BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
Four Finishing Touches to the Picture of Bethany
Heart of Jesus, King and Center of all Hearts!
LET us add a few simple comments on what was said in the last chapter, and stress a few important points so that our work may yield as much glory as possible to God. Our Lord certainly can and will perform miracles when His purpose requires them. He has wrought marvelous ones already, at the outset of the work, in order to mark the providential nature of the Enthronement. But the All Wise God does not perform unnecessary wonders. The work as now established will of itself bring forth a thousandfold, if organized and directed in a fitting manner and will continue to work miracles of grace without our urging God to grant them, provided we cultivate this tree of life confided to our care.
If the Enthronement is to produce the marvelous fruits we have referred to, the ceremony must, as a rule, be well prepared for. When you are about to introduce the King of Love into any home, you should first send a forerunner to see that the importance of the act is fully realized by the family, and that they are ready to perform it with all the piety it requires. When a king is to visit any of his subjects, it is customary to make sure beforehand that the prescribed etiquette will be observed, otherwise the reception might be unworthy of so great a guest. In the same way where the Enthronement is not understood and where the members of the family are ignorant of the obligations it entails — however light and pleasant these may be — the King of Love may be exposed to a certain want of respect and reverence. The ceremony may, to a certain degree, be compared to the reception of the Holy Eucharist. A pious Catholic is not satisfied with being in a state of grace, he makes careful preparation by prayer and meditation so as to derive all possible profit from so great a Sacrament. So too, it does not suffice for a family about to enthrone the Sacred Heart to be good and pious; all should be informed that, as a consequence of homage rendered to the King of Kings, the place of honor which is His by twofold right must be given to Jesus in daily life. Exterior display such as setting out of flowers and lights in the room where the image is honored is advisable too, but, the real lights and blossoms are the hearts of parents and children.
We often find that the poor and unlettered have an extraordinary grasp of the mysteries of faith. In Rotterdam a zealous parish priest asked me one Sunday, after High Mass, to go with him to enthrone the Sacred Heart in the homes of dock laborers. In one of these houses I noticed a fine young fellow of about thirty years of age who seemed very touched by the prayers the priest was saying. When the ceremony was over, I enquired the reason of his emotion, and the workman replied in a trembling voice: “How can I help being touched to see my King and God coming to this humble cottage as a Friend Who wants to stay with us and help us to live as He would have us do.” I was much struck by the reply, but I may mention that, for more than a week, promoters of the work had been going from house to house preparing these people to receive their King and Friend. It means hard work, but this is the only way to obtain consoling and satisfactory results and to assure that the Reality is there under the symbol and not the image alone.
I insist on this point. You must prepare very carefully for the Enthronement, as if you were scattering flowers in the path that Jesus is to tread, or erecting triumphal arches and spreading carpets in His way before the entrance to that house. The Enthronement should be a reproduction of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and when it is over the homage must be kept up by a more fervent Christian life, a life of love.
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The triumph to be obtained for Jesus must not be calculated by the number of homes where the Enthronement is performed. We do not want a superficial and illusive victory, but a deep, intense, lasting one. One household permeated with the true spirit of the Enthronement, and determined to make Jesus the King and Center of the family life, will give Him far more glory and consolation than five hundred homes where the ceremony has been performed with much outward manifestation of piety, but with little love.
Try to intensify the Christian life of the family so that the home may be a real Bethany in spirit and in truth. Go back ten times and more, if needs be, to that house where you have gained some influence and explain the meaning of the work. Thus, by gentleness and unfailing patience, you will bring about the spiritual transformation of the family. Never weary of stirring up the sacred fire, and encouraging piety, frequent and fervent Communion and family prayers. See that Jesus the God of Truth and Love is given a throne built on sure foundations.
A story is told of a crippled soldier who a socialist before the Great War and, later, became an anarchist seemingly possessed of an anti-social and anti-Christian spirit. A zealous apostle of the love of Jesus decided to transform his miserable home into an abode of light; so, plucking up her courage, she made her way thither and found the soldier sunning himself outside his house. She greeted him kindly and talked to him some time before receiving a reply. At last he cried out: “Go away from here! Down with the clergy and the rich!” Controlling herself, she gently sought to make him listen, but in vain; he shouted at her threatening to use violence. “Very well, then,” said the lady quietly, “I will go, but I shall come back tomorrow at the same time,” and she kept her word. The same frantic invectives greeted her, but she returned patiently day after day till the soldier, at last, called out angrily to his wife: “Look here, rid me of this person; she has been annoying me with her visits for several days and intends to keep on coming. Just let her talk to you instead.”
So the wife came and sat down beside the lady. The anarchist remained there as if suspicious of what might be said. The children, too, soon crowded round and, seated on the ground, listened curiously to the first Catechism lesson of their lives. Going straight to the point, the promoter spoke at length of the love of God their Father; then, fondling the little ones, she rose to go, but the soldier, to her surprise, begged her to stay a little longer, and when at last she left they all exacted a promise that she would return every day. Later, she brough someone with her to instruct the children, while she herself taught the soldier and his wife, who often broke in with the words: “How beautiful! Why were we never told all these things before! How happy we might have been.”
After about six reeks the parish priest was called in and could hardly believe his eyes on finding such a change. A few days after, the children were baptized in the parish church and the whole family received Holy Communion for the first time. That same evening the Enthronement was solemnly performed in their homes — one more Bethany was won for the Heart of Jesus. With tears in his eyes the erstwhile anarchist said: “Without knowing it, I have always hungered for Our Lord, Whom I received today in Holy Communion, and Who has this evening come to stay with me, in our cottage, till I die. I was wretched because I was longing for Jesus; now, with Him I need nothing else.”
This is the way, dear apostles, to carry out the Enthronement campaign and to ensure a complete victory for the King. In ordinary things what is worth doing at all is worth doing well; how much more so in all that concerns the glory of Our Lord.
A question here arises. Can the Enthronement be carried out if there is a notorious sinner in the house? A careful distinction must be made. In a family, there may be a soul that has strayed from the right path; one who, though good and worthy in other respects, does not love Our Lord and neglects his religious duties; yet, if his wife and children are fervent Catholics, the ceremony may be performed and perhaps Martha’s faith and Mary’s love will constrain Jesus to raise the Lazarus to life. It is quite right and even advisable that Our Lord should come not only as King but as Physician, provided that the other members of the family make up for the love the head of the household refuses to give to Him. If they want a conversion they must deserve it and pay dearly for it, every work of mercy being preceded, as on Calvary, by appeasing the justice of God.
Let us here remark that the Enthronement must not be regarded as a reward — this was a prevalent error, at one time, on the subject of Holy Communion. It is a means of bringing Jesus to many a home that has need of His great Mercy. However, in a home where real scandal is given and where there is no desire for amendment, the Enthronement cannot be performed. There is an immense difference between the two cases. Jesus entered the house of Simon the Pharisee and of publicans, since it was for such He had come down from Heaven.
I was once visiting a house where the Enthronement had been made. The picture of the Sacred Heart, in a rich gilded frame, had been placed upon the grand piano and, beside me, stood the master of the house who had only consented to allow the ceremony at the request of his wife and children. He had neglected his religious duties for over forty years. I had determined to make an attack upon him and had asked him to see me that evening without giving a reason for my visit. So there we were, not two of us, but three: he — I — and between us, Jesus. In the midst of our conversation I suddenly cut him short with: “I have made up my mind not to leave this house without giving you absolution.”
“What did you say, Father, absolution?” he enquired, smiling, as though he took it for a jest.
“Yes, certainly, absolution, but of course after hearing your confession in this very room.”
“And you really mean it?” he asked with a good-humored laugh.
“I do,” was my answer. “I am perfectly earnest. Look at this picture of our King. I cannot lie. It means that Jesus is the only Master of this house, that He rules here, and all obey Him but you. Come then, kneel down and I will hear you on the spot and give you absolution.”
He stopped laughing and changed his tone; there were no more excuses. He stood on the defensive, said he would think it over — perhaps some other day — for anything so serious he must have time to think.
“If the Angel of Death were to visit you tonight would you tell him to come back in a month, that you needed time to meditate and to prepare yourself? Well, it is not Death but Life that comes today. It is Jesus. Do not drive Him away. Kneel down and I will help you.”
He hesitated a moment, then, conquered by the King of Love, fell on his knees and I began the examination of conscience. He made an excellent confession and, some days after, the wife and five children with this Lazarus who had risen from the dead received Holy Communion together. ”This Son of Man is come to save that which is lost” (Matt. xviii, 11) said the Master. “They that are in health need not a physician but they that are ill.” (Matt. ix, 12.)
“Misericordiam volo.” (Matt. ix, 13.) “I bear and offer in My Heart infinite mercy, accept it.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” (Apoc. iii, 20.) If you receive Him with faith, trust and love, if you pay off the debt of the one you beg Him to convert, you will understand the words He addressed to Zacheus: “Hodie huic domui salus facta est” — This day is salvation come to this house.” (Luke xix, 9.)
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You have often heard me deplore as the great fault of our days that even in Catholic circles Jesus is not really known. He might repeat the words He said to His apostles: “Have I been so long a time with you and you have not known Me?” (John xiv, 9.) To remedy this, when visiting the homes, advise the families to read and meditate the Gospel. Great benefits would thus be derived from our Crusade, for the Gospel is an immense help to those weak in religious instruction. Its pages often conquer and captivate even those who are far from being pious, and no other book has such power to stir and touch the heart.
Many have a craving for a whole library of pious books. We cannot censure this praiseworthy desire, but sometimes among all this Catholic literature the one Great book — the Gospel — is left out; and this is much to be regretted, for those who have not nourished their minds and hearts with Our Lord’s own words, lack something that can never be replaced.
We shall have made an enormous stride towards rechristianizing the world when, by means of the Enthronement, we succeed in restoring the grand principles and traditions of Catholic family life, and when we persuade parents to read the Gospel aloud to their little ones at home. There we find the simple sublime picture of Him Who holds the solution to all problems of the family and of society, Jesus Christ Our Lord, in Whom alone are light and peace. No one ever spoke as He did, He Who is the Word of God. When He is absent, no one else can give us the words of Eternal Life.
← Prior Chapter 1 — – What the Enthronement Is – Its Importance
Current — Chapter 2 – Four Finishing Touches to the Picture of Bethany
Next →: Chapter 3 – The Social Reign of the King of Love – The Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Its Teaching in Relation to the Crusade of the Enthrone