Rev. Fr. Gregory Drahman, CMRI
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is nothing new: it comes to us from the pages of Sacred Scripture itself. The significance of St. Longinus’ piercing Christ’s side on Mt. Calvary makes us reflect on the mystery of the love of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart.
Providence always indicates, especially by the establishment of new feasts and ceremonies, the particular devotion that God knows we need at a particular time. Popes, saints, and even Christ Himself have enjoined upon us the need for a deeper devotion to the Sacred Heart as an antidote for the evils of our day.
As we celebrate the centenary anniversary of the ceremony of the Enthronement of the Home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us reflect on its history and importance. In 1907, Fr. Mateo Crawley Boevey, a young priest from Peru, began to spread the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus among Catholic families. He made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Sacred Heart at Paray-le-Monial in France where Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary in 1674 and then continued on to Rome. There he received not only a blessing upon this new apostolate, but a command from Pope St. Pius X to devote his entire life “for this work of social salvation.” Returning to Paray-le-Monial, he refined the ceremony of family enthronement on August 24, 1907.
Fr. Mateo made a 5-week retreat in the Holy Land and then stopped in New York on his return to Peru. Wasting no opportunity, he preached the enthronement in a Spanish church and immediately witnessed God’s blessing upon this work. “Accompanied by the parish priest, Fr. Mateo would go from home to home enthroning the Sacred Heart in a place of honor. The results were startling. Fallen-aways returned to the sacraments; great sinners, including enemies of the church and high-ranking Freemasons, were converted. The spiritual growth of the entire parish was changed. It was a veritable Pentecost.”
So great was the enthusiasm for the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in South America that the bishops of Chile obtained special indulgences for this ceremony from the Holy See in 1913. Thanks to the dedicated school children that assisted Fr. Mateo by writing letters to their bishops and who were affectionately called his “secretaries,” this devotion began to spread throughout the world. Europe requested his presence after World War I had begun; his whirlwind tour sometimes required that he speak 8 times a day in various churches and cathedrals.
Fr. Mateo eventually returned to the United States. “In all my travel,” he said, “I have never met a more docile or more generous race than the Americans! I regret that I had not come here years ago!”  One of the highlights of his visit was the solemn consecration of the Chicago archdiocese to the Sacred Heart by Cardinal Stritch before 125,000 people in Soldier’s Field in 1943. The aging missionary was enthusiastically received in several large cities in America and then pursued his work in Canada. He eventually returned to Peru in 1956 where he died at the age of 81. “Thy Kingdom Come” was the motto of this zealous apostle of the Sacred Heart.
Families, nations and the world have been consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Pius XI commanded parish priests to annually recite the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Feast of Christ the King. King Alphonso XIII of Spain solemnly enthroned the Sacred Heart as King of Spain on May 30, 1919, in the presence of many bishops, civil officials and the civilian populace.
Fr. Mateo clearly understood that society’s basic building block is the family. Society is a mirror of the families composing it. If families have a deep love for the Sacred Heart, nations will find peace and prosperity. Pope St. Pius X hoped that many souls would be saved through the enthronement.
The recently-instituted feasts of the Holy Family and Christ the King, the enthronement ceremony of Fr. Mateo, and the Family Rosary Crusade of Fr. Peyton indicate the need today for strong, holy families. Since the family is the foundation of society, this devotion is paramount today.
Challenges to Catholic families grow every day in our secular world. Outside the home, away from the prudent advice and good morals of their Catholic parents, children can easily become vulnerable to many temptations. The Catholic home must become a strong citadel against the rising tide of immorality in society. The family must be well defended against all evil influence so young people can grow in wisdom, grace and holiness. Children will find strength and guidance from a good home life as they embark to begin new lives as young adults.
Our Lord assured us that: “Tepid souls shall become fervent; fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.” Those truly devoted to the Sacred Heart demonstrate their love for Christ by frequent attendance at Mass and the devout reception of the sacraments. By recalling that Our Lord is King of the home, parents can be confident that He who would “suffer the little children to come to Him” will help them attain the Kingdom of Heaven. This is also an efficacious means of fostering religious vocations that are sorely needed today. Blessings flow abundantly to all who honor our Lord. The image of the Sacred Heart officially enthroned in the home is a visible reminder that He is its King. Those who take Fr. Mateo’s suggestion that an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary be placed next to the Sacred Heart have a ready-made place where the family can gather to pray. This should be in a prominent place so that the promise may be fulfilled that Our Lord will “bless every place in which an image of My Sacred Heart is exposed and honored.”
Our Divine Lord also promised that He would “give to priests the grace of touching the most hardened hearts,” and that “Sinners will find in (His) Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.” Countless conversions of loved ones and friends have taken place through the enthronement of the home to the Sacred Heart. Catholics should place unbounded confidence in the Good Shepherd, who can bring back the erring members of their families. Should we not be convinced that the Gospel story of the prodigal son comes true in real life?
Through this enthronement of the Sacred Heart as King of the home, families are preserved and sanctified. Jesus promised St. Margaret Mary: “I will establish peace in their homes.” A tender love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus among family members necessarily provides a most efficacious means for the Catholic upbringing of the children. Cultivating a devotion to the Sacred Heart encourages the virtues to grow and develop. Praying together as a family is also a wonderful way to preserve the graces of the sacrament of Matrimony. Jesus promised: “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.”
Let us, then, enthrone our homes to the Sacred Heart; let us renew the act of enthronement often and honor Jesus and Mary daily as the King and Queen of our homes. Let us implore their guidance and support in the joys, sorrows and crosses of life that we may rejoice in the blessings of the Sacred Heart both here on earth and forever hereafter in heaven.
1 Fr. Francis Larkin, Enthronement of the Sacred Heart, p. 35.
2 Larkin, 50.