Beloved National Family,

On this Feast of the Holy Family, I rejoice and give thanks for our beautiful Secular Franciscan family! I am so thankful for all the goodness that I see in this family! What a joy it is to be part of this family!

Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, has made us members of God’s family in a holy covenant of love and flesh. He takes on our flesh, joins our human family and raises our heads to see our true dignity. Let us indeed raise our heads and not doubt our dignity before God. Let us not doubt God’s love, or what God has called us to. And if you, like me, have stumbled, then do not delay to rouse yourself. Let us run to the manger, be strengthened by the powerful grace of mercy and love, and run to the world singing our joyful song, “The Lord has come!”

Let us also immediately, in this holy tide of Christmas, turn to each other and ask forgiveness for hurts we have caused. Let us look into each others eyes with love and compassion, and as best we can, let each other know that “it’s ok.” In Christ all hurts are healed, so that even if it is impossible for us to physically give, or receive, that healing hug, we can trust Christ’s healing grace which covers us all. God knows our hearts.

Hail! the heaven-born Prince of peace! Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings!
Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth, born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King !”

God bless our entire Franciscan Family, and every family!

“Have a rejoicing heart, try to grow holy, help one another, keep united, live in peace.
Sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts.
Whatever you do, put your whole self into it, as if for the Lord and not for men.
Sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts!”
(Reponsory, Office of Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family.)

I look forward to a blessed year ahead, with joyful expectation of how God will work in our lives!

Joy to the World!
And to each of you, peace and all good!

Love and prayers,

Jan Parker OFS
National Minister
Secular Franciscan Order – USA