I cannot think of any other institution, besides the Catholic Church, that gives so much weight to the traditional concept of family as to dedicate a whole Sunday to it. My dear friends in Christ, in case you have not noticed, let me tell you that we are living in a situation of dire emergency on many fronts and for many reasons.
Bullied and shamed by the emissaries of the secular world, many who believe in the traditional family are under attack. It has been so for several decades now, and for that simple reason, the weakest among us, have been sliding downhill into relativism, moral haziness and blurred boundaries between what is of substance and what is passing. In this environment what are being lost are the values designed to give us a sense of direction, sound judgment and purpose.
In order to halt this slide into amorality and massive disorientation, the Church dares to hold aloft the Holy Family of Nazareth as a rudder to redress the situation. Sensible people, people of maturity, and let me put all of us adults in that category, live with this eerie feeling that we could be heading for a total collapse of society, as we know it, and an implosion of morality bound to sweep us away.
Well, the Church is suggesting, once again, the traditional family as the unit in which Christian parents feel the obligation to be formed at the school of the Holy Family so that they may share basic values with their children. These Christian values built and nurtured on the rock-solid foundation of the traditional family can create the correct framework of a promising future. This eerie feeling is quite real and it is the result of noticing that too many children and teenagers are simply adrift, inclined to follow sheepishly trends and fads, and some are, alas, hollow inside.
What can be done to redress the situation? For the sake of simplicity, let me divide us into three groups within the framework of the traditional Christian family: 1) children, 2) parents and adults, 3) grandparents and the aged in general.
Children, Here are the values that you should embrace so that you may imitate young Jesus and build for yourselves a promising future.
Pray and have at least a brief contact with Jesus in the morning and before going to bed. This is the very, very minimum. Trust your parents who love you more than they love themselves and want to use their experience about life to spare you hardships and terrible mistakes. Accept rules and regulation. You better wise up enough to realize, as early as possible, that life in society requires rules so that the rights of all may be respected, harm avoided and progress made. Embrace the boundaries that your parents and school set for you. Without boundaries you would wind up scattering, encroaching, and losing rather than treasuring and nurturing. Develop self-discipline, accountability and will power. If you truly want to become somebody and bear good fruit, there is only the way of self-discipline with rules and goals that you set for yourselves out of personal convictions. Do not wait for lucky breaks; they happen mostly on TV and in fiction. Get as good an education as your parents can afford for you and is possible as you try to learn virtually online. This means also budgeting your time and prioritizing its use. Finally develop social skills by learning to talk, to listen, to wait, to play together, to practice a sport, to get some fresh air, to go for a walk, to communicate with people of all ages in mutual respect.
Parents and adults: In imitation of Mary and Joseph, lead your family prayer and remind all of the need for prayer.
Show with facts that your faith is important to you. Were you to fail to attend Mass a Sunday, you should explain to your children why you wound up away from the nourishment of God’s Word and Sacrament for yourselves and your family. Live what you preach; be consistent, be a person of integrity, live and share as many values as possible; develop a real spirit of sacrifice and self-denial; have a positive outlook on life based on God’s care for us all; learn to praise, to acknowledge, to encourage. Find time to be a family doing things together; resist frustrations by never tiring to correct, to admonish, to sit down and dialogue with your children and with your spouse.
Finally, my category.
People my age, and beyond, should have prayer as a habit on their lips, mind and heart at all time so that God becomes the source of serenity and inner peace that anchors not only ourselves, but all younger members of our family, into the Lord God. We shall limit complaining to a very minimum, and eventually, eliminate it altogether because it accomplishes absolutely nothing positive. Let us learn to age with grace. We all know how this is done: we have just to do it with a noble heart. We should always be ready to offer advice, but without shoving it down people’s throat. We ought to learn to wait patiently and be truly humble, deep inside, so that younger generations might be inspired by our inner disposition and cherish what we have to offer them.
So, as we can all see the task of living in a traditional Christian family is daunting, but far from impossible. With God all things are possible. As it was for Mary and Joseph, our trust must be always in Him and in Him alone.
In all ages of our life, we should strive to put on as a spiritual garment the virtues that St. Paul (Col 3:12-21) lists in our second reading on this celebration of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and begin to dream our much better family living will be as we become proficient in wearing as our favorite outfit heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another…and over all these put on love.
The future of our Church, of our country and of the whole world hangs in the balance.