In 1964, the Second Vatican Council published a document called “Lumen Gentium”. In this document, the Council fathers discussed the entirety of the Church. In this document, they discuss the family, which they called, “the domestic church.” This is an incredible title, and one that carries with it a great honor. They are saying that the family ought to be the place where people, especially children, learn how to live out our faith; to move our faith from the intellectual to the practical; from theory to action. Our faith is one that is meant to be lived out in the real, day-to-day world, not exclusively within the walls of the church building. It is within the family where we first learn how to apply our faith.
The document goes on to say this about the family: “In [the family] parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.”
I can remember learning my night time prayers from my parents who prayed with me before I knew even how to speak. It was my parents who taught me the importance of going to church by taking me to mass every weekend, if it was convenient or not. It was my parents, who gave me the first language to even talk to God. It was my parents, who brought me to confession to encounter the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. When I began to think more deeply about this reality, I realized, it wasn’t the priest at our local parish, but my parents who first taught me about the love of Jesus Christ.
On this feast of the Holy Family, I encourage all of the parents here, and everywhere, to see the awesome honor that you have to be the first teachers of the faith for your children. Your example gives your children the formation needed to live their faith. Stay close to the Holy Family as you pray as a family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are not only the example for holiness in family life, but they still are there to intercede and help all families throughout the world.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...pray for us, and have a blessed New Year!
Fr Nathan LaLiberte