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Monday, September 26, 2016
Archbishop Nichols: pastoral letter on Feast of the Holy Family
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┬á"'Home is a Holy Place', emphasised Archbishop Vincent Nichols in a Pastoral Letter for the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday, 31 December 2006. "We think of Jesus Mary and Joseph as a perfect family. But we may well think that saying 'home is a holy place', like so many religious expressions, is no more than wishful thinking. It is simply not true of home life today." The Archbishop of Birmingham said: "I am not saying that all must be well for home to be holy. Holiness is not about having successful children, a tidy house, or even a very solid marriage. Nor is holiness simply about having a routine of family prayer, although that helps. "Holiness is about having eyes for God. It is about being ready to respond to God's presence in ways that are generous and brave. Holiness is about seeing beneath the surface of daily events and having the courage to know that God is at work in them even if they don't make sense to us. Holiness is walking every minute with God. Seeking holiness is tough going." Archbishop Nichols stressed: "Seeking holiness in our homes is particularly difficult. Often it's far easier to be kind to strangers than to those with whom e live. Everyone starts off with the hope of being the perfect family. But then reality sets in. All of life's difficulties begin to emerge. It's only when we realise that we are not perfect, that we are never going to be perfect, neither as individuals nor as a family that the real work of holiness begins. "When we accept that something has really gone wrong, when we have that terrible feeling in the pit of our stomach, then we can begin to discover what it is to rely on God, to have eyes for God, to walk each minute with God. "The great joys of life, especially in a family, bring us together. It is the knocks, the disappointments, the tragedies of life that leave us stunned and shaken, the fašade of our respectability seriously dented. Yet these cracks and gaping holes in the fabric of our lives are precisely the spaces through which the light and love of God enter. These are the opportunities to become holy." Archbishop Nichols explained: "The pathway to holiness in our homes is the pathway of St Teresa of Liseux. It is her Little Way, the constant effort of doing the ordinary things in an extraordinary way: as best we can. This is the way by which the home becomes a holy place. It is a pathway each of us can walk, day by day. Everyone in a family has their part to play, as a parent a grandparent, as a child or brother or sister." Archbishop Nichols added: "Over the coming months, the Catholic Church in England and Wales will be reflecting on this theme. I hope you will receive much encouragement in your family life."
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