Family Matters
A Homemade Holy Family

Sonia and Jaime Bernardo, SFO
 Chairs, National Family Commission

Can holiness be obtained within the family?  Is it really possible to call our family a holy family? Or is there only one Holy Family – the very first family of Nazareth, the family of Jesus, Joseph and Mary?

As we pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and a host of other prayers with other members of the family, we learn that holiness is homemade.  Families are called the “little church” or “domestic church”.  We encounter God everywhere and in everyone: “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst”.  When God is the center of our home, each member is respected, loved, and valued as a person.

We also need to have sacred space in order to experience the ordinary holiness that is present in our home.  But we do not have to build a chapel with four walls.  Sacred space is created by the way we think and behave that tells each family member that God is the center of this house. Some holy objects like the crucifix, or statues of Mary, Joseph, and favorite patron saints, serve as reminders of these models of our faith, and make our home a sacred place.  Today, we lack such a religious sanctuary in our home.  This practice is long gone.  A holy family revitalizes this custom.

We see God in the ordinary experiences of life – birth, marriage, work, death. Can we find meaning in the first cry of a newborn baby, in the crayon marks on the wall made by a kid, in waiting at the check-out counter, in the preparation of a meal to be shared by the family?  Do we see God’s hand in all that we do?  As expressed beautifully by Catherine Doherty, “every action performed in the sight of God because it is the will of God, and in the manner that God wills, is a prayer and indeed a better prayer than could be made in words at such times”

Holiness in a family means learning to forgive others, remembering that we too need forgiveness. A holy family is not perfect, not trying to measure up to the standards set by others, but embodying God’s teachings in its everyday struggles.  Holiness in a family does not mean being free of problems, disorder, or conflict, but being able to iron out difficulties with faith, and believing that every sin is forgiven.  Every hurt or pain inflicted by another is blotted out by the intervention of our Lord. It is by weathering the storms of daily life that we find the rainbows of life.  That is a holy family!