by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, D.D., J.C.D.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a most effective means of living always in the company of Our Lord Jesus Whom we receive in Holy Communion. In other words, our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an extended act of love for Him Who shows us the greatest possible love by offering His Body and Blood for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In His fourth apparition to Saint Margaret Mary, Our Lord revealed His Sacred Heart, declaring:
“Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself, to prove to them Its love. And in return I receive from the greater part of men nothing but ingratitude, by the contempt, irreverence, sacrileges and coldness with which they treat Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what is still more painful to Me is that even souls consecrated to Me are acting in this way” (Louis Verheylezoon, SJ, Devotion to the Sacred Heart, Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1955, pp. xxvii).
When the devotional life is neglected, then there is a loss of gratitude and reverence, and a coldness before Our Lord in the Eucharist. Our Lord asks Saint Margaret Mary to make known His desire for a renewed devotion to His Sacred Heart, so that He might give His love ever more abundantly and we might respond with gratitude and return love for His divine love.
The center of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Enthronement of the image of the Sacred Heart in the home. By the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart, we link the tabernacle of our parish church to our home, inviting our Lord to be our constant and most intimate companion. The Enthronement is a way of life. It means that Christ is King of our hearts, and we desire Him to be present with us always.
In other words, by the Enthronement we signify our desire to make our hearts and our homes holy, to sanctify our lives in every aspect. Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SSCC (1875-1961), great apostle of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, insisted on its official and social characteristics. The Enthronement is an outward expression of an interior commitment to submit one’s whole life in obedience to Christ. It is social because it involves every member of the household in which we live and all our relationships with others, in and outside the home. Those who carry out the Enthronement always comment on the difference it makes in the relationships of family members with each other, and in work, business, recreation and other relationships.
Here it should be noted that the Enthronement can be made in every home. Often, in speaking of the Enthronement, I refer to the family, but it is understood that the home may be of a single person. The person living alone, no less than a family household, rightly desires that Christ be his or her constant companion. Also, there is always a relationship with others, with family and friends, which is expressed in the Enthronement, even by the person who lives alone.
Enthronement and Consecration
The Enthronement includes with it the Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Enthronement without the Consecration would simply amount to the placing of a sacred image in a prominent place in the home. It would be a good and pious practice, but it would not transform lives in the way that the Enthronement, together with the Consecration, does. The Act of Consecration gives expression to the profound meaning of enthroning the image of the Sacred Heart in our home.
By the words of the Consecration, we articulate the meaning of the Enthronement. We place our hearts totally into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we beg Him to be the source of our healing and strength, the medicine and nourishment by which our poor and wounded hearts are made strong and whole. The enthroned image of the Sacred Heart gives us the occasion to renew frequently, throughout the day, our Act of Consecration.
The words of the Act of Consecration of the Family proclaim the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the heart of each member of the household and in the home itself. They express the commitment of the family members to return love to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in response to the constant and immeasurable love which He shows to us in the Church. In short, the Act of Consecration is a full response to the promises made by Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary. It pledges frequent reception of Holy Communion, penance for sins committed and acceptance of the divine will at death.
The form of consecration calls upon the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, and Saint Joseph, our protector, to intercede on our behalf. In truth, it asks our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph to present our Act of Consecration to Christ, in order that it may be as fitting and worthy as possible.
The Act of Consecration takes place after the image of the Sacred Heart has been enthroned. It expresses in words what the Act of Enthronement expresses in action. Enthronement and Consecration go together inseparably.
Necessity of Preparation
When we are about to undertake any important action, we always give ourselves ample time to prepare. Certainly, when we desire to consecrate ourselves and our home to Christ, we want to prepare well. It would be a mockery of the worst sort to enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus thoughtlessly, without regard for the profound meaning of our action. It would be a demonstration of the lack of reverence and of the coldness toward Our Lord, to which He referred in His fourth apparition to Saint Margaret Mary.
Since the Enthronement is a way of life for us, demanding our daily conversion of heart, we do not undertake it without considering carefully what it means for us. Our preparation should deepen in us our understanding and desire of the Enthronement and Consecration.
The preparation has three principal parts: study, prayer and practical arrangements. Each part is important to the proper disposition of the family members and the home itself. The goal of the preparation is hearts aflame with love of Christ. Only a careful preparation and thoughtful Act of Enthronement and Consecration will dispose minds and hearts to follow Christ the King, to trust in His never-failing love and to place our hearts in His.
Preparing by Study and Prayer
An important means of preparation is study which deepens our knowledge of the Enthronement and its meaning for our daily living. Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey has provided a complete presentation on the Enthronement and Consecration in his book, Jesus King of Love. Father Francis Larkin, of the same religious community as Father Crawley-Boevey, has also written an excellent book on the various aspects of the Enthronement. It is titled Enthronement of the Sacred Heart.
The second means of preparation is prayer. Father Crawley-Boevey has suggested special prayers in the home on the three days which immediately precede the day of the Enthronement. The prayer directs the attention of the whole family to Our Lord and His desire to dwell with us always. The prayer begins each day with a decade of the rosary: on the first day, the Third Joyful Mystery; on the second day, the Fifth Joyful Mystery; and, on the third day, the Fifth Glorious Mystery. After announcing the mystery, one of the family members reads a passage from the Gospels, which refers to the mystery. The reading from the Gospels is followed by the praying of the decade of the rosary, which is followed by the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a prayer expressing the desire for the Enthronement and calling upon the help of our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. The prayer each day concludes with an indulgenced prayer to the Divine Heart of Jesus; the invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Michael the Archangel and the Holy Guardian Angels; and a hymn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Third Joyful Mystery, the Birth of Our Lord, is chosen for the first day to underline the truth of the Incarnation and our response of worship before Our Lord Who is indeed God made man. In the adoration of the Infant Jesus by His Mother Mary, His guardian Joseph, the shepherds and the Three Kings, we find the inspiration for our desire to enthrone the image of the Incarnate Redeemer in our home to inspire constant adoration of Him.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery is chosen for the second day to inspire us to model the life of our home upon the pattern of life of the Holy Family at Nazareth. The care of Mary and Joseph for Jesus and His obedience to them are models for our relationships within the family and in other social settings.
The First Glorious Mystery leads us to reflect upon Jesus’ rising from the dead, Ascension and sending of the Holy Spirit. Our meditation on the three great moments of the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation helps us to recognize the living presence of Our Lord with us in the Church. Reflection upon the encounters of our Risen Lord with the Apostles and disciples increases in us the desire to be with the Lord always.
It would be good that the whole family or, at least, one member of the family participate in Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion during the triduum of preparation for the Enthronement. It would be especially fitting that the whole family participate in Ho;y Mass and receive Holy Communion on the day of the Enthronement.
Preparing the Throne
The place of the Enthronement in the home must be fitting. In other words, it should be a central place, a place in which family members spend time each day. The living room is usually the best place for the Enthronement. The image may be enthroned on a small table upon which flowers, candles, a Bible, pictures of absent family members or of family members and friends in need of prayers, and prayer intentions can be placed. If the image is hung on the wall, a small shelf should be placed under it for the placement of the same objects. In any case, the place of the Enthronement should reflect the great reverence and love which we have for Our Lord. It should be the most dignified and beautiful place in the room.
Regarding the image of the Sacred Heart, there are different possibilities. It can be a statue or a print of a painting or icon. In choosing an image, care should be taken that it reflect the great mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation and inspire prayer.
For the day of the Enthronement, a separate table for the image and Holy Water should be set in a different part of the room. The image will be carried from this table to its place of permanent Enthronement.
Inviting Family and Friends
Because of the official and social nature of the Enthronement, it is most appropriate to invite family and friends to join in the Rite of Enthronement. The invitation gives a strong witness to the Catholic faith and its practice, and has the potential of inspiring others to learn about the Enthronement and enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their own homes. Copies of the Rite of Enthronement should be available for all who are invited, so that they may participate as fully as possible.
A certificate of the Enthronement should be signed at the conclusion of the Rite of Enthronement and placed in a frame near the enthroned image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also, it would be good to have some social time with refreshments after the Enthronement, so that all present can continue to express their joy at the special grace of the Enthronement and Consecration. The social time gives an excellent opportunity for family members to explain to others all that the Enthronement means for them. It is a most natural time to give witness to love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Enthronement is fittingly led by a priest, if possible, but also can be led by the head of the household. It begins at the table on which the image and holy water have been placed. If a priest is leading the Enthronement, he begins by blessing the image. If a priest is unable to be present, the family should have a priest bless the image beforehand.
All pray together the Apostles’ Creed as an act of faith and reparation. A passage from the Gospel, for example, the account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-33) or the account of our Lord’s meeting Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) or the account of our Lord’s visit to the home of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-41) is then proclaimed, after which the priest or head of the household offers a reflection on the meaning of the Rite of Enthronement. The head of the household, accompanied by all the members of the household, then carries the image to the place of the Enthronement and enthrones the image. After the image is enthroned, all kneel and make together the Act of Consecration.
The rite concludes with prayers for absent members of the family, living and deceased; with general intercessions; a prayer of thanksgiving, and the praying of the Hail Holy Queen in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If a priest is present, he concludes the Rite of Enthronement with a blessing. Otherwise, it is concluded by all making the Sign of the Cross.
Next, I will reflect upon certain texts from the Sacred Scriptures, which inspire devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also, I will provide a summary of the private revelation of the Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary and its relationship to the Sacred Scriptures and the teaching of the Church. Finally, I will reflect further upon the Enthronement as a way of life or, as Father Crawley-Boevey put it, keeping the Enthronement alive.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Originally published in the Saint Louis Review, June 4, 2004