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Oh Holy Families | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Oh Holy Families

I have visions of an idyllic family experience where real life doesn’t measure up to my visions of a happy little family.

But still, with Christmas break, I want the perfect worship experience with my family while both teens are home.

My hope for perfection gets marred when real life interrupts. We’re getting over being sick, and I was still fighting it. When we sat down together as a family at church this morning, I got hit with a coughing fit that wouldn’t quit. I had to leave. Then I was afraid to return to sit with my family because another coughing fit might make me sick. So I sat on a pew in the vestibule and resolved to spend the service out there instead.

God has to have a sense of humor for me to spend the Feast of the Holy Family at church, recovering from being sick, separated from my own family.

As the homily began talking about self sacrifice and how important that is to family, I saw living examples of it around me. I was outside the cry rooms and saw families working to manage their young children during Mass. As I saw them, I saw reflections of myself and my own years playing tag team parenting games.

  • Parents took their toddlers to the bathroom.
  • One little boy with his dad had to go to the bathroom and then needed a drink. The homily piped through the narthex, “You and I are responsible for the care of each other.” As the little boy walked by me one of his pant legs was tucked in his cowboy boots. I watched his dad lift him up so he could reach the drink of water, and when they walked by I saw the dad had also fixed his pants so neither was tucked into the cowboy boots.
  • There was the toddler who decided he was too big for the cry room and wanted to sit in the sanctuary with the big people.
  • There was the mother with several children in tow who took them all into the bathroom with her.
  • There was the teen girl who went to the bathroom and I suspect was as concerned about her latest text as she was other things before returning to her family.
  • There was the older sister taking her younger sister into the bathroom and managing her.

Each family I saw reflected what the Feast of the Holy Family is about for me. We none live in a perfect world. Life is messy. The first Christmas, Mary had to give birth in a stable because there was no room in the inn.

We often miss the wonder and glory of our imperfections. In each of the mini dramas I watched in the narthex, listening to a homily on families, I saw parents who were doing their job. They were showing up, working through the hard stuff, and doing their best by their kids. I just wanted to reassure each of the young parents to savor these times because these times fly. As they work through the tough times, they will one day remember the times they thought were tough and realize that’s what made them extraordinary families.

In the homily, we were told, “Parents are children’s first teachers in the faith.” What I saw as parents worked through attending Mass with young children was parents who taught their faith by their very presence in Mass.

The miracle of family life is when we surpass the troubles, the illness, and the problems to show love to one another.   Our homily ended,

A family that eats together and prays together will then share their faith with others. As a result true joy will be a radiant light in the darkness, the tender loving presence of God mercifully welcoming all.
 This is what it means to be a holy family.

We show our faith in our daily walk and grind as parents, whether it’s during the changing of diapers or the searching for college scholarships.  Savor these precious moments.

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