Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The feast of the Holy Family which we mark today holds a special relevance for us in this year dedicated to St. Joseph. On December 8, which this year was the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of St. Joseph as universal patron of the Church, Pope Francis declared a year dedicated to St. Joseph, to end Dec. 8, 2021. Early bulletin printing times for Christmas meant that I had written most of my bulletin columns for the month of December prior to Dec. 8. This is my first chance to write since the Holy Father’s letter Patris Corde (available on the Vatican’s website www.vatican.va) was published. It is a fine and beautiful letter, and, I think, the best thing Pope Francis has written in his pontificate. In the letter, the Holy Father meditates on the life and characteristics of St. Joseph, especially his fatherhood and his life with Mary and Jesus. These meditations naturally apply also to the characteristics of the Holy Family, which today’s feast places before us for contemplation.
Pope Francis concludes his letter with a call to invoke the intercession of St. Joseph in a special way in this year. He reminds us that the purpose of turning to the saints is to ask them to intercede for us, and as we ask that intercession, to contemplate their example and seek to imitate it in our daily lives. The saints, he says, help the faithful strive for holiness of life. I am reminded of a letter Pope St. John Paul II wrote in 1994, a year dedicated to the family. The sainted pope called on the Church to pray as a family, and for all families to be intentional in praying together daily. When families pray together, each member is supported and encouraged on the road to holiness. A family united in prayer points each individual member toward the Lord and together asks for and receives God’s many graces.
As we look at the Holy Family in light of this year of St. Joseph, we can remember that the holiness of that domestic life in Nazareth is not a holiness limited to or confined by those historical circumstances. It is, rather, a holiness which we can obtain in our own homes and families. Holiness of life comes both by our asking for it in prayer and by our efforts at spiritual growth. In the year of St. Joseph, let us pray together that we, as a family of faith in this parish, would be able to grow in holiness. We are being invited as individual families to a broader participation in the life of the parish family, and by this participation, to a deeper encounter with the Lord. And so I want to encourage you and your families to join in a year-long prayer commitment on this feast of the Holy Family. “We Are Kingdom Builders” is the name we’ve given to this parish effort. By participating, your family will “adopt” another family in the parish and pray for them daily. In turn, your family will be “adopted” by another family in the parish. You’re encouraged to meet or correspond with your adopted family, to share prayer intentions with them, and together, to grow in holiness. You can find more and sign up to participate at https://www.st-pius.org/kingdom/.
A final word for this column to ask for your prayers for someone who came to our parish family a few summers ago. Many of you remember (now-Deacon) Brendan Blawie, who spent the summer with us as a seminarian. On January 2, 2021, Deacon Blawie will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Frank Caggiano. His ordination is taking place earlier than normal with the special dispensation of Pope Francis, as Deacon Blawie’s mother’s health has been poor. Please pray for Brendan as he embraces his vocation to the priesthood, pray for his family as they celebrate this important day with him, and pray for the people to whom Father Blawie will be sent as a priest. May he lead, guard, and guide souls after the heart of St. Joseph, and be a shepherd in the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd!