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The Holy Family

 

 

The Feast of the Holy Family, honors the family life
of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
This feast developed in the 17th century.
Built upon Gospel accounts, the Holy Family
is looked upon as the most excellent domestic unit representing ideal family life.

To promote family life and build up devotion
to The Holy family, a feast was established
for the universal church in 1921
by Pope Benedict XV.
It is a movable feast on the traditional calendar, celebrated on January 10th this year,
or always on the first Sunday after Epiphany.
(The new calendar changes the chronological order
of events in Christ's life, with the Holy Family
being inserted the Sunday after Christmas,
followed by the Solemnity of Mary on January 1,
still traditionally celebrated as the
Feast of the Circumcision. )

 

The sons of wisdom are the church of the just:
and their generation, obedience and love. 
Children, hear the judgment of your father,
and so do that you may be saved. 
For God hath made the father honourable
to the children: and seeking the judgment
of the mothers, hath confirmed it upon the children. 
He that loveth God, shall obtain pardon for his sins
by prayer, and shall refrain himself from them,
and shall be heard in the prayer of days. 
And he that honoureth his mother is as one
that layeth up a treasure.
He that honoureth his father shall have joy
in his own children, and in the day of his prayer
he shall be heard.  He that honoureth his father
shall enjoy a long life: and he that obeyeth the father,
shall be a comfort to his mother. 
He that feareth the Lord, honoureth his parents,
and will serve them as his masters
that brought him into the world. 
Honour thy father, in work and word,
and all patience, That a blessing may come upon thee from him,
and his blessing may remain
in the latter end.               
 --Ecclesiasticus 3:1-10

 

For those who really wish to live God-fearing lives,
God has made it easy to love and honor Him.
For by the Incarnation He has come very near to us;
and we need only turn to Bethlehem, Nazareth
or Calvary to understand
and have our hearts drawn to Him.
Above all He has given us an example,
an instruction, an attraction
such as He has given no other institution on earth,
upon which we are able to model
our Christians families.
He has not only taken flesh
but has so bowed down His majesty
as to have lived in a family Himself.
He has chosen to be subject to His creatures.
He chose the most holy Mary for His mother
and St. Joseph for his foster-father;
and lived with them for the greater part
of His earthly life.
We can only imagine how this holy House,
which stood unnoticed in the little town,
was illuminated in the sight of heaven.
Jesus was there; and the light of God’s presence
shown in the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
as they lived in the thought of God,
of heaven and of eternity.

 

The example of the Holy Family is intended
to shed its rays upon every house where
father, mother and children are gathered together.


Every Christian family should live
in the presence of God
and the thought of eternity to come.
Every family should seek and cherish
love for one another and mutual devotedness
as exemplified in Jesus, Mary and Joseph.


And every family should live in such a way
as to edify all men by a good, pure, sober
and honest life.
Contemplation on the Holy Family,
with devout prayer and loving imitation
is the easiest means to this end.  

 

The divine and sacred institution of God,
called the Christian Family, is made up of the father,
the mother and the children.
In the family we have the most primary
of human relationships; a society on which
all society rests; a society and relationship
which God has sanctioned and blessed
in a thousand ways, and which ought to be
the strongest, the sweetest,
and the holiest upon earth.

 

A young man and a young woman join their hands
and promise each other, before the altar of God
and in the fear of God, perpetual trust and truth.
From this moment they belong to one another
and to God and they will set up a home apart.
The father, as he toils with his head or his hands,
will share his earnings with his wife and children;
it is the thought of his wife and children at home
that makes him brave and patient,
and it is his best reward to be welcomed home
by those to whom he is more than
all the world beside.
The wife, the mother, with all her labours
and strivings, never forgets who it is to whom
she has given her heart in the early days,
and she is ready to sacrifice herself for him
and to believe in him to the last.
Together they are happy yet anxious
as they watch their children grow and develop
in body and mind.
Happy as they thank God for the wonders of life
and intelligence; anxious as they fear for themselves
in the responsibility thus laid upon them.
 

Yet, sad to say, the beauty and the sanctity
of the Christian home, which ought to
beautify and sanctify the whole world
and every generation of the world’s history,
are too often marred and spoilt.
This we know only too well,
especially in today’s world.
Too often the family has become
a lamentable and miserable failure.
The reason for this is that no home can stand
unless it is built upon a solid foundation.
No family can be worthy of God and of Jesus Christ
unless it stands upon Religion.
This means that Religion must be first and foremost,
or else there is no order, no fidelity, no dignity,
and no success.
Without this foundation a family may be respectable
in the world’s eyes, and even outwardly prosperous,
but one day these souls who lived for earth and time
will realize their loss if only when time is no more
and earth has passed away.
A husband who does not believe in God
is a man who will live for himself,
and not for his wife or children.
A mother who cannot teach her children to pray
remains half a stranger to them.
She may clothe them, feed them or instruct them
but she can never enter into the Holy of Holies
where the immortal soul speaks to its Creator.
Religion alone lifts the hearts of fathers and mothers
to heaven and to eternity, and thus teaches them
that the only true education
they can give their children
is to educate them for eternal life.

 

 

Parents must understand what they owe to God
in connection with the children
He has entrusted to them.


Many look upon their children as mouths to be fed,
as encumbrances or playthings or at best
as naturally lovable possessions.
But it is not merely the bodies of children
or their physical welfare that are committed
to the responsibility of the parent,
but it is their immortal souls.
The child is the end and purpose of God’s creation,
the subject of Christ’s redemption,
the beloved object of the heavenly Father’s solicitude.
The child has to be brought to the knowledge
of its Maker and of its last end,
to be made to discern good from evil,
to be disciplined to self-restraint,
and to be instructed in things Divine.
God does not do this by personal interference
but rather leaves this to be accomplished
through the parents’ hands as part of His Providence.
He leaves to father and mother
the care of the body and soul of His little one.


 It is no wonder, then, that Almighty God
has prepared awful judgements on parents
who neglect their duty to His little ones.
Let us remember that they belong to God first;
they are only entrusted to their fathers and mothers
as the book of Genesis says:
"These are the children whom God hath given me"
(Gen. 33, 5).

 Parents must make careful preparation
with all earnestness in order
to live worthily in the holy state of marriage.
The hearts of husband and wife must be united,
and united in God.

 

 


The love and service of God must sanctify the house;
and where such reigns no house, however humble,
can fail to be holy and admirable.
In God alone can husband and wife truly love
one another. To Him must they lift up their hearts
in the morning and the evening;
to Him they must offer their employment
and every word or act.
For His sake they must seek the Church,
and frequent that Sacrifice and those sacraments
in which they will find the fountains of Divine Grace,
ever open and abundantly flowing
for the benefit of their souls.
Thus they will, by the strength of God,
and for the sake of God, watch over, bring up
and prepare for God’s service the children
He blesses them with.

The light of mutual love and devotedness
also shone bright in the holy House.
St. Joseph labored, watched and suffered
for Jesus and Mary;
the Virgin Mother had given her whole being - 
her thought, her will, her feelings and her every act-
to her Son. She reflected and repeated
all His sufferings in her own heart
and stood by Him in the work of Redemption.
Jesus, though Master and Lord,
was subject and obedient, accepting work,
sharing in the hardships
and devoting Himself to Mary and Joseph;
and this to teach future generations
how blessed it is to obey, to be obscure,
to be poor, and to suffer.

Their virtuous lives bore witness to all around them,
edifying them by their kindness, self-denial,
modesty and justice.


 

 

Consecration to the Holy Family

O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer,
Who having come to enlighten the world
with Thy teaching and example,
didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life
in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph
in the poor home of Nazareth,
thus sanctifying the Family that was to be
an example for all Christian families,
graciously receive our family
as it dedicates and consecrates itself
to Thee this day.

Do Thou protect us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear,

true peace and concord in Christian love: in order that by living
according to the divine pattern of Thy family
we may be able, all of us without exception,
to attain to eternal happiness.

Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us,
by the kindly intercession
make this our humble offering
acceptable in the sight of Jesus,
and obtain for us His graces and blessings.

O Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian
of Jesus and Mary,
help us by thy prayers
in all our spiritual and temporal needs;
that so we may be enabled
to praise our divine Savior Jesus,
together with Mary and thee,
for all eternity. Amen.

Say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be three times.

 

 

Prayer to The Holy Family

Lord Jesus Christ, Who, being made subject
to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life
by Thine ineffable virtues; grant that we,
with the assistance of both,
may be taught by the example
of Thy Holy Family
and may attain to its everlasting fellowship.
Who livest and reignest forever.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Content paraphrased, in part, from Fr. John D. Fullerton's Letter to Friends & Benefactors from the Superior of the Society of St Pius X in the USA, January 2006