Sunday, December 31, 2017

Feast of the Holy Family - 1st Sunday after Christmas

The Feast of the Holy Family is usually celebrated on the Sunday following Christmas, Dec. 31 this year. If there is no Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it is celebrated Dec. 30. The Holy Family, made up of the Christ Child, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, serves as a model for all families.

This feast honors their lives together, beginning in Bethlehem and then moving to Nazareth, Egypt and back to Nazareth. The feast recognizes the humility of Jesus, Mary’s virtue and Joseph’s steadfastness, along with the obedience of all three to God’s plan for them in salvation history.

“Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected His life on earth …,” reflected Blessed Paul VI while visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth in 1964, adding that from the Holy Family we learn about silence, family life and discipline. “How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths.”

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is the model for all Christian families. Beginning in the
17th century, devotion to the Holy Family spread throughout the Church. In 1893, Pope Leo XIII approved the feast of the Holy Family; composing part of the Divine Office observing it. Since ancient times, the Coptic Church has celebrated this memorial in light of the flight into Egypt. Succeeding Pontiffs have affirmed the feast as an efficacious means of reminding Christians of the sanctity of the family and it's essential role in disseminating and preserving the Faith.

The example of the Holy Family at Nazareth is a template for the restoration of family life and a safeguard against diabolical, present-day efforts to redefine or end the institutions of marriage and the "Domestic Church" as ordained by God. For Mary and Joseph, having God Incarnate in their midst was an unrivaled joy.

Looking at the Holy Family, we see the love, the protection, and the diligent care that they gave to the Redeemer. We can not fail to feel uneasiness, perhaps a shameful thought, for the times in which we have not rendered the appropriate care and attention to the Blessed Eucharist. We can only ask for forgiveness and do penance for all the sacrilegious acts and lack of respect that are committed against the Blessed Eucharist. We can only ask the Lord, through the intersession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, for a greater love for their Son Incarnate, who has decided to remain here on earth with us every day until the end of time.

Prayer to the Holy Family
Almighty God and Father, Who was pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of Your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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