Welcome to St. Isidore, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.
What IS a Holy Family – obviously, Jesus, Mary and Joseph… but what about our families? What is it that makes our families holy? Is it a family that prays together? A family that goes to church together? A family whose kids grow up to still practice the Faith?
Is it even important for our kids to have Faith? Does it really make a difference? Hopefully you can look at your own life to answer that question. I imagine most of us here would agree that having Faith has been important to our lives, so it would be important to pass that on to our kids. Well – what if today I gave you the magic bullet … if you pull this one trigger, it dramatically increases the chances that your kids will have Faith. Would you pull that trigger? Hang tight for the answer… you might be surprised.
“God sets a father in honor over his children;”
In our modern culture, that kind of talk can be offensive… it might sound sexist or anti-woman. In some ways, that may be a justified reaction, since too often the MOM is the one who really deserves the honor for all the hard, relentless, thankless work she does from the moment she becomes pregnant until she’s in the grave. Yet the scripture tells us that ‘God sets a father in honor over his children’? I think there’s something we’re supposed to learn from that… So without for a second disrespecting Moms and grandmas, let’s dig a little deeper. See – it’s not that God sets a father in honor over his children because he DESERVES honor… but because there’s something built-in to the way kids’ minds work that makes the father have more impact in certain areas of family life. Here’s what I mean:
A recent survey showed that if a Father does not go to church, only 30-something percent of their kids will go to church once in a while when they grow up… and only 1 in 50 will go to church regularly... !ONE IN FIFTY! That’s right – if Dad doesn’t go to church regularly – regardless of whether Mom goes at all… chances are your kids will NOT be in Mass 20 years from now. May sound depressing, but look at the statistics from a positive perspective: If a father DOES go to church regularly, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children WILL become churchgoers. Did you catch that? If Dad has Faith, 60-75 percent of their kids will have Faith when they grow up.
Mom’s faith is important, but for some reason, the Father's faith – or lack thereof – can make or break all of the efforts from Mom in the area of Faith. See – regardless of whether the Father ‘deserves’ honor, somehow children automatically seem to look up to their Father in a way differently than they look up to their mother. It’s not sexist or bigoted, it’s just apparently something built-in to our psyche … almost like God made us that way. “God sets a father in honor over his children;”
Is that important? Well, do you think it’s important for kids to have a faith life? More than that – do you think it’s important for ADULTS to have a faith life… because your kids are only 10-20 years away from being adults… so if we want them to have Jesus to hold onto, we gotta do what we can now to instill that in them…. And it seems the Father can make it or break it. That’s the ‘magic bullet’…
Men: The future of the church is in our hands. The future of our kids is in our hands. The future of our families is in our hands. And if you think about it, the future of our very country is in our hands, because surely the reason our country has declined morally is because more and more kids have walked away from the Faith. No Faith – No Family – No Future.
Whether we agree with it or not, the Devil knows this fact: kids look up to their dads, so if He can take US out – he can take out our kids. If he takes our kids out, he takes out the family. If he takes out the family, he takes out our society. Half the battle is realizing that we are in a battle. The Devil wants to take you out. Unfortunately, we men are often easy targets – we have a mental make-up that is easily addicted… we all have addictions: work-a-holic, alcoholic, sex, pornography, video games, hunting, food, sweets, ice cream… we all have one or more things that we “just can’t live without”. It’s time to break the Devil’s hold on our lives. We want to be FREE.
You may have noticed the orange signs on your way into church… we’re starting Exodus 90 on Jan 4th and ending on Easter. It’s a 90 day exercise of Prayer, Asceticism, and Fraternity. Exodus 90 helps men let go of the things that are holding us from being who God is calling us to be; the man our wives, our families, and Church need us to be.
I have a lot of respect for our military; The training, the sacrifices they make – there’s something to that. Marine recruits go through what’s known as ‘the crucible’ to complete their training and earn the title of ‘Marine’. It tests every recruit physically, mentally and morally and is the defining experience of recruit training. The Crucible takes place over 54-hours and includes food and sleep deprivation and over 45 miles of marching plus tests designed to push men to their limit… not to break them… but to call out the man inside of them. By pushing through the challenges, each man finds that his capacity exceeds what he thought he could do.
Exodus is kinda-like a 'crucible for Catholics' – it’s like Lent – but on steroids. It challenges us in ways specifically geared toward the things that men are easily drawn to, and it gives us the tools to be able to make it. One thing about the crucible – you can’t do it alone – you need your team – we all need someone to help us over a wall or to give us encouragement when we hit our breaking point… likewise one of the main tools of Exodus is a small group called a Fraternity…in fact, I’ll say the Fraternity is the most important part of Exodus. The Devil will take us out if we don't have a brother watching our back.
Make a 90-day commitment to change your life – make it as a new year’s resolution – make it as an extended Lenten observance – make the commitment for yourself and your children. Are you interested? Talk to me after Mass – or see page 5 of the bulletin.
Now is the time, Men. Our children look up to US – the future of our church depends on us – the future of our society depends on us. You hold the magic bullet to making your family a Holy Family.
Christ came into the world 2000 years ago to set the captives free…. You and I are the captives. We will be free.
St. Joseph, Pray for us.