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제목 Make Your Family Holy Like the Holy Family (2018-01-07)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2018-01-07



Make Your Family Holy Like the Holy Family (2018-01-07)


 My dear brethren,


The Holy Family is so perfect, that it seems impossible to imitate it. Yet St Paul says: “Be ye the imitators of God, as most dear children, and walk in love as Christ loved us!” (Eph. 5:1-2) So, it is not without great wisdom that holy mother the Church gives us today to contemplate it. Perhaps the best imitation of the Holy Family is found in… religious families: a monastery, a convent, a priestly society certainly imitates Jesus, Mary and Joseph in many more ways than earthly families: they are already somehow heavenly families.

Indeed, in religious families we find a perfect unity of mind in the one true Faith; there we find the unity of heart in the one love of God above all, in the service of God; there we find perfect chastity as in Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and also the counsels of poverty and obedience. There we find a true life of community prayer, based on the psalms and the contemplation of the events of the life of Jesus. There we find a life away from idleness and the search for leisure so common in worldly families: ora et labora – pray and work, this is the basis of the Benedictine rule, and was certainly the rule of the Holy Family.

Perfect family life, it is in a religious family that one can find it. “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me” (Mt. 19:21). Therefore, let us pray for many holy vocations, that will follow the examples of poverty, chastity and obedience of the Holy Family. And let us pray for all the religious families, that they may truly practice all the virtues and especially fraternal charity as it was practiced in the Holy Family.

However, it is also possible to have really good and holy families among married people. But we must first notice that, in order to imitate truly our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy Mother and foster-father, there is need of a certain separation from the world, surely from the worldly spirit. “Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). Now it is most certain that the Charity of the Father dwelt in the Holy Family, and therefore one concludes that there was no worldly love in the Holy Family at all.

That separation from the worldly spirit is not merely in words, nor in intention only, but it is manifested by some concrete decisions. For example, Archbishop Lefebvre recommends avoiding TV: get rid of your TV! The TV is often the epitome of the spirit of the world, with its love of vain things, its lies, its love for external earthly goods, and its contempt for true spiritual goods. Why would you harbour such an enemy within your walls? Why would you keep such an occasion of sin? Get rid of your TV! Archbishop Lefebvre made of this a condition for belonging to the Third Order of the Society of St Pius X. I thank God that my parents never had a TV; it was a choice of my father, and my parents would certainly not have had 3 priests among their children if they had not made that choice. Once you get rid of the TV, you will be amazed how much more time you have available to do things that really matter, especially spiritual readings, or simply spending time with your children.

Separation from the worldly spirit necessarily requires the practice of fidelity in the marriage. St Paul said: “Let marriage honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). There cannot be a holy family where there is no fidelity. And fidelity is prepared by purity before the marriage. Fidelity requires some effort, but its fruits are most beautiful: it is condition required to find the beauty of true love. The Holy Family is model of perfect fidelity, and perfect love.

Now the positive side of a holy family certainly starts with family prayer: indubitably, this was the life of the Holy Family. We can imagine easily St Joseph and Mary singing the psalms alternatively, with their beautiful voices, and the child Jesus joining them as soon as He started to speak. The Angels themselves were in admiration. St Augustine says that the psalms took their full value, their full meaning when they were said by our Lord Jesus Christ. And in fact, on the Cross twice He addressed His Father with the words of a psalm. The singing or simple recitation of the psalms are the core of the “Divine Office”, the community prayer of the priests and religious; it is a good thing for the faithful to say it, though it is not an obligation for them; it may even be difficult for them to pray the psalms without first the study of the Fathers’ explanations. Note on that point that the Novus Ordo recitation of the psalms has suppressed a good number of verses which they do not like: it is not right for them to censure the Holy Ghost. So, if you want to say parts of the Divine Office, I do recommend you using the traditional Ordo, with the uncensored text!

But at the same time as Europe was being really covered by monasteries, the simple faithful took the habit to say 150 Our Fathers, and later 150 Hail Marys instead of the 150 psalms: the Rosary became the “psalter of the faithful”. Blessed are the families that pray the Rosary together! They are under the special protection not only of the Blessed Virgin but of our Lord Himself and of St Joseph. Now the key element of family prayer is its regularity: daily prayer. This is what builds solid habits of virtue. If one does good once in a while, but not regularly, it does not build solid virtues as when one is consistent, and regular in the practice of good. Thus, regularity is more important than the length of prayer. When children are small and it is difficult to keep their attention for the whole Rosary, it is much better to have even a single decade of the Rosary, the whole family together every day, than the whole Rosary once in a while. The parents can easily pray the rest of the Rosary on their own. And when the children grow, let the family prayer grow with them!

Now family prayer must be accompanied by the practice of virtue, especially fraternal charity. An act important of fraternal charity is forgiveness of offenses. Of course, in the Holy Family no one ever offended the others, yet they practiced this virtue in a more eminent way: when the Child Jesus was lost for three days, our Lady and St Joseph could have felt offended, but from their faith in the Divinity of Jesus they refrained from any criticism, and simply asked for the light to understand “why hast thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I were searching for Thee sorrowing” (Lk. 2:48). The very fact to refrain from judging is even in a higher way the fruit of Faith working through Charity. In fact, children should refrain from judging their parents, because there are a lot of things that they do not know. We are too quick to judge and to condemn, and then take offense; if we were much more reserved in our judgements, we would often feel much less offended!

When visiting a family, I saw a good example of forgiveness of sin. At one time it happened that the children were quarrelling; the mother said in a stern way: “Stop!” It was clear, and the children realised immediately that if they would not stop, there would be consequences. So, they stopped quarrelling. But then the mother said: “Good. Now give to one another the kiss of peace!” The children slowly obeyed their mother, gave to one another the kiss of peace, and went on with their game – in a much better spirit. I admired these parents. No punishment was needed: evil had been overcome by good!

There must be discipline in a good family: discipline requires order, order in rooms, order in the timetable, but first of all order in the values: children must see that the parents do put God first in their lives, and His Law is the law of the house. Thus, the sanctification of Sundays, the whole family together, is very important for a good and holy family. One should not say “oh, I pray on my own, I need not come with the others”. The reason why such an attitude is wrong is that the very family bonds are good and a gift from the Goodness of God: therefore one should honour God not just as an individual, but as a member of the family: the whole family together should honour God.

Another important virtue to flourish in holy families is the sanctity of the language, related to the Second Commandment: children should never hear any bad word on their parents’ mouth – and for that parents must forbid themselves any bad word, not only when the children are present, but always. Because if they use bad words somewhere else, it will slip through their mouth also in the presence of their children. But if a child never hears any bad word from their parents, they immediately recognise bad companions by their bad language, and easily stay away from them, which protects them from a lot of trouble and bad example. Thus a holy and clean language in the family is a great means to protect the children from the evils of the world. Contemplate the sanctity of language in the Holy Family, where the Child Jesus was Himself the Word of God! There was certainly not a single offensive word.

Another important virtue in good family is the teaching of good doctrine to the children: Catechism. Parents should be eager to transmit to their children what is their greatest treasure: the true Faith! At the children’s baptism, the priest asked the child’s godparents: “what do you ask of the Church of God?” They answered: “Faith.” The priest continued: “What does Faith offer you?” And they responded: “Eternal life!” This is the value of the true Faith, which we asked from the true Church: it leads us to eternal life. That treasure that the parents received, they must in their turn transmit to their children. They are the first responsible for the good Catholic education of the children.

The great commandment of the family is the fourth Commandment: “Honour thy father and mother!” When the parents themselves honour their own parents, i.e. the grand-parents of the children, they thereby give a beautiful example to their own children of the practice of the fourth commandment: as a fruit of this, their own children will honour them. In particular, when the grand-parents become elderly, let their grown-up children take good care of them, as they would want their own children in the future to take care of them. St Paul reminds us that this “is the first commandment with a promise: that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long lived upon earth” (Eph. 6:2-3). The Child Jesus certainly honoured Mary and Joseph! What a blessing for them! If we are members of Christ, we too ought to honour Mary and Joseph!

It is useful to consider the motive of this commandment: we honour our parents because we received much from them, we received real treasures: we received not only the life of the body and much care in our youth, but also children born in a good Catholic family have received the treasure of Faith from their parents, which is the foundation of eternal life! Thus, when we consider how much we receive from them, we understand that we cannot repay them to equality: there is nothing we can give our parents which is worth our own life! Hence that life-long gratitude which expresses itself in honouring our parents.

The fruit of that good Catholic family life is fraternal charity, which makes of the catholic home a “home-church” according to the words of our Lord: “where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). This was excellently realised in the Holy Family! As such, a good Catholic family is a foretaste of heaven, where “we shall be with Christ for ever” (1 Thess. 4:14). That atmosphere of charity makes that the husband is happy to come back home, the children are happy to come back home, because it is a real “home”, a place of true, pure and faithful love, a foretaste of heaven.

As the best reward of Mary and Joseph was the Child Jesus, so also the best reward of good Catholic parents are their children; often good children surpass their parents in holiness: one can think of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, but also of many other Saints, whose mothers are canonised Saints yet their son is much more famous than they: St Monica, mother of St Augustine; St. Alice, mother of St Bernard; St Celine, mother of St Rémi, the bishop who baptised Clovis. One thinks also of the mother of St John Bosco, Mamma Margarita, and of St Pius X. Parents, be courageous in the good education of your children: they will be your best reward!
 
May the Child Jesus, together with the blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph help all of us in our families to make them really holy families, so that we may all be gathered in God’s family for ever in Heaven! Amen.

Father François Laisney