The Nine Elements
The first lesson Jesus, Mary and Joseph teach us is silence. It is true that the Holy Family did not have the noise and distractions of our day. Our silence must be a matter of choice. It is only in silence that we can listen to ourselves, what is really in us, and listen to the voice of God who wishes to speak.
By the grace of baptism, the Most Blessed Trinity has taken a dwelling place in our soul. The presence of God is no nearer in the Holy Home of Nazareth as in our own souls. The constant awareness of this Divine Presence is contemplation. By paying closer attention to the Divine Presence we are drawn more and more away from the darkness of sin, into His marvelous light. Even if we were to completely empty ourselves of sin on our own, a void would still be in our soul without a deeper awareness of the Blessed Trinity’s presence.
Chastity is essential. Unchaste love clouds the mind and soul and turns love sour. We see the purest love in Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The body is a gift of God, part of our very nature, yet the body is an instrument by which the soul can be expressed. God’s own divine love shines forth in true chaste love. The human struggle for chastity is the purification of mind and soul in order that we may love and be loved with the kind of freedom found in the Holy Family, the love that casts out all fear and is empty of selfishness.
Subjection of the body is required for true freedom. The more we are freed from the excessive love of material things, the freer we are to go to God. Not only is a physical subjection necessary but a subjection of the human spirit. We must come to God as a sinner, emptied of pride. It is only then that every gift from God, even the most insignificant, will take on the deepest significance and meaning. We grow in trust that God will provide everything that we need as was evident in the lives of the Holy Family.
The greatest hindrance to holiness is our own self-determined will. In Jesus, Mary and Joseph we see a complete surrender of wills to the divine and mysterious plan of God. This divine plan continues to unfold in our own day. If our lives are going to participate and not thwart the divine plan of God we must live according to His will and not our own. The more we fight against God’s will the more confused, frustrated and lost we become. The plan of God is not so mysterious but is revealed through Jesus in His Church. Obedience and conformity of our lives to the magisterium of the Church is necessary.
Prayer is the action of love whereby our soul seeks union with God. It is a constant communication of thanks, praise, sorrow, repentance, and petition as in any human relationship. We open ourselves up to God and are vulnerable to His response. There is nothing excluded from Him. All is brought to prayer. This kind of transparent love, speaking honestly and listening intently is Nazareth love.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph studied the ancient scriptures and watched the divine plan of God unfold in their lives and in the world around them. Others were ignorant of what was happening and missed it altogether. Study of the Sacred Truths is not only necessary but awesome and is only fruitful when such study leads us to see this same, continuous plan unfold in our own lives and our present world.
The Holy Family shared in the toil and labor of human life. Work was made holy as an act of charity toward the family, neighbors and the community. Work is empty when the fruits of it are not offered in love. Work is a creative gift if it is not meant for self but others’ well-being. The Holy Family teaches us to do our work as "a labor of love".
The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Protective Heart of Joseph all point to the goal and prize of a truly authentic spiritual life–love. This is the ultimate message of Nazareth and is most loudly proclaimed at the foot of the Cross. Love means sacrifice, self- giving, not counting the cost. This is perfection and the participation in divine love. Charity is the purified soul’s expression of true union with God.
Nazareth may be the most difficult school. The lessons of Nazareth bring about transformation, conversion in readiness for eternal life. Eternal life cannot be won without learning them.
Rule of Life
The Nine Elements