Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May the Lord bless you and keep you and let His face shine upon you and give you His peace! Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The feast of the Holy Family is relatively recent to the liturgical calendar of our Church. Pope Leo XIII created the feast in 1893 but it was only celebrated universally in the Church as recent as 1921. Pope Leo XIII particularly had a concern about the effects of Modernity on the family. This was the time of the industrial revolution and the rise of the mass production of goods. It was a time when there were children and mothers working in factories or sweat shops six days a week trying to help support the family. Family life was suffering as a result. A person could have gotten the idea that he or she was simply a cog in a great wheel of society, having very little value. Pope Leo wanted to show the necessity of the family as the building blocks of society and a place where human beings would experience God’s life and love. When families are strong and healthy so is the society we live in. God even planned a family for His son, giving Jesus a human father and mother. By his presence in the family, Jesus redeems the family and puts God as the center of the family. The Second Vatican Council’s document Lumen gentium termed the family “the domestic church,” the place where children are born and through baptism are made children of God. Lumen gentium (11) further states about the family, “In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.” Family life, thus, has a special benefit for society and the Church. It is, indeed, a necessity for our world to be a better place. I pray that God may be the center of your family.
Monday, January 1st is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God and the 8th day of the Christmas Octave. Normally, this is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics to attend Mass. That obligation has been suspended since it has fallen on Monday. Nevertheless, we will celebrate this feast day with a special Mass at Sacred Heart at 10:00 a.m. I hope you can come and begin the New Year by honoring Mary and giving praise and thanks to the Father for His giving us His son and also Mary, as our mother.
May you have a happy and healthy New Year!
Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist