As we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Family, I want to share some essentials and approaches that may help your family grow in holiness. These insights come from a small booklet entitled, Making Your Family Your Priority: Concrete Steps You Can Take That Will Help Your Family Be Happy and Healthy, written by Fr. Adam Hertzfeld, a priest of our diocese.
He provides eight essentials to strengthen your family:
- Forging a healthy bond with God: carve out time every day to pray from your heart; read Sacred Scripture; participate in the Sacraments and in devotions; know and follow the moral teachings of Jesus Christ
- Enjoying a strong, healthy bond between spouses: plan regular date nights and even brief trips without your children; take the time to apologize for things both big and small and the time to forgive; empathize—seek to see things from the other's perspective
- Eating meals together: sharing a Sunday family meal should be a high priority, along with daily evening meals—setting an established meal time can help facilitate that; Fr. Hertzfeld states that eating together requires sacrifice because many events will try to impose themselves upon you; most of those other events should be rejected for the sake of the greater good of the family
- Prioritizing one-on-one time with each child: set aside times for each child and let the child determine how the time will be spent; celebrate birthdays well and celebrate the feast day of your child's patron saint—neither celebrations have to be costly or involve many people; they just need to be sincere and involve a special element
- Praying together daily: the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or the Divine Office
- Talking about what we believe and why we believe it: sharing Bible stories with children as soon as they begin to comprehend the world around them; don't be afraid to discuss challenging issues both in faith and morals—reason out loud, have dialogue in a small group, let life circumstances indicate the issues that should be discussed; most importantly, attempt to understand and affirm the teachings of the Church on such issues
- Fostering friendships with other families who share the same faith and values: gather regularly, deliberately, and intentionally with families of like-minded values; pray, share a meal, and converse about deeper things; be leaven for your parish community
- Service to others: learn and live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy; establish a regular time to visit someone you know is in a nursing home or homebound; approach a family that seems disconnected or ill at ease
If nothing else, many of these items can also serve as New Year resolutions. Prayerfully reflect on how to strengthen your family and on how to make 2020 a great year! Happy New Year! God bless!