The Holy Family: Model of Virtuous Family Life

Holy Family Prayer

In the Catholic Church, the month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. This special devotion honors the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the model of virtue for all Christian households. The family is foundational for Christian life.

Nothing truly can be more salutary or efficacious for Christian families to meditate upon than the example of this Holy Family, which embraces the perfection and completeness of all domestic virtues. Pope Leo XIII

The family is a school of virtue for both parents and children. In family, we find God who is all loving through the love the spouses have for each other and for their children. The family is where love is freely given sacrificially for the good of another. During the International Year of the Family (1994), Saint John Paul II wrote: “The family is indeed more than any other social reality, the place where an individual can exist ‘for himself’ through the sincere gift of self. This is why it remains a social institution that neither can nor should be replaced: it is the ‘sanctuary of life.’”[1]

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National Marriage Week: February 7-14

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World Marriage Week_2020

Each year, February 7-14 is designated as National Marriage Week! This is a great time to reflect on the gift marriage is to our Church and our country, as well as an opportunity for you to build up your own marriage.

This year the theme is: Stories from the Domestic Church. Here are some ways you can focus on your marriage:

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Our Heart’s Desire for Everlasting Love

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Christ on the Cross, Eugène Delacroix, c. 1835

Take a look at these excerpts from once popular song lyrics:

When I’m Sixty-four
When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine…
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four[1]

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
I’d like to know that your love
Is a love I can be sure of
So tell me now and I won’t ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow[2]

Hungry Heart
Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don’t make no difference what nobody says
Ain’t nobody like to be alone…
Everybody’s got a hungry heart[3]

Each of these secular songs echoes a truth inscribed in every human heart. We are made for everlasting love! St. John Paul II explains why:

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Your Wedding Vows Image Christ’s Love

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Friday, we attended the wedding of a dear couple we helped prepare for the Sacrament of Matrimony. The climax of the Nuptial Rite is the recitation of vows. These vows are integral to every Catholic wedding and are steeped with meaning.

In the Marriage Rite of the Catholic Church, the bride and groom are asked these questions:

“Have you come here freely and without reservation…”

“…to give yourself to each other in marriage?

“Will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?

“Will you accept children lovingly from God?”

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Putting Christ at the Center of Your Marriage

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Invite me to the marriage_God

Jesus also was invited to the marriage… John 2:2

Honestly answer the following questions:

Is Christ part of your life but on the fringes of your daily life?

Is Christ just one of many things in your life?

Or is Christ the center of your life?

Making Christ part of your life is not enough. He must occupy the very center of your life and marriage with all other things revolving around Him. In marriage, we are two imperfect and wounded people. At times, we will let each other down. No person can fulfill the deepest longings of our heart for love. Only God can do that. To believe otherwise is to set yourself up for disappointment. Only Jesus can help you find genuine fulfillment in your life and in your marriage.

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The Epiphany of the Lord

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It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” Isaiah 2:2-3

Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphainen, which means “to shine upon,” “to manifest,” or “to make known.” The feast of the Epiphany celebrates how God made Himself known to the world through the mission and divinity of Christ at the Visitation of the Magi (Mt 2:1-12). There are two other epiphanies in Scripture: The Baptism of Jesus (Mk 1:9-11) and the Wedding Feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-11).

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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Theotokos

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. On this the first day of the New Year, the Church honors Mary’s role in the unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation.

For decades, marketers have been using the slogan, “The Gift That Keeps on Giving” to sell products ranging from radios and electric stoves to cameras and magazine subscriptions. But like all the material gifts we received for Christmas, they will either wear out, become obsolete, or get lost.

Today, we celebrate the gift that does keep on giving! This precious gift was given to us by Jesus. It is the gift of Mary, His very own mother, to be our mother, model, and protection until the end of time!

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The Feast of the Holy Family

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The Holy Family, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1650

Each year, on the first Sunday after Christmas, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We are invited to ponder and imitate the love of the Holy Family in our homes and families. Mary and Joseph are models of holy, faithful, obedient, and fruitful love in the rearing of the Christ Child.

St. John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), articulated God’s plan for the family as an “intimate community of life and love.”[1] The Holy Trinity is a divine community of life and love, the intimate community of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph – is an earthly model of this intimate community of life and love, lived in respect, obedience and humility to God the Father and to each other.

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The Light Has Come Into the World!

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Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van Honthorst, c. 1622

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

The light has come into the world! Alleluia! God’s plan from the beginning of time has been to unite us to Him in a communion of love. After the fall of Adam and Eve when they “hid themselves from the Lord God” (Gen 3:8), God put a plan in motion to ardently seek us out and restore us to communion with Him. He went so far as to send His Son into the world so that He would be present among us.

All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:22-23

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Making Room for Jesus

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And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Christmas is only a few days away. During these weeks of Advent, we have been emphasizing the importance of slowing down to spend time with Jesus instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the secular holiday season. Have you made time in your schedule to spend time with Jesus, contemplating His love, mercy, and forgiveness?

Thankfully, it is not too late. During the next couple of days, block out some time to quiet your heart and fix your eyes on Jesus, so that you can experience the wonder and awe of Christmas like never before.

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