To look at the life and example of the Holy Family is both inspiring and daunting. Joseph, Mary and Jesus show us how we are to live as a family – selflessly, humbly, obediently – with God and His Will being top priority – the only priority in comparison to other responsibilities. This can be so difficult, especially in today’s hedonistic world.
Sometimes, when I think of the Holy Family’s example, I become discouraged. When I’m tired and bark at my children, or when I put my own wants before my husband’s, I think, “Wow I really messed up. This is not how Mary would have behaved.” Fortunately, however, when we inevitably mess up, the Holy Family is there to support us – to give us grace to do better. All we have to do is ask for their intercession. I do it a lot!
The pope has declared this the “Year of Faith.” Faith is definitely something that will help all our families to grow stronger. How do we grow in faith? First of all, faith is a gift from God. In order to be gifted with more faith, we should start by asking our Heavenly Father for an increase in this virtue. Then we should do things as a family that support the growth of that virtue in our homes – praying together, discussing our faith, attending mass as a family, watching faith-filled movies or listening to faith-filled music, reading about the saints and celebrating feast days together in creative ways…
Here are some of Pope Benedict XVI’s quotes on family:
The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love.
The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place.
The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples… To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all.
Together with passing on the faith and the love of God, one of the greatest responsibilities of families is that of training free and responsible persons… If children see that their parents – and, more generally, all the adults around them – live life with joy and enthusiasm, despite all difficulties, they will themselves develop that profound “joy of life” which can help them to overcome wisely the inevitable obstacles and problems which are part of life. Furthermore, when families are not closed in on themselves, children come to learn that every person is worthy of love, and that there is a basic, universal brotherhood which embraces every human being.
Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected. Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats.
Prayer for families on this special feast of the Holy Family:
O God, who in the Holy Family
left us a perfect model of family life
lived in faith and obedience to your will.
Help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments.
Help us in our mission of transmitting the faith that we received from our parents.
Open the hearts of our children
so that the seed of faith, which they received in Baptism, will grow in them.
Strength the faith of our young people,
that they may grow in knowledge of Jesus.
Increase love and faithfulness in all marriages,
especially those going through times of suffering or difficulty.
United to Joseph and Mary,
we ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.