Strengthening Your Family — Holy Family

Today we are going to try something unique. Close your eyes and let the Holy Spirit guide your imagination to show you what family life was like in the home of Joseph, Mary, and the boy Jesus…

Theirs is a small dwelling and you can see all of them there…

How old is Jesus as you see Him? What is He doing?

What are His parents up to? What are Joseph and Mary like as you see them interact with each other?

It comes to time to eat. What do you see the Holy Family doing?

As they relate to one other, what do you see expressed in their faces? It is now later in the evening and time for prayer. What do you see the members of the Holy Family doing?

You can return in your imagination to visit this house any time you wish, but now, let’s open our eyes and review our mediation.

What did you see as Joseph and Mary interacted with each other? Were they not tender and reverent towards each other? I bet you could see their great mutual love reflected in their smiles.

What happened in their house when it was time to eat? Who would imagine them not coming together to share their meal in each others’ company?

And later, when it was time for prayer, did the Holy Family do? Did you see them go off to their own corners, or did they come together, to pray as one family?

Did you see the Holy Family’s intimacy, their happiness, and their love for each other? Do you want your family to share a bond like theirs? Then take the Holy Family as your model: share your love, share your meals, and share your prayers.

First, on sharing your love. Let your spouse and children know every day that you love them. You can say it, you can show it, or you can do both. For instance, kids never tire of being hugged and told their loved each day.

As for married couples, don’t make the mistake of thinking that intimacy and love are only expressed physically. For St. Joseph had all sorts of simple, little ways to let Mary know that she was loved, and vice-versa. Be like the Holy Family in sharing your love.

A second way to model the Holy Family is to share your meals. The research of social scientists indicates that having frequent family meals together contributes many goods for one’s family: For starters, everyone eats healthier meals, and so kids are less likely to become overweight or obese. And kids who eat family meals are less likely to start smoking, to drink alcohol, or to try or to be addicted to drugs. These kids’ grades are better at school, and there is less stress in their homes. These things probably stem from the fact that families which eat together are bound to talk more, provided the TV is off.

These parents are more likely to know about their children’s lives and struggles and, just as importantly, their kids are more likely to know that their parents are proud of them and love them.

Jesus Christ thinks that the shared family meal is so important for us that He has instituted one for His Church and expects His entire family to be there; for to share in the Eucharist is to share in the life and communion of His family.

A third way to make your family more like the Holy Family is to share your prayers. Apart from dinner prayers or going to Church, most Catholic families do not pray together. I think that maybe we see the priest praying the Church’s prayers and think that we are not equipped to lead prayers of our own at home.

But it’s not true.  As fathers and mothers you have a spiritual authority within your families, what John Paul the Great called “the domestic Church.” Your spouse and your children need you to pray, not only for them, but with them. Right after the family meal might be the perfect time for this ritual of family prayer.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “But we’ve never done this as a family before.” Remember this: as parents, you create what’s normal for you children. If you want it to be normal for your children to eat meals with you, then make it normal for them.

If you want it to be normal for your children to pray to God with you, then do it normally. As parents, you create what is normal for your children and through your gift of these traditions to them you can bless them for a lifetime.

Finally, husbands and wives, if you do not pray one-on-one with each other, then you do not yet share a perfect intimacy together.  It is in prayer that our most intimate selves are laid bare and we ask another person to help us with our heartfelt needs and concerns.

Maybe you’ve never prayed with your spouse before. Then perhaps you can begin like this:  hold each others’ hands, close you eyes, and pray to God for each other, for a little while, even if for just ten seconds, say, before you go out the door. 

Once this becomes comfortable you can begin to telling each other what you want to be prayed for. And, after this is comfortable, you can begin to pray for each other aloud.  Begin the process of praying like this and it will transform your intimacy together.

Perhaps you gave many gifts to your family members yesterday for Christmas, but the greatest gift you can give to each other is yourselves. So follow the way of the Holy Family: share your love, share your meals, and share your prayers.

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