Monday, November 29, 2010

First Monday of Advent

Christmas is the Feast of the Home 
s Gilbert K. Chesterton has said, by a divine paradox Christmas, which is the Feast of the Homeless One who had to find shelter in a cave and to be warmed by the breath of oxen, is celebrated in every home.  For this reason it is good for us in this holy season of Advent to reflect on the importance of the home and Christian civilization.

One of the most historic shrines of France, attended annually by thousands of visitors, is Malmaison, the home of Napoleon and Josephine.  It was here that Napoleon came after his brilliant military victories.  Each room is arranged exactly in the same manner as when this great military leader occupied it.  There is the very chair in which sat this monarch of the world  empire, there is the desk at which he wrote, and there the pen with which he mapped out his great victories. 

As the visitor passes through these rooms exuding a martial atmosphere, he comes into the suite occupied by Josephine.  There is a marked contrast.  No martial note here.  Only the little incidentals that minister to the needs of womankind and echo forth the dominant note of her heart are present.  True, here in this room is a beautiful harp, a symbol of domestic peace and homely concord.  Upon further inspection, however, we note that its strings are broken.  It stands there mute and silent as an ironic reminder that discordant notes of domestic strife once filled this chamber.  To every informed visitor it is a symbol and a reminder that the great Napoleon who conquered Europe failed in the altogether crucial building of the most important empire of all -- the empire of his own home.  Indeed, the inspired writer has written the epitaph for this story when he said: "Greater is he who governs himself than he who rules cities."

With the authority of the Vicar of Christ and the kindly voice of a shepherd caring for his sheep, the pope reminds all peoples that the home is the foundation of human society.  He who undermines the home, the Father of Christendom points out, blasts at the solid bedrock upon which not only society but all stable government alike is built.  No expedient yet devised by the sociologist or political scientist constitutes so might a bulwark for the protection of human society and orderly government as the teaching of Christ's Church concerning the sanctity of marriage, the indissolubility of its bond, and the permanence of the Christian home.

The mother is the "heart," the father is the "head" of the home.  It is the plan of an all-wise and provident God that a child be reared in a home where the principles of proper thought and action are instilled by a loving mother and a kindly ruling father.  After years of study and research, experts in child psychology now assure us that impressions received during early childhood undoubtedly set up mental patterns and modes of conduct, in the light of which all the experiences of later life are interpreted and evaluated.  Indeed, this is merely an affirmation of a truth spoken thousands of years ago by the inspired writer of the Book of Proverbs, wherein we read: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

The home dominated by the mother and father occupies the all-important position in life.  A mother need not be learned, as measured by worldly standards.  She need only have a knowledge of God and a loving, kindly fear of the Lord in order successfully to train her child.  A father need not know the ways and means of ruling an empire!  Indeed, if he did, he, like the great Napoleon, might neglect the empire of his home.  A father need only have an understanding of the words,"the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."  Such a father placed in rule over a child, with his loving spouse at his side, is indeed the builder of nations and is beloved of God!

Our Holy Father Pope Pius XII reminds us in his encyclical letter on "Christian Education" that the home precedes both the church and the State in the matter of education.  For, since the mother is the first and most effective teacher of the child, the home becomes the first and most important school.  No lay teacher, sister, or priest can be an adequate substitute for the mother as a teacher.  These agencies are only meant to be complementary and supplementary to the training given the child in the home.

The Church for our edification and inspiration points to the model home of Nazareth, where Jesus dwelt in obedience to Mary and Joseph.  Thus did our divine Lord set up an example for youth everywhere, for Scripture tells us, "He was subject to them."

Great has been the example of good homes through the ages!  Look to the saintly influences of St. Monica in praying for her son, Augustine.  Look to the example of the queenly mother Blanche and hr influence over her son, St. Louis of France.  Look about the world today and wherever you see priests and sisters you will know the influence of the home that is good.  Look into your own heart today!  Remember the joys of your happy home life!  Is it any wonder that a ballad comes down through the years, sung by a thousand voices, a thousand times over, "Home, Sweet Home"?

Somewhere in heaven today there is a mother reaping the reward of a Christian home she founded upon earth.  To such noble women we pledge our loyalty to preserve these ideals for America, under God, and in filial devotion and prayer, we say:
Mother, upon me gaze tonight
From thy beautiful home above;
And tell me are the stars as bright
As the beacon of thy love?

Mother, does sometimes upon thy knee
While the angels stand and stare,
The Christ-child sit and tell thee of me,
And finger thy silvery hair?

Mother, when life's short years are run,
And the Gleaner beacons to me,
Oh, pray the God in that Little One
To bring me home to thee.

One of my all-time favorite paintings of Our Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus, this work, called "Kissing the Face of God" blesses the world through the hands of Morgan Wiestling.  You can read about her inspiration for this masterpiece here.
 ~ Lisa

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