This is a continuation of the previous post with the same title but IV.
I am convinced that a family that prays together stays together. The importance of family prayer cannot be overemphasized especially these days when the enemy wishes to destroy the family as an institution. The enemy is waging a war on families considering the state of the society and the happenings in the family. Nonetheless, there is a family which serves as an example for us.
The model family is the holy family, the family made up of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Fr. Boniface Anusiem considers what made them holy before which he writes about what constitutes holiness.
To be holy among other meanings has to do with being set apart and dedicated to something sacred or divine…What made them holy includes but is not restricted to their steadfast dedication of their lives to God and their commitment to divine direction. They were able to achieve these within the framework of their vocation as members of a family. This family is called holy because it loved God above all and the members were ready to do the will of God at all times. The family is called holy because each and every one in the family revered, appreciated, and celebrated the presence of God in their family. Joseph accepted and carried out God’s plan (Matt. 1:19-24; 2:19-21). Mary fully and unreservedly accepted the will of God for her with striking humility (Luke 1:38). Our Lord Jesus Christ had the doing of his Father’s will as the indelible script of his mission on earth (Matt. 26:39; Luke 22:42; Jn. 6:38). In all these instances we can collectively agree that the first step to holiness is the readiness to submit oneself to God’s divine will. The ability to let go one’s interests and plans and concentrate on God’s own plans and will.4
The Holy family like every family experienced difficulties and temptations. In spite of the trials, their love for God and for one another was not affected and they continued carrying out the will of God. It is a model family.
The character of Joseph in the Bible was that of a righteous man. When Mary, his betrothed got pregnant and he knew it was not his doing, he thought it was the result of adultery. Joseph did not demand her prosecution; he did not expose her to public disgrace. Since the baby was not his making, he felt he could not marry her. He decided to divorce her quietly. He was lenient with Mary. This presents Joseph as a man with a high level of maturity. He was not full of himself. He was a man preoccupied with doing the right thing. Joseph is a model for husbands and fathers.
It was Mary’s desire to do God’s will above all else. “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” (Lk. 1:34) was her question when she was told by the angel that she will conceive. When she understood how that was to happen, she accepted knowing that there was a risk. She risked rejection by her husband, the chances of never remarrying, the possibility of being stoned, and shunning by her family. In spite of these, she accepted to be the handmaid of God. It was a heroic humility.
Then we have Jesus, the Son of God. He remained “hidden” and “unknown” under the authority of his parents for thirty years. He is God and he exemplified humility for us. He was humble in accepting God’s will, humble in taking up the human nature, humble in undergoing his passion, and humble in suffering a horrible death. The example of Jesus tells me that man should be ashamed to feel proud. Who is man? What does he have? He lives today tomorrow he dies. Pride should have no place in a man’s heart.
Jesus started his public ministry with fasting and prayer and ended with prayer. Despite the crowd that always sought for him, he created time for prayer. I draw from this that there are some decisions in life which we have to make after consulting God in prayer. But many people take major decisions without consulting God. When they run into problems, they look for God the Magician for a quick fix. Prayer helps us in our relationship with God.
Families are facing serious issues but that does not stop men and women from taking the decision of going into marriage. However some people are not clear as to why they want to get married. You find girls who went into marriage under pressure. Also, some girls were quite young when they got married. It was at a time when they were still trying to discover themselves. Change happens and they second-guess the choice of the partner they settled down with. One should endeavour to find out the true intentions of wanting to go into marriage. The leap into marriage is a great one. These questions may be helpful: Am I getting married because I am getting older? Am I in love with the idea of getting married or do I genuinely love my partner? Am I preparing for marriage or a wedding day? Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with my partner? Since marriage is a life-long commitment, questions like these can help one realize how weighty both the decision to get married and the choice of partner are.
When I was working at the parish office of a church, I observed that a good number of couples planning to get married do not take the preparation for marriage serious. There were individuals who did not see any reason why the pre-marriage course should last for three months. Three months was just too much time for preparation. “What is there? What do they want to teach us that we do not know?” one of them asked. What such a person does not understand is that a well-attended pre-marriage course can serve to increase marital success especially for active participants. In the course, the meaning and purpose of marriage is clarified, skills for conflict management are discussed, and a strong dedication to one’s spouse is encouraged. These are few of the things taught in the course. But hardly were any of these of interest to the individual who asked the question mentioned. His fiancée wanted to travel abroad in some few months’ time. He therefore had a wedding date in mind which he would not want anything to change even before he came to the parish office for enquiry. So, he saw many of the processes outlined to help couples achieve a successful married life as barriers to the wedding.
This write-up continues in the next post.
4. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem, PhD, What Made Them Holy? Reflections For The Feast of Holy Family, https://frbonnie.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/what-made-them-holy-reflections-for-the-feast-of-holy-family-rev-fr-boniface-nkem-anusiem-phd/, Accessed January 25, 2016.
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