POPE PIUS XII
and the HOLY FAMILY
Address to Newly-married Catholic Spouses
"You, dearly beloved children, called to form new families, wish undoubtedly to give them an essentially and profoundly Christian character and a sure foundation for well-being and happiness. It is by devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary that you will succeed in doing so. Our Lady has many titles under which She may be considered the Patroness of Christian families, and these families, in turn, have just as many reasons to hope for Her special assistance.
The Blessed Virgin Mary's Title to This Patronage
"Mary knew the joys and the sorrows of the family; She knew also the happy and the sad events, the fatigue of daily work, the discomforts and sadness of poverty, separation's rending of heart. But She also tasted the ineffable joys of family life, rejoicing in the purest love of a most chaste Spouse and the smiles and tenderness of a Son Who was at the same time the Son of God.
"The Virgin's merciful Heart sympathizes with family needs: She will shower on them that consolation which they miss in the inevitable sorrows of the present life; under Her motherly care the joys of the fireside will become for them purer and more serene.
"The holy Virgin not only knows from personal experience a family's heavy burdens; as a tender Mother of mercy She strives to lighten the burdens.
"Happy and truly blessed are those spouses who begin their new state of life with the intention of having filial and trustful devotion to the Mother of God, with the holy resolution of establishing their home on a solid religious foundation. Such dispositions they will pass on as a precious heritage to the dear children with whom God will see fit to bless them.
The Example of Nazareth
"But, beloved children, do not forget that if such devotion is to be true and firm, and consequently, produce precious fruits and copious graces, devotion to Our Lady must be quickened by the imitation of the life of Her whom it pleases Us to honor.
"The divine Mother is a most perfect model of the domestic virtues which must adorn the Christian married state. In Mary you will find the purest and the most faithful love for Her most chaste spouse. Her love was made up of sacrifices and of delicate attentions. In Mary you will find entire and continuous dedication to the needs of family and home, of those of Her spouse and, above all, of Jesus; in Her you will find a humility which manifests itself in loving submission to St. Joseph, in patient resignation to the often hard and exacting dispositions of Divine Providence, Her lovableness and charity to all who visit the humble house of Nazareth.
"Christian spouses, may your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary form an ever lively source of heavenly favors and happiness.
The Lessons of Bethlehem
"During the Christmas season the Church proposes for your consideration a woman and a man tenderly bent over a new-born child. While meditating on the mystery of Christmas, contemplate, above all, the spirit of Mary and of Joseph; try and penetrate into their hearts and make their sentiments yours. Then, not withstanding the infinite difference which separates the Birth of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, Son of the most holy Virgin, and the human birth of your little one, you may trustfully take as your models the ideal spouses, Mary and Joseph.
"Look at the grotto of Bethlehem. Is it perhaps a suitable dwelling place even for modest artisans? Why these animals, why these bundles used for travel, why this absolute poverty? Is this what Mary and Joseph had dreamed of in the intimate sweetness of their home in Nazareth for the birth of the Child Jesus? It is more than likely that Joseph had, for many months, been collecting some pieces of wood which he had sawn, planed, cleaned, and then made into a cradle. And we may well believe that Mary, who from childhood was trained in the Temple in womanly handiwork, had like every other woman about to become a mother cut, hemmed, and lovingly embroidered the layette for the Desired of Nations.
The Poverty of Bethlehem
"But now they are not in their own home; neither are they with their friends; nor are they to be found in an ordinary inn. They are in a stable. To obey the Edict of Augustus they undertook, although they knew that the greatly-desired Child was about to come into the world, a painful journey in the depths of Winter. They also knew that this Child, virginal fruit of the operation of the Holy Ghost, belonged to God rather than to them. Jesus Himself, twelve years later, had to remind them that the work of His heavenly Father, Sovereign over men and over things, had to come before the loving intentions, however pure and ardent, of Mary and of Joseph. This is the reason why that night, in a humble and wretched grotto, they knelt and adored the Newly-born lying in a hard manger, positum in praesepio, instead of in a beautiful cradle; wrapped in swaddling clothes, pannis involutum, instead of in splendid garments.
The Shining Faith of Mary and Joseph
"Dear young spouses, you also have had and will have sweet dreams for the future of your children. Very sad are those parents who do not have such dreams! But take care that your dreams be not exclusively earthly and human!
"Thinking deeply before the King of Heaven, Who trembled on the straw, Who cried just as every man who comes into this world does"et primum vocem similem omnibus emisi plorans"Mary and Joseph saw, in an interior light which also lit up the aspects of material realities, that the child most blessed by God is not necessarily the child born in riches and in fortunate circumstances; they understood that men's thoughts are not always in conformity with God's thoughts; they felt deeply that all that happens on earth, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is due not to mere chance or to good or bad luck, but to a long and mysterious chain of events ordained or permitted by the Providence of our Heavenly Father."
Indulgenced Prayer to the Infant Jesus
Our most lovable Lord Jesus Christ, Who, becoming an Infant for us, didst vouchsafe to be born in a stable to free us from the darkness of sin, to draw us more closely to Thee, and to inflame us with Thy holy love, we adore Thee as our Creator and Redeemer, we acknowledge and choose Thee for our King and Lord, and we offer to Thee the tribute of all the affections of our poor hearts. Dear Jesus, our Lord and God, deign to accept this offering, and, in order that it may be worthy of Thy gracious acceptance, forgive us our sins, enlighten us, inflame us with that holy fire which Thou didst come to bring into the world to enkindle in our hearts. May our souls thus become a perpetual sacrifice in Thy honor; grant that we may always seek thy greater glory here on earth, in order that we may one day come to enjoy the beauty of Thy infinite perfections in Heaven. Amen.
"And I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church,
and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it..." (Matt. 16) "This promise, of Him Who is Truth Itself, must therefore, be a permanent fact, and Peter, the unceasing Rock of strength, must be the ceaseless Ruler of the Church. For we have only to consider the pre-eminence that is given to him, and the mysterious titles conferred upon him, and we see at once the fellowship which he alone has with our Lord Jesus Christ: he is called the Rock (Peter); he is named the Foundation; he is appointed keeper of the Gates of Heaven; he is made Judge, with such power of binding and loosing that his sentence holds even in Heaven. These commissions and duties and responsibilities wherewith he was invested, he discharges with fuller perfection and power now that he is in Him and with Him from Whom He received all these honors.
"If, therefore, We do anything that is right, if We decree anything that is right, if, by our daily supplications, We obtain anything from the Divine mercy, it is his doing, and his merit, whose power lives and whose authority is supreme in this his own Chair. All this, dearly Beloved, was attained by that confession which, being inspired into the Apostle's heart by God the Father, soared above all the incertitudes of human opinions, and drew upon him who spoke it the solidity of a Rock that was to be proof against every attack. For, throughout the whole Church, Peter is every day still proclaiming: Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God; and every tongue that confesses the Lord is guided by the teaching of this Word. This is the Faith which conquers the devil, and sets his captives free. This is the Faith which delivers men from the world, and takes them to Heaven, and the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it. For such is the solidity wherewith God has strengthened it, that neither heretical depravity has been able to corrupt, nor pagan perfidy to crush it."
Pope St. Leo the Great