Every month of the year is dedicated to a particular devotion. Most Catholics are probably familiar with the fact that May is dediated to Our Lady, and November to the Holy Souls. Some of the other month-devotion associations are less well-known, though. Though the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated in December or January, it is the month of February that is consecrated to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Let's look forward to the month of February, and plan on honoring the Holy Family in special ways during this month!
I would like to introduce you to a woman who was a model of striving to make hers a holy family, modeled after THE Holy Family, in the modern age. Is that even possible? To have a holy family in this time when holiness is so discouraged by the popular culture? Rosie Gil shows us that indeed it is. She was a homeschooling mother of eight children, and embraced her vocation of motherhood with great love and devotion. She was as adamant about the fact that the most important work is done quietly inside the home as the modern feminist is about the notion that the most important work is done loudly outside the home. Rosie Gil was an ordinary homeschooling mother; but her love for God and for her family, as well as her faithfulness to vocation, were extraordinary. She died in 2010, and since then, her daughter Maria Thompson has written a book about Rosie, which contains many of Rosie's writings. Rosie's message is serving to encourage mothers throughout the world through this book, called See You in Heaven, and through the magazine Rosie, which is inspired by her writings and life. To learn more about Rosie, follow the link at the bottom of this article.
In her book See You in Heaven, Maria Thompson writes of her mother, Rosie: “My mom took her last breath on the Feast of the Holy Family, what a loving testament to her life. That was her life, very simple, but very full, and it was all about FAMILY. She gave all of her heart to Motherhood.”
Rosie Gil strove to model her family after the Holy Family, by putting Jesus at the center of everything she did, and teaching her children to do the same.
In an article in the Autumn 2022 issue of Rosie, Rosie’s daughters wrote, “We were taught to always write ‘J.M.J.’ at the top of our school work pages while asking Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to help and guide us in our studies. If we forgot, [our mom] would remind us by drawing a big circle at the top center of the page, and we were to fill in the circle with ‘J.M.J.’ ”
This is such a simple way we can teach our children to honor, and invoke the assistance of, the Holy Family. It is a way to remind ourselves, and teach our children, of the ultimate purpose of everything we do. This practice will teach our children that all we do should be done with an eternal goal in mind, even if we are only learning to spell “Wednesday,” slogging through long division, or writing an essay on clouds. (And even long division can become
easy with the help of the Holy Family!)
This month would be a good time for us to take a step back and examine our families’ daily lives, prayer routines, and paces. We can take the opportunity to think more often about how we can become closer to the Holy Family, both in prayer, and in our imitation of them. This month dedicated to the Holy Family might also be a good time to set aside special time to do special things together as a family, and begin some new family traditions. A skiing outing, a trip to the skating rink, or a special dinner in honor of the Holy Family are a few ideas.
I leave you with these inspiring words of St. Pope Paul VI:
"Nazareth is the school of initiation into the understanding of the life of Jesus. It is the school of the gospel. Here one learns to observe, to listen, to meditate, to penetrate into the profound and mysterious meaning of that simple, humble, lovely apparition of God among men. Here one learns almost imperceptibly to imitate
Him. Here one learns the way by which we can enter into the understanding of Christ. [...] It is here, in this school, that one comes to grasp how necessary it is to be spiritually disciplined, if one wishes to follow theteachings of the gospel and to become a follower of Christ. Oh, how we would like to become children again and to return to learn our lessons in this humble, and yet sublime school of Nazareth. [...] The lesson of silence: May an appreciation of this stupendous and indispensable moment of spiritual opportunity return to us, deafened as we are by so much tumult, by so much noise, by so many voices of our chaotic and frenzied modern life. The silence of Nazareth teaches us recollection, reflection and eagerness to heed the good inspirations and words of true teachers, it teaches us the need and the value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of a personal and interior life, of prayer which is seen by God alone in secret.
The lesson of domestic life: May Nazareth teach us the meaning of family life its harmony of life, its simplicity and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character. May it teach us how sweet and irreplaceable is its pedagogy, how fundamental and incomparable its sociology.
The lesson of work: Nazareth, house of the “Son of the Carpenter,” how we would like to understand and to praise here the austere and redeeming law of human labor, to restore here the consciousness of the dignity of labor, to recall here how work cannot be an end in itself, and how free and elevated it becomes, beyond
its economic value, in proportion to the values which motivate it.
(St. Pope Paul VI, Nazareth, January 5, 1964)
Learn more about Rosie Gil here: https://www.seeyouinheavenbook.com/
This article is adapted from a piece that first appeared in the Winter, 2023 issue of Rosie magazine.