The devotion of the Family of France to the Sacred Heart was great, but of all the kings, only Louis XVI responded to the divine request for consecration. Unfortunately, it will be too late: the monarch will no longer be able to give his act the significance that could have been his (2/2).
In the 18th century, devotion to the Sacred Heart spread in France. Its power is known; brotherhoods continue to flourish, especially in the West. This devotion proves effective against the seductions of the ideas of the time and preserves the faith of those who practice it, enlightening them on the danger for Catholicism of these philosophies. Thus, cores of spiritual resistance were formed, organized in prayer groups and who, at the beginning of the Revolution, made a lucid reading of it, understanding the persecutory aims and its desire to destroy the Church.
These small associations only have to oppose the perils of time with prayer and the consecration of each person to the divine heart, a consecration which should urgently be extended to France. Someone is working tirelessly on this, Madame Élisabeth , the youngest sister of Louis XVI, an intelligent young girl with a political sense greater than that of her brother. She organized among her ladies a “cordicole” circle which daily recites this prayer of abandonment and consecration:
Adorable Heart of Jesus, sanctuary of this love which led a God to become man, to sacrifice his life for our salvation and to make his body the food of our souls, in recognition of this infinite charity, I give you my heart and with it everything what I am, everything I will suffer.But finally, my God, let this heart, I beg you, no longer be unworthy of you, make it like yourself;surround it with your thorns to close the entrance to all disordered affections.Establish your cross there, let him feel its price, let him taste it, set him ablaze with your divine flames, let him consume himself for your glory, let him be yours after you wish. to be all his.You are his only consolation in his sorrows, the remedy for his ills, his strength and his refuge in temptations, his hope during life, his asylum in death.I ask you, O most amiable heart, this grace for all the associates.So be it.
The consecration of Louis XVI
Nevertheless, it was not to the Sacred Heart but to the immaculate heart of Mary that at the beginning of 1790, the princess and her friends turned, in the hope of preventing the promulgation of the civil constitution of the clergy . They make a vow, if they are granted, to raise an altar in his honor while offering to Chartres Cathedral a golden representation of the united hearts of the Son and the Mother. Madame Élisabeth’s prayer will not be heard. Exactly a century after having expressed to the King of France the demands which were to make him victorious over all his enemies, Heaven abandons the French monarchy to its own forces, on which it counted more than on its own.
Certainly, during the summer of 1792, when he was now deposed, imprisoned and unable to give his act the significance that should have been his, Louis XVI, under the influence of his sister Élisabeth who will work until the end to bring the royal couple back to authentic religious practice, will decide to pronounce this consecration, but privately:
You see, O my God, all the wounds that tear my heart and the depth of the abyss into which I have fallen.Countless evils surround me on all sides.To my personal misfortunes and those of my family, which are terrible, join to overwhelm my soul, those who cover the face of the kingdom.The cries of all misfortunes, the groans of oppressed religion resound in my ears and an inner voice still warns me that, perhaps, your justice reproaches me for all these calamities because, in the days of my power, I I have not repressed the licentiousness of the people and the irreligion which are its main sources;because I myself have unknowingly provided weapons to the heresy which triumphs by favoring it with laws which have doubled its strength and given it the audacity to dare everything.I will not have the temerity, O my God, to want to justify myself before You but You know that my heart has always been subject to faith and the rules of morals.My faults are the fruit of my weakness and seem worthy of your great mercy.You forgave King David who caused your enemies to blaspheme against you, and Manasses who led his people into idolatry.You restored them both to the throne of Judah, you made them reign in peace and with glory.Would you be inexorable today for a son of Saint Louis who takes these penitent kings as models, wants to repair his faults and become a king after your heart?My faults are the fruit of my weakness and seem worthy of your great mercy.You forgave King David who caused your enemies to blaspheme against you, and Manasses who led his people into idolatry.You restored them both to the throne of Judah, you made them reign in peace and with glory.Would you be inexorable today for a son of Saint Louis who takes these penitent kings as models, wants to repair his faults and become a king after your heart?My faults are the fruit of my weakness and seem worthy of your great mercy.You forgave King David who caused your enemies to blaspheme against you, and Manasses who led his people into idolatry.You restored them both to the throne of Judah, you made them reign in peace and with glory.Would you be inexorable today for a son of Saint Louis who takes these penitent kings as models, wants to repair his faults and become a king after your heart?
A solemn celebration
“O Jesus Christ, divine Redeemer of all our iniquities, it is in your adorable heart that I place at this moment the effusions of my afflicted soul.I call to my aid the tender heart of Mary, my august Protector and my Mother, and the assistance of Saint Louis, my patron and the most illustrious of my ancestors.Open yourself, adorable heart, and, through the pure hands of my powerful intercessors, receive with kindness the satisfactory wishes which confidence inspires in me and which I offer you as the sincere expression of my feelings.
“If, by an effect of the infinite goodness of God, I recover my freedom, my power and my royal crowns, I solemnly promise to revoke as soon as possible all the laws which will be indicated to me either by the pope or by a council, or from four bishops chosen from among the most enlightened and virtuous of my kingdom as contrary to the purity and integrity of the faith, to the discipline and spiritual jurisdiction of the Holy Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church and in particular the civil constitution of the clergy.
“To take, within the interval of one year, both with the pope and the bishops of my kingdom all necessary measures to establish, following canonical forms, a solemn feast in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which will be celebrated in perpetuity throughout France, on the first Friday in the octave of the Blessed Sacrament and always followed by a procession in reparation for the outrages and desecrations committed in our holy temples during the time of unrest by schismatics, heretics and evil Christians.
“To go myself in person within three months from the day of my deliverance to theNotre-Dame church in Parisor to any other main church in the place where I will be found and to pronounce, on a Sunday or celebration at the foot of the high altar, after the offertory of the Mass and in the hands of the celebrant, a solemn act of consecration of my person, my family and my kingdom to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with promise to give to all my subjects the example of worship and devotion which are due to this adorable Heart
“To erect and decorate at my expense, in the church that I choose for this purpose, an altar or a chapel which will be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and which will serve as an eternal monument of my gratitude and my boundless confidence in the infinite merits and in the inexhaustible treasures of graces which are enclosed in this sacred Heart.
“I will sign it with my blood”
“Finally, to renew every year, at the place where I am, on the day on which the feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated, the act of consecration expressed in the third article and to attend the general procession which will follow the mass of the day.
“Today I can only pronounce this commitment in secret but I will sign it with my blood if necessary and the happiest day of my life will be the one when I can publish it aloud in the temple.O adorable Heart of my Savior, may I forget my right hand and myself if I ever forget your benefits and my promises and if I cease to love you and place my trust and consolation in you .»
The only crown and the only kingdom that Louis XVI will recover will be that of martyrdom and that of heaven. His devotion to the Sacred Heart provided him with the essentials.