Faith and Family

I am writing this on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 7). We could write in endless prose about the mystery and the depth and the beauty of the heart of Jesus, but I always thought that this column should be practical not just theoretical. Is there a sea of tranquility and love and compassion in the heart of Jesus? Yes. But is there a sea of tranquility and love and compassion in our hearts and in the hearts of our children? That is the question.

Turbulent Seas

Many of us walk around looking like we have it together. We pray in the morning, we eat semi-healthy, we go to work, work hard, return home to accomplish chores, catch up with our family members, perhaps watch or read something entertaining — who knows, perhaps say some night prayers — and we repeat the process the next day. This is what others see. Perhaps this is what we want them to see because what lies underneath that external veneer is not so well put-together.

I believe many of us also walk around with stormy seas inside of us. We pray in the morning, but our prayer is a strange combination of questioning why God has allowed this disgrace into our lives or that challenge to overtake us, petitioning for help in a problem that seems hopeless, asking for wisdom in decisions that we never wanted or expected. We complain that he seems so far off when our problems are so near. We feel abandoned.

We eat but we question how healthy it really is, how much water do I really need to drink? Whole-grain bread or English muffin, peanut butter or almond butter, the choices seem endless, and we don’t know what is best. Every commercial proclaims that their product is the best for us and our families, and we are left in doubt.

We go to work perhaps looking forward to the day, perhaps not. We wonder if we made the right career choice, are we doing what is best for our family, should I work more hours to earn more money or work less to spend more time with family? How much longer am I going to have to put up with a position I don’t enjoy? Would it be better to quit and start over at a new firm? Will it be any different? Does God care what decisions I make about my career? How do I integrate my faith in a workplace devoid of faith or with a mix of all different faiths? We feel confused.

We return home to chores and needy family members. More work after a full day of work. We want to give our children the best of us, but sadly, that energy and enthusiasm has already been consumed by the myriad tasks of our demanding career. Are we excellent at work and mediocre at home? Are we giving our kids a good example to follow? We are exhausted, and don’t have a lot left in the tank for our spouse or our children. We are desirous for a positive change, but how is God helping me with this? We have asked innumerable times, and every day seems no different than the last.

Enter in the Heart

I feel exhausted just reading these few lines about the daily struggles of regular families. This is where the Sacred Heart of Jesus comes in. We were never meant to take on all these things alone. Jesus tells us in Mark 28:20 that he will be with us always. Our primary struggle should be how to enter into the heart of Jesus, how to rest there, how to make our home there, how to shelter our hearts in his heart.

The great gift of God is not just that he saved us from our sins but that he wanted us to participate in his own life. That is why he instituted the Sacrament of Baptism — he tells Nicodemus and he tells us in John 3:5, “no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” And the Kingdom of God is not just something up in the clouds, Jesus tells us in Luke 17:21: “For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” Because of the saving mission of Jesus, because of his incarnation, because of his sacraments, he brought the kingdom of God so near to us.

More specifically, for the daily troubles we have been discussing, not only is the Kingdom of God among us, he is within us. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit in John 14:17: “you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” So here is the connection between our hearts and the heart of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, connects us to the heart of Jesus.

Jesus tells us in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” And he goes on to tell us in verse 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” I encourage you to learn more about the role of the Holy Spirit in your life and to learn more about the awesome devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.