"The Redeemer of the world chose the family as the place for its birth and growth, thus sanctifying this fundamental institution of every society."
Pope St. John Paul II,
Angelus message, December 30, 2001, Feast of the Holy Family.
The teachings of the Holy Family
The family is an intimate communion of life and love, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, open to the gift of human life and love forever. This feast points to the Holy Family of Nazareth as the true model of life. All the families of the world should always turn to the protection of the Holy Family, in order to learn to live love and sacrifice.
The family is defined as a school of love and a domestic Church. The family is the providential place where we are formed as human beings and as Christians. Our family is where we grow in wisdom, age and grace before God and mankind.
It must be a place of dialogue between God and man, open to the Word and to listening. Seconded by the family prayer that strongly unites. St. John Paul II highly recommended the recitation of the Holy Rosary within families, and he had very much in mind that phrase that says: "the family that prays united, remains united".
It is for all these reasons that the Feast of the Holy Family invites us to welcome, live and proclaim the truth and beauty of the family, according to God's plan.
Christian family, a source of priestly vocations
The identity of Christ and his mission have taken shape in history and in the world in the bosom of the Holy Family. We can say that this is the model within which, in the vast majority of cases, the Lord's call to the sons of Christian families to their consecration and vocation to the priesthood takes place. For this reason, the role of Christian families is fundamental in the emergence of vocations.
Both the priesthood and the consecrated life are free gifts from the Lord and it is indisputable that the vast majority of vocations arise from within families that believe and practice, from environments in which the values of the Holy Family of Nazareth are lived.
To discover this vocation, the role of parents in the formation of their children is crucial. No institution can replace their work in education "especially as regards the formation of conscience. Any intrusion in this sacred sphere must be denounced because it violates the right of parents to transmit to their children an education in conformity with their values and beliefs", Spanish Episcopal Conference 2022.
The Christian family, cradle of the vocation to love
In the Familiaris consortioPope John Paul II taught that "Christian marriage and the Christian family build up the Church: for in the Christian family the human person is not only brought into being and progressively introduced into the human community by means of education, but also by means of the rebirth of the human person. baptism and education in the faith in which the child is also introduced into the family of God, which is the Church".
The family that lives following the example of the Holy Family is a school of prayer. From an early age, children learn to place God spontaneously in the first place, recognizing Him and dialoguing with Him in all circumstances. TIt is also a school of lived faith, where learning does not take place in a theoretical way, but is embodied in everyday work. Likewise is a school of missionary diffusion as active promoters of consecrated vocations.
Living the gospel of the family is not easy today, even more so in these times. However, In the Gospel we find the way to live a holy life on a personal and family level, a certainly demanding but fascinating path. We can follow the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth and thanks to their intercession.
In every family there are happy and sad, peaceful and difficult moments. Living the Gospel of the family does not exempt us from experiencing difficulties and tensions, from encountering moments of happy strength and moments of sad fragility. We must understand that it is the Holy Spirit who guides all families today. But we must listen to the Spirit who speaks in us; we need a look of faith to grasp the reality beyond appearances.
Monsignor Javier Echevarría at the shrine of Torreciudad alluded to the fact that it is the family home "where the various vocations in the Church are forged", and expressed the wish that families be "truly Christian, that they consider the call of some of their sons to the priesthood a great divine blessing".
Discernment of vocation in the Christian family
Pope Francis offers us in the apostolic exhortation Christus vivitten guidelines for reflecting on the feast of the Holy Family, family education and facilitating the process of vocational discernment for children.
- The family is the privileged environment for listening to the Lord's call. and to learn to respond to it with generosity, because "it is the sphere in which one is loved for oneself, not for what one produces or for what one has".
- The importance of education in the faith. It is in the family that the relationship with the living Jesus Christ is best learned. For this reason, they encourage family prayer and participation in the sacraments.
- Training in virtues "so that those who are called can give their generous yes to the Lord and remain faithful to this yes". Among these virtues, he emphasized fortitude, "to be able to go against the current in the face of the welfare society".
- The Pope urges the Catholic family to to live the experience of encountering Christto listen to his Word and to recognize his voice through discernment", open to the possibility of consecrating oneself to God in the priesthood or in the consecrated life.
- They also advise parents to keep in mind in the education of their children that "we are not the owners of the gift but its careful stewards teaching them to recognize themselves as a gift and to accompany them in discernment, but not to make decisions for them".
- Consider life as an offering. Instill that "I am a mission on this earth, and that is why I am in this world".
Forging in charity
- Forging children in charity because "the family is not a cell isolated in itself, which does not care about what happens around it. This charitable dimension begins in the extended family, caring especially for grandparents and the elderly, but it must be open to the needs of others."
- Promote the knowledge of the different vocations. and to establish a culture of vocations. The Pope regrets that Christian families "oppose the vocation of their children to the priesthood or consecrated life or ask them to prioritize their professional future, postponing the call of the Lord". As for the vocation to marriage, "there is nothing more stimulating for children than to see their parents live marriage and the family as a mission, with happiness and patience, despite difficulties, sad moments and trials".
- As a Church, "we have the mission of accompanying families who live in our communities. To reach out to families living in marginalization and poverty; to be very aware of migrant families; not to leave aside families that have suffered separation and divorce".
- Synod of Bishops, 2001.
- Spanish Episcopal Conference 2022.
- Pope Francis Audience, 2019.
- Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit , Pope Francis, 2019.