This month of February is dedicated to increasing our devotion to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and to imitating their practice of everyday holiness. The Holy Family lived and loved in a continual atmosphere of love for God and each other. The experience of the Holy Family was one of profound grace and peace that was given by God the Father in and through the human nature of Jesus. This grace was the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives and acts in our homes when we are open to His Divine action - making family life a continual experience of joy and peace. While family life may not have the constant experience of peace found in the Holy Family, families are, nonetheless, called to holiness through receiving and sharing many of the same graces that were present in the life of the Holy Family. The Sacraments of Our Church and a daily life of prayer is the heart of a joyful family life. Families that encounter Jesus through the Sacrament of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, and by prayer together each day will inevitably become a more true reflection of the Holy Family. This is true because Jesus will be made the center and meaning of family life – just as it was for Mary and Joseph. I encourage all of us to make Jesus the center and King of our hearts, homes, family life and parish experiences. This experience begins through daily encounters with Jesus. We are especially called to discover this in our parish family life. With Jesus at the center, through His True Presence in the Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of Confession and by cultivating the habit of daily prayer, we grow toward perfect union with God in Heaven!
This weekend I share with you an excerpt from a talk given by Blessed Paul VI while visiting Nazareth on January 5, 1964:
“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. Here we can learn to realise who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel. How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth. First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. 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 exemplify 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. Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value – demanding yet redeeming – and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves. In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being.”
Through the intercession of the Holy Family and our patron, St. Columbkill, may God bless you, your families and our parishes!
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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