Sunday, January 30, 2011

The happiness which you desire, Sermon of January 30th

So great is the Love of Christ, that he taught his disciples...
 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
January 30th, 2011
Matthew 5:1-12a

Jesus began to teach them saying, “Blessed are they…”

When we think of morality and Christian ethics, we probably think of one of two ideas – either we consider law or the conscience. If we think of the law as the foundation of ethics, we emphasize the importance of objective principles: the natural law, divine positive law, and even civil law. If, on the other hand, we think of the moral conscience of the individual as the foundation of ethics, we emphasize the particular circumstances of the individual and the importance of having a well-formed conscience.
Nevertheless, for the Catholic tradition, the foundation of Christian ethics is neither the law nor the personal conscience, but the human desire for happiness. The pursuit of happiness is the starting point for all moral doctrine.

The Sermon on the Mount is the summation of the Christian life. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ our Savior outlines the whole of Christian ethics and morality – but he does not begin with law or with the personal conscience, rather he begins with the Beatitudes.
Beatitude is nothing other than perfect happiness. When the Lord says “blessed are the poor” or “blessed are the merciful”, this could also be translated as “happy are the poor” and “happy are the merciful”. The blessedness of which Christ speaks in the beatitudes is the happiness of the Christian life, the happiness and joy of the life of grace.

It is happiness and the pursuit of happiness which is the foundation of Christian ethics. The whole goal of morality and of all the laws of the Church is our happiness. Christ knows what will make us happy, for he created us – he has given us the New Law of the Gospel so that we might attain to this perfect happiness.
Most certainly, the perfection of all happiness can only be attained in heaven. Nevertheless, there is something of a participation in this total joy already in this life – this is why our Savior says, “Blessed ARE they…” He does not say, “Blessed will they be”, but “Blessed ARE they”. Already, even in this life, there is a happiness and a blessedness which those who follow God enjoy.
Nothing brings more joy than the possession of God – and, without this participation in the divine life, no other creature can bring any true joy. We have been created for happiness; if we do not find this happiness in the enjoyment of God, we will begin to seek it in all the most inappropriate places in this life. Unless we find happiness in God, especially through the intimate union with God attained only through prayer, we will look for joy in the basest realities of this life.

But this is the great paradox of Christian joy – the soul in the state of grace, united to God, is able to rejoice even in the midst of great suffering and persecution! For this reason Jesus said that the poor and hungry and persecuted are blessed – if we find our consolation in God alone, no suffering or hardship in this life will deprive us of that deepest joy and happiness.

Here, we think of the many martyrs of the early Church. In particular, we consider St. Lawrence, the early roman deacon.
Lawrence was a deacon of the Church of Rome in the early centuries. He was known for his joy and love of the poor, and for his good humor. The emperor, because he hated Christianity and wished to destroy the true faith, persecuted the Christians of Rome greatly. St. Lawrence also was persecuted and even arrested and sentenced to death. He was to be cooked alive over a fire, but he went courageously to his death – so great was his faith, for he found all his happiness in God alone!
When he was being cooked alive over the fire, Lawrence (in his characteristic spirit of good humor) cried out, “I am done on this side, turn me over!” So filled was he with the enjoyment of God and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, that he was able to laugh and be of good cheer even in the midst of terrible physical torments.

You too, as often as you are in the state of grace, are filled with the same Holy Spirit which so inspired St. Lawrence! The great challenge for us is to live more fully from the joy of God and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Rather than seeking consolation in the things of this life, Jesus our Savoir is asking you and I to give ourselves over to his Sacred Heart. Apart from God, there is no joy in this life; but with God, all things fall into place and become a means of attaining the perfect joy which God has reserved for us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Shunning the false joys and consolations of this world, we turn with confidence to the Heart of our Savior – in his Most Sacred Heart, we will find the fullness of beatitude: the beginning of life everlasting.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Abortion will end and the Culture of Life will triumph, Sermon of January 23rd

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
January 23rd, 2011
Sanctity of Life Sunday

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.

As Jesus moves from his home town of Nazareth to Capernaum in Galilee, St. Matthew sees the fulfillment of the prophecy which was given to Isaiah: The Messiah has come to the Galilee of the Gentiles and a light has dawned for Zebulun and Naphtali.
Yet, we may not be too familiar with Zebulun and Naphtali, or with any of the circumstances of the prophet Isaiah – without this knowledge, we can scarcely appreciate the power of this prophecy. It was during some of the darkest years of the history of ancient Israel that God spoke to Isaiah and many of the other prophets. The nation of Israel was being assaulted by extremely powerful nations, and it seemed that there was little hope. Indeed, the Jewish people were conquered and dispersed, exiled to Assyria and Babylon – the temple plundered and destroyed, Jerusalem ransacked, many of the people were killed. It was a time of darkness and despair.
But it was precisely at that moment, when it seemed that the light had gone out, that the Lord gave some of the clearest prophecies of the Messiah. It was then, when hope was nearly lost, that God was most closely united to his people, calling them on by the promise of the Christ.
There is a great lesson to be learnt here: When things are most difficult, when defeat seems inevitable, when all seems to be lost; then, most especially then, the Lord is present, he is working, and he will indeed be victorious.

It has been thirty eight long and difficult years since the US supreme court decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion. For thirty eight long years, our nation has been a “Galilee of the Gentiles” and “a land overshadowed by death.” And, although there has certainly been great efforts and many good works accomplished by the Pro-life movement, it does not seem that we are any closer to winning the victory for the Culture of Life. Perhaps we are even tempted to despair, to think that abortion is here to stay, that the culture of death has won.
I tell you banish the thought! Banish despair and discouragement from your soul! For it is precisely now at this moment that God is most powerfully at work – yes, his work is hidden and mysterious, but it is also great and almighty. We know these two facts: God is all powerful and he is pro-life, that means that the Pro-life movement wins! We know the outcome, it will be a great victory for the Culture of Life. What we do not know is how we get to that victory. What is not yet clear to us is how we move from our current state of affairs to the total reign of the Culture of Life – and this is what causes pain and suffering on our journey, for the way is not wholly apparent to us.

But we know this – we know that the Pro-life movement will win, that the Culture of Life will be victorious, and that this victory will be accomplished through the work of God. It is God who will win the victory, it is God who will bring an end to abortion, it is God who will convert the hearts of our nation and the world. And because it is God who fights, the victory is already certain – what remains to us is to participate in his great triumph!
But how can we participate in the Lord’s work? What can we do to take part in the victory of the Culture of Life? There are three things I will mention, three essential ways that we can be involved in the Pro-life movement – prayer, works, and a boycott.

First, prayer. The most important and powerful way that we can support the Culture of Life and participate in the Lord’s victory is through prayer. We must pray and pray and pray, every day. Here special mention should be made of the Rosary, and the Family Rosary in particular. Through the Rosary, Mary will bring peace to the world and an end to abortion. Prayer is that most powerful means of changing the world because prayer contains the power of God himself!

Beyond prayer, there is works. We must also work in behalf of the Pro-life movement. This work is both local and national (and even global). On the local level we can support the Culture of Life through dedicating our time, talent and treasure to the various Pro-life organizations in our community. In our own town we are blessed to have a pregnancy outreach center starting – this is a great opportunity for us to participate in the building up of the Culture of Life. Special mention should also be made of the Knights of Columbus, their dedication to Life is well known to all.
We dedicate our time, talent and treasure to the Culture of Life – make no mistake, the proponents of the culture of death are very powerful and very wealthy, and they will use their power and riches to destroy your family and our nation. Though the victory of Life will be won by the Lord, he also desires that we should make use of the material blessings he has given us to fund and promote the Pro-life movement.

Another aspect of works for the Culture of Life, this time on a national level, is voting. In a democratic society, we are blessed to be able to influence our nations well-being through our vote. Be sure of this, there is no other issue on the voting ballet today which can be compared with the issue of abortion – this single issue is of greater concern and importance than all the other issues combined. We must vote with a pro-life conscience, as Catholics we must vote pro-life.
Now I am not talking about party politics here. I am not promoting one side over against another – I am speaking about issues, I am speaking about life. Some will say that no politician or party really cares about the Culture of Life at all, but that they simply give “lip service” to the Pro-life movement in order to get votes. Well, don’t let them! Don’t let them just pay “lip service”! The politicians need you more than you need them – you can force them to take the abortion issue seriously, if only you will let them know that this one issue is all important!

Finally, we participate in the coming victory of the Culture of Life through a boycott. We ought to boycott the culture of death – when we know that they are trying to destroy our families, why do we give the proponents of death our time and resources? We who stand for life must separate ourselves from the pro-death movement. But how do we do this?
First of all, we should take a look at any investments we may have. It will be imperative for us to ensure that our money is not invested in any company which profits from the culture of death. It is material cooperation in evil to have money invested with Planned Parenthood or other companies which sell contraceptives or abortifacients. How terrible it would be for us to make money from the growth of the death industry in America!
Moreover, we can boycott the culture of death by examining which companies and celebrities are most public in their support of abortion. If a company gives extensive donations to Planned Parenthood, we should boycott their products. If a celebrity is particularly vocal in supporting abortion or in advocating the destruction of traditional family values, we ought not to buy any of their movies or music.
For parents, there is a particular obligation to consider what music and movies your children are buying. Many of these celebrities are bent on the destruction of our culture – you would never let your children be friends with these celebrities in real life, why do you allow them into your home through the television or the stereo?

And now, last of all, I would like to address any here who have been harmed through the horrible plight of abortion – especially any who have been directly involved in abortion and who are still suffering from guilt and the adverse affects of this terrible sin. The Lord knows the pain you feel, our loving God reaches out to you today. Though indeed you may feel that you are in a dark valley and under the shadow of death, for you a light has dawned this day, which is Christ the Lord! Never despair, never give up. Remember, it is the Lord who will win the victory for you. No matter what the wound, no matter what the sin; Christ is greater. His light will dawn in your heart, indeed it is already illuminating the deepest recesses of your soul. His healing love will bring you to a place of peace, to the great joy of life everlasting.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The one reason to be Catholic, Sermon of January 16th

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
January 16th, 2011
John 1:29-34

John testified further, saying, “I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”

Today, at the beginning of the season of Ordinary Time, the Church gives us to meditate once again upon the Baptism of the Lord. Last week we heard the account of Christ’s Baptism as given by St. Matthew, now we hear of the same event as recorded by St. John the Beloved.
As we listen to the text of St. John’s Gospel, we might notice a certain peculiarity, something which could perhaps cause some confusion – for, speaking about Jesus, John the Baptist says, “I did not know him.” John tells us that he did not know Jesus until after the baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.
But how can it be that John does not know Jesus – recall, of course, that John and Jesus were second cousins; their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, were first cousins and close friends. Is it possible that John the Baptist should not know his own relative? Could it be true that John, who leapt in the womb when Jesus came to him in the womb of Mary, could it be that John did not recognize his Lord?

Most certainly, John the Baptist knew who Jesus was – he recognized him and said, “I ought to be baptized by you.” John testified that Jesus is the Christ and our Savior, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Moreover, John even knew something of Jesus’ divinity for he said, “He who is coming after me existed before me” – John was conceived and born before Jesus, yet because he is God Jesus existed before John.
What, then, did John the Baptist not know about Jesus? What did he not learn until he saw the Spirit descend upon our Lord? John tells us, “The one who sent me to baptize told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” This is what John did not know until that day: That Christ alone would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

John knew who Jesus was, he knew him to be the Christ and our Savior, he even knew that he is true God – what he did not fully know was that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Yet, he knew that Jesus would baptize for he said, “I ought to be baptized by you.” And he knew that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, “The one coming after me will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
What he did not know was that, whoever baptizes with the Holy Spirit, it is always Christ who baptizes. This is the great difference between the sacramental baptism which Christ instituted and every other ritual baptism which had preceded.
If John baptized with his baptism, it was John who baptized. But if Andrew, when still a disciple of John, baptized with the baptism of John, it was not John who baptized but Andrew. And likewise, if Peter baptized with John’s baptism, the person was baptized not by John but by Peter.
However, it is different with the sacramental baptism which Christ gave the Church – for it is always Christ who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Does Peter baptize? It is Christ who baptizes. Does Paul baptize? It is Christ who baptizes. Does Fr. Ryan baptize? It is Christ who baptizes.
The power of the sacrament of baptism does not depend on the particular minister, but on Christ, for it is always Christ who baptizes – and likewise with the other sacraments, it is Christ who is the one high priest. This is why there is no baptism of Paul or of Peter or of Fr. Ryan – there is only the one baptism of Christ, for it is always Christ who baptizes.

From this it follows that the Church is not founded on Fr. Ryan, nor even on Paul or Peter, but on Christ. Likewise the holiness of the Church does not come from her priests, nor from her people, nor even from the apostles, but from Christ.
Certainly, it is necessary that we should all become saints – and especially the priests of the Church must strive for holiness – but the grace of the sacraments and the holiness of the Church does not depend upon the holiness of her members, but only upon Christ.
The Church receives her holiness from Christ and, like a true mother, passes this holiness on to us her children. For the holiness of the Church is greater than the summation of the holiness of her members, it is a sanctity which comes from the perfect holiness of Christ himself.

There is some confusion about this in our day. All too often, we hear of people leaving the Church because the priests are sinners or because the other Catholics are hypocrites – and there is some truth to this! Indeed, priests are sinners and we must continue to strive for greater virtue. Indeed, Catholics are also sinners and even sometimes are hypocrites, we all should be working to grow in holiness.
However, whenever I hear someone say that they left the Church because of the sins of priests or of other Catholics, I can only shake my head – they have not understood the Church at all! We do not join the Church because of the holiness of her priests or people, and so we do not leave the Church because of the sins of priests or of people. There is only one reason to be Catholic – it is Christ! Jesus alone is the foundation of the Church; not the priests and not the people, but Jesus. She keeps her gaze ever fixed upon the Sacred Heart of her Savior.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why was Jesus baptized?

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 9th, 2011
Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Today is the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord; yes, I say it is the feast of the Lord’s Epiphany! For indeed, the Epiphany is not only the commemoration of the adoration of the Magi, but it includes also two other mysteries: Our Lord’s baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana. And so, today’s feast of Christ’s baptism is a second Epiphany – for this reason, from ancient times, the Baptism of the Lord has been celebrated on the octave of the Epiphany.
The very word Epiphany means “manifestation”; Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to the world. In Bethlehem, shortly after our Lord’s birth, there was the first Epiphany, a hidden Epiphany – for none but the Magi (and the shepherds before them) recognized the Child as the Christ and true Lord of all. This first manifestation was part of the hidden life of Christ, hence it is a private Epiphany.
Today, however, we have the second Epiphany which is a public Epiphany – for it is with his baptism that the Lord begins his public ministry. Now, at the age of thirty, our Savior manifests himself publicly and before all.

And what is the Epiphany which we celebrate at the Lord’s baptism? What about Christ was made manifest to the world today? Behold, the heavens were opened and the Spirit descended and the voice of the Father was heard – This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This is the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ: He is revealed to all as the true Son of God, and God himself!

And yet, there is a difficulty which arises as we consider the baptism of the Lord. For indeed, the baptism of John was a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. How then can it be that Christ the Lord should come to be baptized? He is without sin, he is Messiah and Lord – why should he submit himself to the baptism of John?
This was what troubled St. John the Baptist – he recognizes the dignity of the Lord and he tries to prevent Christ from coming to be baptized. It is only at our Savior’s persistence that John is willing to baptize him.

And so we ask: Why was Christ baptized by John? What is the meaning of this event?
Let us be very clear – Christ had no need of John’s baptism, it was not for his sake that he was baptized. The Savior already was filled with the Holy Spirit and, from the very moment of his conception, the heavens were opened to him. He already knew with certainty that he is the Son of God the Father. The miraculous events surrounding Christ’s baptism were not for him – he already knew who he was, he already knew himself to be true God and the Christ.

No, it was not for his own sake that Christ was baptized; rather, he was baptized for us. Jesus submitted himself to the baptism of John for us and for our salvation.
There are many reasons why Christ was baptized, but it will be enough for us to consider three.

First, Christ was baptized in order to confirm John in his ministry. By his baptism, the Lord testifies to St. John’s life and work. Normally, we think of John as witnessing to Christ, as pointing to Christ, as giving testimony to Christ – and that is good and true, as far as it goes. But, on an even more fundamental level, it is Christ who gives testimony to John; for our Savior has no need of human testimony, his words and his saving works give testimony themselves.
In submitting himself to John’s baptism, the Lord testifies that John has indeed been sent by God. Jesus says to John, “You have prepared the way for me, well done my good and faithful servant.” And so, we are admonished by Christ to follow the indication of the Baptist, to heed his words, to prepare the way of the Lord, and to look to the Lord as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Second, the Lord was baptized in order to begin the institution of the sacrament of baptism in the life of the Church. In submitting himself to John’s baptism of water, Christ prepares the waters for the sacramental baptism in water and the Holy Spirit which he would soon give the Church.
Here we have a great mystery – the reality we witness is turned on its head. For, as Christ is submerged in the waters, it is not the waters which cleanse Christ, but Christ cleanses the waters. It is not the waters which purify Christ, but Christ purifies the waters. It is not the waters which sanctify Christ, but Christ sanctifies the waters.
Through the waters of baptism, Christ will cleanse and sanctify the human race.

Finally, our Savior was baptized to give an example of humility to all who would follow him. The Lord was without sin and yet he was willing to receive the baptism of John. Jesus is true God and yet he submitted himself to the baptism of the Forerunner.
If Christ, who was sinless, received the baptism of John; how much more must we who are sinners receive the baptism of Christ? The humility of our Savior is an example to us, that we might all run to the sacrament of baptism and there find true forgiveness of our sins.
And this is a point of some confusion today – for there are many, and even some in the Church, who speak and act as though baptism were not necessary. They will make it seem as though baptism were nothing more than a cute and sentimental event, a good excuse to get the family together. This type of thinking is contrary to the Gospel!
We have great need of the sacrament of baptism. Baptism is necessary for salvation, it is for this reason that Christ gave the sacrament to the Church.

Through the sacrament of baptism was are cleansed of all sin, both original sin and any actual sin; we are elevated by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit; we are incorporated into the Church, the true Body of Christ. Indeed, in this sacrament we are united to Christ in such a way that the words which almighty God spoke to our Lord at his baptism are applied also to us – we hear the Father say to each of us individually: “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, in you I am well pleased.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Let the world despair; you, fly to Bethlehem! Sermon for Epiphany

Epiphany of the Lord
January 2, 2011
Matthew 2:1-12

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.

Some modern atheistic scientists will tell you that the universe is entirely self-contained and closed off to any outside involvement. They will claim that there is nothing beyond the created world, no Creator who could possibly have any real effect in the world. Moreover, their reasoning leads to a radical form of determinism – for these materialist scientists will tell you that all reality is determined by the interaction of matter. They say that human freedom is just an illusion, what is real is simple cause and effect.
In this way, such scientists are not too different from the astrologers of old. For it was believed, in ancient pagan cultures, that a man’s life was determined by the stars – if he was born under good stars he would have a good life, but if under bad stars he would have a hard life.

And against all of this, we have the mystery of the Epiphany. Today the star goes before the Magi and leads them to the Christ Child. We see that the material world does not determine freedom, and it does not determine God. For it is not that the star blesses the Child, as the astrologers thought, but the Child blesses the star. It is not that the star determines the Child, rather the Child determines the star.

Today, God shows us that he is present in the world, he proves that he is always among us. By making his presence known, my manifesting his love for us in Christ, the Lord teaches us that he is always active in our world.
God’s love for us, his love for you and for me, is made manifest in the Christ Child – God has so loved the world that he sent his Son to become a little baby, to die for us, that we might live. God became a baby, what a wonder!

How great is the love of God! Man fell, so God descended. Man fell miserably, so God descended mercifully. Man fell through pride, but God descended through humility and grace.
This is the mystery of Christmas. But perhaps we are wondering – is Christmas over? The children are returning to school, businesses are returning to their normal hours, Christmas decorations are coming down – even the presents and we have received are starting to seem a bit “old”. And so, perhaps we ask ourselves – is that it? Is that all there is to Christmas?
No, I tell you! Let your Christmas not end in such a way! Indeed, it is true that the “Holiday Season” has passed; but what matter is this to us? For the “Holiday Season” is the secular distraction – it is good that it is finally over, that it has passed. Now that the secular distractions are over, turn to the true meaning of Christmas.

Let the world go back to its dull, dreary, despair – You, fly to Bethlehem. Fly to Bethlehem and rest a while there, together with Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar (the three Wise Men). Sit in the stable or the cave; speak with the Magi, with Joseph, with Mary. Look upon the Holy Child – adore the Lord present before you. Take a moment to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas.
Today the Magi find, crying in a manger, he who is true God. Today the Magi see clearly, in swaddling clothes, the Lord for whom they have longed. Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth and earth in heaven, man in God and God in man, he whom the whole universe cannot contain is contained in the tiny body of an infant. As they look, they believe and do not doubt, as their gifts bear witness: gold for him who is King, frankincense for the true God, and myrrh for the one who would die to take away our sins.

How to have a happy and holy family, Sermon for the feast of the Holy Family

 Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
December 26th, 2010
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.

Today, the feast of the Holy Family, we are afforded the opportunity to consider the great dignity of married life. The vocation to marriage is indeed a high calling, both a challenge and an immense supernatural blessing. As we think of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we are both encouraged to strive forward in our own vocations and we are strengthened by their example to persevere in the face of every difficulty.
As we consider the home in Nazareth, there are two central realities which come to light: first, this home was a place of prayer; and second, the Holy Family worked hard. Prayer and work intertwined to create a marvelous harmony in the life of the Holy Family.

First, we consider the Holy Family as an example of prayer. The home in Nazareth has a spirit of quite about it – I do not say that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were perpetually silent, not by any means! Certainly, there was much joy and even laughter in that house; for the happiest people are holy people, and so the three holiest people will certainly be the most joyful Family of all. Yet, there is something of a spirit of quite which is associated with the home in Nazareth – it is the silence of prayer.
Note well how this prayerful silence differs from the sad and angry silence which is present in so many families today. Today, there is silence in the home because the husband and wife are angry with one another, or the parents and children are at odds. The silence in many families today comes from sin.
But this was not the silence of the Holy Family, it was a silence filled with love, filled with prayer.

We know that the Holy Family prayed together regularly, as all families must. Indeed, the family is the first school of prayer. But this meant more than just common prayers said together each day, for the Holy Family this also meant times for personal silent prayer as well. In addition to their common prayers, Mary and Joseph (and Jesus as he grew older) took time each day for personal mental prayer and meditation.
We can imagine how Joseph would take care of the Christ Child, so that Mary would have an opportunity to make a meditation – perhaps for an hour. Then, Mary would in turn allow Joseph to take his time for daily mental prayer as well.
And this is something which every family must do – husbands and wives must give each other the opportunity for daily mental prayer, this daily period of meditation is essential for any Christian family.
Moreover, in addition to teaching their children the common prayers that are said together, parents ought to instruct their sons and daughters on how to make a meditation. By the time a child is in high school, he should have learnt from his parents how to pray with Scripture, alone and in quite.

But it was not all prayer in that holy house of Nazareth – there was much hard work too! The Holy Family offers us an example of consecrated labor. Joseph was dedicated to his profession as a carpenter, and he worked hard to complete his work with perfection. But he didn’t put his job ahead of his Family either. When the angel came and told him to flee to Egypt, Joseph willingly abandoned his work, sacrificing his business, for the sake of his wife and her Child. Joseph knew the true value of labor and he was a good worker, but he also knew that his vocation as a husband and father came first.
And after Joseph worked hard all day in the shop, what did he do? Did he go out to the bar with “the guys”? Did he seek relaxation in the secular distractions of the world? Of course not! After a long day of work, Joseph returned home to his Family. He went to Mary and to Jesus, he fulfilled his primary vocation as father of the household.
Now I do not say that it is wrong for a man to go out with friends every so often, but we ought to ask ourselves where we find our true consolation and rest. Do we seek consolation and joy in the world, or in our family? Do we get rest and relaxation by fleeing our responsibilities, or is our true rest found with our family? Let us heed the example of St. Joseph, the worker and the spouse.

And what of Mary? She too worked hard! She was dedicated to the care of her home – for her profession was to be the housewife in the Holy Family. Did she spend her day gossiping and chattering endlessly? Of course not! She was dedicated to her work, and she fulfilled her responsibilities as the Mother of Jesus.
Consider where Mary found her consolation, joy and refreshment. It wasn’t in going off shopping all the time. She didn’t always need the newest fashionable clothing. She was constantly looking for ways to spend Joseph’s money. Rather, she found her consolation in her husband and her Son. Mary’s rest and joy was to be with her Family.
Likewise, Jesus, as he grow older and became a young adult, was not always off with friends running around Nazareth. No! He knew his duties to his Family. He loved Joseph and Mary very much, and so he spent time with them and they were his true joy.

Now I know that this can all be pretty challenging. I know that the Christian ideal of married life is exalted indeed. But we need not be discouraged, we must never despair.
If you find that family life is difficult, if you find it hard and full of sorrow; the Holy Family is with you.
Remember, that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (as holy as they were) suffered many hardships and difficulties. No one can claim to have had a more difficult family life than the Holy Family – even looking past all the challenges which arose from the miraculous nature of Christ’s conception (challenges which nearly led Joseph to divorce the Blessed Virgin), from the moment that Christ was born the Holy Family suffered persecution and difficulties. When Jesus was just a baby, King Herod sought to kill him and they all had to flee to Egypt.
Recall as well that Joseph died when Jesus was not yet thirty years old – what sorrow this must have caused Jesus and Mary! Moreover, Jesus himself was murdered in the prime of his life, leaving Mary in grave sorrow and affliction.
Indeed, this is a Family well acquainted with grief. And so, if your family suffers, if your family struggles – the Holy Family is closest to you today! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are your companions; turn to them, speak with them, ask them for assistance and aid. Consecrate your family to the Holy Family, and they will bring you safely through the storms of this life unto life everlasting.