[COLUMN] On being a prayerful family and community

“MY eyes have seen the salvation of the Lord.” These were Simeon’s words in this Sunday’s (December 31) Gospel, upon seeing the Christ-Child in Mary’s arms as he was presented to the temple. On this Feast Day of the Holy Family and the start of the New Year, this is my prayer for all of you: May you encounter the presence and love of Jesus profoundly in your lives. This divine encounter is the most treasured gift you can have, as it has the power to touch your hearts tenderly and transform your lives, families, and other relationships.

The key to experiencing this divine encounter, which will fill your life with the power of the Holy Spirit, lies in developing a disciplined prayer life. As your pastor, I have always emphasized the importance of this practice. It involves spending at least twenty minutes of contemplation and meditation, dedicating a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, reciting the Holy Rosary with devotion, engaging in scripture reading, and embracing moments of stillness throughout the day. This foundation in prayer will protect you from getting caught up in a materialistic, pleasure-seeking, fame-driven, and self-absorbed world.

Prayer has the ability to save marriages, strengthen families, and inspire friendships. It is the reason why Father Patrick Peyton, the founder of the Family Rosary Crusade, popularized the phrase, “The family that prays together stays together.” Therefore, on this Feast Day of the Holy Family, let us respond to Father Peyton’s call. Let us place Christ at the center of our family life, with the intercession of Mary by our side. By doing so, God will transform our hearts and infuse our homes with the presence of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to relate to one another with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and the willingness to forgive.

At the beginning of their family life, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus were already facing threats. Joseph had to flee to Egypt to escape the murderous intentions of King Herod, while Mary’s heart was filled with turmoil and angst upon hearing Simeon’s prophecy that her child “has been appointed for the ruin and resurrection of many in Israel, as a sign of contradiction, so that thoughts of all hearts will be revealed.” Mary had to be a woman of prayer to bear the weight of these soul-piercing words. Both she and Joseph serve as examples for us, showing the importance of grounding our lives in prayer, listening to the Holy Spirit, and not succumbing to fear amidst threats and uncertainties.

To foster a “culture of prayer” within our parish, we have taken measures such as keeping the church open throughout the day, increasing opportunities for adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions, planning additional retreats, and introducing alternative forms of prayer in addition to devotions. We are committed to growing together as families and as a community.

May the New Year bring you peace, joy, faith, hope, prosperity, health, and above all, love in your hearts!  Happy New Year!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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