One of the Twelve Promises to those devoted to the Heart of Jesus involves “peace in their families.” Another has to do with blessings coming upon those places where an image of the Sacred Heart is “exposed and venerated.” We can find these in seminal form in St. Margaret Mary’s letter.
Though family devotion to the Sacred Heart is mentioned in the letters of St. Margaret Mary, it became common practice among Catholic families two centuries later as a result of one man, Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey. He joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, was ordained in 1898, and was sent to Valparaiso, Chile, where he founded a Catholic university in 1905. He was especially interested in creating a law school where Catholics could be formed to advance the social
mission of the Church. One year later, it was destroyed by an earthquake. As Fr. Mateo dealt with this setback and worked tirelessly to help those who had lost homes, businesses, and loved one, his heath broke. He was sent to Europe to recover.
On June 5, 1907, Fr. Mateo met with Pope Pius X and shared with him a dream that had begun to take shape in his heart. He had been thinking about promoting the social reign of Christ in families. Since society as a whole goes as the family goes, if the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to be realized in the world, it must begin in families.
Did the Holy Father approve of his plan? The pope responded, “No, no, my son. I do not permit you. I command you, do you understand? I order you to give your life for this work of salvation. It is a wonderful work. Consecrate your entire life to it.”
With this directive, Fr. Mateo went on pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial, France. On August 24, 1907, at the age of thirty-two, in the chapel where the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary occurred, Fr. Mateo prayed and promised that he would dedicate the rest of his life to this, whether it be short–as it seemed it would be given his illness or long. As he rose from prayer, he felt cured and began the mission that would consume his attention and energies until his death at the age of eighty-five in 1960.
When Pope John Paul II visited Paray-le-Monial on October 5, 1896, he affirmed the importance of family consecration in building “the civilization of love.” He said:
Yes, thanks to the sacrament of marriage, in the Covenant with divine wisdom, in the Covenant with the infinite love of the Heart of Christ, you families are given the means to develop in each of your members the riches of the human person and of his call to the love of God and men. Welcome the presence of the Heart of Jesus, we seek to draw from him the true love that our families need. The family unit has a fundamental role in the construction of the civilization of love. (Address, October 5, 1986) (Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., A Heart on Fire: Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2012, Ave Maria Press).
Consecration of the Family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sacred Heart of Jesus, You made clear to St. Margaret Mary Your desire of being King in Christian families. We today wish to proclaim Your most complete kingly dominion over our own family. We want to live in the future with Your life. We want to cause to flourish in our midst those virtues to which You have promised peace here below. We want to banish far from us the virtues to which You have cursed. You shall be King over our minds in the simplicity of faith, and over our hearts by the wholehearted love with which they shall burn for You, the flame of which we will keep alive by the frequent reception of Your divine Eucharist. Be so kind, O divine Heart, as to preside over our assemblies, to bless our enterprises, both spiritual and temporal, to dispel our cares, to sanctify our joys, and to alleviate our sufferings. If ever one or other of us should have the misfortune to afflict You, remind him, O Heart of Jesus, that you are good and merciful to the penitent sinner. And we will all, both those who go and those who stay, be submissive to Your eternal decrees. We shall console ourselves with the thought that a day will come when the entire family reunited in heaven, can sing forever Your glories and Your mercies. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the glorious patriarch St. Joseph present this family consecration to You, and keep it in our minds all the days of our life. All glory to the Heart of Jesus, our King and our Father! (www.ewtn.com)
God’s Armor: Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) Encyclical Annum Sacrum
In Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, published 25 May 1899, the Holy Father consecrated the entire human family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A prophetic statement from the encyclical sets the foundation for the pope’s world consecration to the Sacred Heart:
Hence the abundance of evils which have now for a long time settled upon the world, and which pressingly call upon us to seek help from Him by whose strength alone they can be driven away. Who can he be but Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God? For there is no other name under heaven given to me whereby we must be saved. We must have recourse to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We have gone astray and we must return to the right path: darkness has overshadowed our minds, and the gloom must be dispelled by the light of truth: death has seized upon us, and we must lay hold of life. It will at length be possible that our many wounds be healed and all justice spring forth again with the hope of restored authority; that the splendors of peace be renewed, and swords and arms drop from the hand when all shall acknowledge the empire of Christ and willingly obey His word, and every tongue shall confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
Consecrations are real and powerful in the spiritual world. Those who serve in the Church’s deliverance and exorcism ministry receive increasing accounts of consecrations to Satan and his dark works. There are two kingdoms, light or dark. Family consecration to the Sacred Heart is a concrete act of faith that pleases God and displeases the Ancient Foe.
Living our consecration to the Sacred Heart on a daily basis is also part of God’s armor. The flames of divine love that pour out of the Sacred Heart strengthen our faith, hope and love. The Sacred Heart is not only our refuge; it is our place of victory over evil because when His heart was pierced at Calvary, the Blood and Water that poured forth became our baptismal bath and Eucharistic life.
As Pope Leo XIII wrote, “we must lay hold of life.” Wake up, O sleeper! Gloom needs to be dispelled with praise and thanksgiving in all things (1 Thes 5:8). We can turn every trial, loss, hardship, persecution, test of faith, and spiritual warfare—into thanksgiving and praise like Mary. When we experience demonic vexation (cf. Book of Job), we can slowly and deliberately pray the Magnificat prayer, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” etc. This can become an effective habit to combat temptations. The fallen angels of darkness despise praise and gratitude to God.
We belong to Jesus Christ, to the light, not to the darkness. There are many people who have one foot in each camp, or worse—some are altogether living in the darkness. Perhaps this is true for family members who have turned away from Jesus and the Church. The love of the Sacred Heart will not cease to be poured out upon sinners. The Good Shepherd will never cease to leave the ninety-nine to search after the lost sheep.
Family enthronement to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is extremely effective as a part of God’s armor. Jesus spoke powerfully to St. Margaret Mary; “My divine Heart is so passionately fond of the human race…that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning charity any longer. They must burst out through you and reveal my Heart to the world, so as to enrich mankind with my precious treasures. I’m letting you see them now; and they include all the graces of sanctification needed to snatch men from the brink of hell” (Timothy O’Donnell, 1989, Heart of the Redeemer, Ignatius Press, pg. 129).
On the feast of the Sacred Heart, June 12, please join in praying a rosary for the sanctification of priests as part of the Global Rosary Relay for priests. After all, St. John Vianney famously said, “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” For more information about the Global Rosary Relay, please visit www.worldpriest.com and www.foundationforpriests.org. EWTN television will cover the event also from the EWTN Shrine in Alabama. Please consider spiritually adopting a priest by subscribing on the Home Page of www.foundationforpriests.org.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us please!