THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

The Holy Family

10 January 2016

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Dear Friend,

The wonders of God's goodness are so many that we hardly know where to begin. We marvel at God's love for us as He sent His only Son to redeem us from sin by His death upon the cross. This love is coupled with the greatest of humility. God humbled Himself beyond our understanding when He took up a body just like ours. True God became true Man. His humility did not stop there; He chose to be born of a woman and to submit to her in all obedience and submission — calling her "mother." St. Joseph was likewise honored as "father;" and though only a foster father; Jesus rendered true honor, respect, and obedience to him as well.

Next in dignity, we must consider Mary — the Blessed Virgin Mother of God. What honor and dignity belong to her! She was preserved from all stain of sin and is always Immaculate. What honor in the fact that the Son of God calls her His mother! She is a virgin and a mother — never sacrificing one for the other, but maintaining both. Yet, in spite of all the dignity and honor that God has bestowed upon her, we still see her completely humble. The modest virgin maiden and mother gives her body and soul to God for the greater honor and glory of God, as we see in her "Magnificat." (Luke 1, 46-55)

Lastly, we must consider St. Joseph. He is indeed the least in spiritual dignity, but yet, he is given the position of husband, father and head of this Holy Family. We know that St. Joseph was a simple humble carpenter by trade, and it was in these labors that he provided for the needs of this Family. We have seen how he eagerly and readily complies with the Will of God when it is made known to him. For example, when the angel appeared to him to tell him not to fear taking Mary for his wife, because the Child she bore is the Son of God, he obeyed readily and promptly. When an angel told him to take the Child and His mother to Egypt, again, without hesitation or complaint he obeyed. God entrusted the care of His mother and of Himself to the hands of St. Joseph. With perfect humility the Son of God obeyed St. Joseph.

Perhaps the virtue that stands out the most for our consideration, and imitation, is that of humility. We see the Holy Family immersed in, or overflowing with the virtue of humility: from the humility of God Himself, to the humility of the "Handmaid of the Lord," and finally, in the simple humble laborer, St. Joseph. It would be easy to focus upon the grace and virtues of Mary and be carried away by them. Mary is ever virgin. We know that the grace of virginity is one that is especially prized by God. This vocation is held out by St. Paul as the highest of all callings. (1 Cor.) However, if this virtue is not accompanied by humility it is not pleasing to God.

We find many misguided souls that become proud of their "virtues." A virgin does a wonderful thing and it should be admired and respected, but once a virgin becomes proud of the gift that God has given, then he becomes like the Pharisees that Christ so vehemently condemned. The virtue that is practiced is a gift from God and all the glory and honor of it belongs only to Him. We have nothing to boast of. Even if we have done all things well, Jesus informs us that we should still say to ourselves: "I am an unworthy servant, because I have only done that which I ought to have done." (Luke 17, 10) We must not glory in God's gifts as if they were our own works.

It is sad to see in the world today so little care or concern for practicing any of the virtues, but especially that of chastity. What is, however, even more heartbreaking are those poor souls that struggle and seek to live up to this higher calling, but then are haughty, proud, and vain. They have taken a good thing and turned it into an evil for themselves and others. Jesus prefers the humble sinner over the proud self-righteous man. The humble sinner turns his evil into virtue with true humility; the self-righteous man turns his virtue into vice with pride.

Our goal then, is to imitate as closely as we can the virtues we see in the Holy Family. We should all strive to practice the virtue of chastity, according to the station in life God has called us to, but we must never attribute any success in this to ourselves. The advances and successes that we make in the spiritual life are truly the work of God in us. We know that the greatest of all virtues is that of Love or Charity, and we see this perfectly exemplified in the Holy Family. God's Love for us compelled Him to become one with us. Mary's love for God permitted God to become one with us. St. Joseph's love made this all possible, proper and fitting. However, after the virtue of Charity, it seems, the virtue of humility must be eagerly sought after and practiced. Perhaps it is more proper to consider all the virtues as one. They all live and die together in us. We cannot truly be said to practice charity, chastity or any other virtue, unless we also find the virtue of humility. As we grow and develop in one virtue, we simultaneously must advance in the others, especially humility.

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