Psalm 128: Pray It with the Holy Family

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

December 27, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, we pray with Psalm 128.

Blessed is everyone who lives in awe of the LORD,
who walks in God’s ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.

Throughout Christmas Day, I spent much time realizing and thanking God for how blessed I am by my family, and by my extended families.

It can be a great blessing to grow old in one’s family. I now claim the matriarchy within my own. 

I am the oldest, the only one to have known all my bloodline as babies. I can even reminisce over all my young in-laws with codgy phrases that claim my elder experience. 

I try to make that elderhood a blessing to them by my prayers and unconditional love, and by carrying to them the tremendous devotion with which my parents and grandparents long ago blessed this family.

But so many times, it is I who am blessed by these “youngsters”. 

On Christmas, through digital miracles like FaceTime, I could watch my younger and only brother and sister-in-law continue our family benediction over their grown children and young grandchildren.

I saw my millennial nieces and nephews pour that long-rooted caring over the next “grand” generation, their own beautiful children.

The caretaking of such a legacy is never automatic or guaranteed in a family. It requires the intentional choice of a maturing love and a deliberate generosity in each member as they grow in responsibility. It demands engagement, trust, and – at times – forgiveness and reconciliation.

Such a heritage thrives where each member provides their degree of mutual example, encouragement and support for the whole family. I think of Peg, my aunt by marriage not blood. I knew she loved and nurtured me and my brother with the same vigor that she loved her own children. That’s the kind of power that holds a family together over generations.

No family is perfect. We need to step in for each other sometimes. Sometimes, we need to call each other to our best selves. 

The Holy Family helps us through those times. They had their trials: unexpected pregnancy, town gossip, refugee status, widowhood, and a son arrested and executed by the government – just to cite the challenges we know of. Yet they model for us the grace-generating love God has for us as a human family.

As we deepen in years and grace, we learn that “family” can be defined by more than blood. In fact, it must be. And the greater our hearts, the wider our sense of family will be – until we might be fully enriched to realize that every person is our brother or sister.

As we pray and strive to learn from the Holy Family, may we be blessed according to Psalm 128:

Behold, thus are we blessed
who live in awe the LORD.
The LORD bless us from on high:
may we see grace and well-being
together, all the days of our lives.

Poetry: Family Court- Ogden Nash, whose light verse always had a point to it 😉

One would be in less danger 
From the wiles of a stranger 
If one's own kin and kith 
Were more fun to be with.

Reading with Music:

May God Bless Us in Mercy

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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Jesus, Mary and Joseph, bless our year.

Ps67 NY 2019

Today, in Mercy, we welcome the hope of 2019. When we were young nuns, we were introduced to the custom of letting the first thing we wrote in the New Year Be this phrase:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

I’ve always kept the custom. It is good to remember with whom we step into this next moment in time.

Praying with our Gospel today:

  • It is good to rest with the infant Jesus in unconditional trust in the Father’s plan.
  • It is good to ponder with Mary that each moment’s meaning extends into eternity.
  • It is good to be with silent Joseph in listening trust and holy readiness.

As we begin again in hope and grace, let us do so in the company of this Holy Family. Let them bless us in mercy, as our psalm prays. 

May we have simple trust in their presence with and care for us. May this give us the courage to live another year with renewed faith, courageous hope and transformative love.

Happy New Year, dear friends!

Music: from our beautiful Responsorial Psalm 67, rendered here in Gaelic. (English below)

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously
And govern the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Then the earth shall yield her increase;
God, our own God, shall bless us.God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall obey Him.

The Holy Family

December 30, 2018

Feast of the Holy Family

Holy Family

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Today, in Mercy, our prayer is turned to the Holy Family, that unique configuration of love which nurtured the developing life of Jesus. Can you imagine how tenderly the Father shaped this triad, this nesting place of love for God’s own Word?

We look to the Holy Family so that we might be strengthened in the virtues that will help us build our own families: sacrificial love, reverence, courage, unfailing support, committed presence, shared faith, gentle honesty, unconditional acceptance.

“Family” is the primordial place where we learn who we are. The lessons it teaches us about ourselves – for better or worse — remain with us forever. 

Not everyone is blessed by their family. Family can ground us in confidence or undermine us with self-doubt. It can free us from fear or cripple us with reservation. It can release either possibility or perpetual hesitation within us.

Some families are so dysfunctional that we spend the rest of our lives trying to recover from them. But some, like the Holy Family, allow God’s dream to be nurtured in us and to spread to new families, both of blood and spirit.

The challenge today is to thank God for whatever type of family bore us. Lessons can be learned from both lights and shadows. Let us spend time this morning looking  at our own families with love, gratitude, forgiveness, understanding. Where there are wounds to be healed, let us face them. Where there are belated thanks to be offered, let us give them. Where there are negligence and oversights to confess, let us use them as bridges to a new devotion.

For some, it may seem too late to heal or bless our family. Time may have swallowed some of our possibilities. But it is never too late to deepen relationships through prayer, both for and to our ancestors.

May this feast strengthen us for the families who need us today.

Music: God Bless My Family ~ Anne Hampton Calloway

Words and music – By Ann Hampton Callaway

1. It’s Christmas time
Outside the snow is falling
Like a million stars
Like a million dreams
All dressed up in white
I’m writing Christmas cards
A joy that’s tinged with sadness
As I think of friends
Some are here and some are gone
But our love goes on and on
Like the snow tonight

And oh, what a family
My life has given me
From the corners of the earth
To the reaches of the sky
We touch eternally
And though my heart aches ev’ry day
This Christmas I will find a way
To let each face I’ve ever loved
Shine out in me
God bless my family

2. As years go by
The carols we sang as children
Gather memories
What was just a song
Now feels like a pray’r
Welcoming us home
To fathers, mothers
Sisters, brothers ev’rywhere
Some we’ve lost and some we’ve found
As love circles us around
In the songs we share


So fly, angels of my heart
We’ll never be apart
Tonight I say a pray’r
For loved ones ev’rywhere


You’re a part of my family
That life has given me
From the corners of the earth
To the reaches of the sky

We touch eternally
And though my heart aches ev’ryday
This Christmas I will find a way
To let each face I’ve ever loved

Shine out in me
God bless my family
You’ll always live in me
God bless my family