The Holy Family: The Model of a Catholic School

If education begins at home, this means that parents are the first, primary and fundamental educators of their children. If this is the case, we should take Mary and Joseph as our models of mother, father and teacher. Mary and Joseph were able to be parents of Jesus because they were first and foremost children themselves, they were able to be teachers because they were students. In the mouth of Saint Bernard, Dante in his beautiful hymn in the Divine comedy calls Mary “daughter of your son”, normally and naturally a contradiction but in Mary miraculously realized through the mystery of the incarnation. If it’s a mystery to us, imagine what it must have been for her! Mary is our model because she kept all of these mysteries throughout her life in her heart and pondered them, contemplating the marvels of God and being an obedient servant to God’s wisdom which far surpassed anything she could comprehend by her human faculties.


This act of obedience is what would give her authority as mother. The same goes for Joseph. We don’t have a single record of any word he said in the gospels. Yet, he would be the father of the Redeemer and would teach and instruct him in the faith by his life, not his words – or not merely his words. This is because what he said would be in perfect consonance with his example. Joseph is a model of listening. God reveals his plans at the outset of the holy family’s mission to Joseph, not to Mary. Without Joseph’s listening ear and obedient and prompt action to the words of God, Jesus would be lost to the murderous advances of Herod’s army. How important it is to listen! Joseph’s listening takes place because of his personal relationship with God, which is prayer. Since Joseph is in communication with God, he can obey him  (obedience literally means “to listen from below”). We don’t communicate with those we don’t respect and without mutual respect there can be any learning.

It is evidently true that the influx of information, of various voices through various media, in our modern society has greatly impeded and inhibited the faculty of listening and obeying. How sorely needed are these actions and faculties today! As in every Catholic school, Holy Cross presents each student with the model of Mary as a model of listening, obedience and virtue. She shows us what obedience looks like, not blind acceptance against our will but, on the contrary, the opening up of our hearts and minds to God. Obedience is an action that has so greatly been derided in our culture that we don’t hear speak of it anymore. At Holy Cross, by putting a relationship with God at the center of the curriculum, both students and teachers learn from each other because, with Mary as model both as educator and student, mutual respect is fostered between everyone in the classroom. Mary, Mother of the Savior, pray for us!