The Feast of the Holy Family is a beautiful way within the Christmas Octave to honor the earthly family to which Jesus belonged. The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph, is a model for ALL Christian families, each called to holiness in their own right.
So how does an ordinary family today model THE Holy Family? Here are five ways, all based on concepts from “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven.”
- Follow God’s Laws Together – The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph were faithful, practicing Jews. The Holy Gospels tell us that Joseph was “a righteous man” (Mt. 1:19) and that Mary called herself “the handmaid of the Lord.” The Holy Family kept Jewish practices, including going to the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52) and raising Jesus according to rabbinical law.
We too are commanded to follow the Law of the Lord. As a family, follow the Ten Commandments and hone in on the areas where you know your family needs to improve (see “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents” for an examination of conscience written for parents!) – particularly, putting God first; honoring the Lord’s Name; keeping Sunday as The Lord’s Day; practicing honesty and chastity; and not coveting your neighbor’s goods.
It also includes following the Precepts of the Church, some of which are based on the Ten Commandments, but all of which are, essentially, the “bare minimum” for Catholics – going to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days; fasting and abstaining on the two required days (fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; abstaining from meat on Fridays, especially during Lent); going to Confession at least once per year; receiving Holy Communion at least once per year; and assist in providing for the material needs of the Church (tithing). Seriously, the bare minimum. Like the Holy Family, let’s strive to do BETTER than the bare minimum by working to give God our BEST.
- Practice the Virtues Together – There is no doubt that the Holy Family practiced virtue. We know that Jesus and Mary were without sin, so that accounts for 2 out of 3 members – and the Litany of St. Joseph calls Joseph, “Chaste Guardian… Diligent Protector… Servant… Minister… most just… most chaste… most prudent… most strong… most obedient… most patient…” and so on.
In our own lives, let’s examine the ways we can grow in virtue – How can we be more patient? Generous? Affable? Obedient? Humble? Charitable? Prudent? And how can we teach our children to do the same?
When we strive to live virtuously as the Holy Family did, we’ll find our own family more closely resembles them too. 🙂
- Serve and Protect Each Other – Mary and St. Joseph were faithful in their duties as parents, and we ought remember to do the same. This should go without saying, but there is a great necessity in today’s age to protect our spouse and children children from the dangers of the world – ESPECIALLY spiritual dangers. We should guard our families with the same urgency as St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother protecting Baby Jesus from Herod’s pursuit.
- Keep Christ at the Center – The Holy Family was the Holy Family because of their relationship to Jesus Christ. Are we keeping Christ at the center of our own families? Praying together as a family? Orienting our lives around God? Living every moment with love of God and in His service?
- Lead Others to Christ – Our primary duty as Catholic spouses/parents is to sanctify our spouse and our children. What we’ll find is how, in our efforts to raise our own holy family, we inspire and encourage other families to do the same. Spend time around other families who are striving for holiness too, and be a light to them. Talk about ways each family can grow. Go to Mass together, and then have fellowship after. Celebrate liturgical feasts. Together, then, we’ll all be able to rejoice together in heaven.
Be assured of our family’s prayers for YOUR family! And if you have any specific prayer intentions, please let us know using the contact form.