These days of confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, which seem at times surreal for most of us, have provided me an opportunity for reflection. Our family, like everyone else’s, has undergone some major and unanticipated changes. Here in America, and in many parts of the world, we are coping as best we can, but wondering at the same time, “Where is this all leading us?”
When I was a girl, I loved listening to my Dad talk about his childhood. He had many stories, and I never tired of hearing them. Born in 1922, his father had been a railway man making a decent living in New Hampshire. Their family were one of only a few who owned a car back in the days of the horse and buggy. But when my Dad was 7 or 8 years old, his family moved to Massachusetts, and shortly afterwards he lost his father. This changed everything. My grandmother, penniless, was left to raise six children on her own — 3 boys and 3 girls. I imagine that she must have often asked that same question, “Where is this all leading us?”
It is said that history repeats itself. I understand that to include the fact that human beings will always face challenges and will have tough decisions and choices to make.
My grandmother was an amazing woman who was held in great esteem by my Dad and his siblings. With very little means, she saw the family through what was later to be called the Great Depression. She was a small woman, measuring a mere 5’ 1”, but was not afraid to stand up to anyone who threatened to interfere with her family. My Dad, who was 6’ 2”, said he and his brothers never crossed her. He once saw her chase two government men from their home with a broom who had come to suggest placing the children in foster care.
She had great strength of character, which I have come to realize came from an unmoving faith and an unconditional love and trust in God. During her lifetime she was faithful to her beliefs, regularly attended Mass, belonged to a number of societies and sodalities, and helped in every manner of charitable work. But most of all she was a prayer warrior. I especially remember the crystal rosary that my dad and uncles gave her after the war, which she always had in her pocket and which she recited many times throughout her day — this was her source of strength.
The reality is that our times are not so different from hers. Our challenges may be different, but we are all called to face the challenges as they present themselves to us each day, and to respond to them in the best way possible. It is how we respond that makes the difference. In her day it was the loss of my grandfather, raising her 6 children alone, the Great Depression and World War II. Certainly these were great challenges before which anyone would feel helpless and overwhelmed.But what could be seen in her case was her decision, her choice, to not face these challenges alone — she turned to God always, and to Mary, His Mother.
As we all struggle to move forward in these uncertain times we can regain the perspective of what is truly important. I have come to realize that my family, and our precious time spent together, is not to be taken for granted. Visits with the grandkids, picnics in our yard, a school play or a dance recital are now “virtual” moments, or they are just no longer happening at all. Many of us are now wondering when we will return to work, or if we will even have a job to go back to when this begins to clear. We wonder how the post-coronavirus economy can be jump started.
These are all questions for which we do not have answers at the moment, but as far as a better economy goes, we can begin in our own homes.
The First Economy — The Economy of the Family
Home is where God gives us the most precious of His gifts through the sacrament of Holy Matrimony: the gift of life. Ideally, the home should be a place of order; a place where parents live in harmony with their children. The Holy Family — the first to live out the Gospel of Life — is the model to follow for a true economy of the family.
But what does “economy of the family” mean? The word “economy” comes from the Greek root oikonomos, which means home rule, or, management of a household. My grandmother was probably a perfect example of a true economy of the family, considering her circumstances. And we might even conclude that how she “managed her household” was close to supernatural. She made her home a loving and safe environment where God ruled; where life, the culture of life, was cherished and promoted and where each child, having been created in the image and likeness of God, was welcomed.
The present economic system under which we now live is, however, an inversion of this. It is an anti-economy because it is anti-family. We hear talk of a movement toward a one world economy, or a global government, and instead of the Gospel of Life, we see all around us an economy of oppression and control, resulting in a culture of death, as some strive to develop an economy that does not include God.
God has a greater plan
Our Lady of Fatima promised that,
“…in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”
We live in a time of great tribulation, but it is also a time for the witnessing of great saints! If we look around us, we will see them. I’m thinking about my three daughters-in-law who have really stepped up to the plate during this time of quarantine. Their daily routines have changed drastically, with their husbands now working from home (and we are grateful that they all have work!). With schools closed, they are now homeschooling our ten grandchildren, and finding the time to sew 100’s of facemasks for those who need them.
To me, these are examples of those who are helping usher in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A Triumph that will come about through the sanctification of our families, one home at a time. Holiness in the home is living the economy of the family and the correct hierarchy of values is important. In a Christian home the order of values should be:
And NOT the inversion:
Work, work, work, which only leads to materialism
Family, although ‘redefined’
God (if there is time remaining).
Our Catholic Church affirms the dignity of every individual, but the Church teaches that it is the family that is the building block of society — not the individual, and not the grand society. That is why Satan is so determined to destroy this most precious institution of the family, which is so beloved by God.
Holiness in the home consists of living according to God’s Divine Will. This is our true wealth. To live in the grace of God, in His sanctifying grace, is our greatest treasure. Saint Joseph can help in this; he can be our guide for, after all, he is the patron of the Universal Church and the one commissioned to lead us safely through times of tribulation. We need to call on him.
In the booklet of Our Lady of America, Saint Joseph spoke to Sr. Mildred Neuzil,
“The imitation of the Holy Family, my child, of the virtues we practiced in our little home at Nazareth is the way for all souls to that peace which comes from God alone and which none other can give” (3/19/1958 p.28).
So, when the going gets tough, the tough get going
We are living in serious times, times of great tribulation for many. When a soldier goes off to war, he makes sure that he is well armed. So must we be “well armed” for what lies ahead. Pope Francis asks that during the month of May families bring back the beautiful custom of praying the Rosary together. Let us also wear the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Miraculous Medal, sacramentals recommended to us by the Roman Catholic Church and by Our Blessed Mother herself!
Finally, let us consecrate ourselves and our families to the Holy Family: to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Chaste Heart of Saint Joseph. The family is the first teacher of the faith — there is no greater gift that we can give our children as heaven is the reward.