As is our tradition, each year on the feast of the Holy Family, we publish an article about our ministry, recap the year and look forward to next year and what God may be calling us to accomplish for His glory. This year is doubly special as Denae and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this New Year’s Eve.
Feast of the Holy Family 2015
The feast of the Holy Family always occurs within the octave of Christmas shortly after Christmas Day. God chose to save the world through a family, the holy family. The holy family was built on the solid foundation of two ordinary people, Joseph and Mary, who sought a closer union with God. We don’t know much about their family history, legend has it that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, were devout Jews who were childless for many years and after fervent prayer they were finally blessed with a daughter. They dedicated this child to God and Mary grew in holiness and only desired to glorify God with her whole being. We know even less about Joseph’s childhood, scripture tells us that he came from the line of David, and based on the biblical account of the House of David, we know that it was not the best of families to come from. David’s own sinfulness, even though he repented, was the beginning of much suffering for his offspring. There was much selfishness and sinfulness by many of Joseph’s ancestors. Yet Joseph rose above this and did not let his family history dictate who he was. He too dedicated his life to God and grew in holiness his whole life and was chosen to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of the Son of God.
For many, emulating the Holy Family may be a goal that seems impossible to achieve, but we must remember that Mary and Joseph were just human beings like you and me. They experienced trials and tribulations just like we do, and they struggled to make the best decisions for their family. Mary faced a very unexpected pregnancy, Joseph had to provide for his family on a very modest income and even move his family to a foreign country on a very short timeline. Read the gospels and follow the story of the holy family and you may find that it is a story not a whole lot different than your own family story. It is tempting to see the Holy Family as a perfect family that achieved holiness through divine intervention, and that there were no other options for Mary and Joseph other than to be holy. If you see it this way, think again. Put yourself in Mary and Joseph’s shoes and I think you will see that it took heroic virtue on their part to follow God’s plan for their lives. In fact it may have been more difficult for them than it is for us. Holiness was not something forced upon them, it was a gift offered and accepted.
If we look at what made the Holy Family holy, we can learn how to do the same for our families. Mary and Joseph had a devout prayer life, they each had an intimate relationship with God and meditated upon his word and prayed that His will be done in their lives. They placed Jesus at the center of their family life. They knew their family was going to be a light to the world and they sought to glorify God in every thing they did. They knew that by themselves, they could do very little and they trusted in God to provide for their needs and to guide them in the difficult decisions. They lived a humble life of service to others, living in the world but not being formed by it. We are each made in the image of God and we can achieve the holiness of the Holy Family. God chose to be born into a family, to live family life just as we do, to show us that family life is the path to holiness. Their family life was not easy, it was not neat, it was not perfect, but through all the events of family life, God was glorified and the world was redeemed. Through our families God wishes to do the same, He wishes to use our family to glorify His name and to be a light in the world, all we need to do is surrender our will to His and allow Him to guide our family in the ways of holiness. It may not always be pretty, it may not always be easy, but if we trust in the Lord, He will work miracles in our family and in the families that we encounter along the way.
2015 Year in Review
Your Holy Family Ministries is dedicated to helping families grow in holiness through publishing articles, writing books and designing retreats, family days and workshops for the whole family. Our programs are designed to bring the family closer to each other and closer to the Lord. Where the world pulls the family apart, we seek to help the family form a community of persons united in prayer.
This year we have made great strides towards our mission. We published our first book in August. “33 Day Family Consecration” is a guide for parents to develop prayer within their family. It uses the 33 Day Marian Consecration formula for individual prayer and consecration and converts it into 33 days of family friendly prayers, meditations and discussions. This book and the accompanying coloring pages provide parents with all the tools necessary to jump start prayer within their family. If your family already has a healthy prayer life, this resource provides a great way to meditate on the life of our Blessed Mother and learn from her example of how to give glory to God.
This program was used in several parishes as part of their Marian consecration programs and many individual families have used this resource in its online form or in printed book format. The reviews have been fantastic with many families speaking of the positive changes they have witnessed during the 33 days of family prayer.
The books are available on Amazon in ebook and print format, on our website and in a growing number of Catholic bookstores around the country. We hope to get our books into many more retail outlets and parishes as we aggressively promote this one of kind family prayer resource. If you would like to help us in this venture, please contact us and we will provide you with the materials you will need to approach your local bookstore.
This year we published over 30 articles providing practical advice on how to live out holiness within family life. Topics included: setting family priorities, discipline, the dangers of being too busy, love, dealing with the death of a loved one, how to be a father after God’s own heart, Prom, the value of a Mother’s prayer, being a family of service, attitudes, evangelizing the world one family at a time, grandparents, dementia, and a series of articles on our pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
It was a busy year for our family, we lost a grandparent to cancer and another grandparent to dementia (he is still with us, but not able to care for himself). We lived in three different cities during this time and learned just how giving our children can be, but there are limits…. But through all this, we survived and even grew in holiness along the way. Many of the struggles we encountered this year inspired blog posts and mediations in the prayer book, and there is more to come in 2016.
Things to Come in 2016
It is our ardent desire to allow God to drive the Your Holy Family bus, we are just trying to make sure we are open to going where he leads. At the end of 2015, we think we are being led in the following direction for the new year, but we could be wrong and are more than willing to let Jesus take the wheel and steer us in a slightly different or even completely opposite direction. Here are our top priorities for 2016:
- Publish a Guide for implementing parish based Family Ministry. The Family Fun Day/Teen Shenanigans program was developed and tested a couple of years ago and the next step is to implement it in a parish setting. While we have all the materials necessary to implement, we need to write it down and publish it. Along with this guide, we also intended to implement it within a parish, if your parish would be a good candidate, contact me and we will work with you to get this program into your parish.
- Publish a Guide for running Retreats for Families. We have run several very successful retreats for families over the years, but we want to enable anyone who would like to run them to have the resources necessary to do it on their own. We think running retreats for families is relatively easy. The main obstacle to running one for yourself is that a retreat for the whole family looks a bit different than a retreat for youth or for individuals. Our guide will seek to set expectations, provide practical guidance on how to plan the weekend, obtain quality speakers, select a theme, plan family friendly activities, coordinate food, shelter, and ensure that everyone (volunteers and attendees) has a great time. We would also love to conduct a family retreat in Texas, but we are still working out the details on when, where and how to pay for it. If you would like to hold a retreat for families in your area, please contact me and we will help make that a reality.
- Write more articles on family life! I have lots of thoughts on family life, just need to set aside the time to write about them. My resolution is to write at least two new articles a month, maybe more. My goal is to write articles that are positive, talking about the beauty of God’s plan for family life instead of dwelling on all the problems in our culture and attacks against the family. It is my opinion that our world has plenty of negativity and we are in need of some good news and God’s plan for family life is indeed great news! My articles will be a good mix of practical advice and thoughts on how we should approach family life with the goal of getting our whole family to heaven and maybe inspiring a few other families along the way to do the same.
The Hebert family wishes you and your family a happy and holy 2016.