Dear Parish Family,
What a joy it is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus and gather with family, friends and fellow parishioners at Christmas each year! This weekend, as we reflect on the Holy Family (who we are called to imitate within our own families), we especially remember their journeys.
One Christmas when our oldest daughter was not yet two years old and we were expecting our second child, we had to travel on Christmas Eve to visit relatives in Indiana. We left early that morning for Newark Airport, but once on the plane, a computer glitch made the plane late and we missed our connecting flight in Dayton, Ohio. We had to take another flight to Kalamazoo, Michigan, then a bus trip (in a snowstorm) from there to our destination in Indiana – finally arriving around 7:00 pm. With God's grace we were able to avoid "losing it" during this challenging trip and to support and love each other through a very trying experience.
This trip comes to mind as we remember Mary's great haste to travel to her kinswoman, Elizabeth, to share her great news of becoming the Mother of God. Sometime after that, Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. It is believed that the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was an 80 mile route usually taking four days of vigorous walking. Most believe that at Mary's stage in pregnancy the trek would have taken about a week. While there, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a humble stable. Shortly after that, Joseph, Mary and Jesus were compelled to travel again, fleeing to Egypt to avoid Herod's murderous plot. Through all of their travels we see the Holy Family living out St. Paul's exhortation to all of us to "clothe ourselves with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another."
Getting married, having children, being a member of a family...are all part of a joyful and challenging life journey of faith. If we travel together aware of Jesus' presence with us, we can open ourselves up to the graces which God pours out through the family.
And speaking of the graces of marriage and family, at Fr. Tim's request, we are assisting with the development of a new ministry here at St. Magdalen's to encourage and support couples in living out their vocation of marriage. Please keep an eye out for upcoming opportunities to deepen your understanding and experience of God's presence in your marriage. In the meantime, we leave you with this wonderful prayer for families which we found at a retreat house recently:
God, strengthen the bond of love in all families throughout the world. Jesus, your Son, grew in wisdom and grace in a safe and joyful home. Let all children grow to know they have been created in your image and likeness. Let them see their worth reflected in the eyes of loving parents. Joseph humbly placed his trust in you and offered his life in service to his family. Give all fathers a listening heart to discern your will. Give them the generosity of spirit to tenderly care for their family. Mary joyfully answered Your call wanting to live her life according to Your will. May all mothers have the strength to accept your call to holiness. May they have the courage to hear your word and proclaim your greatness. Amen.
God bless you this Christmas season and throughout the coming year,
Rosemary and Deacon Stephen Kern