27 December 2009

Meditation on the Holy Families

Something to think about on this Holy Family Sunday. . .

Trinitarian Family:  Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Holy Family:  Jesus, Mary, Joseph

Eschatological Family:  Christ & Church

Ecclesial Family:  Bishop, priest, deacon, laity

Domestic Family:  Mom, Dad, kids, etc.

Individual Family:  body, soul, spirit

Now, starting at the top with the Trinitarian Family, move down the list of families and mediate on how each familial relationship is a more perfect relationship than the one below it.

Then, starting at the bottom with the Individual Family, move up the list of families and mediate on how each familial relationship is an imperfect reflection of the one above it.

How does the more perfect familial relationships help perfect/complete the imperfect/incomplete familial relationships?

Report your findings.


  1. Flambeaux8:19 AM

    You forgot social family/polity: Those who pray (the Church) and order the polity, Those who fight and govern, and Those who labor.

    We may think we jettisoned the Three Estates when Social Contract Theory replaced Natural Law Theory, but such things are written into the soul.

    Just as the soul's appetites and spiritedness must be ordered by Right Reason so that all parts work harmoniously to their proper end, so to the polis ought to be organized.

    And all of these types build on one another in emulation of the perfection of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity.

    Integrated persons must form integrated families so that society may be integrated. This will produce integrated men who can be then called by God and formed by His Church to properly govern both that Church temporally and civil society.

  2. Anonymous10:09 AM

    All I want to say is that this year I was again disappointed that the homilist made no mention of the culture war in the United States against the natural family. When will priests muster up the courage to preach against same-sex pseudo unions and pseudo families, which the leftist elites in our society (and a not insignificant number of truly confused Catholics) are attempting to pass off as a normal, acceptable variant of what a family is? All it would take is a few sentences about how such structures deviate from the norm established by God and evident in biological nature, and then the homilist can move on to other points. Not to mention the topic at all is, in my judgment, negligent preaching. If, as the readings express, a holy family is firstly dedicated to following God's will, then no domestic arrangement that departs from God's will can be a holy family.

  3. Can't report when I disagree with your premise. Each is so different that it can't compare as "more perfect."
    The grouping "family" has evolved over time. In Abraham's time, his family would have included more than Mary and Jesus. Today, a family may include a "significant other."
    What are you working on? What are you thinking? Why the question framed in this way?
    I just think that I belong to many families: my childhood one, the one my husband and I have created, the ones my married children have brought me into, my parish family, my Church family, my Dominican family, the world family, and others that momentarily have escaped my mind. But I become one with all through the unifying grace of the Holy Eucharist. That's when I experience what family means--members of one body.

  4. God bless you, Fr. Philip. God bless your Christmas and new year...

  5. Degree of Purity and Authority and Completion (or Consummation) are most consequential factors.

  6. Flambeaux' discussion of integration is interesting to me, a term which may better reflect what I was trying to get at when I mentioned Completeness (or Consummation) above.

    On the other hand, integration or integrity might actually comprise - or be a net result of - all three factors I mentioned: Purity + Authority + Completeness (or Consummation).

    Striking to me at the moment is that the terms integration and integrity came up in discussion day before yesterday with my parish priest regarding individual context and application...

  7. Anonymous5:27 PM

    For Anonymous: When Catholics pay attention to our own souls and the progress thereof, it will be a happy day. Just love people and hate the sin. That Phelps guy pWestboro Baptist Church] is an example of what happens when the focus moves to the wrong place.

    And I couldn't agree more with Faith. Except, I think [eschatalogically] they are all the same. We merge. That's kind of Eastern Orthodox. But that's what I think.

    And SOMEBODY is a UD Politics student. errrrrrrrr


  8. OK Father,
    I am way out of my league on this one but I found this exercise/meditation intriguing. I've returned to it about 3 or 4 times today before finally commenting.
    My findings? Well it's oversimplifying but it all begins and ends with the Trinity, the only truly perfect relationship on the list. Even Christ and His Church- Christ is perfect, His Church is not.
    Like I said- out of my league and oversimplifying perhaps.
    Oh and Anonymous- my priest did preach today on those things you mentioned.

  9. Anonymous8:34 PM

    I find this kind of GREAT. Sorry I have no other cyber place with a Catholic vibe to plop it:


  10. OK, ideas about this keep evolving in my mind... but I will definitely try to make this my last comment entry... :)

    The hierarchy of families, or family types, could be illustrated as rungs on a ladder. The hierarchy also represents what we are each subject to. Hence our rises and falls along the way.

    We are perpetually pulled up or down the ladder by higher and lower forces - by purifiers and contaminants, if you will. We're continually rising to heights and falling to depths, by both the pulls and what we're 'free-willing' to be subject to. Upwards or downwards. All interaction on the ladder claims us - purifies us or contaminates us - body, soul and spirit, to some degree.

    Back to the consequential factors I listed earlier. The highest degree of Authority and of Purity and of Completeness are at the highest rung. The highest degree of subjection and of contamination and of fracturedness or separateness are at the lowest rung.

    The ultimate collapse of the ladder is also the collapse of degrees of being, and parts of the process of theosis?