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Education of the Virgin_Velazquez

The Education of the Virgin, Diego Velázquez, c. 1617-18

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus. Joachim and Anne are not mentioned in Scripture. Everything we know about them has been handed on by tradition. Desiring to have children, Joachim fasted and prayed in the desert for a child. An angel appeared to him and announced that he and Anne would soon have a daughter, who would be world renowned.

As respected members of the Jewish community, Joachim and Anne taught Mary the tenants of the faith. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, Joachim and Anne brought Mary when she was three years old to the temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary remained in the temple to be prepared for the special role God would have her play in salvation history.

The love of Joachim and Anne for one another and for Mary is an example of how God calls us to live in our families, as saints. Like them, we are called to be the first educators of our children in the faith. Within the family, children are raised and formed as human beings. This formation is to be governed by love, a love which places itself “at the service of children to draw forth from them (“e-ducere”) the best that is in them” and which “finds its fullest expression precisely in the task of educating.”[1]

In a reflection on marriage, St. Josemaria Escriva speaks of parents becoming saints through their marriage and the raising of children…

Husband and wife are called to sanctify their married life and to sanctify themselves in it. It would be a serious mistake if they were to exclude family life from their spiritual development. The marriage union, the care and education of children, the effort to provide for the needs of the family as well as for its security and development, the relationships with other persons who make up the community – all these are among the ordinary human situations that Christian couples are called upon to sanctify.

They will achieve this aim by exercising the virtues of faith and hope, facing serenely all the great and small problems which confront any family and persevering in the love and enthusiasm with which they fulfill their duties. In this way they practice the virtue of charity in all things. They learn to smile and forget about themselves in order to pay attention to others. Husband and wife will listen to each other and to their children, showing them that they are really loved and understood. They will forget about the unimportant little frictions that selfishness could magnify out of proportion. They will do lovingly all the small acts of service that make up their daily life together.[2]

St. Josemaria stresses the importance of creating a cheerful home filled with faith and affection…

When I think of Christian homes, I like to imagine them as being full of the light and joy that were in the home of the Holy Family. The message of Christmas is heard in all its forcefulness: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.’ ‘And may the peace of Christ triumph in your hearts,’ writes the Apostle. It is a peace that comes from knowing that our Father God loves us, and that we are made one with Christ. It results from being under the protection of the Virgin, our Lady, and assisted by Saint Joseph. This is the great light that illuminates our lives. In the midst of difficulties and of our own personal failings, it encourages us to keep up our effort.

Every Christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep-rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice.[3]

St. Josemaria says that parents united with Christ will become sowers of peace and joy not only in their families but in the neighborhoods and world in which they live…

Couples should be convinced that they are really and truly called to take part in the fulfillment of God’s plan for the salvation of all men. For this reason, there is perhaps no better model for a Christian couple than that of the Christian families of apostolic times: the centurion Cornelius, who obeyed the will of God and in whose home the Church was made accessible to the gentiles; Aquila and Priscilla, who spread Christianity in Corinth and Ephesus, and who cooperated in the apostolate of Saint Paul; Tabitha, who out of charity attended to the needs of the Christians in Joppe.

And so many other homes and families of Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Romans, in which the preaching of our Lord’s first disciples began to bear fruit – families who lived in union with Christ and who made him known to others; small Christian communities which were centers for the spreading of the Gospel and its message; families no different from other families of those times, but living with a new spirit, which spread to all those who were in contact with them.

This is what the first Christians were, and this is what we have to be: sowers of peace and joy, the peace and joy that Jesus has brought to us.[4]

Model your family on the love, faith, and joy of Saints Joachim and Anne along with that of the Holy Family as you raise your children to be saints!

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us and our families to be the light of faith in the world.

[1] Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, §238; internet: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html (accessed July 25, 2019).

[2] Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, §23; internet: https://stjosemaria.org/novena-for-a-joyful-and-faithful-marriage-2019/ (accessed July 25, 2019).

[3] Ibid., §22.

[4] Ibid., §30.