Infant of Prague Re-visited

So I find myself in Oklahoma at the National Shrine of the Infant of Prague. I have recounted how I was surprised to find myself attracted to the infant. I had never quite made the connection that beneath the dress up baby Jesus doll was a devotion to the child Jesus, and that this was connected with one of my favorite saints, Therese of Lisieux. OK, so the connection was made, and I prayed to the Infant Jesus for a special prayer request which is deep down and personal and by golly, the prayer has been answered amazingly.

Then last week I am in Florida with the eighth graders. We pay a visit to St Augustine Cathedral and after telling the kids about the architecture and murals and windows I let them prowl around the cathedral to light a candle and say their prayers. What a beautiful sight to see so many of them put their camera away and be awestruck by the beauty of the church. So many of them did stop and pray and light a candle, and did so with such a naturalness and lack of embarrassment…boys and girls alike. That in itself was a beautiful thing.

Then I make my way to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and there is a large, beautifully dressed Infant of Prague. I kneel down to pray and start laughing because I think God is laughing at me. The Infant of Prague! For me he was always kind of the extreme of Catholic devotion…a cultural mystery to me and while I never mocked, it is true that I never understood. Then suddenly before this image my experience at the Shrine in Oklahoma sweeps over me again. I can see it all, but can’t put it into words. Just to say that I experienced great joy and a great knowledge of God’s sense of humor. He’s almost saying to me, “Look you silly proud person. I was trying to get through to you all these years, and you didn’t even give me a second thought. I’ve got you at last, and it was through the Infant of Prague…that image and that devotion you looked down on as silly and sentimental and girly. Ha!! Gotcha!!”

It was a precious moment and I got up from my knees with a goofy grin of joy on my face and admitted to myself that I loved the Infant of Prague, that I thought him beautiful and I even liked his fancy outfit. I walked out of the Cathedral thinking about His beautiful embroidered robes and thought to myself…’to be clothed in His righteousness.’ Now wouldn’t that be something?

  • Strength

    Maybe there's hope for me. I have always felt guilty about my aversion to the infant of prague. There is one at the adoration chapel and it just kinda creeps me out. Perhaps next time I'm at the chapel I'll pray for insight into my aversion. Maybe something beautiful will happen to me too.

  • Tina

    Hello Fr. Dwight,My Mom has an Infant of Prague, had it since I was little. I remember praying in front of the statue. I never understood it much either, but I knew it was Jesus…I guess that's all that mattered. Thank you for sharing how Jesus, in the Infant of Prague, has blessed your life! Always mystery…always some way the Lord reaches the innerparts of our soul.God bless you, Fr. Dwight!

  • Mark P. Shea

    Hey! I've been there! Fr. Shane Tharp used to be the pastor!

  • Niall Mor

    My parish is dedicated to the Infant of Prague. Something tells me I should read up on this devotion.

  • Quanah

    Thank you Father, for both of your posts on the Infant of Prague. I am a cradle Catholic, but the Infant of Prague was a devotion that I just didn't get that much. Hmm, maybe our God will continue to laugh and use you to spread devotion to the Infant of Prague.

  • Felix Kong

    thank you father ! I had always tot the whole fancy dress was a tad “too much” – now I can understand: “to be clothed in His righteousness” – oh what an inspired insight!!!!

  • karl Edmond

    Thanks for this Father. I have been researching the infant on the internet trying to understand how it fits into the larger catholic tradition. I am not catholic. I can appreciate from what you said in your post that I probably can’t “get” it apart from humbling myself and contemplating Jesus in the devotion however, why do you guys pray to it and ask the infant to help you. Shouldn’t you be praying to Jesus if that is what the doll represents? I can understand praying to saints but this seems different. If you or anyone else can explain this it would be great.