>The Feast of the Holy Family


Michelangelo, The Holy Family

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family!

Now this is a feast that makes me happy (ok, hence the discombobulated mood today).
As you might gather, family is a big deal to me. Literally and figuratively!
And to have a day that puts special emphasis on the beauty and importance of family is just a gift. And what better role models to have than the Holy Family, of course! And all too often St. Joseph, the head of the Holy Family is kind of lost in the Christmas shuffle. Go read Elizabeth Foss for a good article on St. Joseph.

“For the past few weeks, we have been so intensely focused on the coming of Jesus Christ, that today the Church invites us to take a step back and look at a larger picture: The Holy Family. The Son of God, in His Divinity, could have come to us full grown and alone. Or he could have come as a child under the protection of some royal court. Instead, he chose to come to us in the midst of the most fundamental dynamic in human life: the family. The first thing Jesus sanctified by his presence was a family home”
from Phat Catholic, go read

Anyhow, this topic is an important one for me. I look to the Holy Family for inspiration, prayers, and as a role model (that I will never achieve, of course). But really, we are called to be the domestic church, to model that giving service, that love in our own families and homes. And God was so good to provide us with a family that we can look to. They had to go through all sorts of difficulties, stress, fears as well as happiness, companionship, joy and everyday life. Maybe, just maybe, Mary questioned Joseph’s ideas once or twice (“really, get up, leave, go to Egypt?, really, now??? Ack, ok!”) and surely they worried about work and we know they did chores and got tired and lived quiet mundane regular life for many (well, 30) years.

And that gives me comfort. When I am in the midst of another messy kitchen or loads of laundry, with dinner needing to me cooked and Coffeedoc calling, well, it is nice to know that it is ok, this is how it’s supposed to be. It gets messy and tired and worried and quiet and regular too. And I can know that, stone cold, because the Holy Family did it. Period.

There is holiness in the everyday quiet life of the family, big or small. There can certainly be growth in holiness as well (and a big upcurve ahead there, in this house) but this is some of the most fertile ground for it. The family. The linchpin. The foundation. So today, we celebrate, with great thanksgiving the feast of the Holy Family.

Here too are a few more links: to good reads, to good holy families:
The Deacons Bench has a good homily on the Holy Family, worth a look.
Juli at Happy Catholic, always great.
Jennifer, at Conversion Diary, she heads up a holy family!
As does Michele at Family-Centered Life, and Margaret at Minnesota Mom, and Danielle Bean and so many others, but if I start to list them all then I’ll get someone mad at me or their feelings hurt. So to make it simpler, go to the sidebar and check out most of the adoptive blogs (because right there, ya got the whole St. Joseph connection in particular) and the Catholic moms links too. That’s the other cool thing about this feast: if you look, you’ll see examples all around you! How glorious, how cool is that! Thanks be to God!

Holy Family, pray for us!

>The Holy Innocents

>There are some feast days in the Church that are hard.
I suppose they all should be in a way…in that the term “feast day” when applied to a Catholic memorial, often and traditionally (but not exclusively, see Feast of the Holy Family, above) means the day of passing from this material world into everlasting life. It means death. But it also means a step into the most real life and the one that is eternal, with no suffering and glorious true union with Christ; therefore for that person – unspeakable joy.

And that is the prelude to today. Today is a double whammy, so to speak.

First, this post, we have to talk about today’s feast day, this fourth day of Christmas: the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Or, I have to talk about it because I am out of sorts over it, in a blue funk.

I hate this feast day. It is so hard to wrap my mind around this one and it leaves me out of sorts, every year. My poor skills in communicating, much less writing coherently here, combined with the whole mystery surrounding this feast leaves me stuttering over words.

And yet, this is an important day to remember.

And as mom, it touches a very deep part of me in hurt and anger and sorrow. This part of the Mass reading for this day, it makes me cry:

Matthew 2:18
“Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation:
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled because they were no more.”

Therefore, instead of stumbling along with my utterly inadequate words, I leave you with what I turn to: art and the writings of holier, more learned people. The art is posted, a few pieces. The words are below:

Matthew 2:16
“Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.
“There is no easy explanation for suffering, least of all for the suffering of the innocent. St. Matthew’s narrative, which we read in today’s Mass, shows us the suffering, apparently useless and unjust, of some children who gave their lives for a Person and for a Truth whom they didn’t even know.”
In Conversation with God 1, Advent and Christmastide

“There is anguish for us, twenty centuries later, in thinking of the slain babies and their parents. For the babies the agony was soon over; in the next world they would come to know whom they had died to save and for all eternity would have that glory. For the parents, the pain would have lasted longer; but at death they too must have found that there was a special sense in which God was in their debt, as he had never been indebted to any. They and their children were the only ones who ever agonized in order to save God’s life”
F. J. Sheed, To Know Christ Jesus

Painting by William Holman Hunt

This feast day, I halfway want to ignore it…certainly not talk about it, explain it. Is recognizing it condoning it? That’s a nonsensical question but it springs into my head. It’s that torn jumbley feeling.

But it’s not that the Church made this stuff up, it’s not a novel or a screenplay. It’s real. It happened. It’s not the Church doing revisionist history or some horror writer hoping to make a buck. It’s biblical. It’s horror. It’s an historical event that makes us weep and cringe even today – because it is evil. It is face to face with unspeakable evil. And it is just too close for comfort. But, then again, evil usually is. That’s part of it’s whole package. It should make us shrink from it, and shake our heads without comprehending, asking “why, how” as we weep. But even the glory of Christmas, the birth of this baby, cannot be fully comprehended without the cross, and it was found and pointed to, from the very beginning. Go here, to an article by the excellent Amy Welborn for a worthwhile read on that.

“…these innocent lives bear witness to Christ who was persecuted from the time of His birth by a world which would not receive Him. It is Christ Himself who is at stake in this mass-murder of the children; already the choice, for or against Him, is put clearly before men.”
Catholic Culture.org

“Oh God, on this day, the Holy Innocents gave witness to you, not by words but by a martyr’s death. We profess our faith in words: grant that the holiness of our lives may confirm the witness of our tongues.”
Collect of the Mass