So we hold up, and look to, the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as a model for navigating the challenging waters of family living. In reality, we don’t know a lot about the day-to-day life of this family. Yet one thing seems to be quite clear: they were a family of faith. They practiced their Jewish faith with regularity, and they were connected to their community of faith. It seems quite clear that Mary and Joseph sought to raise their son as an active and practicing member of the Jewish faith.
Back in those days, in their towns, I think that was a given. Faith and religious practice were fully integrated into day-to-day life. And more recently, many of us were raised in a similar setting—I grew up in a town where while not everyone was Catholic, everyone was something. I know that’s true for at least some of you. And yet today, in our city, in our neighborhoods, that’s no longer true. If the question 50 years ago was, “What church do you go to?” Today, that question has been replaced with “You go to church?” with a bit of incredulity.
If Mary and Joseph were seeking to raise Jesus today, in our city, how would they be a faith-filled family? What would they do to form Jesus in the faith? It would be a challenge for them, just as it is for all parents and grandparents today. But I would hope they would somehow know two key bits of research about families and faith. Let me go to a slide to show you.
Five Key Moments
1. Exits & entries
2. Bed time
3. Car time
4. Meal time
5. Memory making time
When families intentionalize these moments, they like each other better and they function better, day-to-day.
Four Key Activities: Families grow in faith when they engage in these activities:
1. Caring Conversation
3. Ritual & Tradition
4. Justice & Service
Faith and religious practice were important to Mary and Joseph, and that importance was passed on to Jesus. He shows his Scriptural and theological astuteness throughout the gospels. Back then, it was no guarantee that faith would be transmitted to the next generation, and there is certainly no guarantee today. As I said, I think it’s harder today than it was then. And, quite frankly, I believe it’s less likely today than it was then. Today’s families just don’t have the cultural support they once had.
But what parent or grandparent among us wouldn’t want to increase the odds? That’s where the five key moments and four key activities can make a difference. There’s a lot more to it, of course, but these keys are a good starting point.