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Liturgy: Feast of the Holy Family, Jan 8

January 06, 2017
The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen, El Greco (1590-1595)

And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth: and was subject to them. - Gospel of Jan 8

Per the Roman Rite's liturgical calendar, the first Sunday after Epiphany Day is designated as the Feast of the Holy Family. This feast commemorates the household life of the Child Jesus, His Blessed Virgin Mother and Foster-Father, and presents some familial lessons that never cease in application throughout the year. Here are remarks from Pope Leo XIII:
 

Is it not fitting to celebrate the royal birth of the Son of the supreme Father, of the house of David and the glorious names of that ancient line? Yet it is more consoling for us to call to memory the little house at Nazareth and the humble life lived there; thus celebrating the hidden life of our Lord. For there the divine Child received his training in Joseph’s humble trade; there hidden and sheltered, He grew up and showed Himself ready to share the toil of a carpenter’s life. 'Let the moisture,' he seemed to say, 'trickle over my limbs before they are drenched with the torrent of my blood, and the pain of this labor shall go to atone for the sins of men.' Close to the divine Child is His tender Mother; close to Joseph stands his devoted wife, happy to relieve their toil and suffering by her loving care: O Thou, who wast not free from toil and care and who hast known adversity, come to the aid of the unfortunate, crippled by poverty and struggling against the difficulties of life."

In this lowly dwelling at Nazareth, by practicing the domestic virtues of charity, obedience, mutual help and regard, Jesus, Mary and Joseph hallowed family life (Collect, Epistle and Gospel). There too they constantly found joy and peace in recollection and prayer in common. May the great Christian family practice here on earth the virtues of the Holy Family, so meriting a life in their blessed company in Heaven (Collect).

Benedict XV, being desirous of securing for souls the blessings flowing from meditation on the virtues of the Holy Family and from their imitation, extended this feast to the universal Church in 1921.

Source: Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, OSB, 1945, adapted and abridged.