A Note From Fr. Timothy
The Holy Family
When Christmas and its Octave Day (January 1st) fall on Sundays, the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph gets moved from its normal celebration on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s to December 30th. A solemnity (like Mary, Mother of God) takes precedence over a feast (like the Holy Family) and so the lower ranked celebration is moved. Having these major celebrations on Sundays is a beautiful way of connecting the mysteries of our faith into our weekly celebration, but it is possible that we might overlook other areas because of it.
Even though we do not celebrate the feast of the Holy Family on a Sunday this year, and even though many people likely did not have the opportunity (or awareness) to attend Mass for the feast this last Friday, we should all still take time to recognize the importance of the Holy Family and its role in our lives. As we celebrate the mystery of Mary being the mother of God, while being human herself, we can also remember her as the wife of Joseph. We can think about Joseph as a husband and father. And we can call to mind Jesus as a son of parents who love him.
The Holy Family may be saintly in its makeup, but that does not mean their lives were idyllic. They experienced hardship in their flight into Egypt. They likely knew fear and uncertainty about the future. Hard work was a natural part of life. Sorrow and grief were present at times as well. We do not know how old Jesus might have been when his father died, but it seems pretty clear that Joseph had passed before Jesus begins his public ministry. The Holy Family encompasses our lived human experiences, and meets them in such a way as to give us an example and encouragement on how to act when we are faced with similar situations.
Today, as much as any time in human history, the family is under attack in society. Rather than being supported and uplifted by governments, it is all too often restricted and isolated. More and more governments and people are willing to forcibly take children from their parents if those parents do not bow to the political ideologies of the day (think especially of gender issues). Families face destruction at every level, from the ease of no-fault divorce, to the elimination of children via abortion. Families are not valued, and people are more and more encouraged to have individualistic attitudes over family values.
We must stand firm in response to these attacks. Every compromise only further weakens the family, which is the core building block of society. A weakened family will more likely crumble, and those isolated, often broken, members will be all the more susceptible to ideologies which lead people further and further astray from the Truth. In the coming year, I encourage you all to remember the Holy Family and ask them to assist your family through all its struggles. Do what you can to strengthen your family connections, especially by praying together. For the family that prays together, stays together.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski