Category Archives: Passing on the Faith

Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This Friday is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and as such, it is a great day to perform an Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home.

What is the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

From a practical perspective, the enthronement is a ceremony in the home in which a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is placed in a position of honor and certain prayers are made. The enthronement can either be done with the assistance of a priest or by the parents themselves.

From a spiritual perspective, the enthronement is an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is our King, and He reigns over our household. Of course, He is King and reigns regardless of whether we acknowledge it, but the enthronement does two things:

First, it reminds us of Christ’s kingship in an ongoing way, so that we might remember to act in accordance with this truth.

Second, it consecrates our home and our family to Jesus’ Sacred Heart. In consecration, we are separated from the common, dedicated to sacred use. This sanctifies our living space, making our home a more holy place and giving us additional graces so that we might have strength to live our day-to-day discipleship as we rededicate our family to Christ’s service.

The enthronement, as a devotion, helps us to ensure that we are Christians in every part of our lives, not just on Sunday mornings.

Below are two websites with slightly different formulas for the enthronement.

Enthronement Link 1

Enthronement Link 2

Both sides have a wealth of information about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and about Enthronement.

Thoughts on My Son’s First Communion

A week ago, my eldest son made his first communion. He was nervous. We were excited. He was very handsome in his white tuxedo.

There is so much we need to teach our children about communion. There is so much I know I still need to teach my kids. The biggest thing, I think, is that communion is not just a spiritual action. With every other sacrament, with every other ceremony, we encounter Christ in spiritual ways, in intellectual ways, and in emotional ways. But in the Holy Eucharist, we encounter Christ physically, and we are privileged to undergo a fundamental and very real transformation.

The Body of Christ

The following quote, very appropriately, showed up in the Office of Readings earlier this week.

Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones. He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ’s blood and receiving growth from the bread which is his body.
St. Irenaeus

The first thing our kids must know – must have drilled into their heads until there is no doubt – is that this is, really and no kidding, the actual body and blood of Christ. Our culture is so full of happy little fantasies that we pretend are real (the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, etc.), and we spend so much time with TV, movies, and books that blur the line between reality and fantasy, that it would be natural for kids to assume that we are just speaking in one big metaphor.

That is a dangerous delusion. Why? Because due to the fact of the truth of the Eucharist, taking communion becomes something far more profound than we usually give it credit for.

What Happens to Us?
When we eat, the food that we eat performs two functions. It provides energy for us to take action, and it provides building blocks for growing our bodies or for replacing parts of our bodies that have “worn” out.

So when we eat and drink Christ, since it is really Him physically, and since it is real food, the process of eating makes those particles of Christ a part of our own bodies. That thought gives me the chills. Parts of my body are actual built out of Christ. My body is being transformed, bit by bit. This sheds a whole knew light on the truth of the Church being the body of Christ.

(Note: Of course these particle cease being the body and blood of Christ once they are no longer materially bread and wine, but they once were, and that’s my point.)

This perspective on the Eucharist makes me even more enthusiastic to receive as often as possible. Grace is a wonderful thing to receive, and I never want to diminish its importance in any way. But actually incorporating Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity into my own body and soul is mind-blowing. I hope I can pass on this enthusiasm to my kids.

Radical Parenting Tips for the 21st Century

The 21st century, with the Internet, cell phones, gay marriage, condoms in public schools, and a 50% divorce rate, poses unique challenges to parents. We want to protect our children from predators, from themselves, and from the moral corruption that is running rampant in our society. This requires a radical response from parents. Anything less puts our kids at risk of following the world’s way of life and not God’s. Here are some radical tips to put into practice that radical response.

The Don’t’s

  1. Don’t let your kids on Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites. There is nothing positive to be gained from a child or teen being on those sites, and there are so many ways they can be hurt.
  2. Just pull the plug on cable TV. It sucks money, time, and vitality from the family. There is little of value on cable TV and much that is dangerous. Do our kids really need to see who’s sleeping with who on Jersey Shore or the Real World? Do they really need to know about the glorified life of Teen Mom?
  3. Don’t allow video games into the house. As with cable TV, video games are, at best, a colossal waste of time. Time that could be spent in reading, music, hobbies, or sports.
  4. Keep the computers and phones out of the bedrooms. The internet is one giant near occasion of sin for everyone, especially teenagers. Even the “good kids” can be tempted by porn that is one click away. Keep the computer in an open, highly trafficked area, and monitor its use religiously,
  5. Kid’s don’t need cell phones. Well, not all the time. If there is a legitimate need – such as for calling home when an after school or weekend activity is finished, then get them a simple no frills phone and let them use it during those times. The rest of the time, it is back in the parents’ possession. Texting, sexting, and camera phones are another huge opportunity for sin.

The Do’s

  1. Pray together as a family. Morning prayers, evening prayers, and grace before meals. That’s a minimum. From there, move on to the family rosary.
  2. Eat dinner together as a family. Turn the cell phones off. Turn the TV off. Pray, eat, and talk. You will be surprised what you learn and how much you enjoy it.
  3. Go to Mass together. Don’t divide and conquer; replan those weekend activities around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Nothing is more important.
  4. Father’s, bless your children before bed. You are a priest in the domestic church. Your blessing counts.
  5. Fill your children’s lives with good things so there is no room for bad. Kids who are at ballet lessons aren’t out with questionable friends, getting into trouble, and they aren’t sneaking onto internet sites better left un-surfed.
  6. Start Family Fun Night and don’t miss it. Give your kids a reason to want to be home with you. Make them feel they will be missing out if they spend Friday or Saturday night with their friends.
  7. None of these steps should be radical, but our culture makes them that way. Our lustful, gluttonous, voracious culture tells our kids they must have everything, especially freedom they aren’t ready for yet. It is our job as parents to put our foot down on the brake and stop the insanity.

9 Ways Raising a Family Increases Your Holiness

Christ told us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless. When they are born, our children are naked, hungry, and homeless, and they remain wholly dependent on us.

Paul said that love is patient. No one needs patience more than a parent of a 2-year-old.

Denial of self comes with the territory when you are a parent. I want to work on my book, but instead I am driving a child to ballet. I want to buy a new car, but instead I pay tuition for Catholic school. I want to get some sleep, but instead I soothe a sick child. And for some grace-filled reason, I don’t resent it.

God said to be fruitful and multiply. Can’t do that without a family.

Christ’s first miracle took place at a wedding. Think that’s a coincidence?

The Holy Family is the ultimate example of sanctity. All we have to do is follow.

When I teach my kids about the faith, they ask me questions I never thought of. And they won’t accept a non-answer.

Christ said, “Let the little children come to me.” So when we bring our kids to Mass, we are doing His bidding.

Christ said to have the faith of a child. What better way to learn to love God like a child than to watch how our children love us? With simplicity, trust, and no preconditions. Just try finding unconditional love anywhere else.

What I Learned From Bible Study: Acts 8

Yesterday, we studied Acts 8, which has so much in it, I was floored.
It starts with Paul’s persecution of the church, which was much more brutal than the short sentences described in Acts. By piecing together mentions in the Pauline letters, one sees that Paul was not only imprisoning Christ’s followers, but murdering them. He was following in the line of many of the great men of the Old Testament such as Moses, Saul, and David – being a murderer before achieving his greatness before God.
Why this brutal persecution of the Church so soon after Gamaliel had convinced the Sanhedrin to let Peter go? Gamaliel’s warning had concerned the leaders of the Way. This new persecution was against the followers. Note that the apostles were able to stay in Jerusalem while the followers had to flee.
This chapter contains two other critical points. The first is the preaching to the Samaritans. After Philip had baptized the Samaritans, it was required that Peter and John come and lay hands on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This is the first example of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the scriptures.
The second critical point is the interaction of Philip with the Ethipian eunuch. The eunuch’s acknowledgment of being unable to understand scripture without a guide should be a caution to us all concerning our own personal interpretations of scripture.
This chapter also introduced the sin of simony as well as further established the roles of deacons in the church through the actions of Philip.
Our bible study is the Great Adventure Series, which I highly recommend.

My Experience with John Paul II

When I was living in Italy, back when I was a confused and searching atheist, I had a habit of hopping the bus to Rome on Saturdays. I enjoyed walking the city and spending significant time in both the monuments – like the Coliseum – and in the cathedrals. I particularly liked Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Peters.
On one occasion I walked to St. Peters Square. I had intended to see the basilica. But the square was packed with thousands and thousands of people. The entire sea of shoulder-to-shoulder people was centered on one tiny white speck of a person. I had never seen a crowd like it. Of course I knew who the white speck was. And of course I took a picture. I still have it.
At the time, I felt as if I had seen a celebrity from afar. But it was more than that. I was seeing the power of the faith. I was seeing a 72 year old religious figure being treated like a rock star. Better than a rock star, with thousands of people hanging on his every word.
Moments like this – and moments like my awe at the paintings of Carravaggio in Santa Maria Maggiore or my curiosity at the stories told at the San Pietro in Vincolo (St. Peter in Chains) church – were tilling the soil of my heart, preparing me for the seed that soon God would be planting there.
So today I see the news of John Paul II’s beatification. I was in the presence, even tangentially and even if he was just a speck in the distance, of one whom we will call blessed, of one whom eventually we will call Saint. It is a thrilling thought.
These experiences that prepare one’s soul for God’s grace, we owe them to our children. Even local shrines or monasteries or diocesan cathedrals can be moving and can give one a glimpse of the majesty of God, a taste of the supernatural. On May 1, there will be another chance for such an experience, with the beatification ceremony of John Paul II. My kids and I will be watching.

Most Holy Name of Jesus

Today is the Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
It is days like this that modern Catholics usually forget or brush aside as just an archaic bit of trivia from a church that, in their mind, no longer exists. But if we make such days a part of our lives, if we teach them to our children, then our faith becomes more alive, more real, and more of a constant presence rather than a once a week obligation. It says a lot when parents recognize a feast or memorial or solemnity even when they are not required to. It tells the kids, “Here is something important.” Even if we can’t, for work reasons, be at Mass today, we can still make it special.
Here is the Litany to the Most Holy Name of Jesus from the EWTN website. I will be teaching it to my kids tonight:

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of Saints.
V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the
world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the
world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the
world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.
V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, “Ask and you shall
receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall
be opened to you.” Grant, we beg of You, to us who
ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may
ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed,
and never cease praising You.
Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting
love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are
King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those
whom You have solidly established in Your love. R.
Amen.

Children and Bible Verses

My 3 year old son came home from pre-school today quoting John 3:16. Perfectly. (Yes, it is a Protestant pre-school.) He learned this in one 3 hour school “day”. It floored me. (And gave a booster shot to my fatherly pride.) He is already pretty good with the standard prayers. I am thinking about instituting a family bible verse of the week. (I don’t think I can match him!)
My knowledge of the bible is good, but it doesn’t include knowing where the quotes are. It also doesn’t include getting them exactly right, but with the plethora of translations that is less critical, I think.
I am thinking of originating with this one:
John 6:53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”
The center of our worship is the Eucharist, Christ Himself. We really ought to have memorized his commands regarding that.

Jesus, please help me to teach my children the Word of God. Please grant me the wisdom to pass on the faith in ways that will plant it deep, so that they may be sustained by it their entire lives. Please send down Your Spirit to make my faith strong that I might share it well.