Family Project: Weekly Message for 07-24-2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

When I lived in Italy a gentleman I visited told me of his family’s southern Italian tradition of giving the children gifts from their departed loved ones on holidays to remember them, even if their children had never met them. Our departed family members can still have an active role in our life. Sometimes we forget that every loved one who has departed in faith is now a saint in Heaven, interceding for us. If they’re in Purgatory we can still return their kindness by praying for them and helping them enter into Heavenly glory.

The Catechism reminds us that the family a “domestic Church”: “It is in the bosom of the family that parents are ‘by word and example … the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation’ (LG 11) […] Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life” (nn. 1656, 1657).

Making holiness a family project can be a daunting challenge, given the secularized, sexualized, and self-centered culture we face every day, but we’re not alone in trying to help others be holy. This week we remember in the liturgy Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother. Mary was holy not only due to the grace of God, but also due to the loving care of her parents. If Mary is Our Blessed Mother, Saints Joachim and Anne are, in a way, our grandparents in faith. This week we also celebrate the feast of Saint James. There were four blood brothers among the Apostles: James and John, Peter and Andrew. Our Lord knew holiness was a family project in which we all have to pitch in.

Some people find themselves in a dramatic family situation, aching for their loved ones to experience the joy of the Gospel. Sometimes it implies extra prayer for the “black sheep” of the family, other times you may find yourself a white sheep in a “black flock,” but you’re not alone. A family of faith is supporting you from here to eternity: “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden’” (Familiaris Consortio, 85; see Matthew 11:28, Catechism, n.1658).

May the Lord bless you and your family this week.

Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.

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