|Interest in Saint Joseph's Covenant Keepers has been running high.
Excited callers have been asking questions like: "How do we launch
a men's ministry? Where do we begin? Should we start with men's small
groups? What about a regional rally?" These are important
questions, since the long term direction of any movement is often
permanently flavored by its start.
We at St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers strongly recommend that you begin
a local men's ministry by promoting home enthronements of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. How to start a local men's group with men who have led
their families in home enthronements will be the subject of another
article. We will begin planning a national conference for St. Joseph's
Covenant Keepers as soon as it is financially possible. Yet we emphasize
that small groups and national conferences should not be the primary
focus for St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers. The specific purpose of St.
Joseph's Covenant Keepers is to equip and encourage men for their
leadership role within their own families.
An exaggerated individualism coupled with a deficient esteem for the
sacraments has created a low view of the Church in much of the West,
especially in America. With this low view of the Church and
individualistic emphasis, the family is subtly displaced. Why? The
family is the "domestic church." The family is like an icon
reflecting the image of the Church. Those with a low view of the Church
are prone to have a correspondingly low view of the family. Those having
a proper valuation of the Church and her role in the world, will possess
a correspondingly proper emphasis on what Pope John Paul II has called, The
Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World (the title of his
encyclical on the family).
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has repeatedly emphasized that
"the future of the world and of the Church passes through the
family." Why should Christians have such a strong expectation for
the future to pass through the family? The reason is that grace never
destroys nature, but builds upon it. Grace will not bypass nature
(especially the family) in the outworking of redemption. Since the
family is the vital cell of all human society, we should wholeheartedly
expect grace to be exceptionally operative with and through the family.
To maintain a priority of assisting men for service within their
families, we suggest starting your men's apostolate in the family
itself. The men in your parish and community need to realize that there
is something which can occur in their homes that is as significant as
the day when St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers can fill up a football
stadium. That significant something is an enthronement in their home of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
What is a home enthronement? It is a solemn act of a family giving
formal recognition of the loving kingship of Christ over their family.
During the home enthronement ceremony an image or picture of the Sacred
Heart is placed in the most prominent place of the home. By a home
enthronement you are formally recognizing Christ as enthroned over your
family, and your family is consecrating itself to his loving reign. The
emphasis is on extending the social kingship of Christ through his
Sacred Heart reigning in the family, the basic unit of society. This is
not a casual devotion involving just putting a picture on your living
room wall and forgetting about it. This solemn enthronement is to have
ongoing effects as the family attempts to live out the effects of Christ
actively reigning in the home.
Why is the social recognition of Christ's Kingship over the family
important? Jesus Christ is not just Lord of the human heart. He is the
"Lord of Lords and King of Kings." This means that he is the
ruler of civil governments as much as he is the ruler of families and
individuals. Yet Christ's Kingship over public life in the modern world
has gone into total eclipse. God's laws are neglected, scorned, and
rejected by rulers and judges as rivers of blood from the slaughter of
the innocents fill the cup of divine judgment.
The truth of Jesus having a social kingship during this age is a
foreign concept to millions of modern Christians. The majority of
Protestant Fundamentalists and Evangelicals hold to a faulty theological
position called Pre-Millennialism (see Catechism of the Catholic
Church, section 676 and St. Augustine's, City of God, Book
20). While Pre-Millennialism is popularly known for its various
"rapture" doctrines, its cardinal error is its enormous
blunder of missing the kingdom reign in this age. Pre-Millennialism
teaches that the special kingdom reign of Jesus over the nations (that
is, his social kingship) will begin at the second advent. In truth,
Christ's social kingship began with His first advent!
What about Catholics? For too many Catholics the social kingship of
Christ is a foreign concept. The best Catholic summary on Christ's
social kingship is found in the priceless encyclical by Pope Pius XI
entitled, On the Kingship of Christ [Quas Primas].
Although this encyclical was written fairly recently (December 11,
1925), fewer than one in twenty Catholics have ever heard of it and
fewer still have read it.
This encyclical summarizes both the Old Testament and the New
Testament teaching on the kingship of Christ. The summary concludes by
saying, It was surely right, then, in view of the common teaching of
the sacred books, that the Catholic Church...is the kingdom of Christ on
earth. Wow! How many modern Catholics realize that Christ is not
only king during this age, but that the Catholic Church is the visible
expression of his kingdom?
Pope Pius XI states in Quas Primas: it is a dogma of faith that
Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as our Redeemer, but also as a
lawgiver, to whom obedience is due...It would be a grave error, on the
other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil
affairs...Nor is there any difference in this matter between the
individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether
individually or collectively, are under the dominion of Christ.
What are the social consequences of the social kingship of Christ
going into eclipse? Quas Primas continues, ...men and nations cut off
from God are stirring up strife and discord and hurrying along the road
to ruin and death... The result is that human society is tottering to
its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation...the
unity and stability of the family is undermined.
What is the way to restore the social kingship of Christ? Pope Pius
XI first established the feast of Christ the King. He also recommended
Eucharistic exposition and processions and finally home/national
enthronements. <The kingship and empire of Christ have been
recognized in the pious custom, practiced by many families, of
dedicating themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; not only families;
but nations too, have performed the act of this dedication (Quas Primas).
It may be a long time until the nations regain their sanity and again
recognize the social kingship of Christ. Does this mean that the social
kingship is to remain in eclipse until then? Not at all. Remember that
the family is the most basic cell of society. The way to maintain and to
rebuild the social recognition of the kingship of Christ is through the
family. Christ's Kingdom conquers not by bombs and tanks, but with the
power of his merciful love conquering the world one family at a time.
The practical and visible effects of Christ showering his love upon the
families under his rule will be a beacon of light and hope to other
The prophet Malachi highlights the role of fathers in the renewal of
the faith, the family, and society (Malachi 4:6). Fathers frequently do
not assume their role as described by Malachi without some specific
support. There is an overlooked need for fathers to have a recognized
religious role as the spiritual leader of the family.
Fathering does not come to men as automatically as mothering does to
women. Due to the marginality of males in the reproductive process,
fathering is a cultural acquisition to an extent that mothering is not.
Hence, when a culture ceases to support a father 's involvement with his
own children (through its laws, mores, symbols, models, rituals)
powerful natural forces take over in favor of the mother-alone family
[Biblical Faith and Fathering by John W. Miller, p. 13]. Fathers
need home-based spiritual traditions to nourish their role as spiritual
In the Old Testament, the father had an important home leadership
role in the practice of the faith, such as leading the Passover
celebration in the home. How can Christian men recover a significant
leadership spiritual role in the home today? Look no further than
encouraging a father to lead his family in a solemn home enthronement
and annual renewals of that enthronement.
In addition to encouraging fathers to exercise their spiritual
leadership, home enthronements provide a necessary check for the abuse
of spiritual leadership. Since the fall into original sin, men have been
prone to abuse their role of being the servant leader of a family by
becoming domestic tyrants. Some erroneously assume that the cure for
domestic tyranny is to eradicate the God-given authority structure of
the family. This fatal-to-the-family "cure" misdiagnoses the
cause of domestic tyranny. Abusive leadership by husbands and fathers
grows in the void left by the abandonment of Lordship. By visibly and
formally recognizing Christ as Lord of the family, a father places his
authority in the service of Christ. Domestic tyranny is displaced under
the merciful reign of Christ's Sacred Heart.
This article just begins to cover the importance and the blessings
that accompany fathers leading their families in home enthronements of
the Sacred Heart. But we hope to convince you that this is the place to
begin building your men's apostolate. We suggest you start with a
twice-a-year home enthronement campaign. Spend time in education and
preparation culminating in enthronements either on the Feast of the
Sacred Heart in June, or on he Feast of Christ the King in November.
There are many more complicated, expensive, and even exciting ways to
begin a men's apostolate, but none are more lasting and effective.
The day is past when a lukewarm and middle-of-the-road Christian
commitment is adequate for the survival of the faith or the family.
Joshua, one of the great leaders of God's people in the Old Testament,
challenged the Israelites to make a deliberate choice to follow God in
faith, love, and obedience. Despite what was happening in the wider
culture, Joshua knew what was going to happen in his family because he
committed them to God's rule. The challenging words of this father in
the Old Testament need to be reverberated across the centuries to
... Choose this day whom you will serve...As for me and my
house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
4 Steps to Begin a Men's Apostolate
Step 1. Organize, promote, and prepare men to lead their families in
home enthronements. Start your men's apostolate within the family
Step 2. From among those men who have led their families in home
enthronements begin to form small groups to further assist these men to
live out the effects of their enthronement.
Step 3. Encourage group subscriptions to SJCK so that men receive at
their home continued encouragement and equipping for their families.
Step 4. Consider sponsoring a parish, or regional, St. Joseph's
Covenant Keepers conference.