Holy Family

12-31-2023Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

To help us understand the importance of the family, the Catholic Church gives us the celebration of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Who is the Holy Family? The word “holy” literally means “set apart” by God for God. Of course, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are the Holy Family but by celebrating them, we also celebrate the fact that all families are called to be holy, to be set apart by God for God. From the beginning, God created mankind to be in families. As part of God’s original plan, He created the union of husband (Adam) and wife (Eve). This was the first marriage and the foundation of all families. This is why marriage is the union between one man and one woman. God created marriage and we cannot change God’s creation of marriage.

There are those who mistakenly believe that the Church is full of bigotry or homophobia or hatred of homosexuals because of her teaching on marriage. So called “gay marriage” is an attempt to redefine marriage as God intends. The truth is that no one, no court, no state, not even the Catholic Church, can change the essential nature of marriage because God created marriage. Of course, two people of the same sex can be friends and friendship is a good thing, but it is not marriage or a family as God intends a family to exist. A family begins with a marriage. A group of friends is not a family. It is a group of friends. That doesn't depend on morality; it depends on using words honestly.

Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy once wrote: “The family is the single most important institution in the world. If all families were healthy and happy, nothing else would matter, nothing else would be needed. If families are unhealthy and unhappy, nothing else can take its place.”

Today the institution of marriage and the family is struggling to be healthy, happy, and holy. For the first time in history, intact families are the exception, not the rule. Keeping the family together is not just a political or economic or sociological or psychological effort. Keeping the family together must include a relationship with God who created the family. “The family that prays together, stays together” is the famous line from Fr. Patrick Peyton. Patrick was born January 6, 1909 in Ireland. He was the sixth of nine children in a family where often there were more people than potatoes to feed them. Every night without fail, his father would lead the family in praying the Holy Rosary. This kept them spiritually nourished and united in difficult times.

Long before Fr. Peyton spoke those now famous words, St. Paul said that we are to treat family members with mercy, kindness, humility meekness, patience, and, above all, forgiveness. Spouses are called by God to forgive each other. Mercy is offered not because the person who wronged you deserves mercy but because it is what God asks us to do. God ask us to offer mercy and forgiveness as He forgives us. God gives the graces necessary to offer mercy when mercy is difficult to offer. Even if only one spouse offers forgiveness, sometimes that is enough to restore the marriage. Mercy will never work if neither spouse offers mercy.

Christ taught us to ask God to “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Matt. 6:12). In other words, “God, do not forgive my sins against you if I do not forgive others their sins against me.” How often do we have to forgive someone who sins against us? As often as we want God to forgive us for sinning against Him.

Peter Kreeft wrote that: “God invented the family as a system of giving your very self and your life to others, first to your spouse and then to your children. Children are God's "pay it forward" system. None of us can pay back the debt we owe to our parents. They gave us life. We cannot give them life; we can only pay that debt forward, giving our lives to our children. What can we give to our parents, then? We can give them the same kind of love God gives us: love that forgives defects and mistakes, love that is more than justice. You get justice from judges; you get forgiveness from lovers.”

Every family has struggles and has its share of suffering and failures. May the Holy Family inspire us and intercede for us that we may be the lovers God created us to be and offer the mercy God calls us to give one another.

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.