Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/29/2013 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We can learn the meaning and mystery of this beautiful Feast and apply it to our own family life - the path to holiness is found in living our ordinary family life with the Lord Jesus at the center of it all

Family is where progress in the Christian life, the way of ordinary holiness, 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.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/29/2013 (8 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Holy Family, marriage, marriage and family, holiness, domestic church, spousal, true marriage, contemplation, Nazareth, Pope Paul VI, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, domestic church, 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 becomes much more meaningful when we consider the deeper truths it reveals. Yes, it teaches us about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. But it also speaks to each one of us how to live differently in our own families, make Jesus Christ the center of our life together.

Through our Baptism, we are invited to live our lives in Jesus Christ by living them in the Church - which is the Risen Body of Christ, continuing His redemptive mission. 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 Church, as sacrament and sign,mediates and reveals the Lord's life to us, in the Word proclaimed and the Sacraments communicated. jesus has been raised from the dead. The head and the Body cannot be separated. He continues his ministry through His Church. As the Catechism states with such simplicity and profundity "The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men." (CCC# 780)

The Gospel of Holy Mass today is taken from Cycle A, the second chapter of Matthew (Mt. 2:13-15, 19-23). It tells of the journey of the Holy family to Nazareth when, after being warned in a dream by an angel, Joseph, the Guardian of the Redeemer and Husband of Mary, steered them away from threat of Herod and to the town where the child would be raised and fulfill another of the ancient prophecies, He shall be called a Nazorean.

Our Sunday liturgical readings on Sunday in the Roman Rite rotate over a three year sequence. In other years we have heard the presentation of Jesus in the temple account in St. Luke and the beautiful canticle of Zechariah. (Luke 2:22-40) Upon the Holy Family leaving the temple to return to Nazareth, we heard 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.  

All of the accounts, in each year, point us to Nazareth and the profound truth of what occurred there. Yet, it is Luke who offers that profoundly important insight into the life of the supernaturally natural life of the Holy Family. There, in Nazareth, the Holy family lived a Holy life, precisely because Jesus was at the center of it all.

We can learn the meaning and mystery of this beautiful Feast and apply it to our own family life. The path to our own holiness is found in living our ordinary family life with the Lord Jesus at the center of it all.  It becomes naturally supernatural.

In a beautiful address on December 28, 2011, at a Wednesday audience, Pope Emeritus 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 Christian Church. It is the place where we begin the journey toward holiness and learn to 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 daily family life. Already blessed as God's plan for the whole human race and the first society, marriage and the Christian family has been elevated in Christ to a Sacrament, a vehicle of grace and a 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 and 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 Christian life, the way of ordinary holiness, 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, and find ourselves made new.

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 Emeritus 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 that Tree on Calvary where Mary, the Second Eve, as the early Church Fathers called her, 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. Happy Feast of the Holy Family.

---


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


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More U.S.

Why I Said No to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Deadly Watch

Image of I was approached to take the Ice Bucket Challenge to help bring an end to ALS. I said No. I have tried to explain why I said No in this article. I hope it is a helpful contribution in our public discussion. As a Christian, it is never easy to be seen as seemingly unwilling to support a noble cause such as the eradication of a debilitating disease. However, it is vital that we stand for for the fundamental and foundational moral truth which underlies every effort to end disease, the dignity of every human person, including embryonic human persons.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I was approached to take the Ice Bucket Challenge to help bring an end to ALS. I said No. I have tried to explain why I said No in this article. I hope it is a helpful contribution in our public discussion. As a Christian, it is never easy to be seen as seemingly ... continue reading


Toward a Christian Vision of Human Work On Labor Day Watch

Image of Christians need to bear witness in the real world to the true value, purpose, meaning and dignity of all human work - just as we bear witness to the inherent value and dignity of every human worker. This is a vital part of our witness to an age which has lost its way.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Adam and Eve worked in the garden and it brought them great joy. For the Christian, work is meant to become a participation in the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus, and His ongoing work. Jesus viewed his entire life and mission as work. He was always doing ... continue reading


American Islamic terrorist Fort Hood shooter requests to join Islamic State as a 'citizen' Watch

Image of Nadal Hasan, the man who killed 13 people during a rampage at Fort Hood in 2009, has written a letter to the Islamic State asking to join the terrorist organization as a citizen.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. Army psychiatrist, Nadal Hasan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood back in November 2009 has written a letter to the leader of the Islamic State, asking to become a citizen of the Islamic State's caliphate, an attorney of Husan reported on August 28. LOS ... continue reading


St Augustine on a Personal Relationship with Jesus Watch

Image of St Augustine

By Deacon Keith Fournier

But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we ... continue reading


SHAKEN WINE: Strong earthquake jolts California's wine region Watch

Image of The weekend's temblor was felt widely throughout the region, from more than 200 miles south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rumbled through the early Sunday morning hours in the heart of California's wine country. The epicenter was near the city of Napa in the Golden State's north. Fires erupted in a mobile home park where four homes were destroyed and two ... continue reading


Money is NOT the Root of Evil: Living Simplicity Watch

Image of Simplicity is not about the quantity of the goods of the earth we possess. It is about our relationship to them. Jesus said - Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21).

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Learning to live in evangelical Simplicity strips away what impedes love. In finding our proper relationship to the goods of the earth- not rejecting them, craving them, or turning them into an idol- we can learn true freedom. Our eyes are opened and everything begins ... continue reading


Is Transgenderism a Mental Disorder or a Right? Watch

Image of Pope Emeritus Benedict was absolutely correct when he said, - the profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. - Gender is a gift. It is also a given. The dangers of the Gender Identity Movement are becoming increasingly clear.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In a culture where freedom has been redefined as a right to choose anything and liberty has degenerated into license, the newspeak of the age has declared the instrumental use of the body of another to be sexual freedom. It is not freedom. It turns people into ... continue reading


WORST YET TO COME? Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen,' Pentagon says Watch

Image of IS is

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has been keeping very close watch on the atrocities being committed by Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, and according to a top government official - the worst is yet to come. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the sophistication, ... continue reading


Lawsuit dropped against devil worshiper in Oklahoma Watch

Image of Lawyers representing Archbishop Paul Coakley had earlier demanded the return of a communion wafer obtained by the group.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The leader of a satanic group in Oklahoma City had threatened that he and his followers would defile a consecrated communion wafer as an offering to Satan as a carnal sacrifice at a "Black Mass" ceremony inside Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall. The ... continue reading


Should Americans have job preference over unskilled-illegal immigrants? President Obama doesn't think so Watch

Image of New polls are showing that Americans are tired of illegal immigrants getting benefits at the expense of citizens and legal immigrants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to the Associated Press: "one of the more popular requests among business and family groups is a change in the way green cards are counted," which would "essentially free up some 800,000 additional visas the first year." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... 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