June Is the Month of the Sacred Heart — a Perfect Time for Enthronement

Enthronement involves special prayers and the prominent display of a Sacred Heart of Jesus image for family and visitors alike.

José de Páez, “Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga”, ca. 1770
José de Páez, “Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga”, ca. 1770 (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

The Second Vatican Council, St. Augustine and more than one pope have termed the family as a “domestic church.” Enthronement is a dedication of the family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, based on the eternal, limitless love for mankind borne by Our Lord. Jesus promised harmony within the home to believers who honor and expose his Sacred Heart, and many Catholic families who participate in the apostolate report that through it they have received blessings and peace.

This apostolate recognizes Jesus’ kingship over the family, as well as over the Church and the world. An important goal of Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is to unite the two tabernacles of Church and home. This unification leads to a synthesis of purpose between Catholic families and those in religious life.

The primary symbolism for Sacred Heart originates in Christ’s crucifixion, in the piercing of Jesus’ fleshy, human Heart (John 19:34). The blood and water that flowed from this wound, as recounted by Gospel writer St. John, represented the promised “fountain of Living Waters” (John 7:37-39) that would grant eternal life.

Jesuit Father George Twigg-Porter (1921-2006) served as Western States Regional Director for the Apostleship of Prayer, a 175-year-old organization that facilitates enthronements. Father Twigg-Porter told families that enthronement of the Sacred Heart leads us in devotion to our Lord and to prayer commitments to lessen the world’s evils.

“Charity begins at home,” he said, “and healing our world can begin with us and our family. I believe that injustice, discrimination, abortion and government corruption can be overcome if we think more like Christ.”

According to resident Tom Mueller of the Diocese of Orange, who had the enthronement in 1961 and who began his involvement in the apostolate in the early 70s, enthronement has been a blessing both to his family and spiritual life. “The essence of our Lord’s promises to those who enthrone his Sacred Heart is that he will help us cope with life in a spiritual and temporal sense,” Mueller noted. “Those promises have been a true reality in our lives. My wife and I raised six children, and as they were growing up, the Lord was with us every step of the way.”

Enthronement involves securing a blessed picture or statue of Jesus Christ, exposing his Sacred Heart and displaying the picture prominently for family and visitors alike. In addition to offering daily personal devotions, the family prays a consecration renewal to the Sacred Heart that renews their communal covenant. They offer this prayer either before the enthroned image or at the evening meal. The apostolate also encourages keeping Holy Hours in the home, daily reading of Scripture, observing the First Friday devotion and Holy Communion. Enthronement honors Jesus Christ as king and ruler of a household, a religious community or any other structured organization.

History of Enthronement

In the 17th century, a series of Church-approved apparitions by our Lord in France emphasized the importance of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From 1673-75, in the Visitation Chapel of Paray-le-Monial, Jesus is said to have appeared repeatedly to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque displaying his Sacred Heart. The Heart was surrounded by a crown of thorns and bore the wound of the Roman soldier’s spear, and a cross was visible just above it among surrounding flames. Jesus revealed much through St. Margaret Mary, including a direction to the faithful to remember with prayer and deed the love he bears for all mankind and that men should honor his Sacred Heart.

In the early 20th century, Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey was cured of physical weakness and neurasthenia while visiting this same chapel. In 1907, he petitioned Pope Pius X to commission a ministry directed at encouraging enthronement of the Sacred Heart in families and was commanded to start immediately. Work that he had begun in Chile now would spread to South American countries, Palestine, Europe, Asia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and the United States through its founder, Father Francis Larkin, and through lay apostles who visit homes and assist families in preparing for enthronement.

Frequent Mass, Communion and prayer in the home are the central focus for this apostolate. “Daily prayer is critical for Catholic families today,” said Monsignor Hugh O’Connor (1914-2007), an Irish priest who worked with the apostolate for many years, including as the Diocese of Orange’s Director for the Apostleship of Prayer. “The Catholic faith requires that we pray during the day and during the week, as well as on Sunday,” he noted, and instructed that, “It’s important not to misinterpret Vatican II’s emphasis on the liturgy of the Mass by de-emphasizing private devotions.”

Msgr. O’Connor recommended the use of a leaflet provided by the Apostleship of Prayer, “My Daily Offering,” that includes a monthly devotional intention approved by Pope St. John Paul II. Msgr. O’Connor also spoke of the importance of First Friday Mass and Holy Communion, as well as celebration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, which will occur this year on June 11.

The promises that Jesus made for those who honor his Sacred Heart are many. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII approved a short list of these provisions. These included establishing peace within the family, blessing every family that exposes and honors an image of the Sacred Heart, consolation in times of difficulty and all the graces necessary for one’s state of life. According to Tom Mueller, “The only thing the Lord didn’t promise was freedom from the cross. But the graces flowing from enthronement can help individuals and families to cope with their crosses.”

As a lay apostle, Mueller has personally instructed and prepared hundreds of families and organizations for enthronements. Those who wish to enthrone the Sacred Heart receive three to four hours of instruction in order to learn how to live their new lives with the Sacred Heart.

“We ask families to enter into a spirit of reparation,” Mueller said of preparing to enthrone the Sacred Heart. “We enter into the spirit of Our Lord’s passion and death, to make reparation for our own sins and those of others. As Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary at Paray-le-Monial, “My enemies put a crown of thorns around my head, but my friends put a crown of thorns around my Heart.’ Those of us who are closest to the Lord drive the thorns into his Heart when we sin. But our Lord is looking for those good souls, who through their own daily lives and sacrifice and prayer, can make up for sin.”

Daily prayers by those in this apostolate can take many forms. One favorite is the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Others include litanies to Our Lady and the Holy Spirit, the Rosary or personal prayers. Many who enthrone the Sacred Heart observe Holy Hours, an hour spent in prayer. First Friday devotions are also popular. At its center, the enthronement apostolate seeks to bring participants personally closer to the eternal and limitless love of Jesus through prayer and devotion.

“Whether we acknowledge it or not, Jesus Christ is the King of the world,” Mueller declared. “In this apostolate, we emphasize that fact while trying to lead others to recognize his Kingship.”