Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy feast of the Holy Family!



Pope Benedict XVI has told us, "The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love." Sometimes we may question his wisdom when the kids are acting up and the household seems to be anything but loving! Yet, it is in those very everyday circumstances that we can endeavor to rise to the occasion and to choose love.

We learn that, "The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament" we learn from the Catechism (CCC # 2204).

Pope Paul VI has said, 
“Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel.  Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning.
“And gradually we may even learn to imitate him...“First we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value...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" (January 5, 1964).

The family is such an important "communion of persons." Even so, I think that many times we forget or lose sight of just how important it is. The family is attacked in a variety of ways by our culture and society. It's the mission of the family to defend the sacredness of the family and to bolster its strength through prayer and Christian teaching. As parents, through thick and thin, and throughout all of the many details of family life, we guide our family ever closer to Heaven each day.

Can we endeavor to find some quiet moments in which to immerse our hearts and souls in prayer even amid the busyness of family life? I believe we can do so, but it requires effort and determination to establish times for prayer and pondering. Without our efforts and our seeking God's graces, we might miss opportunities to grow in holiness. 

Even when we are determined to establish regular prayer times and to stick to them, inevitably life itself can get in the way of our efforts. Yet, I firmly believe that our Lord is in control and allows us extra opportunities to pray--perhaps in a way we hadn't planned. So, the child who spiked a fever and suddenly needs our constant attention or the one who is misbehaving and requires immediate correction, and the one who is hurting in some way and needs solace may rearrange our prayer times. But, all of them provide opportunities to pray actively as we tend to the needs in our domestic church. Every instance can bring grace. 

The Church reminds us, "The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father's work of creation. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task" (CCC # 2205).

It might be interesting to consider that God in His Infinite wisdom has specifically chosen each and every member of your family to be together in your domestic church--to grow in faith, hope, and love. Each member, in a myriad of ways helps the others to get to heaven. Yes, it's true! You might want to think about that very fact the next time there's a dispute, a misunderstanding, or even a great joy celebrated. Are we choosing love? Our responses indeed help to transform hearts. Our sacrifices in helping the other truly aid in theirs and our journey to Heaven.

Have you paused to ponder your "missionary task"? As you minister and teach your family you are also affecting society with your exemplary example. Sometimes it is accomplished by the fact that you don't partake in various ungodly pastimes. At other times it is in your reaching out as a family to help the poor and needy that can strike a chord in a neighbor's heart. Your preaching won't necessarily be from the roof tops, but it will occur more than likely one by one--to one soul at a time as you strive to live up to your mission in your domestic church, all the while evangelizing the world too. God has it all figured out. 

Blessed Mother Teresa was very aware of the holiness which dwells in family life and often said, "Love begins at home." We must begin our evangelization in the hearts of our homes. Mother Teresa specifically told me, "...Let us learn to pray and work as Jesus did for 30 years in Nazareth. The life and work; the prayer and sacrifice at Nazareth are so much like what our life should be. That peace, joy and unity that joined the Holy Family together in prayer and work is such a wonderful living example to us. They grew in holiness together. Let us learn from Mary to pray and ask Her to pray that your home will be another Nazareth."

What amazing and poignant words to ponder today. May your home become "another Nazareth" as you pray to grow in holiness together!

Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family today on this first Sunday after Christmas. Our holy pontiff entrusted the work of the bishops to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and recited this prayer:

Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division: may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer.

Amen.

***
Happy feast of the Holy Family!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Catholic Mom's Cafe: What do Catholic Moms really want for Christmas?

Catholic Mom's Cafe: What do Catholic Moms really want for Christmas?: Donna-Marie (in dress on right) with her mother and 4 of her 7 siblings Moms are always thinking of others—not so muc...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Moving closer to the crib

Here's a link to an Advent article I wrote last year but I thought you might enjoy it.

http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/12/donna-marie-cooper-oboyle-moving-closer-to-the-crib/

God bless and happy Advent!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013