This week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the Feast of the Holy Family. The feast began in Canada in the early 19th Century and by 1920 it was celebrated in the Church world-wide.
O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
As I meditated on this prayer, it became more clear to me that this prayer is more about the condition of our hearts than it is about the number of people who live in our house.
The request of the prayer seems so simple, that we imitate the Holy Family and delight in eternal rewards. However, it all boils down to practicing the virtues of family life and our bonds of charity.
The Holy Family actually gives us a glimpse into the life of the Trinity. In Scripture we find clues as to what this life would look like. We know that Mary and Joseph thought of others first. When Mary found out she was going to be a mother, she did not set herself upon a throne, she went to serve Elizabeth. When Joseph found out that a baby was on the way, he didn’t back out, he stepped up to do what God called him to do.
In the Holy Family, we also see an example of a life-giving relationship. There was no criticism or murmuring, they respected each other and the mission that God gave them to do. They loved one another simply because of who they were and they did not have to earn the love of another.
The prayer tells us that it is these virtues, the virtues of family life, and the bonds of charity, that brings joy into God’s house. The prayer also tells us that if we want to delight in eternal rewards, we must imitate these virtues.
This is the part where household size does not matter because our family is the people around us. Yes, it is the people in our home, it is also the people who join us in the pews at church every week. When we love like the Holy Family, we create a holy family wherever we go. Just imagine the changes in your sphere of influence, in your parish and its organizations, and in your immediate family when we imitate the virtues of the Holy Family.
Just that thought makes the prayer lot harder, doesn’t it? Yet, it is just as possible for us to accomplish this holiness as it was for the Holy Family, because in the prayer, we ask God for grace when we ask Him to “graciously grant” that we imitate the Holy Family. If your surroundings are particularly difficult, remember that Gabriel tells us, “nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37) Just ask Him and trust.
Practicing these virtues and living in the bonds of charity is what it means to live in the joy of God’s house. What an amazing gift to bring into the new year.
Thanks for praying with me,