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On a recent Saturday afternoon, my parish priest and two Missionaries of Charity arrived at my house to lead and accompany my family as we consecrated ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The ritual was short and simple. We said prayers together, displayed an image of the Sacred Heart on our wall – an act signifying the enthronement of the Sacred Heart – and signed a document commemorating the consecration. During the nine days prior to enthronement, our family prayed a novena to the Sacred Heart. Several other families from our parish also enthroned the Sacred Heart in their own homes.
What does it all mean?
The enthronement of the Sacred Heart has a rich history. But for me personally, two things about this devotion stand out.
On the one hand, there is a great comfort in devoting attention to Christ’s Heart. As the Missionaries of Charity shared with us, Mother Teresa often encouraged people to hide in the Sacred Heart. We can become discouraged at times in trying to live a Christian life. We may feel that we aren’t progressing in our interior lives, or we may feel like our missionary efforts come to no effect. Certainly, we can become downcast by the scandals in the Church today and other trials. The Heart of Christ is a refuge for the anxious.
On the other hand, the Heart of Jesus is also demanding. For this is the Heart of the Lord of the world, whose reign demands a response. When I see the Sacred Heart enthroned in my home, it reminds me that my whole life belongs to Jesus Christ. As Pope Pius XI teaches in Quas primas: “not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds. […] He must reign in our wills. […] He must reign in our hearts. [...] He must reign in our bodies.”
Many of today’s threats to religious liberty challenge believers who seek to live a holistic life. Religious freedom for some people seems to mean that we can believe whatever we want, but when we enter the public square or the marketplace, we must conform to secularist orthodoxy. So, in this thinking, you can serve orphans and widows, but the sexual revolutionaries are going to dictate the terms.
When our faith is repeatedly marginalized in public life, we can fall into the habit of compartmentalizing our lives. We love Jesus in our private lives, but we shrink from acknowledging the kingship of Christ in social life. The enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home can be a concrete reminder of who Christ calls us to be, and when we become discouraged, that same Heart can be the place where we find refuge.
Aaron M. Weldon is Program Specialist for the Office of Religious Liberty.
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