Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/1/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the deepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus

Jesus spent 30 of his 33 earthly years in Nazareth. Some spiritual writers have called these the 'hidden years', because there is so little written about them in the Gospel narratives. However, they reveal the holiness of ordinary life and show us how it becomes extraordinary for those baptized into Christ. From antiquity the Christian family has rightly been called a domestic church. In our own Christian family we can learn the way of selfless love in the School of Nazareth.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/1/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Family, Marriage, Christian family, Christian marriage, domestic church, holiness, universal call to holiness, Holy Family, prayer, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - During the Octave (eight days) of Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The significance of the Feast unfolds when we come to understand the deeper truths it reveals. It teaches us about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph- and about each one of us and our own families. Through our Baptism, we are invited to live our lives in Christ by living them in the Church - which is the Risen Body of Christ. The Church is the place where we learn, as the Apostle Paul reminded the Colossian Christians, to "put on love, that is, the bond of perfection". (Col. 3:14)

The Gospel of the Liturgy is taken from the presentation of Jesus in the temple account in St. Luke and the beautiful canticle of Zechariah. (Luke 2:22-40) However, upon leaving the temple to return to Nazareth, we read these words: "When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him."  

In a beautiful address on December 28, 2011, at his Wednesday audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the life of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Here is a short excerpt: "The house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the deepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

"The Holy Family is an icon of the domestic Church, which is called to pray together. The family is the first school of prayer where, from their infancy, children learn to perceive God thanks to the teaching and example of their parents. An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. I would, then, like to invite people to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family, following the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth".

The Christian family is the first cell of the whole Church. It is the place where we begin the journey toward holiness and become more fully human. The Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, became one of us. He was born into a human family. That was neither accidental nor incidental. There, in what the late Pope Paul VI called the "School of Nazareth", we can learn the way of love. The late Pope's reflection called "The Example of Nazareth" is in the Office of Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours (the breviary) for the Feast of the Holy family.

Every moment of his time among us Jesus was saving the world, re-creating it from within. To use a word from the early Church Father and Bishop St. Ireneaus, he was "recapitulating" the entire human experience. There, in the holy habitation of Nazareth, He forever transformed family life. Now, He teaches us how to live in His presence, if we will enroll in the "School of Nazareth".

From antiquity the Christian family has rightly been called a "domestic church." In our life within the Christian family Jesus Christ is truly present. However, we need the eyes to see Him at work, the ears to hear His instruction and the hearts to make a place for Him to dwell. In our family we can learn the way of selfless love by enrolling in the School of Nazareth.

Jesus spent 30 of his 33 earthly years in Nazareth. Some spiritual writers have called these the "hidden years", because there is so little written about them in the Gospel narratives. However, they reveal the holiness of ordinary life and show us how it becomes extraordinary for those baptized into Christ.

Every moment of his time among us Jesus was saving, redeeming, and re-creating the world. From his conception, throughout His saving life, death and Resurrection, the One whom scripture calls the "New Adam" was making all things new. The Fathers of the last great Council of the Church put it this way:

"The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. .He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15), is Himself the perfect man.

"To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin" (Gaudium et Spes # 22)

In the holy habitation of Nazareth Jesus transformed family life. Already blessed as God's plan for the whole human race and the first society, the Christian family has been elevated in Christ to a Sacrament, a vehicle of grace and sign of God's presence. The Church proclaims Christian marriage, and the family founded upon it, is a vocation, a response to the call of the Lord. In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we learn the way of love in the School of Nazareth.

The phrase "domestic church" was one of particular fondness to the great Bishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom. It was a framework for the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on Christian marriage and family. Blessed Pope John Paul II developed this teaching in his "Christian family in the Modern World" and his "Letter to the Family". In these writings he invites every Christian family to, using his pregnant phrase, "become what you are", a domestic church.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Joseph and Mary is not only our model, it is the beginning of the new family of the Church. Our Gospel story today tells us of a family trip which is packed with lessons for those enrolled in the School of Nazareth. In and through the ordinary stuff of daily life we find Jesus and in the encounter discover ourselves. Pope Paul VI wrote: "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 learn to realize who Christ really is. . Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning."

We live in Church. We were baptized into the Lord and now live in His Risen Body as members. The Church is a communion, a relationship in Christ. The Christian family is the smallest cell of that Body of Christ. The extended church community is a family of families. This understanding is more than piety--it is sound ecclesiology, solid anthropology...it is reality. Family life is where the "rubber hits the road" for most Christians. It is here where the universal call to holiness, in all its real, earthy, humanness and ordinariness, is first issued. It is here where we learn the way of discipleship.

Family is where progress in the spiritual life can find its raw material. Whether we choose to respond to grace - and develop the eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to accept the hidden invitations to learn to love beneath the surface of that daily "stuff" - is all wrapped up in the mystery of human freedom. Our choices not only affect the world around us, they make us become the people we will become.

St. Paul exhorted the early Christians to "Have this mind among yourselves which was in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself " (Phil. 2:5) The Greek word translated "emptied" in St. Paul's letter to the Philippians is "kenosis."

This word refers to the voluntary pouring out-like water-of oneself in an act of sacrificial love. This "emptying" is the proper response of the love of a Christian for the One who first loved us. It is also the very heart of the vocation of Christian marriage and family.

When the right choices are made in this life of "domestic kenosis", this life of domestic emptying lived in Christian family, we change. We are converted. We cooperate with the Lord's invitation to follow Him by exercising our human freedom; we choose to give ourselves away in love to the "other."

In this life of responding to the Lord's invitations we are gradually transformed into an image, a living icon, of Jesus Christ, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful. This way of holiness is not easy, as anyone who has lived the vocation can attest, but make no mistake; it is a very real path to holiness. It is also a wonderful one.

The challenge lies in the choices we make, daily, hourly, and even moment-by-moment. Two trees still grow in the garden of domestic life. They invite the exercise of our freedom, which is the core of the Image of God within us. There is the tree in Eden where the first Eve said, "No I will not serve." Then, there is the Tree on Calvary where Mary, the "second Eve" stood with the beloved disciple John and, along with him, again proclaimed her "yes".

Through those choices, presented to us from the moment we open our eyes every morning to the time we close them at night, we are invited to learn in the "School of Nazareth" and, in imitation of the Holy Family, become a domestic church. We are invited into a domestic kenosis, learning to love, pray and grow in holiness in the School of Nazareth

St. Paul wrote to the early Christians: "Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection." (Col. 3)

The first school of prayer and practice, the place where we learn this new way of life, is the first cell of the Church, the domestic church of the Christian family.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

Husband and wife, married for 75 years, die in each other's arms Watch

Image of The Toczkos were the children of Polish immigrants, started dating as youngsters. Love and marriage and five children followed afterwards.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Boyfriend and girlfriend from the age of eight, 96-year-old Jeanette Toczko, and her 95-year-old husband, Alexander died in each other's arms a few hours apart. The San Diego couple, who had been married for 75 years, was both in ill health and made their ... continue reading


Gang of teens riot inside Georgia Walmart causing thousands of dollars in damage Watch

Image of The teens pulled a man out of his wheelchair.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Wal-Mart in Georgia was ransacked by a mob led by a teenage boy, now in police custody. Identified as Kharron Green, 17, the boy was caught on video during the Sunday riot inside the Wal-Mart, along with others he refused to identify. Police are searching for Green's ... continue reading


Historically important religious discovery found while family renovates living room Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During an Israeli family's living room renovation, they discovered an ancient ritual bath under the floor. Calling the Israel Antiquities Authority, the bath was identified as a mikveh, which was used by the Jews for their ritual immersions. This suggests there were ... continue reading


4 out of 10 children in the US exposed to abuse and violence last year Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Although some types of violence against children appear to be on a decline, children remain the most victimized sector in the U.S. population, as found by a recent study. Through phone interviews, researchers determined the level of exposure children face on abuse and ... continue reading


Marriage is an Appetizer

Image of

By Bill Donaghy

I was asked not long ago to share what I thought might be the three most powerful thoughts from Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. These three things continually fill me with wonder and awe, and are becoming the tripod on which I stand to view God, life, and ... continue reading


SHOCKING: Woman confesses to killing her EIGHT newborns and hiding the corpses in her home Watch

Image of Dominique Cottrez faces life imprisonment for murdering eight newborn babies.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dominique Cottrez, a 51-year-old French nurse, has confessed to killing her eight newborn babies, fearing they were from her incestuous relationship with her father. During her trial, she revealed the stories of murder she vividly remembers, dubbed the worst ... continue reading


SUPREME COURT RULES GAY 'MARRIAGE' LEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES Watch

Image of

By (CNA/EWTN News)

In a wide-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that same-sex "marriage" is a constitutional right and that states must recognize same-sex unions contracted as marriages in other states. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - By a vote of 5-4, the court ... continue reading


Family terrified to move into dream home after deadly threats made from 'The Watcher' Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A couple is now afraid to move into the house they bought for $1.3 million after receiving threatening letters signed by "The Watcher," three days after they closed the sale. Now, they are suing the previous homeowners for withholding information about the creepy house ... continue reading


'This is how God takes evil and turns it into something wonderful': How one woman's Charleston experience reinforced God's love Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Almost a week has passed since the Charleston church shooting and one mother decided to bring her three young sons to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Kayla Robinson Hall wanted to show her children that despite the terror and pain people ... continue reading


Obama to give eulogy at funeral service of Charleston church shooting victim Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama is confirmed to deliver a eulogy at the funeral of the late South Carolina state senator and pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killed last week, according to the White House. Along with the president, Vice President Joe ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 28:10-22
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:18-26
18 While he was speaking to them, suddenly one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 6th, 2015 Image

St. Maria Goretti
July 6: Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890; her ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter