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A Recipe for Catholicism

Being Christian is tough at times. Being Catholic? Even harder most times!

Sometimes, as Catholics, it can be difficult to explain our Faith, let alone convince others about our beliefs. As I have explained to my husband (who is Methodist), as a Catholic, there are more things I am called to pay attention to – not because I think we are better than anybody else, but rather, because I have firm belief that my Catholic Faith and Traditions will open my soul to be truly transformed by Christ!

To use a cooking analogy – I believe the Catholic Faith has the complete recipe, with generations of those who have gone before having filled in the recipe card with handwritten notes of love, encouragement, and tried-‘n-true tweaks.

When we look at the recipe of Catholicism, the (arguably) Six Precepts of the Catholic Church are outlined on the Vatican website, and are the pen on the recipe card:

1.) Participate in the Eucharistic Celebration (a.k.a. the Mass) on Sundays and all other Holy Days of Obligation;

2.) Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (a.k.a. Confession) once a year;

3.) At a minimum, receive the Eucharist once a year, during the Easter season, making the second precept annual to ensure reception of Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity is received under a state of grace;

4.) Keep holy ALL Holy Days of Obligation by attending Mass;

5.) Fast and abstain on all Church designated days;

6.) According to ability, contribute to the support of the Church.

The other penned ingredients include the belief found in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible.

Further down on the recipe card are instructions, in which we find the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, the Theological and Cardinal Virtues, and the Fruits and Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But, written in the margins?

The writing left from those who have come before us, and traveled the rocky, hilly terrain to God?

In the margins, tucked between the ingredients and steps of the recipe, we are given the devotions promoted by the Catholic Church!

Just like our generational recipes for cooking and baking, things will still turn out okay if we just stick to the black and white print… if we just stick to the basics. However, without the devotions, we may miss out on that extra sweetness, fuller depth, richer relationship with God!

Nowhere is the uniqueness of the Catholic Faith more acutely felt, than when one considers the vast devotions applicable to living and being transformed by one’s Catholic Faith.

Whether it is a special devotion to the Rosary, to the First Fridays or First Saturdays, Divine Mercy, or Brown Scapular, there is no right or wrong! Sometimes, devotions can begin to weigh you down, literally, as you add the Miraculous Medal to the one worn by the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, to the St. Christopher Medal, or medals for other special causes or saints.

Each of us have our own call to particular devotions – one person may feel drawn to the Immaculate Heart devotion, while another may feel drawn toward the Divine Mercy devotion. The beauty is that we don’t have to adhere to every special devotion, but we can learn from each other, and share those treasures – those notes in the margins – with each other!

The point of this is to not discount the handwriting in the margins.

Instead, keeping the ingredients written in pen, read the extra handwriting, take note of added ingredients, and tinker with your own recipe!

Devotions serve to enhance our transformation into followers of Christ. They are present to allow us into a deeper relationship with Him! 

Through our Catholic Faith, we see a transformation in our lives as we seek, find, and get to know God. Through that transformation that occurs, we are challenged to be Christ’s hands and feet, bringing Him to others through our thoughts, our words, and our actions. 

Devotions serve as a (mostly) daily reminder of the added benefit of knowing Christ, and being Christ-like to others. They serve as a way to recognize Christ in our neighbors, and become a representation for us, of the reward of knowing and keeping Christ close.

When was the last time you researched a new devotion?

When was the last time you considered adding a new devotion to your faith life?

Do you have a special devotion?

I’d love to hear your devotions in the comments below!

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Two Hearts Bond: The Sacred and the Immaculate

There exists an incredible bond between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, something that I had never really noticed until the day I was driving back from my first ultrasound of my firstborn son. As I kept remember the sound of his little heart beating (a sound that brings so much joy to an expecting mother’s heart), it also led me to think that he was comforted by the sound of my heart beating as well.  This led me to think of the Mary and baby Jesus.  When I think about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I cannot help but also think of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The very first sound that Jesus heard was the beating of His Mother’s Immaculate Heart.  Since Mary gave Jesus His human nature by her genetics, Mary quite literally gave to Jesus His Sacred Heart, born of the love of her own Immaculate Heart. And this all happened because of Jesus’ gratuitous love for Mary.  He gave to her her Immaculate character so that He might unite to humanity in a sinless vessel and receive the unrestrained and untainted love of His Mother.

Now think about why Jesus manifested His Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary.  He did so  largely because of the neglect He suffered in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.  Mary, being the Tabernacle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, necessarily shared His sorrows because of this integral bond.  If you have a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, you should have one to the Sacred Heart; and in turn you should have a special devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, as the Tabernacle of the Most High.

Catholics have always believed that Mary was Immaculate and have always believed that Jesus’ Heart is Sacred.  However, these truths God saw fit to express more clearly after the Reformation through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Saint Catherine Laboure.

It cannot be underestimated the effect on Mary caused by her Immaculate Conception. Unlike the rest of humanity born in sin, never was there a barrier between Mary’s soul and God.  Add to this that she was overshadowed by the Most High, bore God incarnate within her womb, nourished Him in growth, and then dwelt with Our Lord most of His life on Earth, day in and day out.

In having no barrier between her and her Son, Jesus brought to her a life of indescribable joy, always being given the grace of the Godhead in a personal, immediate way, but conversely, the Prophecy of Simeon had the dolorous consequence of His painful and anguishing Passion being equally united to her heart.  The bond is the bond.  Her Immaculate Heart feels all the joy of His Sacred Heart, and her Dolorous Heart suffers all the pains of His Impassioned Heart.

Devotion to Mary is Devotion to Jesus. Marian devotion, especially to her Immaculate Heart, has one purpose: to make our prayers a perfect and acceptable offering to her Son, and unite our lives and souls to her Son more perfectly. Always allow her Immaculate Heart to draw you ever closer to His Sacred Heart because they have been integrally bonded from the moment of His conception.

Listed below are the “12 Promises” of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary to encourage all Catholics to know and understand the benefit of practicing the Devotion and to encourage all to take up its immediate practice.

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
  2. I will give peace in their families and will unite families that are divided.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. I will be their refuge during life and above all in death.
  5. I will bestow the blessings of Heaven on all their enterprises.
  6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall rise quickly to great perfection.
  9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored and will imprint My love on the hearts of those who would wear this image on their person. I will also destroy in them all disordered movements.
  10. I will give to priests who are animated by a tender devotion to my Divine Heart the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence: they will not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

(The Nine Fridays must be made in honor of His Sacred Heart, meaning, practicing the devotion and having a great love of His Sacred Heart. They must be on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months, and Communion must be received.)

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable feast, which means that it depends on the date of Easter Sunday. It is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, which falls on the 50th day of Easter. This year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on June 7, 2013, tomorrow.

Our family has a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart; even before my husband and I met we each had our own devotion, so when we found out we had this in common it was quite easy to talk about the Faith.  Naturally, one of the first things we did was to consecrate our home to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.  In this we enthroned and consecrated our home to the Sacred Heart as King and the Immaculate Heart as Queen of our family.  Along with this act, we commissioned an artist, Mary Henley, to paint an image of the Two Hearts to be placed over our mantle, or family altar.  Why would we want to make this act?  Well, simple, our families gain enormous additional graces and blessings at this, the time we need them most, if the installation of His image is accompanied by a formal ceremony done by a priest, and by a Consecration of the Family to the love of His Sacred Heart.

Have you Consecrated your Domestic Church to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts?  Ask your parish priest today about enrolling your family and also order materials for the consecration at MyConsecration.org for FREE.

Order your free consecration materials to make the St. Louis de Montfort Consecration to Jesus through Mary