WITH the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we are reminded of our duty to make our family life as healthy as possible. And by healthy, we mean that we animate our family life with the love that reigned in the Holy Family.

Lest we think that animating our family life with love is something purely theoretical if not impracticable, we have to realize that there are specific and concrete things we can do to make our family life vibrant and healthy.

Obviously, a healthy family life means that time is spent with the family. There have to be customs and practices where the family can be together. It would be good if, for example, all the members can take some meals together, like dinner, after which a little family get-together can take place.

This is important because that’s the way all the members can truly know each other and monitor developments as they come. Life offers endless situations, conditions, challenges, trials, etc. Everyone in the family, but especially the parents, should help one another go through these varying circumstances properly.

With time together, they can see each other’s strengths and weaknesses, peculiarities and idiosyncrasies, and would be in better position to help in some way for the proper growth of each one.

One of the things we can do is first of all to teach everyone as early as possible to be always thoughtful, mindful and caring of one another in the family. This will require some training that ideally should start when the children are still small. Of course, the parents take the primary role in this regard.

Let’s remember that the child is the father of the man. How the child is, how he is trained, will show the kind of man he will be when he grows up. Thus, virtues should be imparted and learned as early as possible.

Children, for example, should be taught how to serve the others, how to deal with the unavoidable differences and conflicts among themselves. They have to learn how to educate their emotions and effectively blend the different faculties and powers they have, so they can attain some degree of inner harmony and move toward human maturity.
Most important, of course, is to train them to develop a working life of piety. As early as possible, children should learn how to pray and how to maintain an intimate relationship with God that is also translated into their proper relationship with others. Obviously, some practices of piety have to be inculcated in them in a way that is most attractive and that befits their conditions.

There has to be a way of regularly assessing how each one is growing. It should be a way that is clear about what criteria, standards and norms to use. With the many confusing things that are at play in the world today, it might be prudent to seek professional and expert advice in this regard.

What is clear also is that to make family life healthy, we have to use both human and supernatural means. Everyone has to be taught to use both reason and faith, feelings and intelligence, study and work on the one hand, and prayer, sacrifice, recourse to the sacraments, ascetical struggle on the other.

The natural and the supernatural, the material and the spiritual, the temporal and the eternal have to blended properly!