Pastor's Message for Jan 1st
Family and Community
Happy New Year and Greetings from Nigeria. I just arrived home to visit with my dear mother and my brothers and sisters, but I am still thinking of you, my St. Leonard’s community. Thank you for your generosity to me and the children of the orphanage and I hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas as we once again celebrated the birth of Jesus. God is truly with us!
Recently I have been reflecting on family life and its role as the building block of our Catholic community. This all comes together for us during the Christmas season when our families and extended families gather together. Every year right after Christmas, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. There is a reason for this. It’s easy to think the “incarnation” means God took on a human body. But there is much more to it than that. In Jesus, God unites himself to an entire human nature. He fully enters the human experience, with all its peaks and valleys. And a part of that human experience, with more than its share of joys, challenges and suffering, is family. Just as the Holy Family modeled a virtuous life in their household, we too are called to life a virtuous life in our household and our community, placing love for God and neighbour above all else. If we are going to have strong faith-filled communities then we need to have strong faith-filled families. One cannot exist without the other. I would like to consider three values of a “holy” family and how can we put these virtues into practice in the life of our community.
Compassion means to “feel the feelings of the other”. In a loving family, family members put themselves in the shoes of their brothers or sisters, or mothers or fathers so that they can see issues and conflicts from the other family members perspective. In a similar way in a strong community, members enter the feelings of their fellow parishioners and place the highest value on their relationship.
Humility means to “be deeply aware of your own truth.” In a caring family, brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers are aware of their own ignorance and weaknesses. Others are not always wrong! Fostering the virtue of humility in a community leads to members saying to themselves “I might be wrong. Maybe it’s me.”
Patience means to bear another’s burdens. A family where family members ask the question “Whose burdens can I bear today?” It is a family where happiness will reign. The kids know the parent’s burdens. The husband knows the wife’s burden’s and the kid’s burdens. The same question should be asked of all our community members, “Whose troubles can I alleviate?”.
Compassion, humility and patience are all facets of love. As Bishop Robert Barron often states, “Love is to will the good of the other.” Everything in the Christian family should lead to love because love is what God is. All dysfunction in families flows from a lack of love and it is a lack of love that causes families to break down. The same is true of all Christian communities, including our own of St. Leonard’s Parish.
As we begin this new calendar year let us reflect on the virtues of compassion, humility and patience that were so lovingly lived out in the Holy Family and renew or commitment to apply these virtues of love in our own family and in our community of St. Leonard Parish.
Wishing you much love this year and looking forward to seeing you in February! Father Titus