The Holy Family – Model for Family Life

Whilst January was dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, February is dedicated to the Holy Family.

And just as January began with the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, we began February with the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas.

And with this Feast, we celebrated the pilgrimage of the Holy Family to the temple in Jerusalem, where Mary was to accept the Jewish rite of Purification. It was also there that She was to present her Holy Child to God.

And in the temple, the Holy Family met Simeon, who recognised the Child Jesus, the Light of the World.

By honouring the Holy Family throughout this month, we are called – like Simeon – to recognise this Divine Light, shining in our darkened world.

And what a darkened world it has become, particularly for the family.

I was born in mid-Sixties Britain to atheist Parents. Even at a young age, I thought that people who believed in God, were backward in some way – that they needed to catch up with the modern world. I thought them deluded.

These ideas naturally arose from the atheist setting in which I was raised.

At age seven, my father held a party in our house.

I remember being shocked by something at that party. I was so shocked that the moment remains deeply engraved in my memory.

I was standing in the hallway of the first floor of our house, when a man I knew very well, chased another man’s wife, whom I also knew, up the stairs.

It was more than just good fun. Even at age seven, I knew this man did not have the right to do this: that this behaviour was wrong.

Yet, this was not an isolated incident. This was how life had become in our neighbourhood.

For in our street, many people were having affairs. My family was broken up due to affairs.

In the end, my younger sister and I grew up with my father, whilst my baby sister was raised by my mother and another man.

This sort of situation, hardly known before the Sixties, was now becoming the norm.

At ages ten and fourteen, I was to witness two of my father’s marriages, both civil marriages. He has now been married three times and divorced twice.

I swore that I would never marry. Not because I was committing myself to God – for in this atheist world there was no God. It was because I had no respect or faith in marriage.

Marriage seemed like something easily dissolvable. It was just an empty agreement, for people came and went, as they pleased.

This was the atheist world I grew up in. Nothing was binding, for everything was human-made for humans – irrespective of God and morality.

But in Easter 2000, I was liberated: I became a Catholic.

Meanwhile, Britain has become ever more like my own family – fragmented and atheist, or at least agnostic.

But now, I live in a very different world – a rural setting in north-west Ireland, where traditional values still exist.

Here, our village is almost entirely Catholic and people live traditionally, according to the faith.

In fact, recently in our village, I had a conversation with an elderly neighbour.

He was shocked, when I told him that I was the only person in my family who believes in God. He said, ‘But how do they explain everything around them?’

He could not understand how creation could be comprehended without God.

For it was unfathomable to him that people are unable to see God’s work at the centre of all life.

He then asked me, ‘Do they visit their graves?’ I found this heart-wrenching.

I replied, ‘They don’t have graves’.

In this village in which I now live, I know of no divorce. Couples seem to stay together through thick and thin.

And families, too. Many families here are of three generations, living close by to one another, sharing the joys and sorrows of family life. It is incredibly moving for me to witness this.

When, like in my own life, the family unit is broken, it is easy to lose a sense of identity and of belonging.

As I grew up in the Sixties, materialism – life without God – was on the rise. It was novel then to be promiscuous.

Again, sadly, this has become the norm. Today, it is no longer unusual for children to be born outside of the family unit or for that unit to become broken.

For in a society that does not believe in God, life looks incredibly different. Standards are not the same.

From this materialistic perspective, it appears charitable to make new laws which reflect these different standards: Laws that appear to uphold tolerance and human rights.

But, without God?

Nothing is sustainable without God – nothing.

It is like building foundations upon sand.

This is the sheer incomprehension of my neighbour: How can people live without seeing God at the centre of everything?

And if God is at the centre, then everything is naturally built around that reality.

There is a mystery that lies at the heart of creation, where God fashioned man and woman to be partners, to be joined as one.

And through the Sacrament of Marriage, God becomes present in that union.

And from that Sacred Union, children are conceived and born into the world.

The family unit is like a womb outside of the mother, where God is sacramentally present and children are nurtured and can healthily grow.

Now, I am not naïve enough to think that all families are perfect. Far from it!

We all have to deal with our fallen nature and the trials and tribulations our lives bring.

Even the Holy Family was put under trials and duress.

But, God has provided the family unit out of which we shape our lives.

Yet, our culture is headed has now become just like my family – broken.

In this month of February, dedicated to the Holy Family, let us pray to the Holy Family, for the (our earthly) family.

Let us pray that the values, crucial for life, of this God given gift of family, are recognised, respected and supported.

Let us give thanks for our marriages and our families.

Divine Infant Jesus, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,  pray for us.

St. Joseph,   pray for us.





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One response to “The Holy Family – Model for Family Life”

  1. Robert Jan Kelder Avatar

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    Have a look, if you will, at the blog on the above site “De Verro Anno – On the Nativity of Jezus Christ”by Werner Grueb, for a new anthroposophical view on the Holy Family, based on historical truth and as well on the Gospels of Luke and Matthews.
    Yours in Christ,

    Robert Kelder

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