Mary Jane Fox, Angela Sealana, and Julie Reyna look at relationships & Valentine’s Day from a Catholic point of view, give couples 4 steps for praying together, and have a Heart-to-Heart discussion: “How can my relationship with God impact all my relationships?” Plus, we’ll introduce you to a married couple on the road to sainthood, AND give you a Spa Moment for your Soul!
In the Gospel of Matthew, (22:2,9-14) Jesus tells His disciples:
The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. […] Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen,” Mat 22:2, 9-14).
This parable has always concerned me because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been understood for centuries to be likened to a wedding feast. I wonder why this man being ill-dressed warranted his being booted from the festivities. Doesn’t God love us the way we are?
More personally, I worry:
“Am I wrong when I wear my workout clothes to Mass since I am going directly to the gym afterward?”
It’s More Than Just Our Attire
In much prayer and pondering, I see that it includes, but goes much deeper than what type of attire is appropriate for Mass participation. It has to do with this understanding of the Mass as a wedding feast . . . . more importantly our wedding feast!
Our Catholic faith professes that when a man and a woman marry, they become one flesh. This is the same as what happens when we participate at Mass and receive the Eucharist. At the Celebration of Mass, Jesus gives us His Life as Bridegroom. We (the Church) receive His Life as Bride. At Communion, Jesus joins His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity with our body, heart, mind, and soul. We become one flesh.
This awesome reality does not mean we have to dress up in a tuxedo or gown for Mass, nor does it mean that exercise clothes and work uniforms are always inappropriate. What it does mean is that we need to properly dress our bodies, souls, hearts, and minds for the celebration. This is a big deal. It is not okay to just show up unprepared. Jesus tells us it warrants being spiritually cast out of His Divine Life.
Connecting The Dots
The Book of Revelation (19:7-8) images how we are to come to Mass:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment.
How do we make ourselves ready for Mass?
- We dress our body in clothes that show respect and reverence for God’s Son, given to us.
- We come in a soul made clean and in a state of grace, free from mortal sin.
- We open our heart to receive the Word of God.
- We focus our mind in attentiveness.
- We wear an attitude of prayer and gratitude
As we journey to the celebration of Christmas Mass commemorating our Lord’s incarnation, let us make Advent the time of preparation it is supposed to be. Do not rush to the feast without properly preparing yourself for the banquet.
Here are some suggestions:
- Prepare your heart in daily Scripture reading and prayer. If you don’t know where to begin, start with the daily Mass readings easily accessed on-line or in printed devotionals.
- Prepare your minds through spiritual formation. Many great teachings can be found on what actually is happening at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Once you understand this awesome reality, it is easy to pay attention and participate.
- Prepare your soul through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Allow God to clean you from the stain of sin and dress you in the white, bright garment of His Divine Mercy.
- Wear clothes to Mass (and always) that show respect for a God who chose to become flesh.
- Live in an attitude of gratitude and joy for soon . . . the bridegroom comes . . . our King is born!
If you need help preparing this Advent, or any time, please contact us at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Let us journey with you!
Even in this time of COVID-19 protocols, many Catholic Churches make Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament available for her faithful. Contact your local parish for days/times. At Pilgrim Center of Hope, you are welcome to visit our Gethsemane Chapel and spend time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The chapel is open as the Center is open, usually Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:30pm. Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org or contact us at 210-521-3377.
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.
One of the most common questions we encounter in evangelization work is: “How can I bring up my children Catholic?” or “How can we strengthen our family’s faith?”
ADORATION – Adore God, individually and together.
We often ask God for favors, and forget to adore. “To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2096) Take time to lift your mind and heart to God, without asking anything. When you take this time, your children will notice! I remember often walking in on my mom during her prayer. Consider taking a trip to a local parish for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Whatever you do, develop your relationship with God as an individual and as a family.
BIBLE – Incorporate the Bible into your home life.
Many adults have told me that they remember a large Bible in their grandparents’ home that was displayed in a place of honor…but never seemed to be read! Do keep your family Bible in a central location, but make sure to read from it. This is easier when you develop a habit and have time set aside to do so. Perhaps establish a time to read Scripture together, before or after preparing dinner.
COLORS – Use liturgical colors to decorate.
This is a fun and easy way to remain united with the Church around the world. Is today a martyr’s day? Wear red! I like to use green place mats on our dining room table during Ordinary Time. These are simple things, but they are visible ways to bridge our time in church with our time at home. See the calendar with liturgical colors at the U.S. Bishops’ website.
DINE TOGETHER – Make meal time family time.
Sharing a meal together means sitting down at the table together, face-to-face. This helps naturally develop relationships among family members. Research has shown that your family will reap many benefits.
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE – Encourage family members to regularly examine their conscience.
Take a few minutes, before bedtime. Give a simple prompt: “Let’s take a few moments to think about how we have treated ourselves, others, and God today.”
FEAST DAYS – Celebrate feast days.
For example, on one of the apostles’ feast days we might make a special meal. You could also consider using special place settings for meals, having a dessert, or playing a game together.
GRACE – Say ‘grace’ before meals.
Speaking of meals, always pray before your meal! We like to thank God for our food and all involved in preparing it (farmers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, etc.). We ask God to help us remain grateful for what we have been given, and to help us to share our resources with others. Praying before meals helps cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in each family member.
HOLY FATHER – Love and pray for the Pope.
Keeping a picture of the Pope in your home as a reminder of his spiritual leadership, as well as a reminder to pray for him. Keeping a photo of the Pope in your home can also help educate children about your family’s unity with all Catholics under the “shepherding” of the Holy Father.
IMAGES / ICONS – Have sacred images or icons in your home.
We enjoy having Eastern Christian icons in our home, especially ones that have particular meaning to us: The Last Supper, the Wedding at Cana, the Holy Family, etc. Each one invites us to contemplate the subject matter. Christian / Catholic artwork in your home will help remind family members that our faith is important to us, and that it is beautiful!
JUSTICE – Discern how your family should live Catholic social teachings.
How much does your family know about the Church’s social teachings? My husband and I try to challenge ourselves to attend or watch occasional presentations on topics like immigration, war, homelessness, etc. When we clean out our closets, we donate to St. Vincent de Paul instead of selling those items. We also contribute to charities that assist individuals in difficult situations. What can your family do? There are so many options, you can find a way that suits your family. Look into ministry or charity programs / activities in your area. Let prayer guide your decisions.
KNOWLEDGE – Grow in knowledge of Church teachings.
Our Faith has always encouraged individuals who seek to understand. Encourage one another to ask questions about Church teaching. Keep reference books in your home, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the YOUCat (youth catechism), subject-specific books, etc. Attend presentations together at your parish or diocese. Watch or listen to Catholic programming (like the great Port of Hope here). One of the greatest lessons you can teach your children is having the humility to say, “I don’t know the answer. Let’s find out together.”
LOVE – Foster a loving environment in your home.
Learn to communicate lovingly with one another. If you need help, don’t be ashamed to seek out resources or counseling; communicating well with your family is your calling from God! Families reflect God (Love) to the world.
MASS – Attend Mass Together.
If it’s possible for your entire family to attend Mass together, do so. Mass is the most important ‘moment’ in our lives. Try to prepare by reading the Mass readings beforehand, so you can listen to them more prayerfully during Mass. Ask each other, “What struck you about the homily?” Stay a few minutes after Mass to thank God for this special time with him.
NATURE – Practice good stewardship of nature.
God has entrusted Creation to us. We need to practice good stewardship habits, like reducing our food / water waste, re-using materials, and recycling whatever we can.
OBEDIENCE – Practice healthy and holy obedience.
This is a doozie! Obedience is a ‘bad word’ in modern society, but in Scripture and our faith Tradition it’s a healthy virtue. Obedience is not to be mistaken for condoning abuse of power. Rather, it means that each family member has a specific role, and we maintain peace in our homes by honoring the natural structure of those roles. Family members with the most authority are responsible for loving as Christ loves.
PRAYER – Pray all ways. Pray always!
When and how can families pray together? Maybe we should ask: “When can we not pray together??” Use any opportunity to pray; all it takes is saying, “Can we take a moment to pray?” or, “Let’s offer this time (ex: stuck in traffic) as a prayer. Who can we pray for?” Learn the Guardian Angel prayer. Pray the three expressions of prayer: Vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplation.
QUIET – Build quiet times into your family life.
Not all noise is bad. In fact, some noises are very good! But generally speaking, our society tends toward “productivity” and if we’re always busy, we will miss God’s “still, small voice” whispering to us. Our Catholic faith has a long history of appreciating silence, so let’s keep it alive in our family life. I know of families with small children that designate a few hours on Sunday as “unplugged” time: no electronics! Family members are encouraged to read, pray, take a walk, etc.
RECONCILIATION – Schedule times to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation – and reconcile with one another at home.
Confession can be scary, but it’s important that we make it a part of our lives. Adults can teach youth about the wonders of this sacrament by making it a priority and a regular habit. Go to the church as a family. Encourage (but do not force) children to participate in this sacrament. Demonstrate God’s mercy at home: When husband and wife have a conflict, work to reconcile as soon as possible. Teach children to apologize. Don’t be afraid of apologizing to children when you’re out of line; modeling humility and love is crucial. “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2223)
SACRAMENTALS – Use sacramentals.
Sacramentals are small signs and instruments of grace, like a blessed Rosary, Holy Water, blessed Holy Medal, or Blessed Salt. My husband and I started a ritual in which we bless each other with Holy Water every morning before heading out the door, and every evening before bedtime. We also have many other sacramentals that help us remain close to our faith during prayer, in times of difficulty, or in everyday life.
TITHE – Give to the Church and charity before everything else.
Tithing is a Biblical practice based in ancient Jewish life that continues in Christian life. Traditionally, tithing is giving 10 percent of one’s income to God. This requires prayerful discernment for each family. For some, that 10 percent equals 1 percent to our Archbishop’s annual appeal, 5 percent to our parish, and 4 percent to other charitable causes. Tithing may seem challenging at first, but it can become a very freeing practice. It keeps us accountable to contributing to our community’s well-being, and reminds us of the proper ordering of our priorities.
UNION – Live as members of the Communion of Saints.
Keep pictures of the saints in your home. We have them all over; the refrigerator, living room, bedroom. They are family members, role models, and prayer intercessors for us. Read the lives of the Saints with your children, and talk about your favorite saints. Ask the saints for their prayers.
VIRGIN MARY – Practice devotion to Our Blessed Mother.
Jesus entrusted Mary to Saint John, the “beloved disciple.” She is the Mother of Christ and our spiritual mother. Have a special picture of Mary in your home. Teach children the Rosary prayers, and pray together.
WHIMSY – Enjoy life!
Pope Francis and many of the saints have reminded us to live joyfully as Christ’s followers. Sing, dance, play, laugh, tell stories… enjoy the good things of life in moderation.
CRUCIFIX – Have a Crucifix in your home.
Saint Paul spoke on the importance of preaching Christ crucified, and Catholic tradition has long used the crucifix to remind us of God’s love. The crucifix is a powerful sacramental that, when honored and matched with a Christian life, can help our family fight temptation.
YES, LORD – Encourage each member of the family to live their vocation.
Introduce your children to priests, religious sisters, nuns, brothers, consecrated people, and other families. Share a meal with them. Help children understand that God calls each of us to a certain life; the life for which we’re best suited. During family prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to help each family member discover and “say yes” to this calling.
ZEAL – Demonstrate authentic enthusiasm for your faith.
Zeal is not “nice feelings” or “warm fuzzies” about being Catholic. It’s the fire that burns within us; the Holy Spirit’s work, that drives us to live as Catholics no matter what situation we find ourselves in. How can we live this in family life? Discuss what you appreciate most about our Faith, or what motivates you to do what’s right. When you make a decision, explain to children how our Catholic faith has affected your decision. Tell them why you are glad to be Catholic, even when you don’t “feel” excited. Children (and adults!) need to learn that our experience as Catholics will include times of strong emotions and other, more challenging times; but we maintain a zeal for faith thanks to our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.
Join Deacon Tom Fox & Robert Rodriguez as they travel to Kafr Cana in the Galilee-region of the Holy Land. This is the site confirmed by the Vatican as Cana of Galilee where the Wedding Feast and changing of water into wine took place.
During this program you will also discover:
- what one will encounter when visiting the site on pilgrimage
- the significance of the Wedding at Cana in the public ministry of Jesus
- the symbolism connected to Christ’s first miracle
- insights from the Church, Saints, and Popes
Jewel for the Journey:
Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church. — St. Pope John Paul II
Listen to this program now:
This website includes resources for anyone – single, married, divorced, widowed, or separated. Check it out especially for ideas on improving communication, overcoming difficulties, parenting, finances, date ideas, wedding advice, and daily tips on strengthening your marriage.
Also includes information on obtaining resources like programs, books, websites, organizations that can empower you, your spouse, and your family. Enjoy!
Learn about a new and exciting movement to help married couples deepen their spiritual life together! Father Ed Hauf speaks with one involved couple, Paul and Chris Sanchez.
Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI talks with Fr. Gregory Chahinian about Pope Francis’s encyclical and the role of love and mercy in today’s world. Fr. Gregory’s knowledge of Canon law provides insight into the depths of Catholicism.
Catholicism Live! was a weekly program produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope from the early 2000s until 2019.
Marriage is the normal way in which God calls people to be sanctified through love for one another. And yet, as commonplace as it is, it’s not easy–especially in today’s world. This week, Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI, talks with Greg and Julie Alexander of the Alexander House marriage apostolate. Together they’ll explore the keys to a happy, lasting married life!
In October 2015, the Catholic bishops worldwide held a Synod on the Family. Among its hottest topics was marriage. In this episode of Catholicism Live!, Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI, speaks with Canon Lawyer Fr. Gregory Chahinian about marriage in the eyes of the Church today.
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