Father O’Reilly reminds us of the sacredness of the home and how we must return to those “venerable ideals so dear to our fathers and to those ‘ancient paths’ from which modern free-thinking would lead the young generation to stray.”
He also includes two beautiful prayers for the home that the Church lovingly has given to her own.
Man first enters on the forest of life from the paternal house, where, if the will of God were done on earth as it is in heaven, the divine commandments would be known and dear and familiar to all; for the precept was thus given: Thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising.
And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry and on the doors of thy house.
Such is the ideal of the Catholic home; and wherever this type is realized, it is evident that its members are even already in possession of the truth and of the blessed life which constitute the pledge of the supreme good of man.
The Church, among her solemn benedictions, had one for every dwelling-house, being the same for that of the poorest man and for that of the wealthiest, for the lowliest on his little plot of ground, as well as for the royal palace.
Just as she lovingly blessed and guarded near her temples the bodies of her children without distinction of rank, even so she was desirous of hallowing by her prayers every spot in city or in country where her dear ones were born and reared, and where she would have God’s angels live with them as their unseen guardians, companions, and helpers.
“We send up our supplication to Thee, O God the Almighty Father (one form of blessing begins) in behalf of this dwelling, of all who live therein, and of all things within it; praying that thou do bless and sanctify it, and fill it with all good things.
“Grant them, O Lord, plenty from out the dew of heaven, the sustenance of life from out the fat of the earth, and fulfill their desires in thy mercy.
“On our entering this house, therefore, do thou deign to bless and sanctify this abode as thou didst vouchsafe to bless the house of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: and within these walls let the angels who behold thy light abide, to guard this home and its inmates.”
Another ancient benediction added: ” Abide ye in peace in your home: may the Lord grant you rest and peace and comfort from all your enemies round about! May he bless you from his throne on high, as you rest or walk, sleeping and waking; and may your family flourish to the third and fourth generation!”
Elsewhere the Roman Ritual says in another form of blessing: “Bless, 0 Lord, God Almighty, this house, that in it may abide health, chastity, victory, fortitude, humility, goodness and meekness, the fullness of the law, and thanksgiving toward God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
In the design of God’s Fatherly providence, as well as in the intention of the Church, the Christian family-home is a place “blessed and sanctified,” over which, with its inmates, angels keep watch and ward.
This divine protection and angelic watchfulness secure ” peace,” and safety from all surrounding dangers.
The blessing is fruitful in “health” of body and soul, in that purity of life which renders the inhabitants of the home worthy of being the fellow-servants and citizens of the angels, in victory over self, in that fortitude which ever strengthens man to bear and to forbear, in that humility which keeps us like little children in presence of the Divine Majesty, in “goodness and meekness,” in the loving accomplishment of the law which is only the expression of his will, and in devout gratitude toward that Trinity of Persons whose blissful society in the life to come is to be the completion and reward of the home-life sanctified and made most happy by every duty fulfilled.
In thus setting forth the sanctity of the Christian home, and the exalted nature of the duties and the virtues which should adorn it, we are only endeavoring to recall men’s minds to the venerable ideals so dear to our fathers, and to those “ancient paths” from which modern free-thinking would lead the young generation to stray.
We are called to be great Apostles of Love in our ordinary, daily life. We are Christ’s Hands and Feet as we wipe noses, feed hungry little ones and change diapers with an attitude of service and love. When we are cheerful to those we rub shoulders with each day, when we kindly open our door to those who enter into our home, we are taking part in Christ’s Apostolic Work. “Jesus was an Apostle in the stable of Bethlehem, in the shop of St. Joseph, in His anguish in Gethsemane and on Calvary no less than when He was going through Palestine, teaching the multitudes or disputing with the doctors of the law.” – Divine Intimacy, Painting by Morgan Weistling