Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feast of the Holy Family

Every year, the liturgical calendar celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. It's a feast day that celebrates the family unit, using the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as our model. Usually the feast falls on a Sunday after Christmas. When a Sunday does not occur between Dec 25 and January 1, this feast is celebrated on December 30 with one reading before the Gospel.

I always find that this is a very meaningful celebration because they model for us a family life not beyond search but one that is very real and built on caring for each other. Jesus, Mary and Joseph have had a good share of problems even on the days before Jesus was born. To start off with, Mary was found pregnant before she was married. Despite that, she needed to travel quite a distance, running away from enemies to keep her child safe. Luckily Joseph was by her side, protecting them. To me, this would be a nightmare - what a way to start a family. When I was pregnant, I have the comfort of my home to rest more, and the baby got to listen to soothing music as a form of relaxation. But Jesus was constantly on the go, and I'm sure he could feel his mother's worries and anxieties. I was lucky to have the assistance of the nurses and doctor during labor, not to mention my whole family was by my side either physically or in prayers (hubby's the middle man exchanging sms with all of them, updating them on my progress), but what about Mary? She didn't even have a room to give birth in, and ended up sharing with the horses.

Well, despite all that, they survived and still able to live happily. Would I be able to do the same given the same situation? Even now, I couldn't stop myself from complaining about those little things that bother me. Every year this time, I look forward to the readings that reminded the wives to be respectful to the husbands, the husbands to love and cherish the wives, the children to be obedient to the parents and the parents to be protective and caring towards the children. But this year, I was especially enlightened by the sermon given by the new parish priest back in my dad's hometown. He happens to be the the same priest that solemnized my matrimonial service 6 years ago. Perhaps it's a wake up call for me.

Monsignor pointed out that in our modern family, the roles of family members have been replaced by schools, hospitals and nursing home. Sad but true, we send our children to daycare because we need to work. We push sick family members to the hospitals - the longer they stay the better it is, because they would get 'better' treatment from the professionals. And when our parents were old, we send them to nursing home (just because they send us to daycare when they have to work last time, so now it's our turn to work, right?).

He also highlighted the proposed 5P's to strengthen family life. I wouldn't touch on them here, except for the 2nd P's - Priority which got my special attention.

2) Priority: Our husband / wire relationship comes first before children/parents & in-laws. Family first before work, friends or leisure. We need to make a priority as a family not only to pray but eat and play together.

This actually consist of 3 main things: -

i. All this while, I've put too much focus on my children until I neglected my husband. To me, he's big (and old) enough to handle his own things, or sort out his problems. I already have my hands full with the kids, and hardly time for myself, so how can I afford to spend more time on him? Well, maybe that explains all the many miscommunication that we had all this while - because I just didn't care enough. Monsignor pointed out that when husband & wife are in sync, everything will fall in place naturally - the kids, parents, in-laws. Which I couldn't agree more with.

ii. The other thing that I wanted to comment here was on the 2nd sentence - priority between family, work, friends, leisure. Easily said and understood - many of us know that. Family first. But I couldn't help noticing that many people, especially the youngster nowadays would prefer to hang around with their friends on the eve of a special event - Christmas, New Year, etc... to count down and chill out. Doesn't this show who's our priority in life?

iii. The phrase that "The family that prays together, stays together" no longer work now, according to Monsignor. Instead, it has become, "The family that eats together, stays together". So he encouraged all of us to eat together with our family members at least once a month.

I hope this sharing will trigger new insight to you as it has to me. I wish you all a very Happy New Year, and may the dawn of 2011 brings you closer to your family, and lives the life that you've always dreamt of. Till then, I'll end this with a little prayer that was shared with us -

O God of goodness and mercy,
to your fatherly guidance
we commend our family,
our home and all our belongings.

You are where our heart is,
our treasure beyond compare
holding our family together
and answering our earnest prayer.

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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