Lately, I have been praying often for a strong marriage and family. I want so much for my children! I want so much to be a wonderful wife and mother! I have had real comfort in knowing, though, that I am in the best of positions for becoming the woman and mother God made me to be for my family: because the family itself is a school of holiness.
If we can forgive, share, and serve outside the home, that’s great. But if we can do it inside our homes–that is where it counts maybe even more. Because it’s harder. I don’t know about you, but it is so much easier for me to “be a good person” when I’m not at home. It’s easy for me to be a cheerful servant, a thoughtful friend, or a forgiving coworker when I don’t know all of someone’s flaws, or fold their underwear, or remember how they always do that exact same annoying thing, or discipline them all day long…or have to potty train them.
Often over the past few years, I have read that meditating on the Holy Family–Jesus, Mary and Joseph–can be an amazing way to help us seek day-to-day virtue in family life. It’s the idea that the more like Mary a mother is, and the more like St. Joseph a father is, the more like Jesus their children will be.
Some of you out there may be thinking at this point, “but we shouldn’t be looking to Mary and Joseph as an example–we should only be looking to Jesus!” Well, of course we should be looking at Jesus! 🙂 We should be studying His life and devouring His word and spending time with Him constantly in prayer.
But in family life in particular, we learn about God. The structure of the family points us to God because it is an image of the Holy Trinity. And when we look to the gift of the one family in all of history that imaged the Holy Trinity perfectly, we can learn a few things about how to live in ours. We should always look to the life of Jesus, but what Scripture says about the lives of the Holy Family is important for us as well. Fathers can learn much from St. Joseph’s quiet strength, service and leadership. Mothers–but really all of us!–can learn much from Mary’s total trust and surrender to God’s will in every moment of her life–from the annunciation to the crucifixion.
Another reason that it is so helpful to meditate on St. Joseph and Mary as parents is that parents are the most important teachers their children will ever have. To be the best parents we can be, we must strive to be the holy men and women God created each of us to be. Often that means that our own dreams and expectations for our lives have to change or fall to the wayside. Joseph and Mary are perfect examples of being exactly and just what God created them to be, which was a far cry from what either of them expected God to ask of them! Sounds like marriage and parenthood, doesn’t it? 🙂
When my children leave my home and head off on their own adventures one day, I pray that they will have learned to serve. I pray that they will know they will always find themselves most profoundly when they give themselves away. I pray that they will love goodness, and strive for virtue in everything. I pray that they will have deeply converted hearts for Christ. I pray that their minds will educated and well-versed in their faith. I pray that they will be people of action and courage. I pray that they will be a blessing to others.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely pray as well that my children will all get full-ride scholarships to the college of their choice, but my greatest gift to them will not be second-to-none schools and a fully-funded college education. I hope that my greatest gift to them will be that I was fully and consistently the woman God created me to be for them and for their father.
What use is a brilliant political career if a person has not learned to be a servant? What kind of spouse will a person be if she doesn’t already know how to choose to love even when it hurts?
On another level, will your child’s future college roommates be horrified because he can’t clean up after himself, do his own dishes, or share his Xbox?
I’ve got lots of work to do before that moment when I boohoo-cry as my oldest child walks down the aisle at his high school graduation, but I’ve got a little time, the hope and promise of grace, and some pretty awesome Heavenly role models to help me along the way.
And now for some snapshots of my own holy family!
I LOVE hoodie bath towels on my babies.
Playing well together at last! My girls, my girls, my beautiful girls!
My brother, Ryan, and his fiancee Mitzi, with the kiddos
Mom (aka “Lulu”) playing iPad with all three kids. Adorable.
Gianna being adorably sleepy tonight. She just lay down in the middle of the kitchen floor next to Emma. Then she just stared at me with this sad expression for about 15 minutes. About 45 minutes later, she threw up. A lot. And don’t I feel like the WORST mother because she threw up a what turned out to be a horrifying amount of DOG FOOD.;/ I have a few ideas of how she could have come to ingest it all…there was a major spill in the kitchen yesterday (a three-year-old with initiative, yes I do know of that child of which you speak)…and Gianna did play out on the patio while I was in and out a few times checking on the gumbo (did the dog not eat all of her food?? And I thought that stuff on Gianna’s hands was dirt??!!) Suffice to say dog food access at our house will be nill from this point on. My poor baby!