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From the book 'Talks on the Sacramentals' by Msgr Arthur Tonne, Didde Printing Co., Emporia, KS (1950)


"Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it." Psalm 126:1.
Van Meter is just a small town in Iowa, but it boasts one of the finest rural homes in the entire state. It is the home built in 1940 by Bob Feller, pitching ace of the Cleveland Indians. Although Fire-ball Feller was only 22 years old at the time, he already had made enough money to put up a $25,000 home for his father, mother and younger sister.

The building boasts every modern convenience--electrical equipment of all kinds, ventilating and heating systems, venetian blinds, casement windows, plenty of cupboards and drawers, ceiling-high bookcases, and especially an all-metal, all-electric kitchen.

There are gadgets galore, like a floor switch to call the maid, musical chimes, and an electric eye which automatically opens the garage door when a car comes up the driveway.

All these conveniences are for the physical comfort of those who live there. They make house-keeping easier. They save time and energy. Desirable and helpful as such gadgets are, we cannot help thinking that homes would be much more precious if the same effort were taken to provide spiritual helps and spiritual equipment.

From the material standpoint the home of Bob Feller is ideal. What is needed to make a home ideal from the spiritual standpoint? The sacramentals of the home are varied and numerous. They help make home a holy place. They are not essential, but they contribute to spiritual health and vigor. Some of these sacramentals will receive a more complete treatment on other Sundays. How make our homes holy?

1. There are several blessings for a home. One is given on the Epiphany, one on Holy Saturday. There is a common blessing that can be given a home at any time, and another special blessing for a new home. The common blessing includes sprinkling the rooms with holy water, offering several short Bible verses, and reciting an appropriate prayer.

The blessing for a new house begs God to grant to those who live therein "the abundance of the dew of heaven, and food of the fatness of the earth, and let their desires and their prayers find fulfillment in Thy mercy."

2. Of the numerous blessings of individuals we will speak on other Sundays. Let me merely mention them:
a. The Church blesses an expectant mother.
b. She blesses the mother after childbirth.
c. She blesses small children.
d. She has a blessing for an older child.
e. And still another for sick children.

3. Prayers in the home are important sacramentals:
a. Family prayer is the most helpful religious practice in the home. At some time each day parents and children should pray together. Some do this right after the evening meal, right at the table or kneeling beside it.
b. Individual morning and evening prayer should be an everyday practice. Let father and mother give the example and the reminder to their children.
c. Meal prayer should never be omitted. In addition to thanking God for the food and asking His blessing upon it, the meal prayer serves as a point of pause and spiritual refreshment in a busy day. It is good for the body as well as the soul.

4. Let me mention some other family devotions:
a. The Rosary does not take too long. Try it and discover the peace and powerful helps it will bring your family.
b. There are devotions for different seasons of the year; a crib at Christmas; a May altar; Sacred Heart prayers during June.
c. Remembering the feasts of patron saints of the different members of the family in some way, however small, is an inspiring practice.
d. Some little family celebration at spiritual milestones like First Communion, Confirmation, graduation from a Catholic school, is inspiring.

5. Each member of the family should have a prayer-book and a Rosary. Best of all is a missal. Keep these in a respectable place. Both children and adults should have medals, scapulars, Sacred Heart badges, and whatever helps spiritual life at home.

6. A Catholic home is marked with religious furnishings and adornment.
a. There should be a crucifix in every bedroom at least.
b. Somewhere in every home there should be at least one picture of our Lord and of our Blessed Mother.
c. There should be holy water, and, if possible, a holy water fount which is kept clean and filled, and honored with regular, reverent use.
d. There should be blessed candles.
e. There should be all the necessary equipment if a priest is called to bring Holy Communion or to assist the dying.
f. Many homes have a little altar, which serves as the center of family prayer, the meeting place for spiritual practices like the Rosary, May devotions, and Sacred Heart devotions.
Bob Feller's home for his parents and sister may be ideal from the physical and material standpoint. Many a home is ideal from that viewpoint. But all too many homes are poorly equipped, miserably arranged from the spiritual standpoint.

The sacramentals will help to bring the thought of God into your little kingdom of love--your home. Do make yours an ideal home by using the sacramentals of Mother Church. Amen.