The Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass in Latin and English
Holy Family - Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Dominica infra Octavam Epiphaniæ -
Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Néminem fugit.
“Have mercy, kindness, humility,
meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and forgive one another. .
. . may the peace of Christ reign in our hearts.”
I looked over my notes for the past
few years, to see what sort of sermons I have been giving you on this feast of
the Holy Family. There really wasn't a great deal of variety—I
mentioned that the feast was instituted 118 years ago this year by Pope Leo XIII—that
its main purpose was to counteract the decline in Christian family life which
accompanied the so-called “Enlightenment,” and the Industrial
Revolution—and that the way in which this could be done was by imitating the
model family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There were more details, of
course, but those were the essentials.
I started to read through the writings
of some of the great Church Fathers, to see what they had to say on this
feast. There were one or two interesting topics. A few talked
about the amazing humility of our Lord in “being subject to Mary and
Joseph.” One, particularly pertinent to our times, talked about
obedience; picking up on the fact that our Lord had to be about the business
of His Father in heaven, even though it wasn't exactly what His earthly
parents were pleased with—the idea being, of course, that God always
“out-ranks” earthly lawgivers, no matter who they might be.
But then my attention was distracted
to a piece of mail that I had received a few days past, which contained the
rather distressing statistic that in the years since 1973, thirty‑seven
years ago, when the Supreme Court “legalized” the murder of the unborn,
over 50 Million
children have been put to death. That's almost 3,800 a day, or one every
23 seconds, in the United States alone. Those are frightening numbers.
Mass murder is a difficult thing about
which to get accurate statistics. Hitler is said to have killed about 6
million Jews, Gypsies, and Christians.
Stalin is said to have killed somewhere around 20 million in Russia and
Ukraine to bring about the Communist Utopia.
World War II cost about 400 thousand American lives; the Civil War was a bit
worse, with brother fighting brother and about 498 thousand deaths. Up
through Viet Nam, American wartime deaths totaled about 1.2 Million.
Iraq and Afghanistan added a little over 5 thousand.
So, if you roll all of that together, you still come up 20 Million or so
short of the number of babies murdered in the United States in the past 37
There isn't much of any explanation
for this massive slaughter, other than for the fact that we—you, and I, and
our neighbors—have lost many of the values exemplified by Jesus, Mary, and
Joseph. As a nation, we have become materialistic; concerned with
personal possessions, and to heck with everything and everyone else. We
have lost any notion of Chastity or Modesty, except maybe a backwards idea
which tells a young woman (or her parents or her boyfriend) that she should be
more ashamed of having a child than of killing it. We have lost all fear
of God, and any concern for keeping His law as a people. Indeed, many of
our leaders, and many so-called “Catholics” among them. have gone down the
road to Socialism, with its denial of “unalienable rights” with which men
and women are endowed by their creator—endowed from the moment of conception
until natural death. And these failings go on and on.
Perhaps even more importantly, it is
possible to see that these 50 Million deaths are just the ‘tip of the
iceberg.” I say that for two reasons. First because the deaths
will go on, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned—those preparations are being
made right now in many state-houses across the nation. But, more to the
point, because this very same moral bankruptcy is responsible for so many
other ills in modern society. It doesn't take great intellectual powers
to see that most all of our social ills flow from the abandonment of Christian
Family Virtue. If Christian Family life were even nominally intact, the
TV newscasters would be out of business. There wouldn't be wife beaters,
and child molesters, and broken homes, and homeless people, and AIDS epidemics
and teen suicides. There wouldn't be terrorists, and dope lords, and
people trying to steal each other's life savings.
Do you think Joseph could have come
home to Mary after doing any of those things?
Of course not! It's just unthinkable!
So, I guess, after all, we still need
to hear about the Holy Family every year. We need to incorporate their
values in our thinking. That means a certain amount of political
agitation and activity. It means a certain amount of prayer and asking
for God's guidance. But, even more surely, it means making the values of
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph our own personal values. Pope Leo XIII
If we are wealthy and powerful, they
provide a model of restraint and humility.
If we are of modest means, they show
us a certain resignation and trust in God's providence.
If we are men or women, we have in
Joseph and Mary and example of how we should conduct our self, and the respect
we must have for the other.
If we are single, or even if we are
married, we have in Mary and Joseph a reminder to preserve Chastity, at least
according to our own state in life.
If we are youngsters, we have in Jesus
Himself a model—and if we are parents, we must see something of the Infant
Jesus in our own Children.
By imitating Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
here on earth, we cannot help but share in the peace of that Holy Family, and
to look forward to being united with it in heaven.