This past week, friends who had accepted an invitation to enthrone the Sacred Heart in their home invited us to celebrate a Mass together. In the past, I had heard about such Masses at individual family homes, but neither my children nor I had ever participated in one, so, of course, when I asked my children if they wanted to go, they had lots of questions.
The children wanted to know HOW a Mass could be celebrated at someone's home and WHY it would be celebrated at their good friends' house. They also wanted to know WHO might help the priest there. Luke, in fact, asked me if he might serve as an altar boy for the Mass.
Having never been to an Enthronement of Sacred Heart Mass, I did not know what the protocol would be, so I called my friend to ask if Luke might serve. She loved the idea and said, if we brought altar server garments for Luke, she would ask the priest who was celebrating the Mass if Luke could serve. Thus, I called our local parish office to request the use of an alb, cincture and cross and, before we knew it, Luke was sitting prayerfully under the breakfast bar at our friend's home excited to serve at the Mass.
Of course, I did not take any photos while Mass was happening, since we were all involved in celebration. However, I did snap two (albeit quick and not so great) of the kids and the celebrant after the Mass had concluded and the priest had taken off his beautiful vestments.
Then, we all enjoyed fellowship over food and through conversation and play before heading home.
During our drive home, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when Luke, moved by what we had experienced, led us all in praying the rosary. You see, lately, Luke has chosen not to pray aloud with Nina, Jack, and I when we pray a decade or the rosary upon entering our minivan for the first time each day and has often groaned when we pray more than one decade. However, when we got in the car after Mass at our friend's home and Nina asked if we could pray a decade of the rosary instead of listening to a CD or chatting, Luke piped up with a request to pray an ENTIRE rosary and, then, proceeded to lead us in doing just that. While doing so, he paused before the first four decades to spontaneously pray beautiful intentions, and, then, before the last decade asked if anyone else wanted to offer any special intentions because, although he had some in mind, he did not want to "hog the whole thing". Considering how self-centered Luke can be at times, this thoughtful inquiry was a powerful one.
Just as joyous was the genuine cheer with such excitement Luke broke out in when we finished "praying the whole thing without a booklet!" To see such joy sparked by prayer was a moving thing for this Mama!
In fact, the entire evening moved me.
As 20-30 friends, family members of my friend, and Men of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary gathered tightly together in our friend's home to celebrate the Mass, I strongly felt God's presence. On more than one occasion, emotion welled up and grateful tears brimmed in my eyes.
I could not help but to think of all the people throughout history who have had to gather clandestinely to celebrate Mass with faith and fervor despite rulers who forbade doing so. My heart ached for those that, even today, risk punishment of death for their faith. Yet, it also filled with gratitude that, throughout the centuries, Mass has continued to be celebrated in much the same way, whether in small living rooms or huge Cathedrals offering grace and the gift of the Eucharist. Too often, I take the opportunity to receive the Eucharist for granted. During the Mass at our friend's home, it struck me anew how amazing it is that I am able to freely receive the blessings of Mass at almost any time.
I was also reminded of how the mundane in life becomes miraculous and blessed with the simple act of faith - and the not so easy to comprehend miracles of God's power. Simple bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ. A regular home to a blessed dwelling. It was beautiful to witness God working through the priest to make Himself present to us all and to bless the home of our friends. (Part of the enthronement celebration involves the priest leading the family around their home to bless it.)
Likewise, gazing upon images and statues of the Sacred Heart held meaning. As an image my friend's husband drew was enthroned in their living room, I marveled at how statues and images can act as continual reminders of the love and power of God, much like photographs of friends and family and children's artwork on display call loved ones to mind.
Moreover, as I witnessed my son eagerly and respectfully serving at the Mass, I thought back to the many days that the ushers at my local church or I had to chase him when he disrupted Mass by escaping our pew and, then, I spoke a quiet prayer of thanks in my heart. May my son, and all my children, continue to grow in faith and virtue. May I be open and able to help them hear and pursue their own callings, whether those calls be to religious life, marriage, or some vocation as a single person.
As I went to bed after the Enthronement experience, I did so with a peaceful, happy smile. God is so good. Faith traditions are rich. You just never know how an invitation might affect you and those around you.
If you'd like to learn more about the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart, please see the National Enthronement Center webpage.
Since experiencing the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in our friends' home the other day, of course, my children have asked if we can do the same. I told them, God-willing and us-focused, we may be able to get our physical home in better order in order to accept an invitation to open our doors and hearts to Jesus in the tradition of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Until then, we can simply continue to be grateful for the experience we shared at our friend's invitation and to continually accept God's invitation to know and to love him. Each moment, we are offered opportunities to accept and reflect God's love or to turn away from it. More and more, may we do the former!