He stated, “Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well. True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is merciful, and respectful towards all.” … “But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self‐centeredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It is the leaven of society as a whole. Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth.”
As we begin the New Year, and as we celebrate today the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, we are invited to take to heart the words of Our Holy Father. At this time of the year, many of us make resolutions to renew or revitalize our lives in certain ways. We may resolve to lose weight, or exercise more frequently, or be more punctual. But if we are honest with ourselves, many of us have to admit that we fail to reflect on ways that we can renew or revitalize our lives spiritually. One way we can embrace spiritual renewal is by praying each day as a family. It may be before meals. It may be at a certain time in the day. We are busy people, with different schedules, often going in different directions within our family unit. So it may require some discipline and structure to make the time to pray together, but hopefully, it will be spiritually beneficial.
The New Year provides us with a great opportunity to meet the challenge presented to us by Pope Francis. It is the challenge to more effectively live our faith and set a good example for those families we encounter in the course of our daily lives. We pray that families will embrace the call of Our Holy Father for spiritual unity as we begin the New Year.