, to keep a bright face in spite of our sorrows, when Jesus is the Center of the beloved home, when He presides over it as a Friend, Confidant and King. Everything is ennobled and sanctified in this enviable Bethany because Jesus shares the family joys and sorrows. He really lives in such a home, and the family live by Him and with Him.
Unfortunately this is not the general conception of the Christian life in a home. Many make their whole devotion consist in reciting vocal prayers. There are plenty of families which are more or less “devout,” but only a few where Jesus is looked upon as a Friend. This reminds me of a scene in the Episcopal Palace at Bologna. I had just given a lecture on the Enthronement and its spirit to a large and distinguished group of ladies, and was about to descend from the platform, when the Archbishop said to me: “Wait a moment, Father, I have a word to say. You have just preached to us a great truth, but let me add the final amen. On the great feasts, my Cathedral and the churches are filled by enormous crowds, and, notwithstanding this, I do not see that my people are improving or becoming more sincerely Christian. And this is due to what you have said: Many people think they have done all that is required when they have attended Mass or taken part in a religious ceremony, but, on returning to their homes, they do not find Jesus in them. Our Lord is not the life of the family, the house is far from being a tabernacle, and this is a great fault of Catholic family life. What is missing is the Bethany-Home.”
And now let me insist on this same idea and illustrate it by a series of very beautiful incidents, which are not only interesting in themselves, but will also explain better than any dissertation, what I understand by the Heart of Jesus, King and Center, the Divine Soul, the living Friend of the home.
The incident which I am going to relate occurred during the Great War. One day a mother, a woman of wonderful faith, received an official telegram which told her of the death of her eldest son. It was a terrible shock, but conquering her emotion, she ran to the drawing room, placed the telegram at the Feet of the King of Love and then calmly called her little ones and the servants asking that the throne of the Sacred Heart should be adorned with unusual splendor. She herself helped to beautify the shrine with flowers and candles. Then she bade all sing with her, and herself led the singing. After the hymn they recited the Credo and the act of Consecration. It was only then, after the family had, so to speak, presented arms to the King and made open acknowledgment of His Presence in this great grief, that the mother took up the telegram and read it to her children. “Your brother,” she said, sobbing, “has gone to heaven to the arms of his King. His Will be done. Long live His Sacred Heart! May His Kingdom come!” They wept, of course they did, but peacefully and on the Heart of Jesus. This is not the grief of flesh and blood, but a glorious, a meritorious one; this is how we should lovingly suffer with Jesus.
A very different picture now, but with the same fundamental idea. It was the day of the Distribution of Prizes; and six boys came home from school laden with medals, books and certificates. They entered proudly and made at once for their father’s room expecting congratulations and presents. On seeing them coining in, their father said: “Do not come in here first, follow me!” They went into the drawing room where the King was enthroned. “Now,” he said, “go and place your prizes before this Divine Master, and say to Him: “We love Thee, Thy Kingdom come!'” The six boys obeyed joyfully, and recited with their father an act of consecration. “Now,” he said, “let us go to your mother that she also may congratulate you; but never forget that in this home the One Who holds sway, and must never be forgotten, whether in trouble or in joy, is the Heart of Jesus.”
And now a still more touching story: I was once celebrating the marriage of two young people who were very poor, and they asked me to enthrone the King of Love in the cottage that very day. “Promise me,” I said to them, “to treat Jesus as a Friend, as if you really saw Him. His Heart will bring you happiness in spite of the troubles which are sure to come for you.”
A few years later the young man came and called for me: “My little wife is dying,” he said. And in fact she was most grievously ill, but at peace and breathing a sweet and infinite calm. The only treasure to be seen in that poor little hut was the picture of the Heart of Jesus, which I had presented them with and enthroned on their marriage day. After hearing her confession I was rather surprised that in so bitter an hour such a heavenly peace should reign there; so, wishing to find out the reason, I said to her: “Before going to heaven, come tell me, my child, have you been unhappy since your marriage?” She opened her eyes wide in great surprise, and, raising herself up, said to me: “What! you who on our wedding day committed us to the King Jesus, and brought Him to us to be the Friend of this little home, you ask me if I have been unhappy with Him? Never, Father! not for one second! No doubt we have had to suffer, we have had our struggles also, that is quite inevitable; but could we be unhappy with Jesus, the King and Friend of poor people and especially of this cottage?” And then taking her young husband by the hand she said to him: “And you, what have you to say? Have you been unhappy?” In a broken voice, yet in words which were almost a canticle of the soul, he answered: ” Father, we have had a hard struggle; such is life; but as she has said to you, with Jesus our Friend we have been happy, oh, so happy! He is the Master, He comes to take her away; but soon He will come down for me, and then, up there, in heaven, we shall be united in happiness with Him, just as we have been happy with Him in our little home!”
The sublimity of these ideas and words needs no comment. These two poor people bad understood and marvelously lived the idea and the spirit of the Enthronement. In their wretched dwelling they had made of Jesus their King and their inseparable Friend; their God and their All. These two simple folk knew more of the Gospel than very many devout and learned people. In that hut there were always three, Jesus and His two intimate friends.
Now for a letter from a poor country woman: “Father, since I made the Enthronement in this poor cottage I consider that I am the tenant of Jesus, for on that day I handed everything over to Him: my flowers, my fowls, my husband, everything is His. Since then I have lodged in the palace of the King. I know His Heart has accepted my offering, because from that day He has completely changed my life. We no longer live for ourselves, but in Him and for Him.”
I have often told the story of a poor servant girl who wrote to me: “A fortnight ago, I listened to your Lectures on the Enthronement. Today I have been married and at the end of the meal which the rich call the wedding feast, I send you these few lines. We poor people have invited the Divine Friend of whom you talked to us so much, He whom they invited at Cana, and my husband and I have made the Enthronement in this solemn hour, beseeching Him, as you told us, to be the Master and the Friend, not for an hour, but for our whole lives. Father, bless us and confirm our consecration. The Sacred Heart will be our only King and Friend in joys and sorrows, our little house will be His, and He will be ours.”
I cannot reproduce here the whole of the ill-spelt letter, scribbled in pencil, but marvelous in its doctrine. Do you know what I did with it? I sent it to His Holiness Benedict XV, saying to him: “Your Holiness will like to see how a poor servant girl is capable of understanding the Gospel which your Holiness has commissioned me to preach.” I am certain that the Holy Father, on reading that ill-written letter, must have smiled with joy and probably wept with emotion.
A last touch to the picture. The head of a very noble family, an excellent Catholic, determined to have the Enthronement made on the following Friday. But Our Lord had decreed otherwise. He was suddenly taken dangerously ill, and died on the Wednesday. But before dying he said to his wife that he did not wish to quit the house for the cemetery until the gap which he would leave had been filled by the Heart of Jesus. “After this bereavement,” he said, “He must be more than ever the Master, the All of my house!” The cruel moment of the last farewell came. The coffin was about to be taken away from the house, when, to the surprise of all, the widow appearing surrounded by her children cried: “One moment, do not take it yet.” And she advanced bearing a picture of the King of Love in a rich frame. She set it up over the coffin and then said: “His last wish was that he should not be borne to the cemetery until the Enthronement had been performed. I invite you to join with me and my little ones in carrying out his desire.” And on this they recited the Credo and the prayers of the Ceremonial. Then she said, her voice broken with sobs: “Now you may bear away the body, for he will remain among us in the Heart of Jesus!” How easily suffering is borne, how holy and calm are our tears when He is in the home!
One fearful night, and only a few moments after a terrible earthquake, I went in search of a family where I had enthroned the Sacred Heart and I found my friends quietly standing amongst the smoking ruins of their house while the earth was still quaking. “Father, everything has perished in the cataclysm,” the mother said to me, “— everything except Bethany, and the peace and happiness of which you spoke on the day of the Enthronement. Bethany can never die, for its soul, its peace and its happiness is Jesus!”
It is needless to add that if you have carried out the Enthronement in your homes in this spirit, you will not forget the very beautiful petitions made by Our Lord to the friends of His Heart, petitions to which He has attached magnificent promises. Among others, the loving and solemn celebration of the First Fridays, frequent Communion in a spirit of reparation and the practice of the Holy Hour. And lastly, the great and beautiful Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which you will celebrate with a very fervent communion in the morning and an intimate feast at home in the evening. Above all if there are children, mark the importance and beauty of this day by some family festivity. By this means the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus cannot fail to become a true family tradition among fervent Catholics. Unite the altar and the home on that Friday in a holy demonstration of joy, and at a suitable hour when the whole family is gathered, renew before the image of the Sacred Heart the homage of the Enthronement.
I will close by reminding you that it is the Pope’s desire that this work, which he calls providential, should live, be organized, and expand. The Vicar of Christ considers it urgent and of the greatest importance; for the Enthronement ought to succeed in uniting in one single stream the fountain of natural life, which is the home, and the inexhaustible fountain of grace and divine life which is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us generously fulfil the Master’s demands formulated at Paray, and He will fulfil with an excess of mercy, His divine promises.
← Prior Introduction — Approbation – An Indispensable Explanation of the Origin of this Book – The Enthronement – Dedication – The Work of the Enthronement. Its Origin.
Current — Chapter 1 – What the Enthronement Is – Its Importance
Next →: Chapter 2 Four Finishing Touches to the Picture of Bethany