Saturday, January 28, 2012

Consecration of Home and Family

This was a special day for our family, at the end of a special week. I expect that the fruits of this day will grow in God's time, from the many seeds that have been planted by our Blessed Mother in our home and in our hearts during the time she has been with us.

Over the past week, we hosted one of the "Pilgrim Virgin" statues in our home--a replica of the original statue that stands in the apparitions chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. It is the image of Mary as she appeared to the three children in the countryside of Portugal in 1917. I went to Fatima almost 25 years ago, and was very deeply moved by the presence of Mary and the presence of the Church in that place.

The message of Fatima is one of prayer and reparation for sinners, of the importance of the Rosary, and of God's desire that we show special love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Fatima itself has become a great center for pilgrimage, but since it is meant for the whole world, the custom has also developed of carrying the "Pilgrim Virgin" statues to places all over the world, so that something of the presence and love of Mary's maternal heart can reach people everywhere.

She goes to specific places, even to people's homes, bringing Jesus with her. That is Mary's way. It has been her way since her trip from Nazareth to Judea, to stay at the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

This day is especially worthy of memory. At the conclusion of Mary's time with us, we had a little ceremony of family consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The image of Mary's heart was placed below the Sacred Heart that was already prominently displayed above the fireplace. It was a great blessing for our family. The Immaculate Heart (which had previously been in our bedroom) is now on the mantle piece, about a foot away from a small case containing a rendering of the Russian icon of Our Lady of Kazan.

There remains of course the large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the dining room. O, and there is a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the other side of the living room. And the image of the Divine Mercy. And the olive wood crucifix we got in Assisi. And a statue of St. Joseph. And in between there are all these pictures and icons and statues, images cut out of magazines, pamphlets, little "holy cards"....

People who come into our home may wonder, "why pictures and statues of Jesus, Mary, and the saints everywhere?" We have not only a few, specially and prominently placed. We have them everywhere, on shelves and tables and hanging all over the walls. All over the place. In every room in the house.

We don't worship them. We are not idolaters, not at all. God has become man so that He Himself might be head of the human family. He gathers this great family around Him in the Church, and inserts our family into this vast but also intimate communion. These are the people who love us the most. We actually like to be surrounded by reminders of them. Some have particular value, some have been "blessed by the Church" (which is a personal thing, really; Jesus shares something of His life with us in this way). Most of them have some history or significance. None of them are without meaning. Gosh, they even make us "feel good"!

Do you have too many pictures of your children or your friends in your photo albums, or on your Facebook page?

Okay, maybe our house has a bit of "Catholic clutter." It corresponds to the overall colorful and rather cluttered style of our home. I am glad we have so many images, because we have so many places, and so much stuff in general. So much human stuff: it could easily seem chaotic and overwhelming (indeed, sometimes it does). But we are at least recalled to the presence and love of God in all of our nooks and crannies.