On May 31, 1985, one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in North American history swept through parts of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada. Eighty-nine people died, and more than 1,000 were injured; the damage was estimated at over $600 million. “A bombed-out battlefield” was how one local weather service described the borough of Wheatland, PA.An hour north of Wheatland, the tiny community of Albion was among the hardest hit, with 12 residents killed, 80 injured and a corridor of devastation two blocks wide.
St Lawrence’s Catholic Church was ripped in half, and the parish priest, Fr Robert Reilly, escaped being sucked out of the rectory window only by bracing himself against the window frame. The rectory was totally destroyed.Against all odds, a number of homes directly in the path cut by the tornado remained standing, untouched amid the debris. There was something unusual about these homes, and it wasn’t storm-proof windows or heavy-duty framing. What set these houses apart was that in each one the family had formally enthroned the Sacred Heart and consecrated their homes and family members to Him.
Among the 12 promises that the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to St Margaret Mary is the following: “I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honoured.” As part of the ceremony of enthronement, each of these families would have placed an image of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in a place of honour in their homes. In return He kept His word in a manner bearing His unmistakable signature. As St Peter once pointed out, there is only one Man whom the winds and the sea obey.
The Albion incident was investigated by Mgr John T Carter for Soul magazine. He telephoned Fr Reilly. “Yes, Ted, it’s true,”Fr Reilly confirmed, adding, perhaps a little ruefully: “I guess I should have had the rectory enthroned too!”Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a ceremony in which the family solemnly and publicly acknowledges the Sacred Heart as King of the home. This is done by formally enthroning an image of the Sacred Heart – the most beautiful that can be obtained – in a place of honour in the home. The family then consecrates themselves to the Sacred Heart. The ceremony is usually led by a priest, and is often the occasion for a family feast with friends and relations.Literature about the devotion points out that those who affirm the sovereign rights of Christ as king of their home place the interests of His divine royalty before their own. Not to be outdone in love, He in turn makes their interests His, and protects them in a special way in accordance with the 12 promises He made to St Margaret Mary Alacoque.“I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life. I will establish peace in their homes,” He told St Margaret. These promises have been borne out in a multitude of ways among the millions who have carried out the enthronement in their homes. Protection from natural disasters is only the beginning; countless stories exist of spouses reconciled, troubled children calmed, addictions healed, family unity restored, and painful situations resolved thanks to the clear intervention of the Sacred Heart.“I will comfort them in all their afflictions,” the Sacred Heart promised. Indeed, a foretaste of His consolation is present in the consecration prayer the family recites together at the enthronement ceremony: “When the hour of separation shall sound, and death shall plunge our home into mourning, then shall we all, and every one of us, be resigned to Thy eternal decrees, and seek consolation in the thought that we shall one day be reunited in heaven …”Not only families, but also businesses, schools, hospitals, parishes and dioceses can enthrone the Sacred Heart, thus formally recognising His Kingship over social institutions and defending His empire against the inroads of secularism. “Do not fear,” the Sacred Heart told St Margaret Mary, “I shall reign in spite of all my enemies and all those who would oppose it.”In announcing his consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart, Pope Leo XIII wrote movingly of the cross seen in the heavens by the young emperor Constantine, which became “at once the happy omen and cause of the glorious victory which soon followed”.“Today, behold,” Leo XIII wrote, “another blessed and heavenly token is offered to our sight – the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a cross rising from it and shining forth with dazzling splendour amid flames of love.”
It is the same glorious image that illuminates the closing words of Leo’s Act of Consecration: “… and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honour forever!”
In the first part of this article, we learned that the virtue of obedience is grouped as one of the virtues which falls under the cardinal virtue of justice. In fact, St. Thomas quoting St. Augustine famously stated, lex injusta non est lex (an unjust law is no law at all).
We also explained how there are some situations in which one is not obligated to obey his superior. This, of course, includes unjust laws which do not carry the moral force of true law. Furthermore, there are some situations in which one is obligated not to obey a superior. The most obvious case is when the superior commands something sinful. No one may ever justly command another person to disobey God. And one may never justify his sin before God by claiming ‘I was just being obedient.’
We all recognize this truth in the following simple example. If a father commanded his son to help him steal cars and murder innocent people, the son would actually have to refuse. While he may appear disobedient to his father, the son is actually exercising the true virtue of obedience because he is obeying God and faithfully following the Natural Law. The father might rant and rave, might accuse the son of disobedience, and might even punish him, but the truly obedient son would endure this unjust persecution for the sake of truth, goodness and His love of God.
What Is True Obedience?
This does not mean that we seek “disobedience” as an end, but rather that we must be careful as to the true end of our obedience, while employing the necessary virtues in their correct measure. In addition, the natural virtues must be enlightened by the supernatural virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. None of the cardinal, or natural, virtues are ever being employed correctly if they lead one to go against supernatural faith, hope or charity.
If obedience causes us to go against what we know to be true by the virtue of faith, then we have a very grave problem.
Supernatural Faith, obedience to God, must always come before obedience to any man, even a priestly representative of God. St. Peter, inspired by the Holy Ghost, teaches, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). He told this to the religious authorities of his day and he also lived this principle out with respect to the secular authorities of his day. Granted, he and the Apostles suffered greatly for this truth, but they rejoiced “that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41).
Duty and Obedience
Now, situations that may require obedience to a higher authority and go against the commands of a lower superior should be, and frankly are, rare. Our first instinct should be to seek a way to obey while also fulfilling our duties. And for certain people, like religious who make a special vow of obedience, accepting an unjust command may even help to merit great graces through the carrying of an undeserved Cross.
However, for those of us entrusted with the care of others as a primary duty, either natural or spiritual children, we owe as a matter of justice what is necessary for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of our dependents. For example, a father of children may have to seek ways around an unjust law or command from an authority, if this command impedes his duty to feed his children. Analogously, a pastor of souls is bound by true obedience to God and the welfare of souls to confer sanctifying grace to his flock, even if unjustly told not to do so by his bishop. This must be done even at the risk of the priest himself becoming sick or dying. We must not seek to calumniate or detract our prelates, but we are not “disobedient” if we voice our well-formed opinion based upon the truths of the Faith and request that which Holy Mother Church herself teaches is our right, i.e. the ordinary means of sanctifying grace.
The Kingly Obedience of Robin Hood
We are all familiar with the Legend of Robin Hood. There are many versions, and unfortunately Hollywood and Disney have done their best to ruin a good story from the Christian Era. Now, there are at least two ways to interpret the epic tale: one is to see it as a tale of “the ends justifying the means” as Robin Hood breaks the law, even if for a good purpose, while the other is to view Robin Hood as a Chivalric hero who obeys the true King Richard the Lionheart instead of the usurping King John. Of course, this is not a matter of faith and morals, therefore reasonable minds can differ. Nonetheless, it is an exciting story to contemplate, as we perhaps find ourselves in an analogous situation.
Without pointing to any specific authority figure, we are living through an age wherein our true Christian Kingdom has been unjustly usurped. Those charged with our care are often far too willing to exploit the loyalty and poverty of spirit of their subjects. We find ourselves in an epic moment in Christian history, and we have to ask ourselves a question: Are we willing to take up true obedience and serve the rightful King in absentia? What if it means forging a colony of loyalty to His Majesty in the wilderness?
The King Shall Return
This is a daunting concept, and I do not pretend to have a blueprint. But, I do know that we are in unique times, and that things will never go back to “normal.” We assume our churches will reopen in some capacity, and our day to day lives will resemble what they did before. Nevertheless, we will always remember what many shepherds did when we needed them the most. We now clearly see that for many in high Church offices, the True Kingship of Jesus Christ is, at best, an afterthought.
Let us use this time as a moment of spiritual and moral training for the Return of The King. As we venture further into the dark forest of abandonment, let us sharpen our swords, and refine our marksmanship in preparation for what is the battle of our lifetime: the Battle for the Church. And, in all things employ “the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.” Eph 6:16
 It is certainly a clear moral teaching of the Church that the ends do not justify the means. Thus, stealing is wrong and can never be promoted as just. If one views Robin Hood as a stealing thief, then his actions are wrong no matter his good intent. However, if Robin Hood only returned belongings to their rightful owners, then it may be incorrect to consider him a thief. Say, for example, your car is stolen. A day later you come upon your car in a parking lot; you can certainly use your key to drive your car home and no moral law would call you a thief. The historical question as to what Robin Hood actually did remains shrouded. Yet the issue primarily being considered in this essay is: Should Robin Hood obey the unjust laws of the usurping ‘king’ John or the rightful though absent King Richard?
May the Most Holy, Most Sacred, Most Adorable, Most Incomprehensible and Ineffable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. Amen.
The man’s headship in the family, according to God’s established order as clearly revealed in Sacred Scripture, is perhaps one of the most contentious issues amongst even faithful Catholics today. It is such a ‘stumbling block’ for women – and even men – that many priests try to skirt the issue whenever the words “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behoveth in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18) come up in the lessons for the sacred liturgy. Our society is patently antipathetic towards the traditional role of the husband as the head of the household. It is easy enough to understand how the various toxic philosophies so rampant today have brought disorder into the home. However, many do not stop to consider how this lack of male headship creates a vacuum, which either the woman will fill, or no one will properly fill.
Headship of a family is built into the very nature of a man, and when he fails at this task, it affects the health of his whole family and, consequently, all of society. Wives who are not led and served by a loving and self-sacrificing husband are not secure. Daughters who cannot look to a father who is on mission to sanctify his family will encounter difficulty in understanding their worth as a child of God the Father. Furthermore, sons in this situation will be stunted in their development as men, which means they will have to work so much harder to reorder things correctly when they have their own family.
We can be certain that Saint Joseph showed proper headship of the Holy Family. He demonstrated this on many occasions, not least of which in his role as Pillar of Families and Chaste Guardian of the Virgin. Men today need not only an example of headship, but also an example of how to become a man who is ready for the role. For our purposes, let us briefly look to the Old Testament.
Out of Egypt
We all need to be freed from the bondage by which a world opposed to God envelopes us. This holds true whether we are married or not. Due to our fallen nature, we suffer from concupiscence and tend to rebel. Evidence for this is all around us and can likewise be seen in the Old Testament. For thousands of years, it has been a similar story over and over again. Even the Hebrews who walked dryly across the Red Sea did not take long to rebel against the divinely-appointed leadership of Moses. By God’s power, Moses parted the Red Sea, brought forth water from the rock in the desert, and rained down manna. Despite these greatest of wonders, his spiritual children nonetheless rebelled.
Hence, men should not be surprised when they encounter resistance to God’s established order and their headship within their own household. However, before being enraged by the motes in the eyes of wives and children, men should strive to remove the beam from their own eye (cf. Mt 7:5). It is futile to try and force one’s family to accept the proper order of things when one is himself not properly ordered. In fact, precisely because the man is the head of the family he naturally sets the example for those under his authority to follow.
A man should realize that, in general, his family will reject his authority to the degree with which he himself rejects God’s authority. It is often even to a greater degree on account of our fallen nature. For example, consider how readily children amplify the faults of their parents. If you have long lived a worldly life with disorder in the roots of your interior life and within the fabric of your home, it will be humanly impossible for you to right the ship. I say humanly impossible, but it is not impossible with God’s grace and by His guidance.
When Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, we read in the Bible that the people “rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This is Biblical terminology which means they engaged in sexually deviant behavior and ritual debauchery. They had come out of a pagan culture, and pagan religious rituals were always mixed with impure sexual practices. We need not go into detail here, but it would surely have been a tremendously scandalous scene.
Contrast the two main priests: Moses and Aaron. All things considered, Aaron is certainly viewed as a great personage of the Old Testament. Yet even he, when pressured by the people (cf. Ex 32:1), promoted a false worship and carnal ritualism in carrying out priestly functions with the Golden Calf. On the other hand, Moses is faithful and stoic in his priesthood. He casts out immorality, rebellion and idolatry with a rigorous severity.
What is so different about Aaron and Moses? It is probable that Aaron, a slave, grew up with at least a semblance of the old traditions from Abraham; whereas Moses, a prince, was steeped in Egyptian paganism at the royal court. The difference between the two is that Aaron, although a Hebrew, left Egypt, but Egypt had not left him. Moses, although raised pagan, had spent forty years in the desert before being called to liberate his people. We read that Moses was away from Egypt for “a long time” (Exodus 2:23) and that he finally met the Lord in the “inner parts of the Desert” (Exodus 3:1). The major difference between Moses and Aaron is that not only had Moses left Egypt, but he made sure that Egypt had in fact left his soul.
Just as the Hebrews who went out of Egypt retained many pagan ideas and desires, so too many Catholics cling to the Egypt within their souls. Every step we take towards emptying our hearts of worldly desires, of the world’s false maxims, vanities, and fleeting pleasures, is a step we can then take towards God. Yet, if our heart is filled with love of transitory things there will be no room in it for love of the Eternal.
The Head of the Family Has a Priestly Role
We should, however, not make the error of thinking that Aaron was a ‘kind and understanding’ leader, having compassion for the people’s weaknesses (sin!), whereas Moses was ‘strict and uncaring.’ Aaron actually tries to excuse his grievous sin by blaming the people and speaks as if he had no role in calling for gold and fashioning the idolatrous calf (Ex 32:2-4). Instead he implies that the calf spontaneously emerged from the fire (cf. v 24).
Moses, on the other hand, intercedes for the people and begs God to forgive them. God threatens to wipe them from the face of the earth and Moses pleads for God to have mercy for His own Name’s sake (v. 11-13). Moses then freely offers himself as a reparatory sacrifice to God, accepting the people’s sin as his own! and asking God to punish him instead (cf. v 31-32).
Moses clearly serves as a type for Christ, whereas Aaron acts as type of Adam. These are the two choices constantly before every man: to act like the old Adam or like the New Adam. Do you excuse your own sin and blame those under you, deluding yourself that you are kind and compassionate? Or do you faithfully adhere to God’s ways, accept responsibility for the sins of those under you, and offer yourself as a sacrifice, willingly accepting the just punishments for their sins? Herein we see the mark of a real man who truly serves and leads as head of his family according to God’s right order.
This reality lies at the essence of priesthood: to willingly offer himself in sacrifice on behalf of his people. Every husband and father is called to live thus for his family. Even more so is every Catholic priest ordained for this role; the bishop is called to heroically live this for his diocesan flock; and, above all, the pope ought to exemplify this most perfectly as Christ’s Vicar on earth.
In order to become the domestic priests we are called to be, we need to follow Moses’ example. Yet before we can willingly offer ourselves in reparatory sacrifice, we must spend time in the desert. This means that we need to embrace ascetical practices in an intentional way. With the advent of a New Year, we have the opportunity to take on new challenges and, with God’s grace, form ourselves into men worthy of headship.
If we are to rid our souls of Egypt, and become men fashioned after the model of Moses and Saint Joseph, then we must begin our Exodus from effeminacy immediately. Do not hesitate to challenge yourself! With God’s grace, every man is capable of achieving great virtue and recapturing the proper spiritual and moral headship over himself and his family.
Saint Joseph, Head of the Holy Family, Pray for Us!
 Recall the words from the Last Gospel of the Mass: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (Jn 1:10-11). This opposition of the world to God has been greatly intensified in modern times by our secular, hedonistic, and atheistic society.
 A powerful image for this truth, placed by the Church before our minds at Christmastide, is how there was no room for Mary and Joseph in any inn and so Our Lord came to earth outside the [worldly] city, in a cave deemed fit only for beasts (cf. Lk 2:7).
 These are traditional practices of self-denial and mortification once common in the penitential aspect of the Christian life. Consider fasting, abstinence, praying on your knees, denying yourself legitimate pleasures, and embracing hard physical effort as a way to be more ascetical.