The middle-aged father and mother came to see me one night in Washington, a few years ago. As they began to speak, tears filled their eyes. Here is their story.
“Father, we’ve made a mess out of our family. We don’t know what to do or where to turn. But we were present at an Enthronement in a friend’s home not long ago, and we heard the priest speak about the blessings that come to homes where the Sacred Heart is enthroned. We thought, maybe, that’s what we need. But everything seems so hopeless. . .”
“Nothing is hopeless when it’s a question of the Sacred Heart,” I reassured them. “He can solve any problem; He is all-powerful. But you have to trust Him blindly. That’s the first condition He always demands before He works His miracles. Now tell me about your family.”
Then began a tale of woe. One of their four daughters had married a Catholic, but the second who had eloped with a non-Catholic had her two children baptized as Lutherans. Her husband was a drunkard and she was at the point of separating from him. The girl was embittered against the Church and was thinking of becoming a Lutheran herself. She openly opposed Catholicism.
The third daughter had married a non-Catholic and was lax in the performance of her duties. The fourth daughter had left home at the age of 16, encouraged by the second daughter. She refused to contact her parents.
“And, Father, worst of all, that second daughter just had a third baby, born on Mother’s Day. The child has a bad heart and is expected to live but a few days. Her mother refuses to have the baby baptized. She will have nothing to do with priests. Father, it’s terrible!”
As I listened, I prayed to the Holy Spirit for the right answer. I made an act of faith, trusting in the Sacred Heart’s promise to back up His priests when they encourage others to trust Him and honor the image of His Heart. I remembered His promise to “reunite families that are divided . . . to bring peace to families . . . to change tepidity into fervor . . . to give graces of sanctification and salvation to homes that singularly honor the image of His Heart.”
“Listen carefully to what I have to tell you,” I said to them. “I’m going to give you the answer to this problem. And the answer is not my answer but that of our Lord, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Whom does He love most? Those who have never offended Him or sinners? He Himself has given the answer: ‘It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick . . . for I have come to call sinners, not the just.’ Therefore, there can be no doubt about it, He loves your daughters very much. He wants to help them. But you have to help Him. You admit that you have kept Christ out of your family life by indifference and carelessness. Now make up for that by bringing Him back in with great solemnity. Enthrone Him in your home, and He will come in as the Divine Physician to heal your daughters who are sick. Now here is what I’m going to ask you to do:
“First, the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Make it as beautiful and as solemn as possible. Invite relatives and friends—especially your daughters and their husbands; if they don’t want to come, put their photographs around the Sacred Heart. Secondly, make reparation. The Enthronement ceremony is in itself an act of reparation, but there’s no sacrifice in having it. Make a personal sacrifice. I suggest daily Mass and Communion, and Night Adoration together in your home, at least once a month—every week if possible. And, finally, try to get other families to honor and love the Sacred Heart. And do all this with childlike confidence that the Sacred Heart somehow in His own way and in His own good time will reunite your family. At least take my word for it, if you find it hard to believe.”
The mother and father promised they would do all that had been suggested. On Trinity Sunday, May 23, 1948, they had the Enthronement. The daughters refused to come, but their pictures surrounded the Sacred Heart on His throne. The couple started making Night Adoration before the shrine of the Sacred Heart. They spoke to others about it.
Then things started to happen. The baby with the bad heart didn’t die as expected by the doctors. Several times she was rushed to the hospital. Finally death seemed a short time off. The night before, the grandmother pinned a Sacred Heart badge on the baby’s gown. Unexpectedly the baby’s mother, who had been so bitter, called a priest and had her child baptized. Within seconds the baby rallied, and she was brought home nine days later. This was on July 31. She died the following November 22.
The day after the baby’s baptism, there was a note on the grandfather’s desk at work stating that the day before a Mass had been offered for those who had contributed to a certain cause in which he had been interested. A post-mortem operation was performed on the baby. The doctors insisted it was a miracle that the child had lived six months. Three days was the limit, generally. The grandfather concluded that the grace of this Mass moved the mother to have the baby baptized.
More things began to happen. On Christmas, 1948, the second daughter received Communion for the first time in eight years. Her Lutheran husband became a Catholic on July 15, 1950. In thanksgiving, they enthroned the Sacred Heart in their home with a large gathering present. The wife is now a daily communicant; her husband receives Communion frequently during the week. He is a member of a laymen’s retreat movement. The children are now in a parochial school, and the family rosary and the renewal of the consecration to the Sacred Heart are a nightly occurrence. On the front lawn for all the neighbors to see is a beautiful marble statue of the Sacred Heart which was dedicated before a large crowd. Even the boys’ choir from the parish church added to the solemnity.
In the meantime, the other daughters had their marriages validated and have enthroned the Sacred Heart in their homes. All of them are spending much of their spare time calling on neighbors and friends telling them of the blessings that have come to their home through the Sacred Heart and urging them to enthrone Him in their own families.
I was invited to be present at the solemn renewal of the Enthronement in the home of the second daughter. As we drove up to the house, we saw the spotlighted Sacred Heart shrine on the lawn. The living room was jammed with friends and relatives. Happiness was in the air. I spotted the mother and father sitting on the sofa, taking in the happy scene. I couldn’t resist an impulse. Leaning over, I whispered: “I told you so!” Their only answer was to squeeze my hand as tears of joy welled in their eyes. Every one of their girls and husbands was there before them, at peace with God. Yes, Father was right, “The Sacred Heart has never broken His word!”
Now here is a wonderful aftermath of this striking example of the power of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home.
The baby was buried by the broken-hearted parents in a new cemetery near Washington, D.C., where there are no monuments. At least there were none the day of the funeral. But, later, on a weekly visit to the grave of their “saint,” what was their surprise and joy to see overlooking the tomb of their baby, with outstretched arms as in blessing, a large statue of the Sacred Heart, erected by another family over their family plot!
The Sacred Heart, the King of Love, had indeed conquered by the merciful omnipotence of His Sacred Heart!
“I WILL BLESS EVERY PLACE…”
Brooklyn. Sometimes the Enthronement may not be carried out for one reason or another. One reason would be if the parents do not practice their religion. Then it may not take place. But can nothing be done in this case? Something can be done as the following story will show.
After the Enthronement in a Brooklyn home, a Legion of Mary member approached me. “Father,” she said, “I’d like to get families to enthrone the Sacred Heart in their homes, but the families I visit are not practical Catholics. So I’m going about it in another way. I’m first trying to get them to say the rosary. Then later I will talk to them about the Sacred Heart.”
I answered, “I think you are putting the cart before the horse. You are making Mary an obstacle to Jesus.”
Surprised, the woman answered, “But Father, don’t we have to go to Jesus through Mary? She will prepare the way for her Son.”
“True, but the Son can sometimes prepare the way for His Mother, too.” The legionary asked me to explain. I asked her, “How many families have you succeeded in getting to say the family rosary?”
“Well, Father, truthfully, not many…..just one.”
“So one family will be allowed to have the Sacred Heart….”
“But, Father,” came an objection, “you certainly can’t ask fallen-away Catholics to enthrone the Sacred Heart in their homes!”
“No, and you shouldn’t. But there is another way. Did you ever realize the significance of the promise of the Sacred Heart to bless every place where the image of His Sacred Heart is singularly honored? He said that if this is done He would ‘touch the unfeeling hearts of men.’ Take that promise literally, and the next time you call on one of these fallen-away families bring along a picture of the Sacred Heart. Offer it to them as a gift. If they accept it, they will be blessed. Go further and try to get them to put it in the place of honor. If they do, they will be blessed.”
The suggestion was acted upon. Sometime later I received a letter from this worker which stated:
“This story I am about to relate should make you happy as it did me. Remember when you told me if we can just get people to accept the picture of the Sacred Heart, half the battle is won?
“A miracle was performed Saturday, May 13. Had visited the B’s on May 8, for census, and the woman was hardly civil and told us we should take care of her husband. From the way she spoke we had ourselves braced for a big time of it. Friday, May 12, revisited B/s to speak to Mr. B. The first think we did was to ask would they accept the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (I had framed the picture). They said, all right. I said a prayer and placed the picture over the mantelpiece. (The prayer was, ‘Father, please bring peace to this home.’) At once Mr. B said, ‘I would like to make my peace with my Lord if you will help me.’ I told him I would. Seems he was away from the sacraments for six years. His wife, a non-Catholic, had been baptized a Catholic; three children, the youngest two-and-a-half years old, not baptized yet.
“The miracle (through the picture of the Sacred Heart) followed. The next day I called for the B’s. They were waiting for me, Mr. and Mrs. And the children. Was I surprised! I escorted them to church. Mr. B. went to confession; Diane, the baby, was baptized. I was the godmother. Arrangements were made with Father R. to instruct Mrs. B.; Richard, five, to be registered to enter a Catholic school; and they also wish to have the Enthronement!
“Father, the same night we handed a picture of the Sacred Heart to another family (same prayer), brought the woman back to confession after 24 years, and her son made appointment to go for instructions, to be confirmed. He is nineteen. I feel I can conquer every heart.”
The Sacred Heart never fails those who place all their trust in Him.