Our Christmas Season continues, and this Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the family that makes this Season possible. Our Holy Father Pope Francis has challenged us to strive for spiritual unity and for the strengthening of families by following the example of the Holy Family. As previously noted, Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis spoke of the Christian family as an institution that prays, keeps faith, and experiences joy. Our Holy Father stated, “The family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.” He added, “That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society.”
Then, this Monday, we begin the New Year, and we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. As we well know, at this time, there is great turmoil and suffering in the Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, and other regions of the world. As reported in the media outlet “Vatican News,” in a recent homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray to Mary “in a special way for her sons and daughters who are suffering and no longer have the strength to pray” as well as those suffering conflict and war. He noted, “for all those who have no peace, let us invoke Mary, the woman who brought into the world the Prince of Peace.”
Pope Francis also has encouraged us to look to Mary as a model of hope in the midst of a troubled and violent world. He stated that Mary “hears our petitions; holding her Son in her arms, she blesses us and brings us the tender love of God made flesh. In a word, Mary gives us hope.” Pope Francis also noted, “The year, which opens with the celebration of God’s Mother and our own, tells us that the key to hope is Mary, and that the antiphon of hope is the invocation ‘Holy Mother of God!’ “
As we begin the New Year, we are encouraged to take these words of Pope Francis to heart. 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 we can also reflect on ways that we can renew or revitalize our lives spiritually. One way we can embrace spiritual renewal is by praying each day, especially as a family if circumstances permit. 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. It may require some discipline and structure to make the time to pray together but hopefully it will be spiritually beneficial.
On behalf of Fr. Darragh, Fr. Bill, our Deacons, and staff, we wish you and your families many spiritual blessings in the year to come.