League of the Tarcisians of The Sacred Heart

Junior apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus under the patronage of St. Tarcisius by Rev. Francis Larkin, SS.CC.

As in the time of Our Lord, so also now, boys and girls are His chosen friends, and as such their prayers are all-powerful with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He cannot resist the entreaties of these young friends of His, one of whom He once set up as a model for all those aspiring to Christian perfection and the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that Father Mateo, the Apostle of the Sacred Heart, from the very beginning of his apostolate, has encouraged children to help him in his work of Social Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Crusade of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home. His first apostles were children of eight and ten years of age, chosen from the more fervent pupils of a convent school. One of them, full of zeal, obtained permission to spend many hours, often during the night, writing letters in all languages for the spread of the work. Father Mateo does not hesitate to affirm that much of his success is due to the prayers, sacrifices and zeal of his young co-missionaries. A striking incident which took place early in his priestly career, long ago convinced him that no better instruments could be found for the salvation of souls, and the spread of the Reign of Love and Mercy of the Sacred Heart, than zealous boys and girls who are willing to become missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

Years ago, Father Mateo was Confessor of a privileged little soul only nine years old, whom he had prepared for her First Holy Communion. To prepare herself worthily, and to prove her love for Jesus, she offered many generous sacrifices. Not to be outdone in generosity, Jesus rewarded her by granting her the great privilege of conversing intimately with Him after receiving Him in Holy Communion.

One day, Father Mateo, wishing to convince himself that these conversations were genuine, and not due to the child’s imagination, asked her to tell Our Lord, that as a proof that He really talked to her, He must convert a great sinner, known to Father Mateo. The little girl in her simplicity promised that she would ask Our Lord for this proof the next time He spoke to her.

Some time later, the little girl came to Father Mateo to make her confession. After she had finished, she urged him to “hurry and give me absolution, the soul in coming." On being questioned by Father, who pretended he had forgotten all about the matter, she related that she had told Jesus of her confessor’s request, and how Our Lord had answered by telling her that he would give her this soul and many souls. “Always ask me for souls and I will give to you, and tell Father to ask me for souls and I will give them to him too. But you must become My missionary.” When the child objected that she could not become a missionary, because she was only a little girl, Our Lord answered by telling her that He would make her a great missionary, but she would have to pay a certain price for souls. The little girl was then told that the price she would have to pay would be THREE GOLDEN PENNIES. Her answer was: “Don’t take three pennies only, Jesus, take my whole bank!” Then Our Lord, Who must have been smiling at the innocence of His little friend, explained that the first golden penny was to be her prayers to Him for souls; the second, her little sacrifices, especially her obedience, the third, her promise never to miss Mass or Communion through her own fault.

The generous little missionary paid the price demanded by Jesus, and her confidence and generosity were soon rewarded. As Father Mateo was leaving the confessional, after sending his penitent to the Communion rail to say her penance, the notorious sinner, the great enemy of the Church, for whose conversion he had asked, entered the church and approaching Father, asked to make his confession. “Father,” he said, “I don’t know what has happened to me, but since this morning I feel that I am a different man. Divine grace is operating in me: I am conquered, I am crushed by the love of Christ. Help me to make a good confession, for it will be the first of my life.” Jesus had rewarded his little apostle by a miracle of grace; Father Mateo had received the proof he had asked for. Ten years later, this great sinner died in Father’s arms, after a holy and zealous life.

Here we have the basic idea of the apostolate of the young, known as the "Tarcisians of the Sacred Heart". What child is unable to give these Three Golden Pennies of prayer, sacrifice and Eucharistic fervour to Jesus, for souls? Every boy and girl can become an effective missionary of the Sacred Heart, and a zealous apostle of the Enthronement, and thus valuable helpers in the great crusade of making the Sacred Heart better known and loved. There is no better way of winning families to the Sacred Heart, than by winning over the children. Where the priest cannot penetrate, where the sisters’ efforts are often fruitless, there the children must be called upon to “break the rock” of coldness and indifference; and experience has proved that this is exactly what happens, when the young friends of the King of Love are called into action.

In this connection Father Mateo writes: “Where Promoters have taken an interest in this movement, they have succeeded beyond all hopes, in spite of obstacles which are always met with in pious undertakings. Make it known in Catholic schools, organise it and foster it, give it a place in your hearts, and never forget that, while wishing to form child lovers of the Holy Eucharist, this League chiefly aims at making children apostles by their love of sacrifice and prayer. God alone knows what graces are drawn down upon the world by children, who, not content with prayer and frequent Communion, do everything with the intention of extending the Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and making Him better known and loved. This League affords a splendid training for the Apostolate.” This is probably what the “Pope of Catholic Action: Pope Pius XI had in mind when he wrote: “Religious of both sexes will render a signal service to the Church by preparing even the youngest boys and girls under their charge in schools and colleges for Catholic Action. From the outset, children will he gently attracted by apostolic work and by constant and painstaking efforts, they will be lead to become members of Catholic Action organizations. Where the latter do not exist, Religious should try to establish them. This training of a youth elite will be of great benefit to the whole school or institution. If, in any such place, at least the best among the pupils are thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Christian apostolate, it is not difficult to understand what an influence of good they will have among the others.” (A. A. S. Vol. XXVIII)

Thus it is most important that children be taught the meaning and importance of the apostolate, of the spirit of sacrifice, and of frequent daily Mass and Communion. Wherever this apostolate has been started, notable results have been obtained. A different spirit is manifested in the conduct of the children, and often in the school itself: in some instances sisters report that the entire spirit of the school was changed; the pupils advance rapidly in piety and in the practice of both in the school and at home. Moreover, countless families have been won for the King of Love, and striking conversions are to be credited to their prayers, sacrifices and Eucharistic fervour.

Little wonder then, that Father Mateo directs this fervent plea to sisters and all those engaged in educating our boys and girls: “Teachers, you are so zealous in training the children in other ways; see to it that they learn the ‘one thing necessary’, namely, to love above all else the Sacred Heart, and that they are faithful to the nine First Friday Communions. Apply the remedy before sin has had time to make havoc in their souls. Later on, who knows if they will avail themselves of it, when the enemy has tempted them and perhaps, also, gained the victory?  Remind them how Jesus lives close to us in the Tabernacle as truly as when He was on earth. Let your words breathe forth faith, love and trust in Him. Get the younger Tarcisians to talk to you in their childish way of Jesus, their loving Friend and King, their Saviour Crucified. Show them the Tabernacle; tell them that is where our Heaven begins and that, if Jesus dwell within their souls by grace, Heaven is in their very hearts, even in this life, and the Blessed Trinity delights to gaze upon their souls.

“Suggest to them the idea of making Jesus King of their homes, as well as of their hearts. Explain very simply the meaning of the Enthronement. Tell them Jesus wants to go to their homes as He did to those of the children of the Holy Land. He must reign! He is our King. We must do our best to win Him a place of honour in the homes of our country. Let us introduce our children to their great cause; let us guide their efforts, and they will do much towards securing for Jesus the triumph of His love.”

The League of Tarcisius of the Sacred Heart was founded by Father Mateo, with ecclesiastical approval, for the purpose of grouping boys and girls together into a zealous band of apostles of the Sacred Heart, especially to promote the Reign of the Sacred Heart in homes and in society, through the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Home. Thus it is essentially, and in the first place, an apostolate, and auxiliary instrument to the Work of the Enthronement. It is important to keep this in mind, for unlike other youth organizations, its primary purpose is not the personal sanctification of its members, but the apostolate, and in particular, the apostolate of the Enthronement. Hence it does not conflict with the purpose of any existing organizations; on the contrary, its spirit and program harmonises with any and all of them. Moreover, if it is not possible to establish the League of Tarcisians as such, because, for example, there are a number of youth organizations already, there is no reason why these organizations cannot adopt the 'program of the Tarcisians, and help to spread the knowledge and love of the Sacred Heart through the Enthronement. Thus, for instance, the various groups established in schools, as the Knights and Handmaids of the Blessed Sacrament; Sodalities of Our Lady; Catholic Action groups; junior Praesidia of the Legion of Mary, etc., could be asked to give the THREE GOLDEN PENNIES of prayer, sacrifice, and Eucharistic fervour, to help the King of Love reign over the hearts and homes of His friends. Experience has proved that when any child or group of children begins to work for the interests of the Sacred Heart, then marvels of grace occur. But this is not to be wondered at, since the Sacred Heart is faithful to the wonderful promise He made to those who would become His apostles. Sometimes it happens that a certain organization is more or less dormant in a school, as far as spiritual activities are concerned; new life has been infused, and new impetus given to its activities, when the members become Tarcisians in spirit and action. If an organization has for its primary purpose the personal sanctification of its members, its goal will be more easily reached when those members promote the Reign of the Sacred Heart, for He has promised to sanctify those who promote devotion to His Heart.

There is no reason then, why any child should be deprived of the great privilege of being a missionary of the Sacred Heart. If over­ organization is feared, then we give the answer made by Father Mateo to a theoretical question presented to him by one of the Sovereign Pontiffs in a private audience. The Holy Father asked Father Mateo what he would answer, if it were objected that the work of the Enthronement was adding another organization to a parish where there were already too many organizations. Father Mateo gave this striking reply, which is to the point here: “Holy Father, if a priest tells me that he has too many organizations in his parish, I would say: ‘Father, you have several sanctuary lamps burning in your sanctuary; I do not come to add another, but to furnish you with oil for those you already have’!”