In several letters over the year, I have offered reflections on the sixth Beatitude given to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5, 8). January’s article focused on the beatitude itself, how, by means of a pure heart, we give our hearts completely into the Heart of God which became flesh in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. June’s article reflected on purity of heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, namely on how, when our hearts are pure, resting in Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, we see God at work in our lives and in the world, and we are strengthened to be His co-workers in the world. August reflected on purity of heart and how Mary’s Immaculate Heart draws our hearts to her own which is ever perfectly united to the Sacred Heart of her Son, so that we may share in His saving work, bringing many souls to Him Who alone is our salvation.
Now, in this month of December, as our observance of the Season of Advent is marked by the silent contemplation of the Mystery of Faith, the Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation, the mystery announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the conception of God the Son in her womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, I offer a reflection on the beatitude of purity of heart with a special focus on the life of the Holy Family.
From the Virginal Conception of Our Lord and His Birth of at Bethlehem through His hidden life at Nazareth after the return from the Flight into Egypt, God the Father provided in every way that His only-begotten Son be received into the world within the family of Joseph and Mary, and that He carry out His saving mission as the Son of Mary and the adopted or putative Son of Joseph. God the Father had provided for His Son the fitting vessel in which to become incarnate, to unite our human nature to His divine nature, by preserving the Virgin Mary from any stain of sin from the moment of her conception (the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, God the Son became man in the immaculate womb of Mary (the Mystery of the Virginal Conception of Jesus).
At the same time, God the Father wanted His Son to have a proper family, and thus He gave Saint Joseph the grace of a virginal marriage with Mary, in order that he could be the Virginal Father, the Guardian, of Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary is indeed the spouse of Saint Joseph and, therefore, the Divine Child conceived in her womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit is a member of the family of Joseph and Mary and enjoys the virginal fatherhood of Saint Joseph. In beginning the work of salvation, God the Father takes care that the conception of His only-begotten Son in human flesh, while virginal as it must be, is also completely legitimate. He is conceived in the womb of Mary, True Wife of Saint Joseph, but He is virginally conceived, by the working of the Holy Spirit, because He is God the Son and the long-awaited Messiah.
At the Annunciation, the Virgin Mary inquired of the Archangel Gabriel how she could become the mother of the Savior and yet remain faithful to her consecration as a virgin, a fidelity which her spouse, Joseph, had freely accepted in marrying her (cf. Lk 1, 34). The response of the Archangel makes clear the great mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation (cf. Lk 1, 35). It is inconceivable that God the Son, at His Incarnation, would not respect fully, indeed would not bring to perfection, both the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the sanctity of her marriage to Saint Joseph.
The virginal marriage of Joseph and Mary, and the life of the Holy Family from the moment of the virginal conception of God the Son in the womb of Mary reveals for us the incomparable beauty of Holy Matrimony and its fruit, the family. In Joseph and Mary, husbands and wives find the model of their own pure and selfless love for each other, a love which is totally faithful, endures throughout a lifetime, and has its crown in the generation of new human life. It is a love which desires and welcomes and nurtures new human life. The true love of spouses for each other is also their greatest gift to their children. It is nothing less than the communication of Christ alive within them. It is the communication of the Divine Love of the Holy Trinity, for God the Son is both the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and the Divine Child of the Holy Family of Mary and Joseph at Nazareth.
Accordingly, when Our Lord Jesus came in our human nature to save us from everlasting death and to give us a share in His divine life, He restored marriage to its original dignity, declaring God’s plan for marriage “from the beginning,” which is to be respected and honored by all at all times.
When considering the fundamental and irreplaceable good of marriage and the family for society, we must not fail to reflect upon the fact that Our Lord chose to be born into the family of Joseph and Mary. He was obedient to His mother and virginal-father, growing up, “in wisdom and age and grace before God and men” (Lk 2, 52). He chose to manifest His glory for the first time in His public ministry at the Wedding Feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2, 1-12), and, during His public ministry, taught clearly and strongly the truth about marriage (cf. Mt 19, 3-12; Mk 10, 1-12), as it was instituted by God at the Creation. He did not hesitate to be identified as the Bridegroom of His Bride, the Church (Mt 9, 15 and 25, 1-13; Mk 2, 19-20; Lk 5, 34-35; and Jn 3, 29).
In accord with the plan of God, marriage and the family is the primary and unmistakable way of evangelization. In other words, the primary duty of parents is to help their children to know their vocation in life, to embrace it with a pure heart, and so to attain eternal life.
At the heart of marriage and of family life is divine worship and prayer which give form to every other aspect of life. Sacred worship, the highest and most perfect expression of our life in Christ, is at the heart of family life. In the worship of God, in prayer, and in devotion, the family receives the power to evangelize and, at the same time, evangelizes the world most powerfully. The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:
It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.” Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life (n. 1657).
The family experiences its deepest being when it is at prayer, especially when participating at Holy Mass. The devotion of the Holy Rosary provides for the family the means of extending the communion with Our Lord in His Eucharistic Sacrifice by meditating, together with the Virgin Mary, on the mysteries which all form part of the great Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation. In a similar way, the devotion of Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home and consecration of the home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a reminder to every member of the family that it is Christ who makes the family by the gift of Holy Spirit from His Sacred Heart into the hearts of father, mother and children. Christ is the ever welcome guest in every Christian family, in every Christian home. From prayer and divine worship, every aspect of the personal life of each member of the family and of the family itself flows. The family at prayer and at worship manifests Christ alive in the Church in a most powerful way.
May this reflection on the Holy Family give you encouragement for your life at home, life in your family. May it inspire us all in our care for the family and our fostering family life. May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless all our families, bless us all with purity of heart, and bless the offering of all our prayers.
Imploring Our Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to bless you, your homes, your families, and your labors, I remain