I don’t usually post on the Sabbath, but the Sunday during the Christmas Octave is designated as the Feast of the Holy Family and I cannot let it pass without celebrating here. After all, The Family Bookshelf is here to encourage a holy family life above all things.

Families are so important that Jesus Himself had one here on earth. There are many ways God the Father might have sent His Son into the world to redeem it, but He chose to send Him as an infant to a poor working man and his wife. We aren’t given many details about their life together during those years before the Christ began his ministry, but we do know that they kept the law faithfully and that Jesus was obedient to His parents. I like to picture them eating meals together, and going about their daily life just like anyone else; and in doing so modeling the perfect holiness that all families are called to.

Of course, family life never is perfect. There are challenges, trials, heartbreaks. But just as God was with that little homeless family in Bethlehem on the night the Baby was born, He is with us; in our poverty, in our emptiness, He is ready to fill us.

And so in all the variable moments of family life, let us make room for God. Let us follow the example of this Holy Family: Jesus, Who humbled Himself to live and die as one of us; Mary Immaculate, who said yes to everything God asked of her; Joseph, who trusted God and was always ready to obey.

How can a busy modern family become anything like the Holy Family, you ask? Well, by letting the faith pervade every simple routine, just as they did. Be regular in receiving the Sacraments, and committed to the teachings of the Church. Keep the fasts and feasts, and befriend the Saints. Pray always, and be charitable. These are fundamental to our faith, and you probably already know and do them. Keep at it and don’t lose heart! Such efforts make a huge difference in the lives of our children.

Still, I would venture to suggest that we can do even more to acknowledge the Gospel and practice goodness in our homes – even with the smallest members – by taking time together to pursue activities that enrich our souls and ennoble our minds. We can cultivate a habit of reading books – both sacred and secular – that orient our hearts toward heaven.

Does that seem too insignificant in the raising of saints? Not so; for many examples teach us that it is in a thousand small ways every day that we learn to serve our Lord. Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, let’s never cease in striving to do just that.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us!