by Solange Hertz
No one insisted more than St. Margaret Mary that devotion to the Sacred Heart must not be limited to individual piety, profound as this might be. Nor was Our Lord’s “burning thirst to be honored by men” to be restricted to worship in churches.
“He has much greater plans,” she wrote, “which can be put into effect only by His almighty power, which can accomplish whatever it wills. It seems to me He wishes to enter with pomp and magnificence into the homes of princes and kings, to be honored there to the extent He has been outraged.”
In other words, He wished to establish His loving rule over human society by being acknowledged as true Head of every family, from the highest one down. The divine request was supposedly transmitted at the time to King Louis XIV, but if so, nothing came of it.
The King continued on the disastrous course of secular glorification which eventually produced the French Revolution, and now Marxist tyranny. One by one the nations of the world have said, “We will not have this Man to reign over us!” (Luke 19:14).
The world has now reached the point that the very laws of nature are being ignored, if not outright repealed. Based on the false principle that power comes from below, a giant mechanism of organized disorder has been erected where the bond-woman Hagar habitually and by law dictates to her mistress Sarah. No one knows his proper place, because it can’t be found.
Money manipulators who should be the hired servants of politics and economics are in fact formulating government policies—and that on an international level. Schools are laying down the law to parents, the family itself now the puppet of the state designed by God to serve it. Publishers determine what authors shall write. Manufacturers condition the consumer to the goods they produce.
Agriculture, the sovereign human art, is indentured to industrial production, made to follow factory methods and objectives. The sovereignty of nations themselves is being absorbed into an artificial super-State organized on purely rational lines.
Needless to say, the members of Holy Mother Church, already weakened and divided by the “reforms” of the so-called Reformation, are falling prostrate before the scourges of the New Order, apparently powerless to rise and protest. How to establish the rule of the Sacred Heart in such contrived chaos?
As St. Margaret Mary saw long before the French Revolution, only God’s omnipotence can accomplish a task of this proportion. Exactly how He will do it is His secret, but do it He will.
“What are you afraid of?” He asked her. “I shall reign in spite of Satan and all opposition.”
If His past methods are any precedent, however, He will use as His instruments the same “little ones” in all ranks of society He has always used to confound the wise of this world. St. Margaret Mary in fact predicted this: “He gave me to understand,” she wrote to her Superior Mother de Saumaise, “that He does not need human power for that, because the devotion and reign of the Sacred Heart will be consolidated only by subjects poor and contemptible, amid contradictions, so that none of it can be attributed to human potential.”
As always, He will scatter the proud in the conceit of their heart, putting down the mighty from their seat and exalting the humble, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).
Until then they need only remain in His Sacred Heart, attentive to its every beat, careful to follow its manifest directives. He will tell them what to do, even though for the time being the fulfilment of His magnificent promises remains blocked by the malicious authority of the great ones of this world.
Things being as they are, about the only unit of temporal government left to us that can be brought under the sway of Christ is the private home. Furthermore, for some of us it may be the only place of worship we have left outside the privacy of our own souls. For which God be thanked, for that is exactly what a home is designed by God to be: a domestic economy over which God presides, where He is praised by its members.
If home is where the heart is, then the Christian home must be where the Sacred Heart is.
Rediscovering this truth may be one of the greatest blessings He means to draw from the wanton destruction of parishes and parliaments. It’s a beginning.
At home Christians can still share the “one heart” which God promised Jeremiah He would give His people, “and one way, that they may fear me all days: and that it may be well with them, and with their children after them” (32:39).
The Acts of the Apostles relate how “the multitude of believers had but on heart and one soul; neither did any one say that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but all things were common unto them” (4:32). This “one heart” of saints who lovingly share all they possess is today in open confrontation with the “one world” of androids intent on robbing one another of even the most elementary right to private ownership. There can be no co-existence between the two.
We cannot repeat too often that devotion to the Sacred Heart, promulgated from the very first as a devotion for the latter times, is now only beginning. What has been achieved so far is the merest preparation or predisposition for a fullness yet to be even suspected. It would be ridiculous to think our Lord hasn’t foreseen and provided for all the deprivations we are facing—the desecration of Churches, suppression of sacred images and sacramentals, the defections from the priesthood…
We have noted already that devotion to the Sacred Heart has established once and for all the primacy of the interior life. What it does for the individual in his own soul it is equally prepared to do for society, in the home. We start where we can.
Is there any reason why what our Lord requested of worldly monarchs can’t be accorded Him by lesser heads of families? Let those who preach “power to the people” beware of that power when it is brandished in the service of God! What is to prevent exposing and honoring the picture of the Sacred Heart in our homes—is only because “wherever this holy picture should be exposed to be honored He would lavish His graces and blessings”?
Better still, why not satisfy at home our Lord’s longing to be adored in the Blessed Sacrament? That Benediction has all but disappeared from the liturgy, or that the Church doors are locked, or that the Sacrament itself may no longer be reserved, can be seen to be no excuse at all when we look deeply into the matter.
One of the first to see this was the late Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who initiated the movement for Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home. With truly prophetic insight he began preaching Eucharistic Adoration as a practice most proper to the home. Already in the late 1920’s he was signing up families for one hour a month of night adoration, at a time when the Real Presence was taken for granted in every Catholic church and expected to continue there until the end of the world.
Fr. Mateo may not have been so sure. He wrote, “We are in fact on the brink of an abyss of social corruption; the home already undermined in its very foundations by this upheaval of immorality; a good part of the portion of society which by right is considered the best, the most Christian, seriously affected by the contagion of unbridled sensuality… What is sadder still, the enemy has now penetrated into our own ranks; the wolf is encountered with unheard of cruelty in a full sheepfold. More, he is tolerated there, even encouraged by the cowardice of friends. This Satan and the world have without pity struck and scourged their God and their Lord. His very bones might be counted through His wounds, for there is no soundness in Him.
Urging reparation to the Sacred Heart, his practical suggestions for domestic adoration are very instructive: “In large families the adoration may be arranged in such a way that each member of the family watches in turn before a picture of the Sacred Heart. If the Sacred Heart has been enthroned in the home, then the adoration should take place before the enthroned picture of the Sacred Heart, around which lighted candles and flowers have been placed, if this is possible and practical…
The adoration should be made as far as possible on one’s knees, in a spirit of salutary penance… It should be throughout a Eucharistic Adoration, in spirit and in truth. It makes His Passion ours: “The same love which made Me suffer such extreme pains and affliction for the salvation of men, makes Me also suffer now in your heart, immortal and impassible as I am, by the intimate compassion with which it is penetrated for the salvation of my elect, in consideration of my afflictions and bitterness. Therefore in return for the compassion which you have had for my sufferings, I give you the whole fruit of my Passion and death, to insure your eternal beatitude.”
Spoken to St. Gertrude, these words make plain what meditation on the Sacred Heart is meant to lead to. Fr. Mateo suggested prayers for the following intentions during hours of home adoration: “our Holy Father and Pope, peace, the clergy, the members of your family who may have gone astray, those in their agony this night, the Social Reign of the Sacred Heart, particularly through the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home. Oh, be true angels of Gethsemane in this nocturnal adoration, you who have an advantage over the angel from heaven, since you are able to suffer and to weep in union with the agonizing Heart of Jesus!”
Most significantly, Fr. Mateo urged adorers to begin their hour by uniting themselves in spirit with the priests who at that moment might be offering the Holy Sacrifice anywhere in the world. He wished them if possible to recite the Canon of the Mass in view of a spiritual Communion, all the while adoring, praising, petitioning and atoning “through Him, with Him and in Him.”
Aware of the importance of Fr. Mateo’s latter day apostolate, Popes Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII each accorded the Apostolic Benediction to those engaging in it. In his enthusiasm Pope Pius XI dubbed it “the actualization of my Encyclical” Miserentissimus Redemptor, on the Sacred heart.
With such encouragement from the highest Authority, why not adore at home kneeling in spirit before our Lord’s true sacramental Presence in all Churches or places where It may still be found? Isn’t it this Real Presence that the image of the Sacred Heart is precisely meant to evoke in our homes? Wouldn’t our Lord intend to follow His Heart’s image personally into any place where it was lovingly exposed? If not, how could devotion to the Sacred Heart make any real sense?
Prayer to the Sacred Heart:
May all the words that I speak be dipped in the Blood of Thy Sacred Heart, O Jesus, that they may be so many arrows to pierce the hearts of all who hear them with love for Thee. Amen. -The Precious Blood and Mother Prayerbook, Painting by Gregory Frank Harris
In the words of this humble seventeenth-century lay Carmelite, “we must trust God once and for all and abandon ourselves to Him alone.” This difficult task necessarily requires perseverance and continual conversation with God in all activities great and small: “speaking humbly and talking lovingly with Him at all times, at every moment, without rule or system…” In reading these conversations, letters, and spiritual maxims, we learn the key to endless joy.
In short, this little spiritual classic — in its fresh, contemporary English translation — renders the simple wisdom of Brother Lawrence accessible to every Christian who yearns for the fullness of life….