Here’s an activity that is rooted in our Catholic identity and lets Jesus take over control of our classroom.
By Lori Ann Watson
We’ve all seen the effect of the “Me! Me! Me!” culture on our students, and, as teachers, we understand deeply that this is not good for them.
What can we do about it, though? How can we arm our students against a cultural philosophy that says “Number One” should always be the primary consideration?
One way is to actively teach students to give their lives over to Someone bigger than themselves: Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, carried out in our classrooms, helps our students to entrust their lives to God (and to let go of some of the “I wants”). It places Him at the head of each classroom, to guard, guide, and shepherd the teachers, students, and visitors that come through our doors every day.
This devotion dates back to the 1600s, when Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and told her that, through her and through devotion to His Sacred Heart, He would spread His love over the entire world. He offered many promises to souls who would be devoted to Him in this way. (We adapted the language of the promises for today’s younger set and turned them into a printable for you; you can download it here.)
A nine-month school year is perfect for one of the devotions Christ requested in His apparitions to St. Margaret Mary. He asked that we attend Mass on nine consecutive First Fridays as an act of reparation for sins. Jesus promised that any soul who faithfully completed the Nine First Fridays devotion would not die in His displeasure or without the Sacraments, and He also promised that His Heart would be our safe refuge in that last hour. (For more information on the Nine First Fridays devotion, see the America Needs Fatima website here.)
You don’t have to wait for the start of a new school year, though, to build devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus into your classroom routine. June, the month consecrated to the Sacred Heart, is the perfect time to crown Jesus Christ King of your classroom, and there’s no better way to do this than through a ceremony enthroning your room (and your students, and yourself) to His Sacred Heart.
The enthronement ceremony is a highly celebrated event. Your students, remembering the joy of this special day, will be more likely to enthrone their own homes and families as adults, making you and your students ambassadors. In light of Christ’s promises of great graces for those who hold and promote this devotion, you can count on blessings in your classroom (and the lives of every member).
To enthrone your classroom the Sacred Heart of Jesus, you will need to do a few things:
- First, ask a priest to perform the ceremony and set a date (give yourself a few weeks to prep). Some priests are already familiar with the procedure, but others may not be. That’s ok. (See Step 2.)
- If you would like to use the most traditional format, order your enthronement kit. This consists of materials that will guide the priest and participants through the ceremony and help you to commemorate this special day in your classroom. To place your order, call The National Enthronement Center at (508) 999-2680. You can also write The National Enthronement Center, Box 111, Fairhaven, MA 02719.
If you can’t wait for a kit, you can find many websites with guidelines that are easy to adapt for classroom use. One such site is here.
- Talk with your students about the upcoming enthronement, what it means, and the Sacred Heart devotion itself.
- Choose a beautiful Sacred Heart image for your classroom. It should be prominent, so you want it to be of a good size. The priest will bless your image during the ceremony.
- Decide where you will enthrone the image. Make sure it can be seen easily from anywhere in the room.
- Invite people who are special to your students and to you to participate in the ceremony.
- Plan a celebration to take place after the enthronement. It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish but should do much to honor the occasion and seal memories in your students’ hearts.
- Begin preparing for the ceremony daily in your classroom. Your enthronement kit will contain a guide to preparation, and you can also find guidelines on the Internet. As part of your prep, you will need to plan decorations and adornments for the place where the image will be enthroned. This spot will become a focal point of prayer in your classroom. You and your students can bring flowers for a shelf or table beneath it; you can add candles and holy reminders; let the decorations reflect your (and your students’) love of God.
- On the day of the ceremony (or as near it as possible), have everyone in your class attend Mass. Dressing up for the enthronement is recommended; it helps to communicate the importance of Jesus and of the occasion.
The enthronement ceremony itself consists of prayers, blessings, and consecrations of the space and all members within it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and a procession to the place of enthronement. (It’s ok if the procession is short.)
After Jesus is crowned King of your classroom, you and your students will pray a daily pledge to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, and you will honor the Sacred Heart in special ways as part of your classroom routine. Devotion to Jesus as King becomes part of daily classroom life—an orientation of each day in the Heart of Christ. With Him at the helm, our students can navigate the “Me! Me! Me!” culture while keeping their eyes and their hearts set on God.
Lori Ann Watson teaches, homeschools, blogs about Catholicism, and almost never gets caught up on laundry. She writes from North Central Florida.