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The Holy Family

I hope that you have recovered from the stress of preparing for and celebrating Christmas. I also hope that the celebration brought you much joy and peace, that it brought your family together. No matter how old I get, I always have a special feeling around Christmas. The Nativity scene, the carols, the Midnight Mass, and the happy faces of people make me want to bottle that feeling and hold on to it for the New Year. 

Many years ago when I was in Milwaukee going to grad school at Marquette, I invited my parishioners at St Catherine to meditate on the three persons of the Holy Family and imitate them. After Mass one of my good friends complained that she could not model after the Holy Family because they were “different.” Her reasoning was straight forward. The Christ Child is the Son of God Who never misbehaved. Mary, the ever virgin, always aligned her life with the will of God. Joseph, the just man, loved his family as no other father and husband ever can. 

It is true that the Holy Family is made up of three “perfect” individuals. However, we need to aspire to imitate a model that is far above us. Otherwise we do not grow. Ask anyone who plays a sport and wants to excel. He or she will tell you that they always want to compete with someone better than they. Otherwise you never improve your skills. In the same way, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, we are challenged to live like they. We will become holy by following their example.

Pope Francis often speaks about marriage and family life. In one of his homilies delivered on October 27, 2013, offered three practical ways a family can become holy. I would like to reproduce here below his exact words.

1. First: the family prays.

…I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family?  Some of you do, I know.  But so many people say to me: But how can we? …But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace…  Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God… all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness.  

And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength!  And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents, praying for each other.  This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

2. Next, the family keeps the faith.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families. …They are missionary in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith! Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

3. And finally: the family experiences joy.

I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of “homework”.  Only you must answer. How are things when it comes to joy at home?  Is there joy in your family?   You can answer this question. Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well…  

True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.  But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all.  And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love.  God alone knows how to create harmony from differences.  But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades.  But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.  That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth!  The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!

Let us follow the counsel of our Holy Father! Please accept my sincere wishes for a grace-filled New Year! May our families flourish in 2018 and may we make our family life a top priority! God bless you all!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel