Holy Family 2014

A little boy greets his father as he returns from work with a question: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” The father is surprised and says: “Look, son, not even your mother knows. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.” “But Daddy, just tell me please! How much do you make an hour?” the boy insists. The father finally gives up and replies: “Twenty dollars.” “Okay, Daddy,” the boy continues, “Could you loan me ten dollars?” The father yells at him: “So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right? Now, go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!” At night the father thinks over what he said and starts feeling guilty. Maybe his son needed to buy something. Finally, he goes to his son's room. “Are you asleep, son?” asks the father. “No, Daddy. Why?” replies the boy. “Here's the money you asked for earlier,” the father said. “Thanks, Daddy!” replies the boy and receives the money. The he reaches under his pillow and brings out some more money. “Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!” says the boy to his father, “Daddy, could you sell me one hour of your time?” Today’s gospel has a message for this man and for all of us, and the message is that we need to invest more of our time in our family life.

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Life: Being at Home: Fr. Gerry Piece, cssr 

On Christmas morning the preacher spoke about reverence for all children. He referred to the many awful cases of child abuse reported in the media and said that all children should be reverenced like the Christ Child. As he spoke a little three year old girl detached herself from her parents and stood in the center isle of the church sending flying kisses in all directions. "I do not understand" said the preacher, "how anyone could treat with violence something so charming and beautiful and delicate as this little girl." Her father sitting on the nearby seat was as good and gentle and loving as any father could be. But he said under his breath, "often, I can!"

Across the isle Tony and Tessie looked a model couple. After a whirlwind courtship they had a grand wedding. But as they settled down to marriage they discovered how different they were in personality. Tessie used weakness to try to get her way. When things were going wrong she would cry, ask forgiveness, and try to patch things up. But Tony had learned to deal with life by facing problems aggressively. He despised anything that appeared to be weakness and saw no reason to make up after a quarrel. While appearances were maintained, there was now a ravine between them and anything like intimate communication was a long forgotten memory.

These situations are just little windows that give us an idea of what family life is like. It is not a bed of roses - or if it is the thorns play as prominent a part as the flowers. Today, the Sunday following Christmas, the Church gives importance to all families by setting the Holy family of Nazareth before us as an example. It is not a pie in the sky sort of feast - say your prayers and all will be well. Instead, Mary is told by Simeon, "you yourself shall be pierced with a sword." The arena of marriage is not an easy one.

One of the greatest joys of my life has been listening to people, particularly married people, in different parts of the world who have shared on how the practice of meditation had helped them grow and be happy as a family. One of the first pitfalls of marriage is that of trying to change one's partner. Nagging makes one's partner dig in all the more and makes change less possible. When, however, one partner in a marriage begins to meditate this person begins to be more at home at his or her center. If there is more peace there, one's responses will also be more peace-full. If one's responses are more peace-full the other partner will have to be effected and so the level of tension in the relationship is reduced. As one meditates one becomes more aware of the violent reactions that come from the defensive ego and one can become able to replace them with more civil responses. As the level of tension in relationship goes down the level of intimacy rises. There will be more real sharing of thoughts and feelings and, when this happens, according to some couples, sexual union becomes a new kind of celebration.

It has been said that the best gift that parents can give their children is to love one another. So the improved relationship between spouses will have a spin off in the relationship with their children. If they can listen more sensitively to one another they will be able to listen more sensitively to their children, with subsequent benefits for all. Family life is about being "at home" for one another. But we cannot be at home for one another if we are alienated from ourselves - not at home with ourselves. This is becoming more and more of a problem in our world of working wives and high competition. There is less time to be together: then the skill of being together gets lost and there is a rush to fill up feelings of emptiness and alienation by work.

Meditation is a way of prayer in which by using a prayer word one tries to be still. This makes one be at home at one's own center. It makes it more possible to be at home with others. If practiced by family members it will help them to become more whole and more holy.

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From the Connections: 

THE WORD:

In today’s Gospel, the faithful Joseph and Mary bring their son to the temple for his presentation to the Lord, a ritual required by the Law.  The Book of Exodus taught that a family's first-born son “belonged” to the Lord who saved them when the first-born sons of the Egyptians were destroyed at the first Passover (Exodus 13: 15).

The prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna are idealized portraits of the faithful “remnant” of Israel awaiting the Messiah’s coming.  Simeon’s canticle praises God for the universal salvation that will be realized in Jesus; in his prophecy, the shadow of the cross falls upon the Holy Family.

Anna, as an elderly widow, is considered among the most vulnerable and poor of society.  Her encounter with the child typifies the theme woven throughout Luke's Gospel: the exaltation of society's poorest and most humble by God.

In Matthew and Luke’s stories of Jesus birth and childhood (which were later additions to those Gospels, drawn from the many stories about Jesus’ life that were part of the early Christian oral tradition that had developed), life for the family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is difficult and cruel: they are forced from their home; they are innocent victims of the political and social tensions of their time; they endure the suspicions of their own people when Mary's pregnancy is discovered; their child is born under the most difficult and terrifying of circumstances; they experience the agony of losing their beloved child.  And yet, through it all, their love and faithfulness to one another do not waver.  The Holy Family is a model for our families as we confront the many tensions and crises that threaten the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of being a family. 

HOMILY POINTS:

Today’s Feast of the Holy Family calls us to re-discover and celebrate our own families as harbors of forgiveness and understanding and safe places of unconditional love, welcome and acceptance.

The Holy Family is a model for our families as we confront the many tensions and crises that threaten the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of being a family.

The prophet Simeon proclaims that this child will be a “light” for Israel — but that light will endure great suffering and pain before finally shattering the darkness.  Luke’s Gospel of the Child Jesus reminds us that the crib is overshadowed by the cross, that this holy birth is the beginning of humankind’s rebirth in the Resurrection.  

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From Fr. Tony Kadavil

Introduction:

On the last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  We are here to offer all the members of our own families on the altar for God’s blessing. The first reading is a commentary on the fourth commandment: "Honor your father and your mother." Ben Sirachhas many good things to say about living properly according to the Torah.  Sirach reminds children of their duty to honor their parents – even when it becomes difficult. He also mentions the five-fold reward which God promises to those who honor their father and mother. The first reward is “riches,” and the second long life: “Whoever reveres his father will live a long life.” Forgiveness of sins and God’s prompt answer to prayers are the fourth and fifth rewards. He reminds children that God blesses them if they obey revere and show compassion to their father. Paul, in the letter to the Colossians, advises us that we should put on love and remain thankful in our relationships with one another. Paul’s advice is part of the "Household code" – the rules for members of the Christian family. Though the details date to Paul’s time, the underlying message of being careful with one another – being full of care – is timeless. Paul teaches that children should learn and practice noble qualities like compassion, kindness, forgiveness and sharing in the warmth of the family. In a truly holy family all members are respected, cherished, nurtured and supported, united through the bond of love. Today’s Gospel describes how Joseph presented Mary and the Child Jesus in the Temple for the ritual of the mother's purification and the child's "presentation."  

Life messages: 1) We need to learn lessons from the Holy Family: The Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement.   They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God.

2) We need to make the family a confessional rather than a courtroom.  A senior Judge of the Supreme Court congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a courtroom; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins.  On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a heavenly one.” 

3) Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged to lead holy lives. L/14 

Exegesis:

The context:

Today’s Gospel describes the presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple.  The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus(celebrated formally on February 2),is a combined feast, commemorating the Jewish practice of the purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation of the child in the Temple. It is known as the “Hypanthe” feast or Feast of the Purification of Mary (by the offering two pigeons in the Temple), the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (by prayers and a sacrifice offered in the Temple to redeem or buy the firstborn male child back from the Lord), the Feast of Candlemas (because candles are blessed for liturgical and personal use) and the Feast of Encounter (because the New Testament, represented by the Baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna). 

Purification and redemption ceremonies: The Gospel describes how Joseph, as the head of the Holy Family of Nazareth, presented Mary and the Baby Jesus in the Temple of God for the mother’s purification and the Child’s “redemption.” The Mosaic Law (Numbers 18: 15), taught that since every Jewish firstborn male child belonged to Yahweh, the parents had to “buy back” (redeem), the child by offering a lamb or turtledoves as a sacrifice in the Temple. In addition (Leviticus

12: 2-8), every mother had to be purified after childbirth by prayers and an offering made to God in the Temple. Joseph kept these laws as an act of obedience to God. 

The encounter with Simeon and Anna:  By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the old, pious and Spirit-filled Simeon and Anna had been waiting in the Temple for the revelation of God’s salvation. Simeon recognized Jesus as the Lord’s anointed one, and in his prayer of blessing he prophesied that Jesus was meant to be the glory of Israel and the light of revelation to the Gentiles. While he blessed Mary, he warned her that her child would be “asign of contradiction,” and that she would be “pierced with a sword.” Simeon was prophesying both the universal salvation that would be proclaimed by Jesus and the necessity of suffering in the mission of the Messiah

Influence of the Holy Family on Jesus: We know that the family of Jesus was steeped in Scripture. Mary’s prayer, the Magnificat, is rich in Old Testament quotations. We know that Jesus’ family had a deep life of piety that included pilgrimages and prayer to the angels. Both Mary and Joseph were accustomed to receiving the guidance of Heaven’s messengers. From Jesus’ adulthood, we can also glimpse the prayer life He learned from His parents. He prayed the morning offering of pious Jews (Mk 12:29-30). He prayed spontaneously. He took time to pray alone. Yet, He also prayed with His friends. Jesus fasted and marked the holy days. All these habits He probably acquired from His home life in Nazareth. We know that work was important to Jesus’ family. In adulthood, Jesus was called not just “Joseph’s son,” but “the carpenter’s son.” Joseph was skilled in a trade that was highly regarded in his day, and he trained Jesus in the same craft. We can conclude from Jesus’ preaching that Mary was industrious and frugal in keeping a house. It was likely from her example that Jesus drew many of His favorite stories: a woman finding just the right cloth to patch a piece of clothing, a woman setting aside leaven for tomorrow’s baking, a widow searching her house for a lost coin. Hard work, struggling to pay  the bills, taking long road trips, praying simple devotions — all of this we learn from the real Gospels. (mikeaquilina.com).  

Life Messages:

1) We need to learn lessons from the Holy Family: By celebrating the Sunday following Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family, the Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement.   They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. Jesus brought holiness to the family of Joseph and Mary as Jesus brings us holiness by embracing us in His family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following advice to the parents: "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.  They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.  The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.'" The CCC adds: “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children.” (CCC #2223).

2) Marriage: a Sacrament of holiness. The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that, as the basic unit of the universal Church, each family is called to holiness. In fact, Jesus Christ has instituted two Sacraments in His Church to make society holy – the Sacrament of priesthood and the  Sacrament of marriage.  Through the Sacrament of priesthood, Jesus sanctifies the priest as well as his parish. Similarly, by the Sacrament of marriage, Jesus sanctifies not only the spouses but also the entire family. The husband and wife attain holiness when they discharge their duties faithfully, trusting in God, and drawing on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit through personal and family prayer, meditative reading of the Bible, and devout participation in Holy Mass.  Families become holy when Christ Jesus is present in them. Jesus becomes truly present in the parish church through the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.  Similarly, Jesus becomes truly present in a family when all the members live in the Christian spirit of sacrifice. This happens when there is mutual understanding, mutual support and mutual respect.   There must be proper care and respect given by children to their parents and grandparents, even after they have grown up and left home. 

3) We need to make the family a confessional rather than a courtroom.  A senior Judge of the Supreme Court recently congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a courtroom; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins.  On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a heavenly one.” Thus, we can avoid the dangers we watch in dysfunctional families as presented in TV in the shows like Married with Children, The Simpson’s, Everyone Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle. 

4) Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged to lead holy lives. 

5) Let us extend the boundaries of our family: The homeless man or woman today in the streets of big cities, fighting the cold and the snow, is part of our family. The drug addict in a den, or living in fear and aloneness this day, is member of our family. The sick person, dying, alone, dirty and maybe even obnoxious, is a member of our family. The person sitting in the prison cell for whatever reason is also a child of God, and as such, according to St. John, is a member of our family. All these, as well as the cherished intimate members of our family, are “family valuables,” and, as such, are worthy of safekeeping and reverence. 

On the Feast of the only perfect Family that ever lived on this earth, all parents might examine themselves and see how well they are fulfilling the grave responsibility which God has placed on them. As they heard during their marriage ceremony: "children are a gift from God to you."  Children serve as the joy of their parents’ young years and the help and comfort of their old age, but above and beyond that, they are a gift for which their parents are accountable before God, as they must, in the end, return these, His children, to Him.  Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church. May God bless all our families in the New Year. 

Catholic tradition suggests a few practical ways for us to imitate the Holy Family: (http://karlaschultz.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/how-to-imitate-the-holy-family/) 

1. We need to hang an image of the Holy Family on the wall. The photos we keep in frames are reminders of who we are, where we’ve come from and the standard we have to live up to. In 1890, Pope Leo XIII urged everyone to keep a picture of the Holy Family in the home. At least it can serve as an antidote to the dysfunctional family images we get on TV. 

2. We need to cultivate silence. This is the quality Pope Paul VI found most inspiring in the Holy Family. They lived a hidden life, a quiet life, a life with lots of room for thinking. With TV, radio and the Internet clogging our minds and senses, we leave our families little room for thought or prayer. Our interior dialogue with God gets crowded out by ads and John and Yoko singing “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” on the oldies channel. We need to do what it takes to bring silence home — move the TV so that it’s not the centerpiece of our household; turn it off when no one’s watching. This is guaranteed to reduce family stress levels. 

4. We need to make our home a haven of charity. One of the most striking descriptions of the Church comes from  a third-century Christian: “It’s our care of the helpless, our practice of loving kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents, who say, ‘See those Christians, how they love one another.’” Such charity has to begin at home. The home is the “domestic Church.” Yet how many  of us Catholics decry the lack of reverence in their our Church then go home to desecrate our domestic churches — by harsh words toward our kids or our spouse, or by gossip about the neighbors, co-workers or even priests? Remember: “They’ll know we are Christians” — not just by the nativity scene in our front yard — but by the love in our hearts, expressed in our homes.  

5. We need to make our home a place of prayer. Our day needn't be dominated by devotions, but we should have some regular, routine family prayers, just as the Holy Family did. They prayed and studied the Scriptures, but still managed to get their work done. There are many ways we can pray as a family, and we should seek the ways that work best for our tribe. We can pray together at the beginning of the day, or at the end. We should, at least, be saying grace at every meal. We can pray the Rosary together, begin a weekly family Bible study, go to a weekday Mass. It might be advisable to begin with something small and manageable and then give ourselves time to grow into it before tackling something bigger. 

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Illustrations: From Fr. Tony Kadavil 

1: Grandparents are a treasure:

Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a small table and set it off to the side of the dining hall so the grandfather would eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing with a piece of wood. “What are you making?” he asked his son. “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter-in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope, who will celebrate his 78th birthday on December 17. “Grandparents are a treasure,” he said. “Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added. (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/11/19/grandparents-are-a-treasure-says-pope-francis/) 

2: Cancer, heart disease and family relationship:

A few years ago, a study was undertaken to find the U.S. city with the lowest incidence of cancer and heart disease.  The winner was Rosetto, Pennsylvania. Soon experts descended upon the city expecting to see a town populated by non-smokers, people who ate the correct food, took regular exercise and kept close track of their cholesterol.  To their great surprise, however, the researchers discovered that none of the above was true. They found instead that the city’s good health was tied to the close family bonds that prevailed within the community.   This suggests that there is much to be said for a close and loving family relationship. (Robert Duggan & Richard Jajac). 

3: Dying of loneliness:

In an audience Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living alone. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten’ (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies). 

4: Dying of loneliness:

In an audience Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living alone. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten.’ (Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’)  

5: “Daddy, could you please sell me one hour of your time?”

A little boy greets his father as he returns from work with a question: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” The father is surprised and says, “Look, son, not even your mother knows. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.” “But Daddy, just tell me please! How much do you make an hour?” the boy insists. The father finally gives up and replies, “Twenty dollars.” “Okay, Daddy,” the boy continues, “Could you loan me ten dollars?” The father yells at him, “So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right? Now, go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!” At night the father thinks over what he said and starts feeling guilty. Maybe his son needed to buy something. Finally, he goes to his son's room. “Are you asleep, son?” asks the father. “No, Daddy. Why?” replies the boy. “Here's the money you asked for earlier,” the father said. “Thanks, Daddy!” replies the boy and receives the money. The he reaches under his pillow and brings out some more money. “Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!” says the boy to his father, “Daddy, could you sell me one hour of your time?” Today’s readings have a message for this man and for all of us, and the message is that we need to invest more of our time in our family life. 

6: Making the family a confessional rather than a court room.

A senior Judge of the Supreme Court once congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a court room; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys, in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins. On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a heavenly one.” Thus we can avoid the dangers we watch in dysfunctional families as presented in TV in the shows like Married with Children, The Simpson’s, Everyone Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.  

7: Let us extend the boundaries of our family:

The homeless man or woman today in the streets of big cities, fighting the cold and the snow, is part of our family. The drug addict in a den, or living in fear and aloneness this day, is a member of our family. The sick person, dying, alone, dirty and maybe even obnoxious, is a member of our family. The person sitting in the prison cell for whatever reason is also a child of God, and as such, according to St. John, is a member of our family. All these, as well as the cherished intimate members of our family, are “family valuables,” and, as such, are worthy of safekeeping and reverence. Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church. 

8: Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our feast of presentation.

Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our baptism we are presenting ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence we need to live our daily lives with the double awareness that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged to lead holy lives.

1: Long Training: A mother goes to her pastor and explains that her son seems very interested in becoming a priest. She would like to know what this would require. So the priest begins to explain: "If he wants to become a diocesan priest, he'll have to study for eight years. If he wants to become a Franciscan, he'll have to study for ten years. If he wants to become a Jesuit, he'll have to study for fourteen years." [This joke originated back when young men entered seminaries right after high school.] The mother listens carefully, and as the priest concludes, her eyes brighten. "Sign him up for that last one, Father -- he's a little slow!" 

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From Sermon Illustrations:

 Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.

One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.

God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, friends. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the program takes priority over people, people often suffer. How much cargo do we sacrifice in order to achieve the number one slot? How many people never reach the destination because of the aggressiveness of a competitive captain?

In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 97-98.


Even that first famous Adams generation (children of 2nd president John Adams, 1735-1826) had more than its share of black sheep. John and Abigail's eldest child, Abigail, married a wastrel and at her death left her children to their care. Son Charles married the sister of his spendthrift brother-in-law, dissipated family funds, died of alcoholism and left his widow to the care of his parents. Son Thomas Boylston also became an alcoholic, again bequeathing his children to the care of the family. Though John Quincy (1767-1848) turned out well, he and his unhappy wife Louisa hardly went unscathed. Thier first son was an alcoholic and committed suicide at the age of 31. Their next son was expelled from college, failed in business and died of an alcohol-related illness. Only their youngest son, Charles Francis (1807-86), reacted against the family pattern by his exemplary sobriety, his prudence in business and fervent dedication to his wife and children. He spent years writing the biography and editing the words of his grandfather John Adams. But he concluded, "The history of my family is not a pleasant one to remember. It is one of great triumphs in the world but of deep groans within, one of extraordinary brilliancy and deep corroding mortification."

Charles Francis Adams, grandson of 2nd President John Adams, son of 6th president John Quincy Adams, in U.S. News and World Report, Dec 12, 1988


It started with Rent-A-Wife, a small Petaluma, California, company created by Karen Donovan to help clients decorate their homes, balance checkbooks, run errands, etc. Donovan, who launched her business through a small ad in the local newspaper, is already thinking big after four months of operation. She wants to hire her father to initiate Rent-A-Husband and her two teens to start Rent-A-Family. "We can do what any family does," the newfangled entrepreneur joked. "We can come over and eat all the food, turn on all the lights, put handprints on the walls, take showers and leave the towels on the floor. When clients are finished with Rent-A-Family, they'll have to call Rent-A-Wife.

Campus Life, October, 1980.


In 1978, Thomas Hansen of Boulder Colorado, sued his parents for $350,000 on grounds of "malpractice of parenting." Mom and Dad had botched his upbringing so badly, he charged in his suit, that he would need years of costly psychiatric treatment.

Unknown.


Statistics and Commentary

The evidence is convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more effective we are in our careers. If we're having difficulty with a loved one, that difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job. In studying the millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the "typical" millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families. The evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society. Strengthen your family ties and you'll enhance your opportunity to succeed.

Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989.


According to a study of more than 500 family counselors, the following are the top traits of successful families:

*Communicating and listening *Affirming and supporting family members *Respecting one another *Developing a sense of trust *Sharing time and responsibility *Knowing right from wrong *Having rituals and traditions *Sharing a religious core *Respecting privacy.

Focus on the Family Bulletin, December, 1988 .


From a national survey of strong families conducted by the Human Development and Family Department at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, a profile of a strong family:

Appreciation. "Family members gave one another compliments and sincere demonstrations of approval. They tried to make the others feel appreciated and good about themselves."
Ability to Deal with Crises in a Positive Manner. "They were willing to take a bad situation, see something positive in it and focus on that."
Time Together. "In all areas of their lives--meals, work, recreation--they structured their schedules to spend time together."
High Degree of Commitment. "Families promoted each person's happiness and welfare, invested time and energy in each other and made family their number one priority."
Good Communication Patterns. "These families spent time talking with each other. They also listened well, which shows respect."
High Degree of Religious Orientation. "Not all belonged to an organized church, but they considered themselves highly religious." (1983)

Human Development and Family Department at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.


Families in 2000 will average 1.81 children, down from 1.84 today. Some 60 percent of kids born in the '80s will live for a time with one parent; 1 kid in 4 will live with a stepparent by age 16. One third of all households will be childless. . . Supporting a teenager still at home will cost $12,000 a year against $7,000 now. Kids who head to college in 2000 will need upwards of $100,000 for each bachelor's degree.

U.S. News and World Report, Dec 25, 1989.


Rudyard Kipling once wrote about families, "all of us are we--and everyone else is they." A family shares things like dreams, hopes, possessions, memories, smiles, frowns, and gladness...A family is a clan held together with the glue of love and the cement of mutual respect. A family is shelter from the storm, a friendly port when the waves of life become too wild. No person is ever alone who is a member of a family.

Fingertip Facts.


Parents rate their inability to spend enough time with their children as the greatest threat to the family. In a survey conducted for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Corp., 35 percent pointed to time constraints as the most important reason for the decline in family values. Another 22 percent mentioned a lack of parental discipline. While 63 percent listed family as their greatest source of pleasure, only 44 percent described the quality of family life in America as good or excellent. And only 34 percent expected it to be good or excellent by 1999. Despite their expressed desire for more family time, two-thirds of those surveyed say they would probably accept a job that required more time away from home if it offered higher income or greater prestige.

Moody Monthly, December, 1989, p. 72.


Sociologist and historian Carle Zimmerman, in his 1947 book Family and Civilization, recorded his keen observations as he compared the disintegration of various cultures with the parallel decline of family life in those cultures. Eight specific patterns of domestic behavior typified the downward spiral of each culture Zimmerman studied.

*Marriage loses its sacredness...is frequently broken by divorce.
*Traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
*Feminist movements abound.
*Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
*Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
*Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities.
*Growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
*Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 90.


Becoming good at the things that build inner confidence and calm takes practice -- and a dash of creativity! The following list might provide some cloudseeding for a brainstorm or two of your own. Have some fun with your family...and get ready for a good rest.

1. Pay off your credit cards.
2. Take off ten pounds or accept where you are without any more complaints.
3. Eat dinner together as a family for seven days in a row.
4. Take your wife on a dialogue date (no movie, guys).
5. Read your kids a classic book (Twain's a good start).
6. Memorize the Twenty-third Psalm as a family.
7. Give each family member a hug for twenty-one days in a row (that's how long the experts say it takes to develop a habit). 

8. Pick a night of the week in which the television will remain unplugged.
9. Go out for a non-fast food dinner as a family.
10. Pray for your spouse and children every day.
11. Plan a vacation together.
12. Take a vacation together.
13. Read a chapter from the Bible every day until it becomes a habit.
14. Sit together as a family in church.
15. Surprise your teenage. Wash his car and fill up his gas tank.
16. Take an afternoon off from work; surprise your child by excusing him from school and taking him to a ball game.
17. Take a few hours one afternoon and go to the library as a family.
18. Take a walk as a family.
19. Write each member of your family a letter sharing why you value them.
20. Give your spouse a weekend getaway with a friend (same gender!) to a place of their choice.
21. Go camping as a family.
22. Go to bed early (one hour before your normal bedtime) every day for a week.
23. Take each of your children out to breakfast (individually) at least once a month for a year.
24. Turn down a promotion that would demand more time from your family than you can afford to give.
25. Religiously wear your seat belts.
26. Get a complete physical.
27. Exercise a little every day for a month.
28. Make sure you have adequate life insurance on both you and your spouse.
29. Write out information about finances, wills, and important business information that your spouse can use to keep things under control in the event of your death.
30. Make sure your family car is safe (tires, brakes, etc.) and get it tuned up.
31. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm.
32. Put a security system in your house.
33. Attend the parent/teacher meetings of each child as a couple.
34. Help your kids with their homework.
35. Watch the kids on Saturday while your wife goes shopping (but if a friend calls, don't say that you're "babysitting").
36. Explain to your spouse exactly what you do for a living.
37. Put together a picture puzzle. (One thousand pieces or more.)
38. Take time during the week to read a Bible story to your children and then discuss it with them.
39. Encourage each child to submit to you his most perplexing question, and promise him that you'll either answer it or discuss it with him.
40. Finish fixing something around the house.
41. Tell your kids how you and your spouse met.
42. Tell your kids about your first date.
43. Sit down and write your parents a letter thanking them for a specific thing they did for you. (Don't forget to send it!)
44. Go on a shopping spree where you are absolutely committed to buying nothing.
45. Keep a prayer journal for a month. Keep track of the specific ways that God answers your needs.
46. Do some stargazing away from the city with your family. Help your children identify constellations and conclude the evening with prayer to the majestic God who created the heavens.
47. Treat your wife to a beauty make-over (facial, manicure, haircut, etc.). I hear they really like this.
48. Give the kids an alternative to watching Saturday morning cartoons (breakfast at McDonald's, garage sales, the park, chores, etc.).
49. Ask your children each day what they did at school (what they learned, who they ate lunch with, etc.).
50. After you make your next major family decision, take your child back through the process and teach him how you arrived at your decision.
51. Start saying to yourself "My car doesn't look so bad."
52. Call you wife or husband from work just to see how they're doing.
53. Compile a family tree and teach your children the history of their ancestors.
54. Walk through an old graveyard with your children.
55. Say no to at least one thing a day -- even if it's only a second piece of pie.
56. Write that letter to the network that broadcast the show you felt was inappropriate for prime-time viewing.
57. Turn off the lights and listen to a "praise" tape as you focus your thoughts on the Lord.
58. Write a note to your pastor praising him for something.
59. Take back all the books in your library that actually belong in someone else's library.
60. Give irritating drivers the right to pull in front of you without signaling and yelling at them.
61. Make every effort to not let the sun go down on your anger.
62. Accept legitimate criticism from your wife or a friend without reacting or defending yourself.
63. If your car has a Christian bumper sticker on in -- drive like it.
64. Do a Bible study on the "wise man" and the "fool" in Proverbs...and then apply what it takes to be wise to your life.
65. Make a list of people who have hurt your feelings over the past year...then check your list to see if you've forgiven them.
66. Make a decision to honor your parents, even if they made a career out of dishonoring you.
67. Take your children to the dentist and doctor for your wife.
68. Play charades with your family, but limit subjects to memories of the past.
69. Do the dishes for your wife.
70. Schedule yourself a free day to stay home with your family.
71. Get involved in a family project that serves or helps someone less fortunate.
72. As a family, get involved in a recreational activity.
73. Send your wife flowers.
74. Spend an evening going through old pictures from family vacations.
75. Take a weekend once a year for you and your spouse to get away and renew your friendship.
76. Praise your spouse and children -- in their presence -- to someone else.
77. Discuss a world or national problem, and ask your children for their opinion on it.
78. Wait up for your teenagers when they are out on dates.
79. Have a "quiet Saturday" (no television, no radio, no stereo...no kidding).
80. If your children are little, spend an hour playing with them -- but let them determine the game.
81. Have your parents tell your children about life when they were young.
82. Give up soap operas.
83. De-clutter your house.
84. If you have a habit of watching late night television, but have to be to work early every morning, change your habit.
85. Don't accept unnecessary breakfast appointments.
86. Write missionaries regularly.
87. Go through your closets and give everything that you haven't worn in a year to a clothing relief organization.
88. Become a faithful and frequent visitor of your church's library.
89. Become a monthly supporter of a Third World child.
90. Keep mementos, school projects, awards, etc. of each child in separate files. You'll appreciate these when they've left the nest.
91. Read the biography of a missionary.
92. Give regularly and faithfully to conscientious church endeavors.
93. Place with your will a letter to each family member telling why you were glad you got to share life with him or her.
94. Go through your old records and tapes and discard any of them that might be a bad testimony to your children.
95. Furnish a room (or a corner of a room) with comfortable chairs and declare it the "disagreement corner." When conflicts arise, go to this corner and don't leave until it's resolved.
96. Give each child the freedom to pick his favorite dinner menu at least once a week.
97. Go over to a shut-in's house as a family and completely clean it and get the lawn work done.
98. Call an old friend from your past, just to see how he or she is getting along.
99. Get a good friend to hold you accountable for a specific important need (Bible reading, prayer, spending time with your family, losing a few pounds, etc.).
100. Establish a budget.
101. Go to a Christian marriage enrichment seminar.

Tim Kimmel, Little House on the Freeway, pp. 219-223.


Humor

At the annual family-reunion picnic, a young bride led her husband over to an old woman busily crocheting in a rocker. "Granny," she said, touching the old woman's hand affectionately, "this is my new husband." The woman eyed him critically for a long moment, then asked abruptly, "Do you desire children?" Startled by her bluntness, the young man blushed and stammered, "Well-uh-yes, I do very much." "Well," she said, looking scornfully at the large tribe gathered around the six picnic tables, "try to control it!"

Colleen Pifer.

To prove his love for her, he swam the deepest river, crossed the widest desert and climbed the highest mountain. She divorced him. He was never home.

Rose Sands, The Saturday Evening Post.


Who can ever forget Winston Churchill's immortal words: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills." It sounds exactly like our family vacation.

Robert Orben.


An exhaustive study shows that no woman has ever shot her husband while he was doing the dishes.

Earl Wilson.


A woman was at home doing some cleaning when the telephone rang. In going to answer it, she tripped on a scatter rug and, grabbing for something to hold onto, seized the telephone table. It fell over with a crash, jarring receiver off the hook. As it fell, it hit the family dog, who leaped up, howling and barking. The woman's three-year-old son, startled by this noise, broke into loud screams. The woman mumbled some colorful words. She finally managed to pick up the receiver and lift it to her ear, just in time to hear her husband's voice on the other end say, "Nobody's said hello yet, but I'm positive I have the right number."

James Dent, Charleston, W.Va., Gazette.


The man who seldom finds himself in hot water is the one with a wife, several daughters and one bathroom.

Unknown.