More Honor = More Blessings

10-04-2015Weekly ReflectionFr. Brian Jazdzewski

Within the ruins of Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague, Czech Republic, Fr. Cyril recovered what remained of the infant Jesus statue which was given to the Carmelites who were the caretakers of that church. The year was 1638. The statue of the infant Jesus had a broken hand; and, determined, Fr. Cyril was somehow going to restore the statue to its original beauty. So, he did what most of us do when we face a challenge, he prayed. After some days, a message became quite clear to Fr. Cyril; a message from Jesus. “The more you honor me, the more I will bless you.”

Needless to say, Fr. Cyril continued to deepen his love for Jesus, especially the image of the infant Jesus, and favors were granted to his life which not only aided Fr. Cyril to grow in holiness, there were also talented and resourceful people who arrived at Our Lady of Victory Church who would be able to restore the statue of the infant Jesus to its original beautiful state. The image here, of course, is the image of the Infant Jesus of Prague, more commonly known as the Infant of Prague. The image is a popular one, and even adorns some of our local churches, including the Church of Saint Lawrence in Alma.

So, to highlight another statue, this one in many churches, including the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Fountain City, is St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony is often depicted with the infant Jesus in his arms because he had deep devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague. Somehow, even before Fr. Cyril’s divine messages, St. Anthony, who died in 1231, developed a great love for the infant Jesus. St. Anthony understood that the more he honored Jesus, the more Jesus would bless him. St. Anthony, like many saints, had a life with measurable hardships. He had periods of serious illness, he had faced rejection from his superiors and the people he served, he even had to travel to foreign lands in an effort to discover God’s plan for his life. Despite all of that, St. Anthony remained faithful. That faithfulness was rewarded later in life when he was asked by no one other than St. Francis himself to be the principle preacher and teacher in Italy.

Highlighting these two images gives us pause to consider our approach to Jesus. Sometimes approaching Him may seem a challenge because of the strong impact our Lord had while he walked and talked on this planet. So, perhaps, we ought to consider minding the example of St. Anthony and Fr. Cyril and approach Jesus in his infant form. Quite clearly, when most of us see an infant we are drawn to at least look at them, perhaps touch them and maybe even find ourselves making faces and sounds to invite a response from the infant. We just cannot help ourselves. The Infant Child of Prague ought to invite just that type of response from us. We need to approach Jesus, no matter how we imagine Him, and honestly beg for spiritual favors in our lives. These prayers may be for personal intentions or intentions for people in our nation or around the world. We just cannot imagine how our deep honoring of Jesus will evoke more blessings into our lives.

So, to draw some conclusion, and at the risk of introducing yet another member of our family, we use the month of October to honor our Blessed mother. Sometimes honoring Mary brings questions from our non-Catholic brothers and sisters. And yet, we know that she will always take us to Jesus; not herself. So whether we honor Mary, or we honor Jesus, we are promised the same response which the Infant Jesus shared with Fr. Cyril, the more we honor Jesus, the more He will bless us. While we take some extra time during October and beyond to honor Mary, consider these words of St. Maximilian Kolbe: Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.

~Fr. Brian