Updated: Sep 18, 2021
In my last article I shared that many parents come to me seeking advice about how to improve their family’s faith life. I decided to address some of their concerns, but given the magnitude of this task, I decided to split it up into 3 parts. So here are some more things your parish priest wants your family to know! (Read Part 1 first if you haven’t yet.)
If you want to see much more grace, joy, peace, and happiness flowing in your family then you’ll want to get closer to the Holy Family: to Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph. This is especially relevant for us today as we are in the midst of the month of May—the month of Mary—and we are approaching the month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and this is the year of St. Joseph!
4. Have You Ever Thought About Enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Your Home?
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a very familiar image to Catholics.
"In the Sacred Heart, every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In that divine heart beats God’s infinite love for everyone and for each of us as individuals." – St. John Paul II
Jesus' Sacred Heart is a model for each of us:"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29)
Parents should imitate this heart of Jesus and radiate its love to one another and to their children, and they can come to know the Sacred Heart of Jesus more intimately through prayer and devotions such as these.
But what does it mean to “enthrone” the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home?
In a private revelation to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (a French nun who lived from 1647 to 1690), Jesus passionately exclaimed, "Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love … Wherever the Image of My Sacred Heart is publicly exposed and honored, I will pour out graces of sanctification and salvation, I will touch unfeeling hearts, I will reunite divided families, I will help them in all their needs."
How amazing is that!
Enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home means placing an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a place of honour and making a formal commitment to love and honour that heart, as a family and as individuals.
If a priest is able to come to your home to bless the image, and bless your home too while he’s there, that is excellent. I encourage you to call up your local parish and ask if that’s possible. If not, don't worry. A family can do this anytime on their own as well.
Why do this though?
Because your family will experience greater peace, joy, harmony, and countless other blessings as a result of enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home! Just picture a more harmonious, joyful, and grace-filled family life in every possible dimension. This is a powerful devotion! Every member of your family will benefit. You may even consider doing this on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 11th).
5. Consider Consecrating Yourself and Your Family to Mary and St. Joseph
Just as Jesus wants to help your family experience the fullness of His graces and blessings, so Mary wants to help your family experience them too.
How does she do this?
Firstly, Mary always points to Jesus, bringing us to Him. She humbly proclaims, "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46). Mary is like a magnifying glass, bringing more of Jesus into the scope of our lives if we let her. That is why St. Louis Marie de Montfort famously said that consecration (entrusting ourselves) to Jesus through Mary is the fastest, easiest, surest, and most pleasing way to become a saint.
Imagine if your family members were growing WAY faster in all of the things you know you need to, living fully as that school of virtue which the Church says families are meant to be? Consecrating your family to Mary will make that happen. That is why St. John Paul II, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and St. Mother Theresa, and countless other saints have pointed us to Consecrating ourselves to Mary.
This can be done individually (perhaps by using the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley) or by using the Preparation for Consecration by St. Louis Marie de Montfort. Nevertheless, this devotion can be done by families too, and I really encourage families to do so.
Remember, Mary is amazing because she is Jesus’ Mother. She is also our Heavenly Mother and the Mediatrix of all Graces. That last title given to Mary by many saints means that if you want your family to be overflowing with God's help in every part of its life (think work life, school, home, communication among the family members, etc.) then you want to consecrate your family to Mary.
Additionally, I strongly encourage you to consider both individual and family Consecration to St. Joseph. It’s a wonderful way to invite St. Joseph to increase (”Joseph” means increase) the peace in your family and invoke God’s protection.
6. As a Family, Resolve to Pray the Rosary Daily and Whenever Possible
The rosary is often undervalued and misunderstood. Yet perhaps even more undervalued may be the power of the family rosary.
"The family that prays together, stays together." — Servant of God, Father Patrick Peyton.
"The rosary is my favorite prayer." — St. John Paul II.
Ok, but what if it's not your favourite prayer, or maybe not your spouses? Don’t give up too easily. Once I learned how to pray the rosary and allowed it to become a regular part of my life, I soon came to never want to miss praying one each day.
Mary made 15 promises to those who would faithfully pray her rosary and the rosary has been the family prayer among Catholic families for centuries!
"Countless families the world over invite Mary to their homes through the family rosary. She comes. They sense her presence. They solve their problems because where Mary is present there is Christ, her Divine Son." — Servant of God, Father Patrick Peyton.
Now, I've spoken with several families who thought they could never get this going with their kids because the kids would simply be too crazy. And I know it can be hard sometimes. But they persevered forward with patience and did it anyways, chaotic as it may have been at times, and I didn’t back down in encouraging them either. And once it became an established part of their family’s day, they later excitedly told me how their family life is so much better, more peaceful, and happier. They can literally feel the difference.
And if you want to try a little incentive, I've heard many parents tell me that rewarding good behaviour from children by letting them blow out a candle afterwards can go a long way! Give it a try!
These 3 things can radically change your family for the better. Just like me, your priests also want families to receive what God is offering them. The graces that flow from these practices will help your family in every aspect—harmony, peace, living to their full potential, and a perceptible growth in personal holiness.
Don’t sell your family short and don’t get discouraged by past failures. Give these devotions a fair chance in your family’s life. You’ll receive abundant protection and superabundant graces to follow God’s beautiful plan for your life. My hope is that you’ll only have one regret … that you didn’t practice them sooner.
God loves you, and believe me, these devotions will renew your family life more than you ever thought possible. And as each person’s personal prayer life develops, the whole family will be blessed by it.
Father Gregory Merkley
P.S. Here are a few additional resources to help you begin practicing these devotions with your family:
Father Gregory Merkley is a priest of the Diocese of Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada. Having grown up in a family where the faith was not very practiced, he lived for some years as a practical atheist. After his return to the Catholic Church, he gave his life to Christ and was ordained a Catholic priest on May 4th, 2019. Father Merkley is interested in anything Catholic, with a special love for evangelization, apologetics, Catholic Tradition, and canon law. When he is not praying, he is most typically involved in some form of evangelization or ministry. You can learn more about him at his personal website.