According to St. John Paul II, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” Families are a microcosm of society. The breakdown of the family unit is the greatest tragedy of our lifetime.
Living with other people is challenging.
Raising children is a full-time job. It’s an underappreciated and exhausting job. There is no parent manual. Too many unique circumstances exist for a clear-cut black and white rulebook. Right?!
While the details of parenthood can be debatable, there is a blueprint to raising a family with grace and love. This model is found by examining the Holy Family! Jesus. Mary. Joseph.
An analysis of Scripture and Traditional Catholic teaching will show us that the Holy Family’s love, obedience to God’s will, humility, and patience give you an example of how to foster meaningful and lasting relationships with your friends, spouses, children, and neighbors.
Model for the Family
In his Angelus on December 31st, 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared, “The Holy Family of Nazareth is truly the “prototype” of every Christian family which, united in the Sacrament of Marriage and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, is called to carry out the wonderful vocation and mission of being the living cell not only of society but also of the Church, a sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race.
Jesus displayed obedience to his parents. This truth is shown in the tradition of the Catholic Church. The opening Antiphon in the Divine Office for the Feast of the Holy Family is “Come let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who was obedient to Joseph and Mary.” Simple yet profound!
Imagine being God and still able to submit yourself to the authority of your father and mother.
Silence leads to sanctity
Guess how many words of St. Joseph did the Evangelists record in the Gospels? If you guessed a whopping ZERO than you are correct my friend! Though included in the key infancy and adolescent scenes of Jesus’ life the foster father of our Lord said nothing!
The adage “actions speaks louder than words” applies more directly to St. Joseph than arguably any other person in history– as we can only analyze his actions. Cardinal Robert Sarah in The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise plainly stated, “Man must make a choice: God or nothing, silence or noise.” Using Sarah’s logic Joseph not only clearly, but overwhelmingly chose God!
Joseph’s ability to heed the Angel’s message to flee the wrath of King Herod demonstrates a complete trust and dependence on God. The noise of life yanks me in different directions– all away from God. Looking to the silent saint as a role model helps to remind me of the importance of asking the Lord for help.
St. Joseph provides the ideal for what it means to be a kind and loving father and man. More than ever this world needs strong men to be role models for their families and communities.
Humility overcomes Hubris
According to St. Louis de Montfort, “The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary.” Mary is honored because of her humility and obedience to the will of God. Her YES to God’s plan was the pathway by which Jesus entered our world.
Like St. Joseph, Mary’s trust in God was evident in her obedience, despite the unique circumstances the Holy Family was in.
Due to Original Sin, humanity suffers a fractured relationship with God. The Mystery of the Incarnation involved God becoming man in the Person of Jesus Christ. Divine Love selected Joseph of Nazareth to be the legal and foster father of Jesus Christ and protector of Mary. Mary was chosen to be the mother of the Son of God.
St. John Paul II closed his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio by saying, “I entrust each family to Him, to Mary, and to Joseph.”
May all men reflect upon the silent, humble, and diligent example of the Holy Family. Come Holy Spirit grant us opportunities to be holier versions of ourselves!
In sacred scripture, we read that man was created he had a perfect relationship with God. Man is the pinnacle of creation. God gave man everything.
In return the Lord asked man not to each of one tree in the garden. Man did not listen, rebelled, and had to face the consequences of sin for the first time.
The sin of our first parents also applies to us. We all have sinned, and the penalty for that sin is death. Saint Paul had the same opinion in Romans 6:23 which states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. However, the second person of the blessed Trinity, Jesus himself became incarnate to atone and redeem us from our sin.
Incarnation—Bridge from us to God
The Incarnation was needed because we could not atone for our sin on our own. Only someone who was perfect, and without sin could do that. As I write this it is the final days of Advent.
The time of preparation for the birth of Christ is soon coming to an end. Soon we will be celebrating his glorious birth. The second person of the Trinity loving us so much that He became man. He lived as we did with hunger, fear, betrayal, and even death.
Hebrews 4:15 sums this idea up perfectly when the inspired author writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”
This far we have seen that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, but this doesn’t completely answer who he is. Who He is the ultimate gift that we experience this time of year.
Identity of Jesus
So who is Jesus? This question goes back to some of the greatest controversies in the early church.
There were some, such as the Arians, who tried to explain Jesus as being the first thing created. The problem here is that Jesus, as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, has always existed. There are many verses that show this and John 1:1 is one example. That passage of scripture states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
He always was, yet he took the form of a man, and was born in the humblest of conditions. In our society we have been conditioned to view the manger scene in a very sanitized way. That manger that the divine Son of God was laid in after his birth was a food trough used for livestock!
The creator of the universe became a man because he wants us to live. His love for us is that immense. In the letter to the Philippians St. Paul writes, “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness and found human in appearance he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).
Fully Man and Fully God
While on Earth he did not appear as a man, nor was He a spirit that possessed man until the point of the crucifixion as the Docetists and Gnostics would say. From the time of His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary he was both fully God and fully man. This was stated by many church fathers, declared at the Council of Nicea, and at the Council of Chalcedon this became known as the Hypostatic Union. Jesus was not either or, but He has BOTH a human nature AND a divine nature.
That is why the Incarnation is so amazing, and to be perfectly honest this barely scratches the surface. As you gather with your families over the next few weeks and exchange gifts and hugs may we remember the ultimate gift. That ultimate gift is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. The second person of the Blessed Trinity, who became man, and experienced everything that we did but was without sin. He died as the perfect offering for our sin because He loves us that much and he thinks that we are worth being with for eternity!
About our guest blogger:
William is aconvert to the Catholic faith. Before entering the churchhewas ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary. William liveswith his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults. Check out hiswebsite/blog atwilliamhemsworth.comfor more great and informativeCatholic content!
My wife and I completed an intense bout of pre-spring cleaning (it was a mere 2 days before the official start of spring J) this past weekend. That coupled with a reference to avoiding desolation and clearing our soul from the “dustiness” of a dry spiritual life during my weekly parish men’s group influenced the title of this post and inspired me to write today.
I am a neat freak. In fact, one of the major three tenets my blog is based on is organization. I am passionate about decluttering, sorting, and cleaning dusty crevices in my house. Yet, when it comes to the spiritual life, why do I occasionally lack the same fervor that I have cleaning my physical house?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 797,
“What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”243 “To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members.”244 The Holy Spirit makes the Church “the temple of the living God”.
The Cleansing Power of the Holy Spirit
This imagery of the Holy Spirt being housed in the church is not new. St. Paul clearly states this in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 6:16 to name just a couple verses. However, it was through the intercession of St. Teresa of Avila’s writing that I especially encountered this truth recently.
She begins her greatest work, Interior Castle, with the following divinely inspired words, “ I thought of the soul as resembling a castle, formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal and containing many rooms, just as in heaven there are many mansions.”
Teresa’s description of the soul is easy for me to understand yet at the same time illustrates the complexity of our human condition.
Throughout the Interior Castle the doctor of the Church takes readers on a spiritual journey by examining how in navigating through the castle of our soul we are able to grow in closer union with God.
Without a thorough examination of oneself and spiritual guidance we are not able to recognize the graces God grants us daily and gives ways for us to clear out the “dustiness” of our soul. Just like how my home needs frequent seasonal cleanings, the Church in Her wisdom has seasonal cleanings as well for us to grow in holiness.
My goal is to take a few minutes each week to reflect on St. Teresa of Avila’s words in Interior Castle. I hope you all prayerfully consider to join me in this journey and cleanse your own soul of the “dustiness” of sin and temptation.