My family will be celebrating our third anniversary with the upcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we will be renewing the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in our home. Now, I am not one of those good and faithful Catholics who devours devotions like Fig Newtons. My family’s prayer life tends to be very simple—the consequence, perhaps of being a homeschooling family of six children. Our daily religious practices are: Acts (Faith, Hope, Love, Contrition), Angelus, Rosary, rinse and repeat. But, in addition to our special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our wearing of the Brown Scapular, and being slaves to Jesus through Mary (St. Louis DeMontfort, True Devotion), Christ is quite literally King in our home. He reigns and presides over our quaint open-floor plan realm like the sovereign Lord that He is, golden scepter in hand—right next to the thermostat.
The Catholic faith of a family is nitty and gritty. It is hardworking and sweaty like a bake-day mom in late July or a greasy and knuckle-wracked dad under the hood of a 67’ red Corvette. Faith is supposed to get down into the hard-to-reach of your life like the crevices of a highchair. Let your faith be a PB&J and stick there until the Crack of Doom. If your Faith is as pristine as a porcelain doll on a shelf, chances are it is just as fragile. Let your faith work along side you, at the kitchen sink, in the garage, or at the table doing your umpteenth math fact. If you confine your faith, like a precious jewel (or, maybe a light under a bushel) in your pocket, it will never gleam out, shine out the reality of your hope, that this transitory existence full of tears is only so while it lasts. Soon a new dawn will break upon the universe and God will reign in all His glory and be hailed by every creature in a New Heavens and a New Earth. The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a foretaste of this blessed event, where all creation is brought under His rule in a manifest way.
The first enthronement ceremony we did, following Fr. Mateo’s instructional booklet, we drew up a document (to be registered with the Angels in Heaven because, alas, the official congregation and registry having as of late apostatized) on which my family signed, or made their mark as in the case of the little tots who hadn’t received their writing lessons yet. The ceremony specifies that all members of the family ought to be included, and of those who could not be present, an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, should be said on their behalf. I distinctly remember praying these for my own father who had passed away a heathen when I was sixteen, and for my mother who was lost in another episode of manic depression, yet still attending the Novus Ordo Missae when she could. We also prayed for my in-laws, who were not manic depressive but still attended the Novus Ordo Missae anyway, only they did so every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. They were, and are, faithful to the false Church in Rome.
At the time of the first enthronement, we were estranged from my wife’s parents. We acted quite literally when the Holy Scriptures spoke of avoiding the heretic and not wishing them Godspeed. We didn’t allow them in our home, and we didn’t visit them. Looking back on that decision, I confess I am at a loss to say if it was right or wrong. Perhaps you could help me judge that aright, but why I bring it up is that the second anniversary of the enthronement of the Sacred Heart, while praying the last prayers of the ceremony, just as we were about to sign the Angelic document a second time, who do you think knocks on our door? That’s right, my in-laws.
They were welcomed into our home, of course. I wasn’t going to argue with Providence or my King. If He wanted them at my home (His home, that is) during that second anniversary, I wasn’t going to protest. On the contrary, my heart was bursting inside my chest because I knew God Almighty brought them there at that time and place, because He wanted them to sign that Angelic document, because He wanted to be enthroned in their hearts and home as well. They signed it. And, though we had our difficulties explaining some points of dogma, namely that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation, we had a very pleasant visit with them, playing cards and eating too much crackers and cheese.
Since then we have had a couple cordial visits but they are still attending the new mass at the Freemason Cult of Man church in their hometown. They have yet to transition even to the Tridentine, as so many who have come before tend to do. But I remember my King, and how, when He willed that they should be where He wanted them to, they were. That is the nitty-gritty Faith I speak of. It sometimes feels like a punch in the stomach, a betrayal and let down, when you see someone so close to Christ yet so far. But, then again, Christ was betrayed even by a kiss. The divine drama is played out in our families. We are not saved at the grocery store, or the bank, or the office, but at home. The people we love, our family, even when they are heathens, are the ones first we should consider when evangelizing and hoping to convert. I entrust my father’s soul to my Heavenly Mother. As for my earthly mother, she is doing very well emotionally, stabilized now by proper medication and a less stressful environment. I have been talking with her about reading the Baltimore Catechism, and she sounds enthusiastic to learn. As for my mother- and father-in-law, my heart is full of hope for their conversion. Perhaps my King will work another miracle in their life, and bring them home for more crackers and cheese and true doctrine. Perhaps this time they will find Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus as tasty and digestible as the extra sharp cheddar.