"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Yogism: The Holy Family is a family

Today's feast used to bore me as a bit of particularly high-flown irrelevance. Jesus, the child, was God Incarnate; Mary, the wife and mother, was without sin; poor Joseph, the husband and father, responsible for supporting and protecting them, was actually his foster son's creature—and had no sex with his wife, who was and always would be greater than he in God's great design. This is a family we can relate to as a model? Seems more like something to deck the wall with as an icon and admire, in occasional befuddlement, from a distance.

Actually, the Holy Family is relevant, and more so today than ever. It took me a long while to see that. To share the perspective, I suggest you start with Dr. Marcello D'Ambrosio's article for the day. The Holy Family was far from lacking in the tensions, dangers, challenges, and daily grittiness of family life. Was that so in spite of the exalted status of its members? Hardly. Family life was rather made an occasion of holiness precisely by God's having chosen to share it as he did. It is the first and most logical extension of the Incarnation itself.

The family so understood is what it is irrespective of the individual vocations of its members. Whatever those vocations may be, the family is the crucible in which they are forged. It has a sacred order, a "hierarchy," that is not overturned or altered even by the unique membership of the Holy Family. And so, to treat the structure of the family as a human creation, as something we may or even can define for ourselves, is a perversion that can only lead to the destruction of the civilization that so treats it.

That is what we're doing today and have been doing for decades. For long we have treated marriage as a contract that can be ended at will by one party; now, with the idea of "same-sex" marriage and homosexual adoption, we are ready to proceed further on the false but abiding premise that marriage and family are human creations that humans may redefine at will. By encouraging contraception and permitting abortion, we proceed on the premise that the connection of sexual intercourse with the transmission of life is purely up to us either to permit or to sever. We are doing the same with artificial reproduction. Indeed, all the developments in contemporary society that pertain to the family proceed on the assumption that there is no sacred order given for the family, but only a human order that can be defined and modified to suit individual ideas of self-fulfillment. That is a denial of the reality God has established, which is the only reality we are called to abide in. Unless the trend is reversed, our civilization will perish almost before we realize it.

Holy Family, pray for us.
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