The Holy Family models for us what family life should exemplify. It is a school of virtue for both parents and children. There we find God, and learn how to connect with God and with others. The family is where love is freely given without self-interest. It is where we learn to love, to pray and to practice the gift of charity. Pope John Paul II has said, “The family, more than any other human reality, is the place in which the person is loved for himself and in which he learns to live the sincere gift of self” (Nov. 27, 2002).
We should ask ourselves if our own families model that of the Holy Family. We need to be open to God’s grace to value the positive and to accept our mistakes — and to be willing to rectify them. Parenting is a very challenging responsibility and at times errors are made despite the best intentions. Recognising this, children should trust their parents and never forget that parents want only what is best for them.
Which leads us to what may be the most important family virtue — forgiveness. Living so intimately within the family nucleus naturally gives rise to unpleasant situations where someone is apt to be offended. St. Paul knew this when he told us to “bear with and forgive one another.” The health of our family may depend on how quickly we learn to forgive without harbouring feelings of resentment.
No family can thrive and grow without constant work. Even the material details that take time and effort are essential to keeping the family strong. Everyone has to pull together for the good of the family — even to the point of putting ahead of our own needs and ambitions the happiness of other family members, setting aside our own selfish desires.
It is also important to pray as a family, especially the holy rosary. Prayer will help us to intensify our closeness with each other and to learn to forgive.
During this Year of the Eucharist it is essential to discover the relationship between the Eucharist and family life. Pope John Paul II wrote, “In the eucharistic gift of charity the Christian family finds the foundation and soul of its communion and its mission” (Letter on the Family, No. 57). — Excerpted from The Holy Family models what family life should be, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.