October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

Photo by Getty Images, Illustration by Grace Tamburro

October 7 is the First Friday of the month, traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This month, October 7 is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart stresses her maternal love for each one of us. Make a special effort to honor the Two Hearts by praying the rosary that day. And, as the entire month of October is dedicated to the rosary, let us remember the old phrase, “The family that prays together, stays together.” When was the last time your family prayed the rosary at home? By doing so you sanctify the home, praying the rosary in the “Domestic Church.” While I typically pick different grottoes in the diocese in which to pray the rosary and invite everyone to join me, the more impressive thing is to pray the rosary at home with your family members. Please plan to pray the rosary together as a family and build up and sanctify family life.

Additionally, October is Respect Life Month. Please find all the different ways to celebrate Life as a family by focusing on these resources and various life issues found here: https://www.respectlife.org/respect-life-month.

In the September issue of Legatus magazine, the president, Steven M. Henley, highlighted the family as the most important “school,” long before the kids put on their backpacks and leave the home to go to school. In that sense, we recall the words of blessing the parents at the end of the baptismal ritual, reminding the parents that they are the “first teachers of their children in the ways of faith.” Given that mandate, then there is no such thing as vacation from the school that is the home. Pope Francis echoed those words in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers, fraternity of the human family), families are called to a primary and vital mission of education. Therefore, it is not enough just to send them to religion classes or to a Catholic school. The transmission of the faith belongs to the parents. And as the article brings out so well, “school should be in session all year long in our home.” Hopefully it is at home where parents teach their children the 10 Commandments, long before they hear about it in a religion class. Hopefully it is at home where parents teach their children to make the sign of the cross, along with the basic prayers, long before they hear it in a religion class. Hopefully it is at home where parents teach their children the importance of Sunday Mass, whether on vacation, traveling to another city for a sports tournament, and making the Mass a priority on a busy weekend. The school of faith is always in session. There’s no vacation—no fall or spring breaks. The school of faith is always in session!

We are well into the new academic year. Pens, pencils, notebooks, book bags, and other items necessary for a good learning environment are currently in use. What about the rosary, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, or the Litany of the Blessed Mother? These are the items that we use at home, in the school of faith. “The family that prays together stays together.”


In paragraph 2013 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, regarding Christian holiness, it is stated, “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullest of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness.” I have heard that quote many times and it is beautiful, reminding us that regardless of our state in life: single, married, ordained or vowed, we are all called to holiness. Holiness is not just for a few. However, what you don’t hear quoted as often is paragraph 2015, “The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.” Who wants to hear about renunciation and battle? Well, that is how you make spiritual progress. There are many people struggling with sexual issues such as pornography or same-sex attraction who are looking for help in leading a chaste life. Yes, they too are called to holiness! That is good news! It is not an unrealistic expectation. The Lord doesn’t call us to holiness and then not give us the ability to achieve. It can be difficult and that is why it requires renunciation and spiritual battle. And, in 1980 the first Courage group met in New York City to pursue the five goals of chastity, prayer, and dedication, fellowship, support, and a good example. In my next column, I will explain more fully the five goals of courage and also explain “Encourage,” a ministry dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents and friends of those who identify as LGBTQ+.


Heavenly Blessings Flow Upon the Humble

Heavenly Blessings Flow Upon the Humble


The readings from this reflection: 2Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; 2Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

Naaman Healed in the Jordan River (Getty Images)

It is an exciting story in the fifth chapter of Second Kings: the healing of leper Naaman. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, was sent to prophet Elisha—who started his ministry with “double portion anointing” (2 Kg. 2, 9.15).

Though the biblical meaning of the name Naaman is “pleasant,” his response to the prophet’s message was not pleasant and so he resisted the prophecy. The problem with this commander was, he had already planned how God should act and intervene in his life. So the first lesson we learn from this is, never approach God with our own plans. God has his own plans for us and he will meet us where we are.

Naaman yielded to the reasoning of his servants, because those servants spoke some sense into him. Let us keep in mind that wisdom comes not only from people of high profile, but also from those whom we consider as illiterate or ordinary people.

“Elisha sent him the message: Go and wash seven times in Jordan …” Simple acts with faith and obedience to God’s will produce great results. “Naaman went down and plunged into Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God.” The result was astounding, even beyond his wildest dreams: “His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy.” In my experience, I have witnessed that traditional and simple prayers have brought great results; confession, with a true contrite heart, led to the healing of mind and body; prayer of praising and thanksgiving, gave peace of mind. Despite being an outstanding warrior and commander of the army, Naaman was a leper. No matter how powerful, influential, and wealthy we are, keep in mind we are vulnerable. We receive heavenly blessings when we humble ourselves and obey the Lord.

Naaman asked the prophet’s permission to “have two mule-loads of earth.” It was a thoughtful reminder of the ‘holy ground’ where he felt and experienced the Holy and Mighty One of Israel. He wanted to cherish that experience for the rest of his life. We have to go out of the church not with the weight of the soil, but with the ‘light’ of Jesus having him in our heart. The healing led Naaman to a change in his belief; it convinced him that the God of Elisha, the prophet, is the true God. Certain experiences either good or bad happen in our lives, to deepen our faith in the Lord.


In today’s Gospel, too, we see healing of lepers. The cleansing of the lepers was an identifying marker of Messianic era: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: … the lepers are cleansed” (Luke 7, 22).

The healing of the lepers takes place step by step: crying out from a distance, believing in Jesus’ words, healing on their way to show themselves to the priests, returning to Jesus praising God, and prostrating at the feet of Jesus.

Those 10 lepers were people of simple faith: they simply believed in the words of Jesus who said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” They did not have any demand that Jesus should touch them or show some signs contrary to Naaman the leper.

A traditional believer may take everything for granted and may be spiritually deaf. The Samaritan, an outsider, was more responsive. A longtime member of a parish may not be the most spiritually-mature and deep in faith.

The 10 lepers “raised their voices” and asked for Jesus’ mercy. Jesus responded. Only one “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice.” Our prayer of thanksgiving should be as loud as our clamoring requests.

We have to acknowledge everything that we receive from the Lord. Let us be like the Samaritan who returned to thank the Lord.

Father Thekkanath is the Pastor of St. John Parish, Leopold, MO, and St. Anthony Mission Church, in Glennon, MO