On the Feast of the Holy Family

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This is my favorite feast of the year. Maybe I just so love the quiet space at home that is carved by the twelve days of Christmas. (Though last year, these days were not quiet at all. And still, I loved them. Maybe loved them all the more for the celebration.) I think God loves how much I love this feast and the days that always fall around it (that moveable calendar thing, an all).  Gosh, I just wrote "love" a whole bunch of times.

December 29th is the day 40 years ago when a baby cousin opened my eyes to what a gift an infant is to a little family. It's also nine months to the day before our first child's birth. December 29th is when I finished cancer treatments 23 years ago. It's the 13th anniversary of Nicholas' baptism. And, of course, it's Michael's and Kristin's first anniversary. 

December 29th, for me, is a celebration of new life. Maybe, it's just the extreme INFJ in me that takes until 4 days after Christmas and some heavy doses of quiet at home for the whole thing to sink in;-). 

There's a baby! He's God and He came to live in a family and to save us all!

So, here we are on this lovely, glorious, beautiful Feast of the Holy Family. 

Today's scriptures will get a second (and maybe third) reading aloud in this house.  There is Sirach first; lovely, nearly forgotten Sirach:

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

 

And then Colossians, memorized a few years back so that words fall over me like the greeting and consolation of a beloved friend:

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another, 
if one has a grievance against another; 
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love, 
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, 
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, 
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, 
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs 
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, 
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, 
as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, 
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, 
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, 
so they may not become discouraged.

These are living words, my friends. These are the words that underpin our most ordinary of days and these are the words that makes the feasts glorious. 

Think

But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing, some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value—demanding yet redeeming—and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

~Pope Paul VI, from today's Office of Readings

Pray

O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

~today's Collect

Act

Practice saying "excuse me, thank you, I'm sorry" within the walls of your home. Say them often. Say them with meaning. Teach your children to say them.

(more on that from Pope Francis)

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The internet is a formidable force for bringing the comfort and consolation and hope of the Lord to all of us. It can be an incredibily powerful medium for community. There is an unfathomable resource for prayer here. We have on the 'net the privilege of praying for people and of being witness to the miracles brought forth when fervent, faith-filled people pray for one another.

Let's be that community of hope and faith for one another.

How about this idea? What if I pop in here every week, share Sunday's scripture and talk a wee bit about how we can live it and pray it in our homes? And then you tell me how we can pray for you that week? Deal?

{And please, do return and let us know how prayer is bearing fruit.} 

 How can I pray for you this week?

 

And over all of these, put on love. That is the bond of perfection. ;-)